THE O'CONOR DON
Sir in rising to 2032 ask the attention of the House to the question of education in Ireland, I feel that perhaps I ought to apologize for venturing to take on myself the responsibility of introducing a discussion on a subject so great in its importance, and so vast in its extent. It appears to me, however, not unreasonable, now that we are about to vote the money to be applied to this purpose in Ireland, that we should consider for a moment whether there are any peculiar circumstances connected with it deserving attention. No subject in this country, during the present Session of Parliament, has occupied so much public attention as the very question of National Education; and I believe I am not very far wrong in saying, that in Ireland, too, very great interest is taken in it. It would be unnecessary for me to mention that unanimity of opinion does not exist in Ireland as to the system carried on there; it would be unnecessary for me to state that persons differing on almost every other point are agreed in believing that system unsatisfactory; and equally unnecessary would it be for me to add that the chief cause of dissatisfaction arises out of the religious element. I feel, however, Sir, that the subject is so large, and embraces within itself so many topics, that it would be presumption and folly on my part to endeavour, even lightly, to touch on it in all its branches. I will therefore confine my remarks to one or two points in particular. With this view, Sir, I do not purpose to enter into any discussion as to the education given in the primary schools, or the principle on which it is conducted, but would briefly refer to other grants and other institutions which seem to me worthy of consideration. In the first place I would mention the Model Schools, and in the next the Queen's Colleges. For the support of these institutions this year, the State is asked to subscribe a sum exceeding £85,000; and looking at this merely in a financial point of view, I believe it not unworthy of consideration. But in this, I hold, is involved far more than a mere matter of finance—in it is involved a great question of principle. First, Sir, as regards the Model Schools, I find these under a great variety of denominations. There are, for instance, central model training schools, model industrial schools, agricultural model schools, railway model schools, district literary model schools, and minor model schools. Now, Sir, from such a variety of denominations, 2033 embracing such an extensive range of subjects, it is difficult at first exactly to determine what is the end or aim of these institutions. It would appear, however, that they are all connected by one characteristic —they are all, to a certain extent at least, training establishments, and as such I would wish first to consider them. The House is aware that one of the great objections held by all parties against the National system of Ireland, is that in its teaching it excludes or ignores the religious element; and the House is also aware, that when a demand for the extension to Ireland of the denominational system is made, it is usually met by two objections. First, that such extension would necessitate a very useless multiplication of schools; and, secondly, that such a system can be established only when the greater portion of the expense is borne by voluntary and private effort. Now, Sir, I hold that this reasoning does not, and cannot, apply in the case of the Model schools, considered as training establishments, for these establishments, being already far too numerous for the wants of the country, by a change in the system no increase in their number would be required; and, in the next place, the denominational principle is adopted in England in respect to the training colleges there, although nearly the entire expense is borne by the State. These institutions, however, must be also regarded in another light: they are not only training establishments for the education of teachers, but are also national schools for the middle classes—intermediate institutions between the primary schools and the Queen's Colleges. This has been distinctly laid down by the late Sir James Graham when proposing the Queen's Colleges, and to it I would particularly ask the attention of the House. I hold, as a general principle, that the State is not bound to provide education, at the public expense, for any but the lowest class; that it should not interfere in the higher branches of education unless under very peculiar circumstances; that when it does so interfere, it should do so rather by assisting than originating; and that in no case should it endeavour to usurp to itself the entire direction and control of the education of all classes of the people. These principles are not now, Sir, promulgated for the first time—they have been repeatedly broached in this House, have been generally received in the country, and in 2034 support of them I might quote the authority of the most distinguished statesmen. I do not expect, however, that they will be denied, and I therefore pass on to their application. Considering the Model schools as intermediate schools for the middle classes, do they not err against every one of their principles? Are they not, when considered with the Queen's Colleges, an attempt on the part of the State to usurp the entire education of the country? Do they not interfere with voluntary effort by cramping its exercise, by deadening any incentive to its development, and by entering into an unfair competition with it when it struggles into existence? And, lastly, do they not, at the public expense, provide education for a class who, mainly at least, ought to provide such for themselves? I say, therefore, Sir, whether as training colleges or intermediate schools, these institutions ought to be looked after. Now, Sir, I would come to the Queen's Colleges. As I mentioned before, very exceptional circumstances alone, in my opinion, would justify the interference of Government in the higher branches of education; but I am aware that these exceptional circumstances have been urged in favour of the Queen's Colleges. It has been said, and I do not deny the justice of the remark, that Ireland, as regards university or high-class education, was very peculiarly circumstanced—that with a population mainly composed of Roman Catholics and Dissenters, and with but a small minority of Churchmen, the latter had a university and college of their own, whereas the former were unprovided with such, and that under such circumstances the Government were justified in interfering. I do not deny all this—but what I do deny is, that it justifies the establishments on whose behalf it is raised, and to make my views the clearer on this point, I would for a moment ask the attention of the House to the origin, object, and expense of these establishments. The Queen's Colleges owed their origin to the Government of the late Sir Robert Peel, and were first proposed by the then Home Secretary, Sir James Graham, expressly with the view of meeting the generally-admitted want on the part of the Roman Catholics and Dissenters of a means of procuring university education. Their original cost of construction was about £100,000, and to this must be added about £18,000 for alterations and repairs. They receive an endowment of £21,000 2035 per annum, an annual grant for the colleges of £4,800, and for the university over £2,000; and having been in existence, the colleges for twelve years and the university for over ten years, their total cost to the nation, including some minor expenses with which I will not trouble the House, cannot be much less than half a million of money. Such, Sir, was their origin, object, and expense. I have now to ask the House, have they met that object? for in the answer to this question seems to me to lie the justification of the expense. We have seen that they were originated to meet a certain want which existed on the part of the Roman Catholics and Dissenters; but principally on the part of the Roman Catholics, as they formed the great majority of the people. The members of the Established Church have a university and college of their own of which they might well be proud. In Trinity College and the University of Dublin they had all they could desire and more than they required. Those institutions, to be sure, were also open to Roman Catholics, who could receive lectures in the one and take degrees in the other. In Trinity College the Professors were of the highest class, the teaching given there was, in a secular point of view, unobjectionable; the students had distinguished themselves everywhere, and their social standing certainly was not such as to deter others from joining them. Yet, notwithstanding all these advantages, Trinity College was not acceptable to the Roman Catholics of Ireland. Why? Because it was essentially a Church Establishment; because in it Roman Catholic students would receive only secular instruction; because the only religious instruction given was of a nature to which they objected; and because they believed it dangerous to their faith, that instruction should be given in the higher branches of the subtle sciences by professors of a different religious persuasion from themselves. For these reasons Trinity College was objectionable, and to meet these objections the Queen's Colleges were founded. Now, Sir, the House must perceive that these objections were entirely of a religious character, and could therefore be met only by institutions more satisfactory in a religious point of view. Are the Queen's Colleges such institutions? In what point of view are they less objectionable than Trinity College? Have they not been declared dangerous to faith and morals by the 2036 highest spiritual authority in the Catholic Church? And what more could be said against the most exclusive establishment ever instituted? There are some, Sir, who hold that a separation of religious from secular teaching is justifiable, practicable, and expedient; whilst there are others who believe that such a separation, especially in the higher courses of study, ought never to be permitted; but it seems to me that on the principle of neither party can the Queen's Colleges be justified. If, on the one hand, you are to be satisfied merely with secular instruction, that is provided in the old University; whilst, on the other, if the combination of the religious element is required, you are at a loss to find it in the new one. I do not therefore, Sir, I confess, rightly understand upon what principle, either of necessity, justice, or expediency, these new foundations have been made. But then, Sir, we are told, that as far as results go, they have been a wonderful success—we have been informed on high authority, that for the first time in Ireland, through their instrumentality, over 600 laymen are receiving university education. Now, Sir, is this really the case? These institutions have been in existence for twelve years, and I find by the last Return, Session 1861, that the total number of students who during that time took degrees in Arts was 212, and in medicine 98; so that, as far as university education is concerned, we have 212 Bachelors in Arts, and 98 doctors, as the result of an expenditure of nearly half a million of money; a result, no doubt, highly satisfactory. Neither must we forget another highly-important feature in this education when estimating the value of these results, and that is the large number of prizes, exhibitions, and scholarships, at the disposal of each college every year. I will not enter into any minute discussion as to the proportion between the number of students and the number of scholarships, the prizes and those to compete for them; but will merely remark in a general way, that in many instances, as appears by a Return furnished to the House, the scholarships exceed the number of students, in others are about equal to them, and that in hardly any instance is there any real competition for them. This state of things is not denied by the authorities of the college—it is even defended by them. Mr. Berwick, President of the Galway College, maintained in his evidence that it would be very undesir- 2037 able to increase the competition, and in this he was supported by several other gentlemen connected with the establishment. Now, Sir, the natural result of all this we find in the statement of Dr. Henry, President of Belfast College, who declares that nearly all those who take degrees are scholars. What is a scholar? I will not give my own definition on this point; I will quote the words of one whose authority I am sure will not be denied. I refer to Sir Robert Kane, President of the Cork College. Sir Robert Kane says, "We may regard the scholar in the light of a young man who, for certain State purposes, is paid for educating himself." Hence, Sir, the final conclusion at which we must arrive is this—that the Queen's Colleges have been successful in imparting university education to 212 students, the greater proportion of whom were paid for receiving it. But, Sir, there is another question to be considered, and it is this—what is the feeling of Ireland in regard to these institutions? Had any doubt existed upon this point, the right hon. Baronet has at least the merit of clearing it away—he has at least tested this. He tested it, to be sure, in a rather strange way: strange on account of the object he proposed to effect, but stranger still for the manner in which he sought to effect it. Seeing that the scholarships were already extravagantly numerous, he determines to increase them, and he, the chief Minister of the country, through whose hands nearly all the patronage of that country passes, becomes an applicant for money from those many of whom might believe themselves dependent on him for their future prospects and fortunes in life. However, he made his application, and he received his answer. That answer is comprised in the indignant refusal of what I may term the wealth, intelligence, and respectability of Catholic Ireland—a, refusal which was not the less significant in the indifferent silence of some, than in the open repudiation of others. But this, Sir, was not enough: the appeal of the right hon. Baronet was of such a nature as required some public expression of opinion on the question of education—an expression of opinion which would not be merely the reflection of the ideas of the individuals giving it utterance, but, coming from elective representative bodies, might fairly be said to reflect the opinions of the country; and such an expression of opinion has been given. The several corporations 2038 of Limerick, Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny, and nearly all the other corporate towns, have met, have discussed the question, and have passed resolutions, in most instances unanimously—not in favour of the Queen's Colleges, not in favour of propping up failing institutions by offering large rewards to students to attend them, but in favour of free education, not seeking for Government grants, not looking for public money, but merely asking for fair play; merely seeking for equality. Resolutions, Sir, in favour of the voluntary principle, petitions praying, that if it be not assisted by public aid, it may not at least be crushed out by unfair competition. After this, Sir, I think it can no longer be said that on public feeling in Ireland rests the foundation of the Queen's Colleges. I have now, Sir, troubled the House perhaps at too great a length, but one point still remains for me to touch on. It is, however, to my mind of so much importance that I would venture to introduce it. I refer, Sir, to the much-vexed question of vested interests. We have heard a great deal on this point of late; Members on both sides of the House have eloquently pointed out the danger of allowing vested interests in the disbursement of the public money to grow up and increase, and one of the great advantages held out us arising from the Revised code of educational rules in this country is the end which, it is said, that code will put to those dangerous theories. Now, I ask are not like dangers to be apprehended in Ireland? Ought not the House to look cautiously at the mode in which education is carried on there? Is there not growing up there an army of stipendiaries, which has not only, as in this country, possession of the elementary schools, but extends its ranks to every grade of society; which, beginning with the teachers of the National schools, extends up to the highest professor in the Queen's University. Stipendiaries, Sir, especially in the higher and more dangerous positions, who are not, as in this country, dependent partly on local authorities and partly on Government, but who are solely under the control and direction of the latter, who may in turn be the obsequious slaves or capricious masters of the Irish Government. This, Sir, seems to me a subject well worthy of consideration; and if the House agrees with me in this—if it believes that any importance is to be attached to the expenditure of large sums of public money in covering the country with a network of Governmental institu- 2039 tions—if it considers the expressions of public feeling in Ireland deserving of notice—and if, in fine, it regards the creation of a large staff of pensioners out of the public funds as of importance—it will, I am sure, pardon me for introducing the subject to its attention. For the kind manner in which that attention has been accorded, I have to return my warmest acknowledgments, and I can only trust that this discussion may lead to some settlement of the question of National Education in Ireland, which may be satisfactory to the wishes and beneficial to the interests of the people of that country.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
This subject has been very often debated in this House without producing any other result than confirmation of the principles on which the Queen's Colleges and the system of National Education in Ireland were originally founded: therefore I think it is a hope less task, for even an hon. Member so moderate in his tone as the hon. Gentleman who has just addressed us, to endeavour to persuade the House that the educational system established in Ireland has failed to answer the purposes for which it was intended. I believe it is only necessary for hon. Members to examine the Returns which have been presented to the House with reference to National Education in Ireland, in order to satisfy themselves that the success of that system has been growing step by step, and year by year, until it has attained a position producing most gratifying and beneficial results. This National system was established by the present Lord Derby in 1833; and in order to show the House the results that have attended its establishment, I may observe that in 1833 there were only 789 schools, which were attended by a total of 107,000 children. I shall now take three periods, 1841, 1851, and 1861. In 1841 the population of Ireland was about 8,000,000, and the number of children on the rolls 281,000. In 1851 the population was 8,552,000; there were then 4,704 schools, and 520,000 pupils on the rolls. In 1861 the system had progressed in an extraordinary manner, for while the population had diminished to 5,764,000, the schools were 5,632 in number, and the children were about 804,000. It is, I think, a most remarkable fact that at the present moment one-seventh of the population of Ireland are receiving education under the National system. Surely when, after thirty years' experience, you find one-seventh of the 2040 population receiving instruction, it is not a time to come forward and say that the system under which such results have been accomplished is a failure. It never was intended by this system of education to conciliate all the imaginary grievances and scruples of individuals. Lord Derby (then Mr. Stanley) never dreamed of devising a system to which no objection could be taken, nor have subsequent Governments attempted to satisfy every one. Lord Derby, however, thought he could establish a system that would meet with general approval, and in that respect he has been successful. Sometimes men in opposition have hoped to reverse the system of National Education in Ireland, but we have seen that when they came into office they have changed that opinion, and have not dared to imperil a system which educates considerably more than half a million of children.
I will now refer to the main features of the speech in which the hon. Member (The O' Conor Don) has attacked the establishment of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland. He has maintained that, first of all, they were not necessary when they were recommended by the Government of 1845, and when the measure was introduced by Sir James Graham; and next, he contends that during the time they have been in operation they have not been successful.
THE O'CONOR DON
I did not say they were unnecessary, but that as at present constituted they do not effect the object for which they were intended.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
As at present constituted:—the colleges are constituted at present as they were originally founded, and if they do not fulfil their objects now, they could not have done so at any time. I trust, however, I am prepared to show to the satisfaction of the House that these colleges have been eminently satisfactory in their operation, that they have answered the purpose for which they were designed, and that their present position reflects credit on the political foresight of those who established them. The House must-first remember how very ill supplied Ireland was in comparison with England and Scotland with educational or collegiate establishments when the Queen's Colleges were founded. Let hon. Members first look at the educational provision of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and then compare this with the population. At the present time the population of England is about 20,000,000. In addition to the great pub- 2041 lic schools of Eton, Harrow, Winchester, and Rugby, there are at Oxford nineteen colleges, and at Cambridge seventeen colleges. The population of Scotland is 2,500,000. There are six colleges and five universities in that kingdom, educating upwards of 3,000 students. The population of Ireland is 5,700,000. It has (except the Queen's Colleges) only one college—Trinity College—with 800 students on its books. When the Queen's Colleges were founded, and when the population of Ireland was 8,000,000, Ireland had only this one college, while Scotland and England possessed the great educational advantages which I have enumerated. Recollect, too, that Trinity College was administered on an almost exclusive system. To use Lord Derby's words, in proposing to the House of Lords the Bill for establishing the Queen's Colleges, Trinity College had been administered on an exclusive system, for the purpose of supporting the Clergy of the Established Church. Surely then the time had come for endowing Ireland with the same advantages as Scotland and England. For two hundred years the establishment of the Reformed Church and its Liturgy has had the effect of excluding Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters from Oxford, from Cambridge, and from Dublin. Trinity College, Dublin, was the first to show liberality, because in 1794 it admitted persons of different religious persuasions to enter its walls. It was therefore greatly in advance of the sister establishments in England, for it was only in 1854 that the matriculation test was abolished at Oxford, so that Protestant Dissenters could enter that University. It was not until 1856 that the declaration regarding religious opinions and belief was abolished at Cambridge. Trinity College had seventy chartered or foundation scholarships up to 1854, in which year sixteen additional scholar ships, called "non-foundation scholarships," were created, for the purpose of inducing Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters to accept the perfect education she supplied. [Mr. WHITESIDE: More.] But even these advantages failed to induce Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters to avail themselves of the education thus offered, because the number of those who had entered Trinity College on an average of twelve years had not been more than sixteen Roman Catholics and twelve Protestant Dissenters. This clearly shows that the great majority of those who enter 2042 Trinity College are destined for the Established Church. I would ask the House whether, after we have had a national system in operation for educating the mass of the lower classes, it was not wise on the part of Parliament, in 1845, to afford corresponding advantages to the middle classes? When these colleges were established, there was no country in Europe so deficient in suitable establishments for education as Ireland. In 1835 a Parliamentary Committee was appointed to inquire into the state of education in Ireland, and the means of extending it, and it was in consequence of the recommendations of this Committee that the Act of 1845 was passed. The preamble of the Act sets forth the necessity of making provision "for the better advancement of learning among all classes of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland." When the Bill was introduced into this House, Sir James Graham, who had, I think, charge of the Bill, said—If the House would give effect to this measure, an education would be provided not inferior to that derived from the Universities of Scotland, and from the University of Dublin.That was the idea of the Government of that day in founding these colleges. The opinion of Lord Derby, who had charge of the Bill in the House of Lords, was even stronger than any expressed in this House. Lord Derby, in introducing the Queen's Colleges Bill into the Lords, said—I think, that as you have given your sanction to an exclusive system in Trinity College, Dublin, for the purpose of supplying clergymen of the Established Church, and as you have connected theological professors of the Presbyterian creed with the Presbyterian institution at Belfast, so do I think that you have wisely and liberally agreed to contribute to the education of the Roman Catholic priesthood, by endowing the College of Maynooth. All these, however, are theological endowments: when dealing with the laity of these three persuasions, I do entreat of your Lordships to permit the youth of Ireland to be educated in common and under the same teachers in all those branches of learning which do not and cannot affect their religious opinions." [Hansard, lxxxii., 734.]An opinion quite as forcible was expressed by one of the most eminent of the Roman Catholic prelates—Dr. Doyle, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildare, which is well worthy of being read on the present occasion. Dr. Doyle said—I do not see how any man wishing well to the public peace, and who looks to Ireland as his country, can think that peace can be permanently established, or the prosperity of the country ever well secured, if children are separated at the commencement of life on account of their reli- 2043 gious opinions. I do not know any measure which would prepare the way for a better feeling in Ireland than uniting children at an early age, and bringing them up in the same school, leading them to commence with one another, and to form their little intimacies and friendships which often subsist through life.I think that a very remarkable expression of opinion, and one well worth the attention of the House. I know other per sons are of a different opinion. I know there are persons who think it quite wrong to send Roman Catholic children either to the National schools, to Trinity College, or to the Queen's Colleges. I think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell) has asserted that it is far better they should be educated in the Christian Brothers' schools, under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic priesthood. But I for one should be very sorry to see the education of the youth of Ireland under the jurisdiction of the priests. I do not think it would lead to results that would be advantageous to the public. Besides, there are at the present moment a vast number of ecclesiastical seminaries and other institutions belonging to the Roman Catholics in Ireland, and I think, therefore, there is no reason to blame the State for viewing the colleges with favour. There are eighty-four convents, 164 nunneries, and 117 monasteries and Christian Brothers' schools in operation in Ireland at this moment. Well, then, I say, with that large number of Roman Catholic religious establishments, I think we can justly affirm that no harm can result to the Roman Catholic religion in consequence of the aids offered to the youth of Ireland by the opening of Trinity College and the establishment of the Queen's Colleges. But the question has been asked—Have the Queen's Colleges fully answered the purposes for which they were established? The hon. Gentleman (The O'Conor Don) said, they were expensive, and that they had cost since they came into operation over half a million of money. Well, if we consider the benefits that flow from them, I think the money, even if it has reached that sum, has been well bestowed. Now, the Queen's Colleges were established by an Act passed in 1845; about £25,000 a year is voted for Maynooth, and a similar amount for the Queen's Colleges, and yet there are more students at this moment in the Colleges of Cork, Galway, and Belfast than have passed through Maynooth during the last thirteen years. Let 2044 us compare the Queen's Colleges now with Trinity College, Dublin. There are about sixteen Roman Catholics and twelve Protestant Dissenters on an average who enter the University of Dublin each year. But compare that with the number on the books of the Queen's Colleges, and you will find that I am justified in asserting that at this moment there are more Protestant Dissenters and Roman Catholics in the Queen's Colleges than have passed through Trinity College during the last fifteen years. I must say that comparison affords the most convincing and conclusive proof that great good must have resulted to Ireland from the establishment of the Queen's University in that country. Then the hon. Gentleman alluded to the large number of endowments that we have in the Queen's Colleges, and I think he said that there was about a scholarship for each student, or something more. Nothing can be more fallacious, nothing more unjust or unfair, than such an assertion. Here are the Queen's Colleges doing an immensity of good in Ireland, and supported only by a Parliamentary grant which is perfectly trifling compared with the revenues of Trinity College, Oxford, or Cambridge. What are the endowments of Dublin University? Dublin University has a property of 199,000 statute acres, 1 per cent of the whole surface of Ireland, extending through seventeen counties in Ireland, and its returns under the Poor Law valuation are £92,362 a year, whilst the average amount of fines alone for the renewal of short leases reaches £9,000. I believe Trinity College is richer in endowments than almost any other university in Europe. Her Senior Fellows, some of them, have larger incomes than some Cabinet Ministers. She has 31 church livings with benefices; she has 70 foundation scholarships, 16 non-foundation scholarships, 30 sizarships, 14 studentships; in fact, 117 permanent exhibitions, amounting to upwards of £2,000 a year. I do not say one word against the excellence of that institution, but I only want to show how fallacious it is to speak of the endowments of the Queen's Colleges as excessive. The Queen's Colleges have really nothing to depend upon but the small grant voted by Parliament, whereas Trinity College is magnificently endowed from the time of Elizabeth, and upwards of £2,000 a year is given away in scholarships and studentships, in addition to the other 2045 emoluments to which I have referred. The hon. Gentleman alluded to a subscription which I set on foot for endowments for the Queen's Colleges, and he said that I followed an unusual—I do not know whether he used the term "improper"—course in the part I took in respect to that subscription. I plead guilty to the charge of having got up that subscription; and here I must say that I am glad an opportunity has been given me of expressing my acknowledgments for the magnificent results that have accrued; for in Ireland alone, during the winter months, and hardly with the aid of an advertisement, I have received from resident proprietors, Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenters, promises of subscriptions for a term of years, together with actual payments, amounting to about £9,000. I think that a very strong expression of opinion in Ireland in favour of these colleges. Men of all classes and creeds have united in this subscription; and, that being so, I think it very unwise to sneer at the liberality which the public have displayed in support of those institutions. The hon. Gentleman complained of the endowments of the colleges, and said that too much was given to the students. Now, let me compare "the stimulating force" applied at the Queen's Colleges with the stimulating force in Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin. By "stimulating force" I mean the average annual pecuniary advantage which each student entering the universities or colleges may hope to obtain. In Oxford there are 1,600 students; the stimulating force is £106 12s. to each student. In Cambridge there are 1,600 students; the stimulating force £68 to each student. [Mr. MONSELL: As an undergraduate?] Not as an undergraduate—as a member of the University. In Dublin there are 800 students, and the stimulating force for each member of the University is £28 4s. The stimulating force for the Queen's Colleges, on the other hand—that is, as I have said, the average annual pecuniary advantage which each student entering the colleges may hope to obtain, taking the number of students, December 31, 1861, at 740, and they are each term increasing in number—and I will vouch for the accuracy of this statement—is only £6. It is absurd, therefore, to speak of the advantages to the student in the Queen's Colleges as excessive, when compared with the far greater advantages which the students 2046 of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin enjoy. But I will say that there are other reasons why you should continue to give to Ireland those educational advantages which it did not enjoy before. We all know that the system of Civil Service examinations has come in force, and that it has given a great impetus to education in this country. There were in 1858 thirty-five public departments in England, three in Scotland, and nine in Ireland, brought under the operation of this system of Civil Service examination. The Civil Service of the country includes more than 53,000 officers, of the greatest variety of duties, embracing situations which must create an additional demand on the educational establishments of the country, and increase the value of intellectual attainments. I hold in my hand the Sixth Report of the Civil Service Commissioners, and it is most interesting to refer to the satisfactory statement which they make with regard to the Queen's Colleges. This Report of the Civil Service Commissioners states—It is gratifying to us to find that, as in former years, the successful candidates continue, for the most part, to have been those who have been trained at the Universities; and we think it is fair to state that the Irish Universities, as has been the case at previous examinations, send us candidates who do credit to the system of instruction and to the professors at those institutions. No less than thirteen of the successful candidates came from Trinity College, Dublin, and among them the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth in the order of merit. Five proceeded from Queen's College. Belfast, including the fourth in order of merit, and one from Queen's College, Galway. We ought to add that eight successful candidates have come from Scotland.That is to say, Scotland, with some 8,000 students in its Universities, sent eight successful candidates, whereas the Queen's Colleges with numbers very far inferior, have sent six. The Report of the Commissioners shows the immense advantage of maintaining educational establishments and Universities in the different parts of the United Kingdom, and it shows also that the students educated in the Queen's Colleges have profited by the opportunities placed within their reach.
I will now briefly notice another subject, to which the hon. Gentleman referred. The hon. Gentleman appears to wish that the Roman Catholics in Ireland should have a separate educational establishment. He thinks it would be better if the Roman Catholics were educated apart from the Protestants, instead of in the National schools 2047 and in the Queen's Colleges. He seems to object also to the Model schools; but I really am surprised that any hon. Gentleman who has had an opportunity of inspecting those establishments, and who has seen the proficiency of the pupils and the admirable discipline maintained in the Model school, should condemn that system. Speaking for myself, I have very strong objections to separate educational establishments for Roman Catholics. God forbid that any other sentiment should be in my mind than that Roman Catholics should have for the exercise of their religion absolute and entire freedom ! It would be monstrous to suppose that in Ireland, or in any other part of Her Majesty's dominions, we should wish to prevent the free exercise of their religion to such a large portion of our fellow-subjects. But we must always recollect that the Roman Catholic religion is to be considered under two aspects. I say this not in any carping spirit, but because it is the simple fact. You must consider Roman Catholicism first as a religious system, and secondly as a politically interfering system. Now, as a religion I would give it every liberty; but as a politically interfering system I have the greatest objection to it. I believe that its aim as a political system is to interfere with free institutions, and therefore I have the greatest possible objection to see the educated youth of Ireland placed in the hands of those who, in all countries and in all times, have directed their political efforts towards the arrest of free institutions. To array ecclesiastical censure, as has been done by some Roman Catholic prelates in Ireland, against the National system or the Queen's Colleges, as sanctioned by the State, and thus to narrow the basis of secular education, is, I think, to debar the laity of Ireland from the advantages to which they are justly entitled. Hundreds of thousands of children have received their education under this system, and why should the prelates endeavour to array ecclesiastical censure against such establishments as the Queen's Colleges? The National system is a non-interfering system. The rules which are in force show that there is no interference with the religion of the children, and hundreds of thousands of children have been educated under that system. I do not, therefore, think that we should in any way listen to the motives which actuate the hon. Gentleman and those Roman Catholic prelates who have instructed him. I think 2048 that we ought to give every possible educational facility to the middle classes in Ireland, who have long been debarred from their full share of them by conditional sufferance or intolerable exclusions. I see no harm in opening these establishments freely to the Roman Catholic as well as to the Protestant Dissenter; and what was Mr. O'Connell's opinion on this subject? Examined before a Commission, he was asked his opinion as to the system oft mixed education, and his answer was —I wish to bear testimony to the advantages of mixed education, and I think it very desirable that the laity of all persuasions should be educated together.This was in 1835. Again, in 1839, speaking upon the Vote for national education in Ireland, he gave expression even to a stronger opinion. "There is no country in Europe," he said, "where the children of different persuasions are not educated together;" and, instancing the case of Belgium and Holland, he exclaimed," These present a cheering contrast to the bigotry which allows no freedom of thought." This was a very remarkable expression of opinion on the part of this great and distinguished man. But, in spite of the opinion of men like Dr. Doyle, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildare, and of Mr. O'Connell, there are those in Ireland who condemn this system of education; and as the House will recollect, the Synod of Thurles endeavoured to stigmatize, and induce the Pope to stigmatize, these institutions. Although, however, a majority of this synod condemned them, it was only by a majority of one, and I have in my possession a copy of the letter which an eminent prelate, Archbishop Murray, wrote to Cardinal Franzoni, accompanying the memorial of the thirteen Roman Catholic Bishops, who protested against the decrees of the synod. A copy of this letter is, no doubt, in the archives of Dr. Cullen. It is in Latin, but I have ventured to translate the concluding passages. Archbishop Murray says—I beseech, therefore, your Eminence, that it may please you to place at the feet of our most Holy Father the accompanying prayer, signed by thirteen of our Irish Prelates, and humbly begging that, instead of the bitter remedies (acrioribus remediis) recommended by fourteen of our brethren, our milder proposals, and, as we believe, much more useful to the peace of our Church (vtiliora ad pacem ecclesiœ nostrœ), may be deemed worthy of acceptance by His Holiness.This letter to Cardinal Franzoni was dated September 17, 1850, and embodied the 2049 opinion of one who, as Archbishop of Dublin, protested against the decision of the Synod of Thurles, and maintained that it ought not to be carried out, supporting, like Dr. Doyle and Mr. O'Connell, the more liberal institutions which the State had endowed, and which were working eminently for the public good.
Now, what is the present position of the Queen's Colleges? The advance of the colleges in public estimation is best shown by comparing the number of students who have entered this year with the number who entered in the two preceding years. In the year 1859–60 the number that entered was 207, in 1860–1, it was 283, and in 1861–2 it was 309. Now, in the year 1861 the number of students who entered the magnificent foundation of Trinity College was 310, of whom 140 were laymen; therefore the Queen's Colleges in Ireland have acquired such an influence with the people of the country, that in the course of one year as many students have entered them as generally enter Trinity College in the same period. But the hon. Gentleman says the Colleges do not succeed with Roman Catholics. Now, during the last seven years 112 Roman Catholic students have entered the Dublin University, and 85 Protestant Dissenters. In the same period 430 Roman Catholic students have entered the Queen's Colleges, and 598 Protestant Dissenters; in all 1,028; and there are at this moment 752 of these students receiving the education these institutions supply. Far from these colleges, therefore, having been attended by a want of success, I think I have shown they have been remarkably successful. Are not these results the best panegyric to the success of the Queen's University. They have met some opposition from a portion of the Roman Catholic hierarchy; but I hope that opposition will moderate, and that these establishments will gradually acquire a larger hold on the country, for I am satisfied they will never be found prejudicial to the political feeling or character of the students who may be induced to enter them. We have, undoubtedly, since the establishment of a national system of education in Ireland, opened a wider path to a liberal education for the middle classes; and I hope the Government and the Legislature will scrupulously maintain that system, which, in spite of all opposition, has had many beneficial results to those who have been brought under the 2050 influence of a secular education on the broad basis of religious equality. I must say, from my brief experience of Ireland, I give that system my most cordial and earnest approval. I think it is working great good for the country, and I think we shall observe, as time goes on, that the spirit of religious toleration now manifest among the educated classes of the community will gain in strength from year to year, to the moral improvement and social advancement of the Irish people.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, the right hon. Gentleman had distinctly stated, that while fourteen of the Prelates assembled at the Synod of Thurles condemned the system of education in the colleges, a large minority of them were in favour of it, and therefore the condemnation of the system was not so strong as it was generally supposed to be; and that, practically, the alleged condemnation was a fraud upon public credulity. In proof of that statement the right hon. Gentleman read a letter, of which he gave a free translation. He wished the right hon. Gentleman had given a free translation of the entire document, the entire prayer, and the whole of the answer. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman that the real fact was this—all the Roman Catholic Bishops then assembled condemned the colleges; but thirteen of them disagreed with the majority as to the expediency or wisdom of passing a censure upon those clergymen who had given their countenance or support to the system.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
Was that an ingenuous answer? The right hon. Gentleman held a high position, and anything that came from him must have great weight, both with the House and the country. But he would tell him, on what he considered ten times higher authority, that his statement was, unconsciously no doubt, a misrepresentation of the facts of the case. He was not there to express an opinion as to whether those Prelates were right or wrong. But as to the facts, he could pledge the highest ecclesiastical authority in Ireland that they were as he (Mr. Maguire) had described. The right hon. Gentleman had taken great credit for the success of the National system of education. But, he would ask, had what was called the National system of education—the mixed system—succeeded in Ireland? He asserted that it had not. In three pro- 2051 vinces of Ireland the National system was a monstrous sham. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted figures; be would quote some figures also; from memory. What was the real state of things? Any system of education started to-morrow, as on a tabula rasa, would succeed, more or less, in Ireland, because the Irish people had a passion for education, and would make great sacrifices to secure it for their children. But if they availed themselves of the system, it was only for the sate of its machinery of education, and the assistance of the State. It was for that only the Government should take credit. In three provinces of Ireland, on the 1st of June, 1861, there were 500,000 children on the roll of the National schools; and of this number only 9,000 were the children of Protestants and Dissenters. In the National schools in Cork that were under Catholic control there was not a single Protestant child, and in the schools under Protestant control there was not a single Catholic child. This was equally the case in Clonmel, Waterford, Kilkenny, and all the large towns. Was he not right in asserting that the so-called mixed system, or educating children together, was a monstrous sham? It had no real existence in the greater part of Ireland. For an illustration of the advantages of educating children together he must look to the only part of Ireland where the mixed system existed. That was the most prosperous part of the country; that contained thriving manufactures, and he wished they were ten times more prosperous than they were. Was there peace and harmony in Ulster? Nothing of the kind. Three years ago he took an active part in endeavouring to obtain for Ulster a law which should prevent insulting demonstrations that led to riot, to bloodshed, and to murder. The necessity for such a law was no evidence of the happy result of a system of education, which, by raising up children in the same institution, was to promote harmony and concord. It should be also remembered that not long since, in consequence of the melancholy state of things in Belfast, Commissioners were sent down to that town—the very centre and stronghold of the mixed system—and their report was certainly not creditable to the Christian feeling that pervaded its population. The right hon. Baronet had taunted Roman Catholics, because they asked for a denominational system, and insinuated that 2052 they were the friends of darkness and intolerance who would prevent freedom of thought. The right hon. Baronet merely repeated the flippant cant of the day; and being, he supposed, crammed for the occasion, could not help giving expression to the slipslop accusations which, long before the right hon. Baronet was known, had been persistently made against Roman Catholics: Not long ago the Vice President of the Committee of Privy Council for Education, in order to deprecate the hostility which he knew would result from the revision of the Code, took care to tell the House that he did not intend to touch or tamper with the principle upon which education in England was founded. That principle was denominational, religious, and exclusive. It was the very system which Dr. Cullen and the Catholic Prelates were called bigots for demanding for their country. Was it not, then, a gross slander upon the Prelates and the laymen who agreed with them to denounce them as intolerant, because they wished to have the same system as in England, where the people would smash ten Minis tries rather than see it tampered with for a moment. In England they left each denomination to educate according to its own principles, and in Ireland they asked for nothing more than that. Would Mr. O'Connell, would Dr. Doyle, would even Lord Stanley approve this fact—that the books for the schools in which six-sevenths of the children were the children of Catholics, were written by English Protestant ministers or Scotch Presbyterian ministers, and had infused into them as much as was possible of malevolence and misrepresentation against the doctrines of that Church to which the great mass of the people belonged. Would they approve a state of things under which 1,800 Catholic children were discovered to be receiving Presbyterian religious teaching from Presbyterian teachers, with the sanction or at the instigation of Presbyterian patrons in certain counties in Ulster? If Mr. O'Connell and Dr. Doyle were alive they would say that the whole thing had failed. Would they have approved of histories in which, under this so-called "National" system, the name of Ireland was al most ignored, and in which the Catholic Church was never referred to, as if it did not exist, and had not a history to tell? The fact was, that while in reality there was no such thing as a mixed system in Ireland, or, as he had shown by 2053 the returns of the Commissioners themselves, in three provinces of that country, there were all the inconveniences, the interferences, the restrictions and annoyances I of a mixed system. The mixed system did not exist, but the galling and irritating central and embarrassment did. The Catholic Church had adopted the National system, not as a perfect system, but as an experiment, to see whether they could keep their children from the fangs of the proselytizers, who for fifty or sixty years had been waging a constant yet ineffectual war against the religious principles of the Irish people. That it was ineffectual the last census emphatically proved. In spite of famine, emigration, and death, the vast proportion of the people were Catholic, and unless the island were sunk for some time beneath the ocean, as some benevolent gentleman recommended, there never would be a preponderance of Protestantism in that country. He solemnly believed, after long thought, that the only way to get rid of the difficulties which were increasing every day, was to change, by one stroke of the Parliamentary pen, the system which now existed in Ireland, and to substitute for it a system which was dear to the affections of the people of England. Nothing could be fairer to Protestants, to Presbyterians, and to Catholics; and yet Dr. Cullen, who demanded this change, was to be met by some Irish Secretary of a few months' experience rising up and solemnly delivering his boyish rebuke. The leaders of this movement were to be lectured, because they expressed what, after all, must be the conscientious opinion of every Catholic, that it was their duty to protect the young against those who, under the mask of sheep's clothing, showed them selves to be wolves in disguise. There were large numbers of people in Ireland who, in spite of the great inducements held out to them, would not send their sons to the Queen's Colleges. They had a conscientious objection to them. They wished their sons to be educated under a denominational system. He would ask any gentleman who had been educated at Oxford or Cambridge, or Eton or Winchester, whether that was an unfair demand. The people of Ireland did not make any demand upon the taxpayers of the country. They simply asked for a charter for the University which they had raised by enormous pecuniary sacrifices, and which had now become dear to their sympathies. There was not a man who in 2054 private must not see that it was an honest demand, and some day or other the charter must be granted. A Protestant gentleman who objected to the system of the Queen's Colleges, could send his son to the University of Dublin; but a Catholic if he had any conscientious objections to these institutions, must send his son to the University which the Government persecuted. The Government were ready to hold out all manner of inducements to the Queen's Colleges, whether in the shape of patronage or of new scholarships, but they refused to give fair play to the Catholic University. Was the Government afraid of the rivalry of a voluntary institution? If not, why did they so act? Why, if he were the greatest friend of those colleges, he would say, "By all means grant a charter to the Catholic University," because a healthy rivalry would thereby be excited in the cause of education, and at the same time the interests of both institutions would be promoted. But it was said the object of the Church was to arrest the march of human improvement, and to place its shackles upon the intellect of its followers. A more absurd or unjust accusation was never made. He was himself a Catholic, and a representative of those who gloried in giving education to the people—who even gave it with the hang man's noose and the headsman's axe suspended over them—who gave it in the bog and in the wilderness, and by the ditch-side, in the darkest and evilest of times; but he told the right hon. Baronet that he would never get the Catholics of Ireland, as a body, to avail themselves of these colleges. Every Roman Catholic Bishop of that country was in favour of the Catholic University, Dr. Delany, Bishop of Cork —a man to be revered for his moderation and his devotion to everything good and noble—had sent, a few months since, £500 as a contribution from his diocese to that institution; and that distinguished Prelate expressed the pride and pleasure with which he forwarded so large a contribution. The right hon. Baronet was ready to quote a Roman Catholic minority when it was on his own side. Would he not defer to the unanimously-expressed feelings of the Roman Catholic Bishops in this matter. The right hon. Baronet had sent the begging-box round among the Roman Catholics on behalf of his proposed scholarships; but only two of them dropped in a subscription, one being a gentle man who, he believed, was about to be 2055 made a sheriff, and the other a person who probably expected to get something else. As a body, the Roman Catholics repudiated the whole thing; and even the heads of colleges themselves, if their real opinion could be taken, would, no doubt, wish that that "infernal thousand pounds" had burnt the right hon. Gentleman's pocket rather than that, by offering it to them, he should have roused such a spirit as he had done among the Irish Roman Catholics. Roman Catholic Gentlemen who had before remained passive now came forward and proclaimed themselves in favour of liberty of education, and insisted on their right to send their sons to the institution most congenial to their own feelings. Well might the authorities of the colleges exclaim—"Save us from such injudicious friends !" The right hon. Gentleman, perhaps taking a leaf out of the book of the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley), and catching a little of his divine afflatus, had quoted, with rather an ominous look towards those who were great pillars of the establishment, the number of nunneries, monasteries, and other ecclesiastical institutions in Ireland. Why, no liberal Protestant, who understood the good those institutions were doing in his own locality, would not say, "May God multiply them !" They were the safety of Ireland, and shone like lights in the midst of the very poorest communities. The Christian Brothers of his own city alone educated, without any aid from the State, but depending entirely on the offerings of the Catholics, 2,100 pupils; and in no city in the world was a better education given to the higher class of pupils than in that establishment. It often happened in those schools that the boy who on his first entrance was poor, and ragged, and shoeless, and hungry, rose step by step, and class by class, until, on his leaving them, he was received into the merchant's office, and worked his way to position and to independence. The education thus given by those brothers, instead of cramping, developed the human intellect, and enabled their scholars to battle their way in the world, whether at home or abroad, perhaps in the most distant portions of the habitable globe. Now these were separate and denominational institutions; and he asked the Irish Secretary, in the face of Parliament and the country, what harm had they ever done to the individual or the community? He challenged him to answer that question. He appealed to the 2056 right hon. Gentleman, on his responsibility as connected with the Executive of Ireland, to disprove, if he could, that the teaching of those institutions did not produce citizens the most exemplary in every relation of life. There was an election to be decided at Kidderminster, against the Government perhaps, in a few days. Why was this? Because their candidate, one of their own members, was defeated in Ireland. He therefore asked the right hon. Gentleman why it was that Government candidates sustained defeat in Ireland? One of the causes was the blind and bigoted opposition of the Government to the reasonable and just demands of the Catholics of Ireland. That demand was, not that the Catholic University should receive any pecuniary aid from the State, but that it should simply have the power of granting degrees to its own alumni. At the same time, he, for one, would not take a single sixpence from the Queen's Colleges. Indeed, if their friends sought a larger subsidy for them, he would not resist it. He would not withdraw from his countrymen an advantage if they desired to retain it. If any man, Roman Catholic, or Protestant, or Dissenter, wished to send his son to a Queen's College, let him do so. But let those Roman Catholics who objected to the Queen's Colleges have a fair opportunity of developing an independent and purely voluntary system. He repeated, he would not take one penny from the Queen's Colleges—he would not pull down a stone of their building, or deprive those institutions of any advantage or honours they might possess or obtain. But, leaving them to to fight their way with the aid of the State, he would demand, in asking for a Charter for the Catholic University, that freedom of education and that respect for conscience which did not exist at present.
§ MR. POLLARD-URQUHART
said, that in expressing his views on the subject of education in Ireland, and his deep regret at the manner in which the Motion had been met by the Chief Secretary, he must not be understood as wishing to underrate the benefits conferred on Ireland by the National system. He acknowledged the great improvement it had produced, and the still greater benefits that might be looked forward to as its results. The reason why the National system had worked so well was, because under it for a long time education had been given to the people in the manner in which they were 2057 willing to receive it, without offending their feelings or prejudices and without exciting their suspicions of proselytism. It was given to them for a long time free from proselytism. It was received in good faith by the Catholics. But was that the case now? Was there one subject on which the great majority of the Irish people were more unanimous than in their hostility to this system? Did they think that a system of education could succeed to which the Established Church was opposed—to which the Roman Catholic clergy and the great bulk of the Irish people were opposed? They might stimulate such a system, they might fence it round as they pleased, and they might expect it to produce grapes, but, depend on it, they would be wild grapes. Such a system would do more harm than good, for it would call forth that spirit of bigotry which the friends of Ireland hoped had long been extinct. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) had referred to statistics in older to show how popular the system had become; and it was asked, why do the people of Ireland now oppose a system which has so long been in favour with them? The real fact was, that in three of the four provinces of Ireland, the so-called National system was almost exclusively Roman Catholic. A great many Roman Catholics had been attracted to it; but he doubted whether that would continue. Why had they now turned against it? For the first fourteen years after its establishment there was the most ample safeguard against any system of proselytism in the rule, that when religious instruction was to be given in the national school, the children whose parents did not wish them to attend should be compelled to leave. But that rule had been altered. It now stood thus—that such children should not be compelled to attend; and under this alteration a very great difference had been introduced. To such an extent had the system been altered that 70,000 Roman Catholic children were now attending the reading of the Scriptures, and receiving instruction in the National schools from Protestant ministers. Surely, in the judgment of every candid man, that was a just and reasonable ground of com plaint. He asked, would they continue to force this system down the throats of the Irish people? Would they compel their children to be present during instruction which they regarded with equal horror to that which hon. Members would feel if 2058 their children were compelled to be present during the reading of such books as those constantly appealed to by the hon. Members for North Warwickshire and Peterborough? But the right hon. Baronet said they could not overlook the political tendencies of the Roman Catholic religion. Was the Catholic religion, then, dangerous in Canada, where full and ample justice was done to it? Had the Catholics in Canada shown the slightest political animosity to England? Had they not been their most loyal fellow-subjects and friends? And so would the Catholics of Ireland be, if they were only justly and fairly treated. It was said this mixed system would do away with religious rancour. Had that been the case? In those parts of Ireland where the Roman Catholics formed the great majority of the electors, they had shown great liberality in returning Protestants; but would a Roman Catholic candidate have any chance among the Protestant constituencies of Ulster? Let the right hon. Baronet consider this question a little more seriously, lest he revived the old spirit of religious animosity, on the extinction of which the future welfare of Ireland mainly depended. The Established Church had not been referred to in this discussion. Both parties appeared to be agreed to let that plague-shot alone. Like slavery in America, both parties seemed to think the less that was said about it the better. He advised the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary not to revive the memory of past grievances in the minds of Roman Catholics, and to assume a more conciliatory attitude toward them, lest the people of Ireland should be induced to look more closely into existing ones. Such a course would be most prejudicial to the future history of that country.
§ MR. LEFROY
said, before proceeding with his observations on the question be fore the House, he must say he had heard with great pain the concluding observations of the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down. His reference to the Established Church, he thought, was altogether gratuitous, and he was not aware that there was any such feeling in the north of Ireland as that to which the hon. Member had alluded. He had never heard a Roman Catholic Member of that House make such a gross and un-called-for attack on the Established Church. The hon. Gentleman had also spoken of the right hon. Secretary for Ireland in a manner totally uncalled for. He thought 2059 the conduct of that right hon. Gentleman, and his personal liberality, entitled him to the gratitude of the people of Ireland. He regretted that the Queen's Colleges of Ireland should have been contrasted with Dublin University. He had no ill-feeling to those colleges, and he gave them his support when they were founded. He admitted that these institutions had been followed with increasing success, and at the present time he felt no objection to them on the score of religion, as he did not think that religious teaching was of so much importance in them as it was to the younger mind. He would now come to the point in which he felt most interested. He thought the opinions that had been expressed that evening must have convinced every one that that which had been the great boast of the National system in Ireland, "that it had been successful as a united system," had been a complete failure. It was not his business to inquire into the reasons why the Roman Catholic prelates opposed the system, but he should say that they had every reason to be satisfied with the National Board. The number of convent schools now amounted to 124, and these were, in fact, denominational in their character, and no Protestant could send his children to them. Under these circumstances, he felt it his duty to state a grievance under which the Protestant Church and schools in Ireland rested. They were schools to which the children of all denominations were welcome to come and receive instruction; and the Protestant clergy devoted their time and acquirements to them. All they asked in return was, that they might be allowed to appeal to the Holy Scriptures as the foundation of their moral teaching; and Earl Russell, in a speech which he delivered on the subject of education in England, expressed himself strongly of opinion that the Scriptures should be made the foundation of moral teaching. He said—If the precepts of morality, the rules for the guidance of conduct, had a divine sanction, it ought to be disclosed to the children, and the counsel of God ought not to be withheld.He could quote the opinion of many great and Christian men to the same effect; but what could be more appropriate on such a subject than the authority of the noble Lord? Why should that not be the opinion of the people of Ireland? He believed that the Roman Catholics did not deny the authority of the Bible as the foundation of 2060 moral teaching; and why, he would ask, should they not extend to that country that which they considered necessary for England? He was anxious briefly to allude to the correspondence moved for lately; the House would be perfectly astonished when they found the manner in which the subject had been treated in that correspondence. Very recently a large deputation, headed by the Bishop of Down and a large body of the clergy, wishing to know how far the Scriptures could be used for moral instruction, addressed the Lord Lieutenant. The Bishop and eighty-seven of the clergy presented a memorial to the Lord Lieutenant, which was referred to the National Board, praying —That the rule of the Board in regard to the reading of the Holy Scriptures should not be en forced to prevent the manager or teacher of a school from making such reference to the Word of God as the occasion might demand during the hours of general instruction; provided that in so doing no religious teaching of a denominational character should be introduced.Strange as it might seem, this application was refused. The Commissioners would not admit the modifications requested, which they considered would prove subversive of the fundamental principles of the National system. The Lord Lieutenant also declined to interfere in furthering the suggestions requested by this large body of the clergy of the Established Church. He (Mr. Lefroy) thought the Protestant clergy, notwithstanding the reproaches east against them, were perfectly justified in refusing their support to the system, to which they, as well as a large portion of the Protestant laity, had manifested a long and consistent opposition. If the Government could not take steps to remove their objections, it was reasonable and right that Her Majesty's Government and the House of Commons should take the case of the Church schools in Ireland into consideration, with the view of making them a grant. Church schools in England received grants, under the authority of the Privy Council Committee; and though the grants were given conditionally on a certain amount being raised in the particular parishes, he believed that in a very large number of the parishes in Ireland subscriptions would be raised to the requisite amount by the liberality of the Protestant clergy and laity of Ireland, who were deeply interested in this subject. He hoped the Government would take the whole matter into consideration, 2061 and by acting in the manner he had indicated, he believed they would confer a great and lasting boon upon Ireland
§ MR. M'MAHON
said, he should not have taken any part in this debate had it not been for an observation of the hon. Member who had just sat down, who said that the introduction of the question of the Irish Church in this discussion was altogether uncalled for. Now he (Mr. M'Mahon), on the contrary, contended that it was impossible the question of the Established Church could be omitted from a discussion of this kind. That Church was the main source of all the differences about religion and education in Ireland, and it was desirable for the peace of the country that it should be abolished, for ever since its establishment it had been made the engine of disunion and degradation. In the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries Ireland did more for the propagation of Christianity throughout the world than all the rest of Europe put together. During those centuries, when there was no Established Church, no church rates, no tithes, no punishment for religious opinions, but a perfectly voluntary system, Ireland got and deserved the name of the "Isle of Saints." Since the introduction of the Established Church, Ireland had ceased to be a missionary nation, and her people had been perpetually fighting upon religious topics, always quarrelling with one another and with England. In the Council of Kilkenny the Prelates of the Established Church denounced everything Irish as abominable to God and man, and laws were passed making it lawful to kill any Irishman or to dishonour any Irishwoman.
§ Notice taken that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present —
§ MR. M'MAHON
proceeded to state that until the Established Church in Ireland was abolished there would be endless complaints, in the discussion of which the time of that House would be engaged. The people of Ireland would be quite willing to abandon all grants which they now enjoyed for purposes of education it the Established Church were only abolished and cleared off the face of the country. So that the interests of the present occupants were preserved, he would be for sinking all tithes and selling all church lands, in order that the degradation and disunion which had lasted for seven centuries might be finally and for ever removed.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he had never heard a speech more refreshing to his feelings than that to which he had just listened. He agreed with every sentence that had fallen from the hon. and learned Member, He believed the Established Church to be the great incubus and curse which weighed down the peace and welfare of Ireland, and in connection with Ireland the peace and prosperity of the United Kingdom; and he assured the hon. Member that there were millions of people in this country who would be ready to support his views. He was delighted to learn that the Roman Catholics of Ireland were willing to relinquish all grants they now enjoyed, provided only they were put on a footing of equality with all other sections of the community. He deplored the discussions which took place annually in that House, and which were decided either by the casting vote of the Speaker, or a majority of one—the contest being for the supremacy of one denomination of Christians over all other—a contest of which Christianity was ashamed. He was gratified with what he had heard as to the feeling in Ireland, and was quite sure that whenever these political attempts at supremacy on behalf of a minority of the people of the United Kingdom—for the members of the Church of England did not number more than one-third of the whole population—could be put down, and the contest should be, as it ought to be, which denomination showed the excellence of its faith and principles by the morality of its conduct, and which could best maintain the character of Christianity, then the glory and happiness of this country would be secured. He thought "there was a good time coming" in reference to these questions.
§ MR. MACDONOGH
said, he rose to vindicate the Church of Ireland from the most uncalled-for attack which had been made upon it by the hon. and learned Member for Wexford. The hon. and learned Member had called it a curse upon Ireland. He (Mr. Macdonogh), a member of that Church, would call it one of the blessings of that country. That Church had succeeded in planting, not only the religion of England in Ireland, but the civilization of England also. ["Oh, oh !"] Exclamations of "Oh !" were no answer to a fact. The attack which had been made on the Established Church in Ireland that night was apropos to nothing. The support of the Church of England in Ireland constituted part of the fundamental union between England 2063 and Ireland, and of that union he would say Esto perpetua. The attack having been made by the hon. and learned Member for Wexford was followed by the Sheffield blade. To that Gentleman he would say, that the voluntary principle was not popular in Ireland generally, whilst the Presbyterians of the north totally repudiated it. The attack which had been made upon the Church of Ireland was most unwarrantable. Could a single in stance be pointed out in which a clergyman of that Church had departed from his sacred calling? Let any one observe the daily course of their lives: in their social circle would be found all those just but inexpensive refinements which dignified and adorned private life. They would be found to be in the discharge of their sacred duties above all praise. The attack which had been made upon them was a most ungrateful one, for in the famine year there was no class to whom the suffering population, no matter what their sect or creed, were so much indebted as to the clergy of the Established Church and their families. Again, he said that the attack which had been made upon them was apropos to nothing, for in a discussion upon education in Ireland remarks had been uttered against a body of men, such as he should be ashamed to utter against the ministers of any Church, no matter how he might differ from its doctrines.
§ MR. M'MAHON
said, he had not at tacked the clergy of the Established Church. He had spoken of the Church as an institution, and not of the clergy individually.
§ MAJOR O'REILLY
said, he would endeavour to bring back the attention of the House to the original subject of discussion—the present system of education in Ireland. He thought that the subject might be divided into three parts —the education of the poorer classes in the ordinary National schools; the teaching and training of teachers in what were called the Model schools, as well as the education of the middle and better classes in those schools; and the instruction given in the Queen's Colleges, which might be said to crown the system. By means of that system complete Government control was introduced into every branch of education in Ireland. The first part of this system, and the least objectionable, consisted of the ordinary National schools, or the poor schools of the country. For many a long year the Roman Catholics had been deprived of all 2064 assistance for the education of their children; but in 1832 the present system of National schools was introduced by Lord Derby, and was cheerfully and hopefully accepted by the Roman Catholics, not as being all they could wish, but as a fair and frank offer to meet their religious scruples and to afford education to their children without perverting their religious belief. This belief was based upon the two fundamental principles which were proclaimed—one, that it should be free even from the suspicion of proselytism; and the other, that there should be united secular, and separate religious, education. The latter condition was departed from in 1840, and the pledge that the schools should be free from proselytism was destroyed in 1847. Since then the system had wholly forfeited the praise which it had won from such men as Dr. Doyle and Mr. O'Connell. A great number of children received an education in those schools. He rejoiced at the fact. The practice of those schools was by no means as bad as they were made in theory since 1847. The right hon. Baronet said the system had fully succeeded as one of united education. It had certainly succeeded to this extent, that out of 5,420 schools 5,000 were returned as being attended by children of only one denomination. Out of 2,300 of those that were called mixed schools it appeared by the returns that one-fourth obtained the character of mixed schools from having less than five pupils of a different faith to the majority, and some of those schools had only one such pupil. Adverting to another branch of the system—namely, the Model schools, he wished to regard them as what in most instances they were intended to be— as schools for the middle or better classes. It was intended in Ireland to establish in every county, at the cost of the State, what in point of fact were grammar schools for the middle or upper classes, who could well afford to pay for education out of their own means; indeed, in the towns where these Model schools were founded, there existed other and abundant provisions for the education of the children of the middle classes of every denomination. When he mentioned the fact that the mayor of Londonderry sent his children to one of those Government Model schools the House would at once see that Parliament could never have intended that those schools should confer a benefit upon such a class as that. In that town, as well as Sligo, Omagh, Enniscorthy, Athy, and many 2065 other places enumerated, the hon. Gentleman contended that there was no necessity whatever for those Government Model or grammar schools, inasmuch as every religious denomination had excellent schools of their own, at which their children were exclusively taught. But the crowning stone of the edifice of Governmental education in Ireland was, of course, the Queen's Colleges; and it being found that they did not draw scholars, a new source of aid, as explained by the Vice Chancellor of Queen's University, had been suggested as likely to be afforded by the introduction of classical teaching into the National schools, more especially of the higher class under the immediate management of the Commissioners. The House would now better under stand the object of establishing these costly grammar schools in every county in Ire land. The Queen's Colleges were founded in 1845, with, he believed, the best intentions. Those who held his opinions with respect to the failure of these colleges were quite ready to admit that the design of the great departed statesman who founded them was to afford means of education to the Roman Catholics and Dissenters of Ireland—more especially to the former. These colleges were at first received by Roman Catholics as a step in the right direction; but the manner in which effect had been given to the original design was such as to compel Roman Catholics to alter their views. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had represented that there was not unanimity at the Synod of Thurles in respect to the condemnation of the Queen's Colleges. He begged leave to endorse the correction of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) and to assert that at that synod the Roman Catholic Bishops were absolutely unanimous in their condemnation of those institutions. It was on a subsequent vote—namely, one as to whether Roman Catholic priests were to be precluded from taking part in the ad ministration of the colleges—that they were divided in the proportion of thirteen to fourteen. The right hon. Baronet, when called on to read the whole of the statement of Dr. Murray, observed that the words which he had read occurred in the letter; but as the right hon. Baronet had read the whole of the document himself, perhaps he was aware of the real facts. The colleges were condemned in the first place; but then it became a question, the evil being admitted, what step ought to be 2066 taken to remedy it; and the minority were for dealing lenioribus remediis.
§ MAJOR O'REILLY
said, he was aware of that, because the letter was a protest against the evil being met by the sharper remedies, and suggested it should be met lenioribus remediis. As regarded the Queen's Colleges, even adopting the right hon. Baronet's own figures, he found that only about 50 per cent of the persons educated in them were of those denominations for which it was intended to supply a want. With respect to results, he would take the liberty of comparing the Queen's University in Ireland with the University of London, of which he had himself the honour to be a member. The latter had been exactly twenty-three years in existence. The number of its graduates in arts was 1,000. The Queen's University had been in existence for twelve years; the graduates in arts numbered only 212. The Queen's University had granted ninety-eight degrees in medicine; the University of London 400. In short, the Queen's University in twelve years had 300 graduates; the University of London in twenty-three years 1,500. Professor Harkness, one of the professors at the Queen's College, Cork, in his evidence gave statistics to show an average of three scholarships to every four students in one of the Queen's Colleges. In the University of London any one who obtained a scholarship must, each quarter on receiving payment, sign a declaration that he intended to complete his education; but a scholar in the Queen's University represented a man who entered for one year, and received from £24 to £40. The right hon. Baronet had gone into some calculations which he implicitly believed — the more so because he could not understand them. No doubt the right hon. Baronet understood them himself, and he estimated the "stimulating power" of the I Queen's University at £6 per student. The number of scholarships in the Cork College for the year was 139, as against 151, the number of students. From these figures it appeared to him that the "stimulating power" of that college was much above the amount estimated by the right hon. Baronet. The returns on this head had been very carefully prepared. In one place, where the number of scholarships provided ought to appear, only the number 2067 awarded was given, those which could not be given because there was no one to award them to being struck out. Of thirty scholarships open in Cork last year only twenty-three could be given, no more than the latter number coming up to the mark, though the standard could not be very high when the students and the scholarships were so nearly equal in number. It further appeared from the returns that a very large number of those who studied for one year in the colleges did not pass into a second year, so that a considerable proportion of the students must leave the colleges of their own accord or be "ploughed." [An hon. MEMBER: Plucked.] "Ploughed" was the term used in some Universities, and the meaning was the same as "plucked." The fact seemed to be that a large number of boys were attracted to those colleges by the large proportion of scholarships, and that in many cases these lads did not complete their academic course. The question suggested itself, why had not the colleges fulfilled their objects? The answer was that the colleges had not conciliated the confidence and goodwill of those who it was intended should profit by their establishment. The Roman Catholics were the best judges of the kind of education they wanted for their children. Would the gentlemen of this country permit all allusions to religion to be blotted out from the education of their children? The best part of education was its religious element. It had been asked whether geology or history could not be taught without religion? He answered unhesitatingly—it could not. No professor of geology would teach that science without reverting to the Great Creator of the Universe, and what would have been the historical lectures of Dr. Arnold without the glowing religious feeling which pervaded them? The Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education recently said, "The religious element underlies the whole system of education." Earl Russell also declared that religion must intertwine with the whole system of education. The whole life of the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been a pleading for religious education. The Bishop of Down and Connor, in his evidence before the Royal Commissioners, stated that the power and influence of the Dean of Residence—who was the one solitary Professor of religion in these colleges —was most limited on the students. What, then, did the Roman 2068 Catholics of Ireland seek? What the Roman Catholics of Ireland sought was a free and religious education, such as every religious sect enjoyed in England. In England every religion was free to teach with equal honour and equal advantage. This was all that was asked for Ireland. They claimed that Ireland should not be subject to one domineering system of Government education, crushing individual exertion, absorbing the whole education of the country into the power of the State. They asked, in short, for freedom of education, and for nothing more.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
Sir, I have to congratulate the hon. Member on having recalled the attention of the House to the true question before it. Sometimes hon. Members endeavour to atone for the scantiness of their matter by the intemperance of their language, and, not having bestowed pains and time on a subject, seize upon some topic that is irrelevant, and vent their spleen in a futile malignity which does not affect the question under discussion. I should say that the hon. and learned Member for Wexford (Mr. M'Mahon) is on the high road to promotion, and that he has established a claim on the favourable notice of the noble Viscount. As for the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield), he declared he was quite refreshed by the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Wexford. I am sure I do not grudge him the refreshment he says he enjoyed. I have before remarked that there are intolerant advocates of toleration. Lord Macaulay, in his History, says of the Puritans that they seized the Government of the country, overthrew the Church, subverted the monarchy, and tyrannized over the nation. And he remarks upon the excessive joy of the people when liberty in politics and religion became once more the right of the English nation. We are reminded that on one occasion in this House Mr. Miall proposed to sell the property of the Church of England in Ireland by auction. The hon. Member for Sheffield sup ported Mr. Miall on that occasion; but I believe they could not find tellers, and Mr. Miall has, in this House, ceased to adorn that cause by his eloquence. If hon. Members wish to attack the religion of the country, they ought to come forward and attack it openly, instead of assailing it indirectly by their harangues, and they would then meet the fate they richly de serve. The hon. Member for Roscommon 2069 (The O'Conor Don) introduced this subject with temper, ability, and moderation. The Member for Westmeath (Mr. Pollard-Ur-quhart) was the first to apply an insulting epithet to the Church to which he professes to belong. The hon. Member for the county of Longford (Major O'Reilly), wisely abstaining from following the bad example which a Protestant had set him, applied himself to the question, in which he takes much interest, and in which the hon. Member for Roscommon has spoken with the voice and opinion of a consider able section of the Roman Catholic people, gentry, and clergy of Ireland. The question introduced by the hon. Member for Roscommon touched upon the topic of University education. I decline to introduce. on this occasion, the subject of national education. That is a separate and distinct question. It is important to consider what are the grievances of the hon. Gentleman, and in what way they have been met by the right hon. Baronet, and how it is proposed to obtain practical re dress. There are several colleges in Ireland, and the point aimed at is to set op a new university in the city of Dublin. What is the state of education in Ireland at the present moment? There is a College of Physicians and a College of Surgeons, open of course to persons of all persuasions. There are three provincial colleges. There is the College of Maynooth; and there is the University of Dublin, founded, I will say, by great men in a glorious age. Now, we are told another University is required; and to whom are we indebted for the agitation on this question? I say, to the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I do not doubt his zeal for learning. I honour his disinterestedness and generosity; but on the day in which he made his speech at the Castle—when he indulged in hasty reflections on the University of Dublin, when he contrasted the state of the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, and pointed out the necessity of founding and endowing another University—which I suppose is the thing aimed at by the hon. Members who brought this subject before the House—on that day it was foreseen that the speech of the right hon. Baronet would originate the very agitation and discussion which have since taken place. I do not know whether the right hon. Baronet was authorized by the noble Viscount to promise the endowment of a fourth college. But from the fact of making the proposition—I speak 2070 without the slightest disrespect to the right hon. Gentleman—and reminding the Catholics of Ireland of their fancied grievance, ha induced the heads of the Roman Catholic Church at once to turn round and say—"Who are you that undertake to educate the youth of our religion?" And they went further and said, "Since there is to be a fourth college, it shall be our college, and a charter shall be granted to us to educate the youth of our Church as we think fit, and not as the right hon. Baronet thinks fit." Now, what was the condition of University education in Ireland some ninety years ago? At that time the Catholics complained, and justly, that they were branded with the accusation of being ignorant, while they were not permitted to receive suitable education. It was there fore proposed to obtain from the Irish Parliament an Act for opening the University of Dublin. The heads of the University consented, and Trinity College was thrown open to Roman Catholics and Dissenters; and when it was not in the power of English Dissenters to obtain a, degree in England, many of them graduated at the University of Dublin, one of the most distinguished being the late Sir Fowell Buxton. After the University was thrown open, it was proposed to found a college for the education of persons who wished to become clergymen of the Roman Catholic Church, and there was an interesting document in the shape of a petition drawn up by the Roman Catholic laity and presented to the Irish House of Commons by Mr. Grattan in 1795, which showed what were the sentiments of the Roman Catholic gentry of Ireland on separate education at the time. The petitioners warned the Parliament not to give to trustees, exclusively chosen, the right of directing the education of the youth of that country. They objected to the foundation of a University from which men of any religion were to be excluded, on the ground that such exclusion would tend to maintain the line of separation which had so long existed between the different religions, but which the petitioners conceived it to be the interest of the country to obliterate. The petitioners submitted that the youth of both religions should be instructed together in classical and scientific education, although not in their peculiar and distinctive tenets, which it was hoped would be no hinderanco to a friendly communication through after-life. I consider that the petition stated correctly the opinions of the en- 2071 lightened Catholic laity of that time. I did not gather from the hon. Gentleman who introduced this subject whether the new University which he wishes to see established is to be exclusive, at a time when no person is excluded on account of his religion from Trinity College, the Queen's Colleges, or the College of Surgeons or of Physicians in Ireland. Maynooth is practically exclusive, because that College is intended for the education of the Roman Catholic clergy. The principle upon which our University is conducted is this:—that no member of the Church of England can pass through it without being instructed in his religious duties; but those who do not belong to the Church are not coerced to attend religious instruction. Within the last few days a gentleman of Lincoln's Inn, who states that he is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, has published a pamphlet in which he argues in favour of granting a charter to the new college in Dublin, but he also makes another suggestion that there might be an additional wing to the colleges in Cork and Galway, where provision should be made for the attendance at worship and the religious instruction of the Roman Catholic students. That is a totally different proposition from that of the hon. Gentleman, because by the latter the Government would have no authority over the college as regards the appointment of the Provost or President, and the Professors. I do not understand whether the right hon. Baronet has given up his idea about the fourth college. [Sir ROBERT PEEL: I have not.] Well, every man has his hobby, and the right hon. Gentle man has a right, if he chooses, to found that college, an event which I am afraid will not take place till the Greek Kalends. The right hon. Baronet argues, "You re quire this college on the ground of population." I am sorry to say the population of Ireland is not increasing, it is rather diminishing; but of all the fallacies that could be brought forward that is the greatest—namely, if the population is 5,000,000, we want more colleges. If the right hon. Baronet were to ask the people of Ireland, in many places, whether they would have colleges or food, I am afraid their gross and vulgar nature would accept the latter alternative. If you would do anything for Ireland, you must look to the condition of the population—you must look to what the majority requires. The great majority of the lower classes are Roman Catholics, the majority of the middle class are Protestants, 2072 and in the learned professions the Protestants are as three or four to one. There fore it is a total fallacy to say, because the population is 5,000,000 you are to have more colleges. I admit the provision ought to be made for the education of the masses and the middle classes, but I think that instead of an unlimited number of colleges a good school would be more useful than this fanciful crotchet of the right hon. Baronet. I will now come to the facts and figures of the right hon. Baronet. I was surprised to hear a man of figures like the right hon. Baronet so little acquainted with what the figures really were. He said that the revenues of Trinity College were £90,000 a year. [An hon. MEMBER: £92,000.]
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
No. I said that it had 199,000 statute acres, and an income of £9,000 a year, from renewal of short leases.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
I took down the right hon. Baronet's words. He said the University had £90,000 a year. He is only wrong by £60,000—it has about £30,000 a year. It is true that the munificent monarchs of England and many wise patrons of learning have given large estates to the University; but many per sons have considerable properties out of the estates of the University—Mr. O'Connell has a large property out of its estates; and it is a remarkable thing that the tenants on the Church lands and on the University lands are generally rich, and they are never shot down by the population. The right hon. Baronet is therefore entirely wrong about the income of the University. Now, with regard to the Fellows, the right hon. Baronet said that the income of the Senior Fellows is as large as that of the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentle man was drawing on his imagination for his facts. Their income is£1,250.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
First the right hon. Gentleman selected the Prime Minister, who, I admit, is underpaid for his great labours; but my respectable constituents, the Senior Fellows, who after thirty or forty years' devotion to literature, have obtained incomes of £1,250, were endowed by the fancy of the right hon. Gentleman with salaries of £5,000. Now, he says their incomes are equal to the salaries of some of the Cabinet Ministers. I know not who are the unfortunate gentlemen in the 2073 Cabinet so placed, but I hope they will speedily change their positions for others more commensurate with their merits. The right hon. Baronet also spoke of the "stimulating force" of £28 for each member of the University. That is a very peculiar expression. The only stimulating force I recollect at school was not of the most agreeable nature, and probably the right hon. Gentleman's recollections upon that subject are in accordance with my own. But this statement is, like the rest of the right hon. Baronet's statement respecting the boundless wealth of the University of Dublin, all fancy. He has totally left out of consideration the fact that the students, who, he says, receive £26 a year, actually pay £25,000 a year for their education. He is wrong in supposing that every gentle man who enters the University is "stimulated" by £26; it is the love of learning, the desire of attaining to distinction, which are the real stimulants. The right hon. Gentleman said the students at Trinity College were 800, while in fact there are 1,500 on the books. I have marked all the passages in his book for him, so that he may make himself acquainted with the facts. These facts are well known, because a Commission lately inquired into the property and management of Dublin University, as at Oxford and Cambridge. I do not think it was necessary or right to drag into this discussion the question of the property and management of the national University. I say the Roman Catholics are indebted to that University for something more than the miserable pittance to which he refers. For a series of years, while the great question of Catholic Emancipation was discussed in this House, the representative of Dublin University, Mr. Plunkett, sat on one side, and the late Sir Robert Peel on the other. It is to the credit of the latter distinguished statesman that he yielded at last; but for many years the brilliant eloquence and matchless logic of the man chosen by the University and the clergy of Dublin University to represent them were heard in vain, when, if the question had been settled upon terms which Mr. Plunkett then proposed, it would have been a happy thing for the peace and prosperity of Ireland. It was not becoming to allude to the University of Dublin as a seat of bigotry, or as a place where Roman Catholics could not be educated. The best refutation of the charge was to be found in its history. 2074 When it was recommended by the Commissioners that further endowments should be given to Catholics, my noble Friend near me (Lord Naas) conducted a negotiation for three months with the heads of that University, and the result was, that they gave up £1,600 a year, which enabled them to found fourteen studentships, to be held for seven years; and these studentships were bestowed on gentlemen according to their success at the difficult final examination. The day after the speech of the right hon. Baronet in Dublin I was told by a gentleman that at that very time an examination was going on in Trinity College, in which two Roman Catholic gentlemen answered best for a studentship, and since then a third gentleman has obtained a studentship at Lincoln's Inn. Many other honours have been borne off by gentlemen of that persuasion in Dublin University, who were inspired by a desire to gain real literary distinction, in open competition with able men of other creeds for the high honours which it is in the power of the University to bestow. The right hon. Gentleman says the subscription for another college was munificently responded to. But I can tell him a curious circumstance in reference to that subject. While the matter was in progress, a Roman Catholic friend of mine, a member of the Bar, told me he had received a circular from the Chief Secretary asking for a subscription; "But," said he, "my answer will be, I have two sons in Dublin University, and I consider them to be much safer there than in any of the new colleges." I understood him to mean that the daily invitation to religious duties, the daily ringing of the chapel bell, although summonses for a form of worship which they did not adopt, still acted beneficially, as reminding them of the necessity of attending to their own religious exercises. I find that twenty-six Roman Catholic gentlemen entered the University in October, while at the same period only twenty-six degrees were given in all to Roman Catholics of the three Queen's Colleges, which is not much to boast of. I do not attack these institutions, nor do I wish to say one word against them. The President of Galway College is an old college friend of mine, an excellent, able, and enlightened man; the President of Belfast College is also a worthy gentleman, and an excellent instructor for the Church of Scotland. The college at Belfast affords instruction for the clergy of that 2075 Church. The Presbyterians are a large and respectable body numbering 600,000—a sturdy race, deserving of every respect. I found at Belfast that, immediately beyond the college buildings, there was another building, to which the students passed to receive religious instruction according to the tenets of the Church of Scotland, the secular education being given within the College walls and the religious instruction outside, but within a few paces from them. It would be quite open to adopt the same arrangement with respect to the college at Cork. There is, however, one point which the mover of this Motion has not ventured to explain—how is the charter to be drawn, and in whom is the authority to be lodged? The charter must come from the Crown; but. is the Crown to have any authority over the institution? Those are questions worthy of consideration by any constitutional lawyer. I will venture to say that no constitutional lawyer will hold that where the original authority emanates from the Crown it should have no authority over the institution. Let me remind the House of the usual course of life in Dublin University. The youth there engage in the same sports and amusements. I heard a musical performance by a choral society of some hundred students, but I could not distinguish between the Protestant and Roman Catholic voices; At the Historical Society, of which I have the honour to be a Vice President, Roman Catholic gentlemen discuss questions with their Protestant fellow-students with equal toleration, courtesy, and ability. They engage in cricket and other manly sports alike. I want to know from Roman Catholic Gentlemen, do they desire to separate the youth of their persuasion from honourable competition with the Protestants of the University? Do they mean to deny them the honour of beating Protestants upon their own ground, and to prevent that noble rivalry which has latterly characterized the youth of Ireland? I hope reflection will induce them to pause, and to consider Whether it be advisable to remove the Catholic gentry of Ireland from the national University, where they have been hitherto accustomed to receive the advantages and the honours of learning.
§ MR. MONSELL
could assure the right hon. Gentleman that he had no desire to alter the constitution of the University of Dublin. He believed that that University was as liberal towards Catholics as it was 2076 possible for it to be without deserting those very principles upon which the Catholic case rested. He admitted that Trinity College did everything for Roman Catholics except provide for them religions instruction; but the right hon. Gentleman himself was second to none in the House in proclaiming the absolute necessity of giving religious instruction to every student. How could he defend the present state of things in Ireland? Protestants could obtain religious education for their children. No Catholic, who believed that education without religion was dangerous could obtain an academical degree. For these persons it was impossible to obtain any degree at all. A degree simply represented certain intellectual attainments, and therefore every person, whatever his religion, should be allowed to obtain one, if he came up to the standard, without sacrificing his religious convictions. The mass of the Catholics of Ireland agreed with the Protestants of England and the Presbyterians of Scotland in believing that education ought not to be separated from religion; yet those who so believed could not obtain an academical degree for their children. What possible harm could be done to any human being by allowing Catholic students to obtain degrees without sacrificing their religious convictions? They asked for nothing more; and, surely, it was not an unreasonable request. Oxford and Cambridge, and the Scotch Universities, were all religious bodies, so that he was obliged to go to foreign countries for illustrations of this description of education. In Belgium the great cause of the opposition to the Dutch Government from 1815 to 1830 was that the Dutch established the same kind of university education now complained of in Ireland, immediately after the revolution freedom of education was established, and the number of candidates for degrees at once increased. In France, at the time of the first revolution, a system of education was founded very much like that of the Queen's Colleges. And in France the disputed question was not settled only by improving the Royal Colleges, but by giving those who believed that children ought to be educated in a definite religion the means of obtaining such an education. Where a great proportion of the population was excluded from taking academical degrees, there was neither liberty of conscience nor of education. He did not attempt to define the means 2077 by which this object could best be attained. A charter might be given to the Catholic university; or some central body in which all colleges were represented, might be established and given power to appoint examiners and confer degrees; but to apply tests, whether religious or irreligious—to make the violation of conscience the condition of obtaining a degree—was persecution. There was another point he would refer to. In the Queen's Colleges, every officer, from the President and Professors down to the porter, was nominated by the Government. Was the right hon. Baronet the Secretary for Ireland, with the strong opinions he held, a fit person to nominate the teachers of the Catholic youth of Ireland? This system of the supremacy of the State was an idea that seemed to pervade the mind of the right hon. Baronet. He held up his hands if any one presumed to question the infallibility of the State. This was Continental liberalism, that meant the State was everything, that all must bow down and worship the State. He protested against that system. He had endeavoured to put the question on a ground common to Catholics and Protestants. He did not believe that the Queen's Colleges were proselytizing institutions. The Catholics of Ireland, like the great mass of Catholics in France and Belgium, believed that such colleges led, not to Protestantism, but to latitudinarianism. Let an academical degree stand for what it really was, a proof of intellectual proficiency, and let it not be made, as it now was made, to depend on theological tests. Let the Catholics of Ireland be allowed to obtain degrees without sacrificing their religious opinions.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, that the right hon. Baronet had gone over to Ireland, knowing nothing of the country, and bad commenced an extraordinary crusade, not against the Roman Catholic religion, but against all its religious educational establishments, beginning with Trinity College, Dublin. He announced to the people that it was desirable to establish new scholar ships in the Queen's Colleges; and he announced, in a letter dated from the Castle, and addressed to the registrars of the various colleges, that a scholarship, founded by him, would be placed at the disposal of the students of the second year's course in the Faculty of Arts and Laws in the Queen's College, Galway. Now, he (Mr. Hennessy) had called for a Return of the 2078 number of students in the Queen's College at Galway of the second, third, and fourth year's courses of the Faculty of Arts, and also the number of scholarships appropriated to these students. During the recess he had ventured to put some figures before the public on this subject, but they had been disputed and denied. The question was now, however, set at rest by the official Return, and what did it show? In the Queen's College, Galway, in 1850–1, the number of students of the second year's course was 26, who competed for 24 scholarships; in 1851–2 there were 10 students and 15 scholarships; in 1852–3 10 students and 10 scholarships; and so the list ran on, until in 1861–2 there were just half as many students of the second year's course in the Faculty of Arts as there where when the College first opened, the total number of students being 128, and of scholarships 139. And yet these were the students to whom the right hon. Gentleman would give an additional scholarship. In the letter announcing the new foundation it was stated that along with this exhibition a scholarship might be held. The right hon. Gentleman knew that there would be great difficulty in getting any man of the second year who did not hold a scholarship, and so he provided that it might be obtained by a student who already held a scholarship. Referring to the Return from Galway College, he found that of students in the third year's course of the Faculty of Arts twelve attended when the college first opened, whereas in 1861–2 there were only eight who competed for ten scholarships. From 1851 to 1861 the total number of students of the second, third, and fourth year's course of the Faculty of Arts was 310, and the number of scholarships was 324. Now, he wished to know what became of the scholarships which were not taken up? Three gentlemen, advocates of the mixed system, who had reported on this subject, referred to the fact that the number of scholarships was large and the number of students small, and they recommended that the number of scholarships should be diminished and should be made more valuable; that the total amount appropriated from the Parliamentary grants to scholarships in the colleges should be reduced 25 pet cent and the number of scholarships 40 per cent. That recommendation had been laid before Parliament; but in the face of it the right hon. Baronet had called upon the whole of Ireland to raise subscriptions 2079 for increasing the number of scholarships, and had induced the noble Viscount to give £100 for the purpose, in opposition to the recommendations of the Commissioners, who said that the existing system was injurious in an educational point of view. The right hon. Baronet, if he did not read the Commissioners' Report, did the next best thing; he went down to Galway and probably saw the accomplished Professor, Mr. John O'Byrne Crowe. The learned Professor was examined by the Chairman of the Commission, the Marquess of Kildare, as follows:—Have you any class this year?—No.How long have you been Professor?—Since 1856.Have you had any pupils since?—No, but two or three intend, I think, to give in their names.Do you see any prospect of being able to form a class?—Indeed I think there will be great difficulty.The learned Professor subsequently suggested that three scholarships at least in the Celtic language—which was the language of 7,000,000 of people in Ireland, Scotland, and America—should be founded in connection with his class. The right hon. Baronet might have consulted Professor Crowe, but he could not have consulted the Commissioners, because they said the scholarship system had done great injury to the colleges, and expressed a hope that the sums for that purpose would be reduced. He was anxious to see the colleges full and flourishing, but to effect that object the Government must consult the views and opinions of the enlightened majority of the Irish people. At present money was voted to force on the people of Ireland a system which the Government imagined would unite them. But, as to union, the most unseemly conduct was exhibited by the students at a recent visitation of the College of Belfast. The report of the Visitors had not been laid upon the table of the House, and he thought the Government were very judicious in not drawing attention to it. No educational establishment, however old and venerable, excelled the Queen's Colleges in the curriculum of education or the mode of teaching; and he believed that, if filled with students, they might well be proud of such an institution. In spite of the difficulties under which they laboured, and which the Government had done nothing to remove, the students of the Queen's Colleges had distinguished themselves in all the examinations which had taken place in this country—a fact 2080 which showed that the system, as far as educational machinery was concerned, was excellent. Was it desirable, then, to keep the youth of Ireland from these colleges, as was evidently the case from there being professors without students, and only fire in the Faculty of Arts? As a friend of the Queen's Colleges, and as a friend of University education, he protested against the conduct of the right hon. Baronet in endeavouring to force an obnoxious system upon the people of Ireland, and he suggested to the Government the propriety of establishing a college for Catholics, another for Protestants, another for Presbyterians, and another for the advocates of the mixed system.
I should hope that the hon. Gentlemen who take an interest in the Queen's Colleges, and in the education question generally, are satisfied with the discussion which has taken place, and which has now lasted more than six hours. There is other business before the House, and I trust that those hon. Members who may still wish to express their opinions upon the subject will have the kindness to defer their speeches until some other opportunity for delivering them occurs, so that we may be allowed to go into the Orders of the Day, which are of a little more practical and pressing importance.
§ MR. MORE O'FERRALL
said, he had really hoped that a question so interesting to the people would not have been treated with utter contempt by the noble Lord. A question which had occupied six hours in discussion was entitled to the expression of some opinion from Her Majesty's Government. About thirty years ago, when this question was first mooted, the Catholics of Ireland placed such implicit confidence in a Protestant Government as to believe that that Government would lay down a system of education which they might accept. The Catholics of Ireland received from the Government of that day a most solemn pledge that the system would be free from all suspicion of proselytism; and, relying on that assurance, the great body of the Roman Catholic clergy and laity intrusted them with the education of their poor. Things went on smoothly for about nine years; when, unhappily, a positive breach of faith took place on the part of Ministers who were Members of Lord Grey's Government, which gave the pledge to which he had referred, because they sanctioned a change 2081 in the security previously given to the Roman Catholics. From that time for ward the Roman Catholics had been jealous both of the Government and of their system; but it had taken twenty years entirely to destroy the confidence that was reposed in the Government. For his own part, he had not withdrawn his confidence from them until the refusals given to his repeated remonstrances obliged him to do so. When the Irish Roman Catholic Bishops were about to meet to consider the subject, be warned the Government that if they wished to continue their system of education they must take steps that should prevent those bishops from coming to a resolution from which, once armed at, they could not recede. He, however, received no answer to his communication. In a subsequent year, when the question became more difficult, he sought an interview with a Cabinet Minister, and saw two. He told them that of all the benefits conferred upon Ireland by the Government within the last thirty years, and not even second to Catholic Emancipation itself, was the establishment of the national system of education; and, disclaiming all extreme opinions, he pointed out the evil consequences of the course they were pursuing, and entreated them, but without success, to reconsider their decision. Since then a strong feeling had grown up in the country, and a strong resolution had been come to unanimously by the Irish Catholic bishops. While the Government, on the one hand, sought to force on the country a system of education which they would not receive, and the Catholic bishops, on the other, held that that system was dangerous to the religion of their people, what chance was there for the tranquillity of Ireland? A gentleman of considerable ability and great fluency of speech, but without the prudence requisite for such an office, had been lately appointed Chief Secretary, and his selection had been defended by high authority, on the ground that he possessed those rollicking qualities for which Irishmen were celebrated. They all knew the story of the man at a fair who, finding the people all peaceable, took off his coat, dragged it along the ground, and tried to get up a fight by threatening to knock down the first man who trod on it. Well, the new Chief Secretary pursued a precisely analogous course, because the moment he got to Ireland he stirred up the most delicate and exciting of all questions that he could 2082 have meddled with. For himself he viewed the existing state of things with great alarm, and desired to see the peace of Ireland, above all its religious peace, promoted. There was now really no question between the Government and the people which men of sense and temper might not settle by an hour's conversation. Surely some rational compromise might be come to. If there were any gentlemen free from party feeling in that House, and who looked to the welfare of the country, he entreated them to interpose in order to close that unseemly quarrel.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.