HC Deb 08 April 1864 vol 174 cc663-80

, who had given notice to move for a Select Committee to inquire into the Scientific Institutions of Dublin which were assisted by Government aid, said, that after the division which had just taken place it was not, he believed, possible for the Speaker to put the Motion which it had been his intention to submit to the House. What he proposed, therefore, to do was to take the discussion on his Motion at once, and if the Government should signify their readiness to assent to it, then to move for the Committee, pro formâ, on some future occasion. In the year 1862, applications were made to the Treasury by the Royal Dublin Society for a sum amounting in round numbers to £10,000, to put the Museum, the Botanic Gardens, and the agricultural department of the society into an efficient state, but, before entertaining the application, the Treasury considered that a Commission should be appointed to report upon the Royal Dublin Society and other scientific institutions in Dublin, and also into the system of scientific instruction in Ireland. It is unnecessary, at present, to enter into any general discussion of the Report of this Commission. It is sufficient to say that the main features of it are two recommendations, the first, a very proper one—namely, to increase the powers of the executive council acting on behalf of the society, inasmuch as it did not possess adequate control over the general management of the affairs of the society, and in particular over its officers, while its decisions were liable to be overruled and reversed by the accident of the popular vote of the whole body. On more than one occasion there has been a conflict between the Government, whose annual subsidy is the main support of the institution and the society; and there have also been conflicts between the council and the general body, in which the decisions of the council have been overruled. It was clear that such a state of things could not be continued, nor could it be suffered that large sums of public money should be annually voted, when at any moment the society might place itself in collision with the Government. With the view of having these chances of collision, increased power was recommended to be placed in the hands of the council, which thus became a central and executive authority, able to act immediately and without the necessity of consulting the members at large. No one could dispute the propriety of this suggestion. The second recommendation was very different—namely, that the Museum of Irish Industry should be totally abolished, with the exception of the Professors of Geology and Botany, who should be transferred to the Royal Dublin Society. That the Geological and Paleontological Collections should be transferred to Marsh's Library, belonging to the society, and the Technological collection distributed throughout the country. There was also this ominous sentence at the end of the Report— Some advantage would be gained if all the Parliamentary giants in aid of science and art al Dublin were included in the estimate of the Royal Dublin Society, and were paid through its medium inasmuch as they would annually be brought under consideration in one point of view, and the council of the Royal Dublin Society would have an opportunity of making any representation which the circumstances of the time might render proper in reference to them. When this astounding recommendation go wind, alarm rose high among the scientific institutions in Dublin, more especially as this summary mode of extinguishing their independence had been adopted without any evidence whatever having been taken from them or about them. In fact, evidence seems to have been quite a secondary consideration with the Commissioners, who conclude their Report with the following extraordinary passage, perhaps one of the most extraordinary that was ever submitted in a Report to Her Majesty:— We submit the evidence taken by us, but it is proper to add that in the conclusions at which we have arrived we were partly influenced by a variety of documentary information as well as by our own knowledge of facts. It would be difficult to find an instance in which the House of Commons was looked on to acquiesce in a Report based on documentary evidence of which it knew nothing, and on facts of which, though doubtless familiar to the Commissioners, and of great weight in their opinion, the House was equally ignorant. The Royal Irish Academy and other scientific institutions at once protested against the highhanded proceedings which were threatened, and the first-named society published a series of resolutions, and very stout and excellent resolutions they were, namely— That the Royal Irish Academy regards with surprise and alarm the suggestion contained in the Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry respecting scientific instruction in Ireland, that the academy should be placed under the superintendence, and to some extent under the control, of the council of the Royal Dublin Society. That the Commissioners appointed by the Treasury to inquire into a number of scientific institutions, including this Academy, have made the above recommendation without examining any of its officers, or even notifying their intention of taking evidence affecting its interests. In fact, the objections to such an arrangement felt by the members of the Royal Irish Academy are such as would be felt by the members of the Royal Society of London to a proposal to submit them, in any degree, to the control of the Society of Arts. That the Academy entirely dissents from the opinion expressed in the Report of the Commissioners, to the effect that real public benefit would ensue from affiliation of this Academy to any other society. That the only other reason assigned by the Commissioners for an innovation which would thus compromise the honour and interests of an important national institution is an alleged official convenience of the most inconsiderable kind. It was felt quite clearly by the Government that this was a little too strong a measure even for Ireland, and accordingly these societies were re-assured by a pledge that the recommendation of the Report would not be applied to them. They were not to be devoured then, at all events. As regards the Museum of Irish Industry, however, there was to be no surrender—its destruction was resolved on by the Treasury and the Department of Science and Art, and the capital of Ireland, as regards scientific institutions, was to be reduced to the level of a provincial town. When, however, the fate that impended over this institution became known, general indignation prevailed. Petitions flowed in from all parts of Ireland, protesting against the destruction of an institution from which such benefit had been derived, and the utility of which was daily becoming more and more acknowledged. These petitions came from the Town Commissioners of Dundalk, Lismore, Ballymoney, Maryborough, Rathkeale, Guilford, Bally-shannon—from Dundalk, from the Limerick Athenaeum, Tralee, Waterford, and Clonmel Mechanics' Institute—Drogheda, Omagh, Cork, Croom, and Bandon. The Lord Lieutenant saw at once the unpopularity and the extreme impolicy of the measure. He objected to the details of the Report and to its tendency, stating, in a letter from Sir Thomas Larcom, February, 1863, That the consolidation of the Museum of Irish Industry and of the scientific lectures in the Royal Dublin Society would be considered, as regards industrial education, a reversion of the original intention, and of the policy which has been pursued for the last eighty years in Ireland." "As to the provincial lectures, his Excellency recognizes the merits of the system described in the Report as successful in England, but doubts whether Ireland is yet sufficiently advanced to receive it with advantage, and that it is more fitted to produce mediocrity in the many than high acquirements in individuals. And representations were made to the Chancellor of the Exchequer by about sixty Irish Members, which clearly indicated the feeling of the country. The petitioners had good ground for their remonstrances. They argued against the recommendation on general grounds; but they argued also against it on the special ground of the composition of the Commission, and on the composition of the witnesses, and the House of Commons would be rather astonished when they heard the allegations. They were these:—That the Committee was essentially a packed Committee. It was composed of the representative of the Treasury, Sir Charles Trevelyan, and the Treasury had already determined on this amalgamation. No proof is required of this; the correspondence proves it; nor does there appear to be the least desire on the part of the Treasury to conceal that determination. The second member was Captain Donnelly, of the Department of Science and Art, also intent on the suppression of the Irish Industrial Museum, as it is also, not without reason, suspected of being equally intent on the suppression of the kindred institution in Jermyn Street. The policy of that Department has been to centralize everything at Kensington; to make Kensington, and it alone, the Cen- tral College of Science, leaving only secondary institutions to the provincial towns, among which it is intended that, ere long, Dublin should be reckoned. The other two Members of the Commission were actually both of them at the time members of the Royal Dublin Society. As this society had an immediate benefit in the increase of its sphere, its importance, and its funds by this amalgamation, it was natural enough that these gentlemen should be objected to. The objection was the more valid, as the Royal Dublin Society had invariably looked on the Museum of Irish Industry as a rival institution to be got rid of. Not to make allegations without proof, it would be sufficient to quote the letter of the Royal Dublin Society to the Government, in 1854, protesting against even the establishment of the Museum— It is a matter of great surprise and regret to the society that Government should have deemed it necessary or economical to have established in close proximity, and for nearly similar objects, such an Institution as the Irish Museum. He wished to guard himself against anything that could give rise to the imputation of wishing to ascribe unfairness to Sir Richard Griffith, or Chief Justice Blackburn, of both of whom it was his desire to speak with the respect to which their eminent position and character entitled them. He wished to say nothing more than that the Commission was not impartial—on the contrary, that it was eminently partial, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would support him in his objections to such a Commission when he recalled the discussion which took place on the Holy-head Committee of 1863. These were Mr. Gladstone's words— What I said was, that in my opinion, and in the opinion of the Government, the Committee had not been impartially constituted. I referred to the position occupied by many hon. Members on it. The right hon. Gentleman refused to be bound by the Report of that Committee, assuring the House, at the same time, that he entertained the highest respect for the character of the Members composing it. But if this objection held good as regards the composition of a Committee, it was ten times worse as regards the composition of a Commission, because the right hon. Gentleman had the opportunity of objecting to the Committee at the time of its nomination, whereas no opportunity is given for objection to a Commission appointed by the Crown until the Report becomes the subject of discussion. The composition of the Commission was a pretty strong affair; but what would the hon. Gentleman think of the examination pursued — that, out of the seventeen witnesses examined, sixteen were connected with the Royal Dublin Society, eight members of Council, six officials, and two committee men. Sir Robert Kane was the only other person examined. No other persons were summoned to give evidence. Professor Jukes, the lecturer on geology to the Museum of Irish Industry, and the local director of the Geological Survey, never heard of the Commission save by report, nor was there a single person summoned from the other scientific societies, although the Report recommends, from the Commissioners' knowledge of facts, that these institutions should be affiliated, or, in reality, placed under the Royal Dublin Society. There was nothing like an illustration. Suppose a Commission were appointed to inquire into the London corporation with a view to ascertain whether that body should have its funds increased, whether it should retain its own police and have the police of the other districts of the metropolis put under its jurisdiction—suppose that Commission to be composed of two aldermen and of two Government officials, whose departments had notoriously and avowedly prejudged the question favourably—suppose the evidence as to the advisability of the annexation to have been derived from seventeen witnesses only, sixteen of whom were the Lord Mayor, aldermen, common council men and civic officials—could there be doubts of the result—and yet such a case would not be one whit more flagrant than the present. What is the institution that it is now proposed should be destroyed? One would suppose that it was some old outworn institution no longer adapted to the wants of the present age, but it is precisely the reverse. It is anew and vigorous institution, eminently successful, every day increasing in its efficiency and popularity, and the functions of which, instead of being smothered in the Royal Dublin Society, ought to be greatly extended. This Irish Museum was established by Sir Robert Peel, no mean judge of the requirements of Ireland, at the time when the Queen's Colleges were established, as, in deference to Trinity College, Dublin, a Queen's College was not established in that city, and I believe I have good reasons for stating that it was the intention of Sir Robert Peel to make this institution essentially a college for scientific instruction. The Museum galleries have only been finished ten years at great expense. Now it is proposed to dismantle them, and Professor Jukes will tell you that it will take three years to re-arrange them. The Museum of Irish Industry was originally called the Museum of Economic Geology, based on the same plan as that of Jermyn Street on the operation of the Geological Survey, but with a wider range. The suppression of this Museum would be to the Irish branch of the survey the same thing as the suppression of the Museum of Practical Geology to Great Britain. One of the main objects connected with the educational or instructional part of this institution was the carrying out of investigations connected with the industrial arts, and in deciding on the establishment of this museum. Lord Lincoln, then Secretary, said that one principal reason was, that it should be a school of instruction and research in the industrial arts. For that end a school of chemistry was established, and now two courses of systematic instruction in practical chemistry are given—one in the laboratory by day, the other in the evening, and the evening classes are generally composed of artizans and persons employed in shops. Now, let me show the progress of this institution as compared with another most successful institution, that of Jermyn Street. From 1855 to 1861 the Jermyn Street pupils increased from 104 to 140; from 1855 to 1861 the Irish Museum pupils increased from 15 to 50. Jermyn Street, 1861—cost of maintenance, £6.387; visitors 24,151; laboratory students, 140; students' school of science, 6; occasional students, 124; attendance on lectures 2,400. Stephen's Green Museum,]861—cost of maintenance, £4,062; visitors 28,843; laboratory students, 50; visitors to library, 140; attendance at lectures, 8,010. Now as to results. One example will suffice Mr. Dowling was a clerk in a humble establishment in Dublin. He became a pupil in the practical chemical class in the Irish Museum. Having passed the examination necessary for his qualification, he became a teacher under the art and science department, and established a school of chemistry at Cork; and what has been the success of that school?—why, something almost incredible. On reference to the 9th Report of Science and Art, it will be seen that at the science examinations for 1861, there were given for chemistry, one gold, two silver, and three bronze medals. Mr. Dowling's pupils carried away two silver and two bronze medals, leaving only two to be contended for by competitors from the whole of Great Britain. He also took eight first classes out of seventeen, although twenty-two other teachers of the United Kingdom brought up their schools. In the 10th Report we find these words, as regards the next year's examination of 1862— It exhibits the remarkable fact that the students of Irish schools, numbering only 374, were successful in obtaining 149 prizes, and 12 out of a total of 689 prizes and 34 medals. In chemistry, out of the six medals of 1862—namely, one gold, two silver, and three bronze, Mr. Dowling's pupils took one gold, two silver, and one bronze. This is indeed incredible, and on a witness, a member of the Royal Dublin Society, being asked how this extraordinary success was to be accounted for, he said it was due to the taste being imparted to the young men of Ireland by lectures, and he instanced, in particular, the popularity of those of Professor Jukes at Belfast, Professor Jukes being professor of practical geology at the Irish Museum. We should pause before sweeping away a system marked with success, and the efficiency of which might be infinitely increased; but my Lords of the Deportment of Science and Art see no reason why this latent talent of Ireland should be encouraged, or why more than the merest elementary education should be given in Ireland. If that country is to obtain a higher education, let her children spend their money in London, and come to Jermyn Street and Kensington for their training. They and the Commissioners and the advocates of amalgamation, contend that the work might be done somewhat cheaper if the Irish Industrial Museum were abolished. One witness—namely, Mr. Foot, a vice-president of the Society—objects to the Museum because it has not the public confidence and regard—that the collections are in some respect duplicate collections, Mr. Steele, one of the Secretaries of the Society, says— There are, certainly, collections at the Irish Museum illustrative of the manufactures of porcelain, glass, iron, and various clays, which are of no practical value as there are no manufactures in Ireland. Of course, the witness presumed there never would be any. Sir Thomas Larcom is of a different opinion. He says— It is dangerous to measure the industrial character of a country merely by its present condition. The remarkable circumstance mentioned by Sir R. Kane in his evidence of the German chemists finding occupation in the manufacturing establishments is a practical commentary on the importance of giving facilities for high industrial education, and his Excellency cannot but feel that it would be highly advantageous if young Irishmen were trained to fill such places, a career which has already been opened to one or more students from Stephen's Green. Professor Haughton, who has the arrangement of the museum of the Society, thinks— That collections made by geological surveys ought not to be left together, but that all fossils should be brought together and arranged according to their zoological affinities without reference to where they came from. That the Royal Dublin Society had for its members very many persons of high rank; that many people visit one museum, and few visit two; that you have the same lecturers giving the same class of lectures on the same subjects in both establishments. These are the objections to the existence of the Irish Museum. To these objections it is replied that the two institutions were founded for different purposes—the Royal Dublin Society for the encouragement of husbandry, which might fairly bring under its scope everything connected with agriculture, the vegetable and the animal kingdom. The Irish Museum was for economic geology—the one for all that is on the surface of the earth, the other for all that is below it. That it is admitted even in one of the Reports of the Society that the lectures of the Royal Dublin Society, when they trench on the province of the Irish Museum, are intended only to give popular elementary instruction in science, whereas the lectures of the Irish Museum are to give more advanced and technical instruction. That the numbers of persons visiting a museum, though it may be a test of its popularity, is no test of its utility; and, as such, Madame Tussaud is more popular than Jermyn Street. That when the Report speaks of many persons visiting one museum—few having time to visit two, one would imagine that the writer of the passage had an idea that a scientific museum was a raree show, and that good and profit were to be obtained from one visit to it—that scientific museums are not supported for the sake of having files of visitors passing through them, but for the use of scientific men or of students intending to become so, so that they repay their expense by additions which they make to the intellectual wealth of the country. That, as regards the composition of the society being of the salt of the earth, the very great personages of the land, there is no gain in that—that it is not a scientific Society—that it is a private Society, though maintained chiefly at the public expense—that it is entirely anomalous in its functions and principles, and has no parallel in England, Scotland, or Continental Europe, as in no country in the world are Botanic Gardens, schools of science and art, supported by the State—yet handed over to a private society—but that this experiment is characteristically reserved for Ireland; that the governing staff of the Irish Museum consists wholly of scientific men who are obviously the only persons to whom the management of a scientific institution can properly be trusted, and that there is nothing in the Report which hints at giving to the scientific officers of the Museum any place among the governing body of the Royal Dublin Society; that these scientific officers would be perfectly ready and proud to serve under a man eminent in science like Sir Roderick Murchison, but not under a shifting unscientific body as the Royal Dublin Society, which says of itself— They do not profess to be a scientific body nor to endeavour to enforce the vigorous co-operation of the lovers of abstract science. They do not see why the co-operation of eminent men of science should be estimated more highly by the Government than that of the landed professional and mercantile gentry of Ireland, with whom the society originated.' In the evidence before the Committee of 1836, they say that their scientific professors were not intended to make scientific discoveries, but were only for the purpose of giving popular scientific lectures. The original salaries of professors were £300 annually, they were subsequently reduced to £200, and then to £150. The idea of what a professor should be capable of was rather magnificent. On the death of Sir Charles Gesecke, it was resolved— That the new Professor should possess a thorough knowledge of mineralogy, geology, zoology, conchology, and comparative anatomy; he should also be practically acquainted with coal and metallic mining. This was pretty well for £150 per annum, considering also that a rule was framed that he should pay for any gallipots he might break. So much for the scientific capabilities of the Society into which a really scientific institution is to be merged. That, as regards the mixing together of the rocks and fossils of both museums, no recommendation could be more prejudicial to science, or evince greater ignorance of the objects of the two institutions. The Royal Dublin Society's Museum is arranged according to biological affinities for the physiologist. The Irish Museum is arranged for the study of practical geology in stratigraphical order, according to the relative position of rock groups, and I the fossils according to their position in the various strata, the history of which they illustrate. In London the first arrangement is that of the British Museum, the second arrangement is that of the Museum in Jermyn Street, and Sir Roderick Murchison would be as aghast if he were called on to amalgamate his collections with the British Museum, as Professor Owen would be if called on to transfer his to Jermyn Street. Each, in fact, assists and supplements the other, and their very distinctness of arrangement constitutes their value. Lastly, as to the allegation that the Museum has not the public confidence and regard, as stated by Mr. Foot, the best reply to that are the remonstrances addressed to the Treasury, not only by the Irish Executive and by Irish Members, but by all the chief towns in Ireland, where scientific education has been commenced, and its good effects have made themselves felt. He (Mr. Gregory) could state from his own knowledge that this Report had given great alarm in Ireland, and that it had raised, and justly raised, great indignation, and that the composition of such a Commission as this, and such an examination as was pursued, would not for one moment have been tolerated in England or in Scotland. He (Mr. Gregory) protested against this summary manner of depriving Ireland of a high course of scientific instruction. He protested against Dublin, which he once represented, being reduced to the level of a provincial town, and compelled to seek the most elementary instruction at the hands of a clique at Kensington, which had become most odious to England, and wished to extend its offensiveness to Ireland. He rejoiced to find in the late correspondence with the Treasury and the Dublin Society, that the Society had had the wisdom and good taste to ask for the aid it required on the basis of its absolute exigencies, and not on the basis of aggression on a kindred institution. He wished well to the Royal Dublin Society with all his heart. He was convinced that if a fair inquiry was granted, it would be able to substantiate its claims for assistance, and that arrangements might be recommended defining the functions of each institution, putting an end to further temptations at aggression which are so craftily suggested to it, and laying the foundation for a material addition to the intellectual advancement of Ireland.


said, it might tend to curtail unnecessary discussion if, in the absence of his right hon Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he announced at once that the Government were prepared to agree to the Committee for which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) had just moved. He had no doubt that the result of the full inquiry which would take place as to the character of the institutions in question would be to place them in a different position from that which might have followed from the decision of the Commission of 1862. He agreed in very much which had fallen from his hon. Friend, but there were two points in which he was in error. His hon. Friend had repeatedly declared that the Government were desirous of making Dublin a provincial town and of destroying the Museum of Irish Industry by amalgamating it with the Royal Dublin Society. He was totally unaware of any such designs being entertained on the part of the Government in regard to Dublin, and he could state that they had come to no decision whatever with respect to the amalgamation of the two museums. It was true that the Commission of 1862 had in their Report recommended such a proceeding, but the Government had not resolved to adopt it. He owned frankly that the feeling against amalgamation was very strong in Ireland; and that, for his own part, he had never approved of the recommendation of the Commission. From the first he had deemed the constitution of the Commission rather singular, and he thought that the result of the inquiry was very partial; for, while several representatives of the Dublin Society had been examined, no one had been examined on the part of the Museum of Industry It was under that conviction that the Government were now willing to grant the Committee. The objects of the Royal Dublin Society and of the Museum of Irish Industry were quite separate, the former being, as he might say, exhibitional, while the other was intended to give education for industrial purposes. He should be very sorry to see the latter lose its dis- tinctive character, and he hoped the House would never sanction a measure which would deprive the country of the valuable services of so eminent a man as Sir Robert Kane.


said, the statement of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth would relieve the question of a great deal of difficulty. He had intended to second the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Galway. He felt that one of the institutions in question had not been fairly dealt with. The Government had agreed to contribute towards the erection of a new museum on ground belonging to the Royal Dublin Society, but the building was still in an unfinished condition. The shell had been erected, but all the internal fittings, the glass cases and other arrangements necessary to display the objects and specimens in the possession of the Society were wanting, and the educational means at the command of the Society were thus rendered valueless. In 1861, Captain Donelly, who had been sent over to Dublin by the Government on a mission of inquiry, reported in favour of making a grant to the society, but suggested that the constitution was not so perfect as it might be. Immediately afterwards the society were informed by the Treasury that the introduction of the changes proposed by Captain Donelly might be made a condition of the continuance of the public aid given to the institution. From that day to the present not a farthing had been given to the society, notwithstanding their frequently expressed readiness to assent to every condition which the Government might think fit to impose, and notwithstanding also that the Commission, appointed subsequently to the mission of Captain Donelly, had re-echoed his recommendation that a grant should be made. The Society had shown the utmost readiness to comply with the recommendations of the Commissioners. A special Committee to consider the changes to be made in the constitution and powers of the Council had been appointed; the Society agreed to adopt them; and, if the alterations in the constitution of the society had not been completed, it was only because the society had been requested by the Treasury not to proceed further, as the Government wished to institute an inquiry with respect to the proposal of amalgamation with the Mu- seum of Irish Industry. Within the present year the society had represented to the Treasury that they took no interest in the question of amalgamation, but simply wished for means to enable them to carry out the objects for which the society was founded. It would thus be seen that the society was not in fault. The absolute necessity of this grant to enable the Society to discharge its duties to the public had been admitted on all hands. They had over and over again intimated their willingness to meet the views of the Government with respect to a change in their constitution, but all their applications for pecuniary aid had been refused; because the Government were determined, in order to save a few pounds, to carry out the scheme of the amalgamation with the Museum of Irish Industry. The Dublin Society was made to suffer, in fact, for official indecision and procrastination. No such niggardliness was shown to public institutions in England. During the last few years enormous sums had been given to the British Museum and other establishments of a similar kind, though the private contributions were comparatively inconsiderable. But that was not the case with the Royal Dublin Society, for on one occasion, while the sum voted by Parliament for its support was only £5,500, no less than.£6,198 was collected for it among its own members. When people were found so liberal in supporting such an institution, they had reason to complain of the Government for withholding so small a sum as £10,000, to enable them to put to a proper use the large stores which they had collected for the public benefit.


said, he must complain of the extraordinary conduct of the Government in relation to the matter under discussion. The Royal Commission appointed by the Government had recommended a grant of public money amounting to only £10,000, in order to put a most valuable public institution in efficient working order. Notwithstanding which, the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) had now thrown overboard the Report of that Commission, and had proposed to refer the whole subject to the investigation of a Parliamentary Committee. That, in his opinion, was one of the most extraordinary proceedings in the present extraordinary age of which he had ever heard. Even the right hon. Baronet had said that the con- stitution of the Commission was somewhat curious, but he must remember that the Commissioners were of the Government's own selection. [Sir ROBERT PEEL: I merely referred to the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for Galway.] He certainly understood, as did other hon. Members, the right hon. Baronet to express that as his own opinion. The Commissioners had fully dealt with the subject; they had examined most competent witnesses, such as Professor Haughton and Lord Talbot de Malahide, than whom there was not a more patriotic nobleman in Ireland, and they had deliberately recommended the amalgamation between the Royal Society and the Museum of Industry. He could not understand why the Government should not carry out the recommendation which would enable them to maintain, at the least possible expense, an efficient national institution. And yet it had linen said that there was not evidence to justify the recommendations of the Commissioners Why, Sir Robert Kane himself, the President of the Museum of Irish Industry, had been summoned before the Commission, and in his evidence he made use of the following remarkable words: — "I fully believe if the amalgamation took place tomorrow the public would not lose by the change, and the country would not look upon it unfavourably." [Mr. GREGORY: His whole evidence was against it.] What could be stronger than the words he had quoted? He quite agreed with the right hon. Baronet the Member for the city of Dublin (Sir Edward Grogan), that the proper course to be taken would be for the Government to place on the Estimates for the present year the grant which the Royal Commission had recommended to be given to the Royal Dublin Society. The Royal Dublin Society did not shrink from inquiry; but, in the present proposal, what he complained of was the waste of time and money that would be involved, and the inconsistent conduct of the Government.


said, he must complain of the tone of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory) and of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel), for they had both prejudged, to a certain extent, the recommendations of the Committee which it was proposed to appoint, when all they had to do was to make out a case for inquiry. The hon. Member for Galway had hardly spoken of the Royal Dublin Society with the same kindness as he would have shown had he continued a Member for the City. But that society had obtained the approval of successive Governments and Parliaments; it took a range of scientific inquiry more extensive than any other learned body in Europe, and was, to a certain extent, self-supporting. It had obtained a grant of something like £6,000 a year, but it collected more than that sum among its supporters. It had expended £4,700 upon a permanent agricultural hall, and £5,000 upon the building of a museum of natural history, and it only asked the Government for £6,000. It had a school of arts and a school of design, exhibited agricultural shows and gave large rewards, and now it was almost in extremis in consequence of the non-fulfilment of the promises of the Government. The Government had promised that, if the society complied with certain conditions, the grant should be made; they did comply with those conditions, and the Government, notwithstanding, had changed their minds on the most vital point, and had refused the grant. The citizens of Dublin and the people of Ireland demanded of that House that there should be some satisfactory settlement of the question. That a valuable collection of natural history, fine libraries, and a splendid museum of mineralogy should be left in such a state that it was impossible to exhibit them, was a perfect scandal to the Government. If Ireland had its own Parliament, which formerly made grants of £10.000 and £12,000 a year to that institution, the interests of the institution would have been protected, and he thought that the Imperial Government and Parliament ought not to refuse the small assistance now asked of them.


said, he would not enter upon the question of the amalgamation of the two societies, but would simply state that he believed they had been of great advantage to the people of Ireland. The present position of affairs was, however, most deplorable. There were fine collections of natural history scattered about the rooms and covered with dust, and many valuable books of the society had to be stowed away in the rafters for want of fitting accommodation. He hoped no delay would take place on the part of the Government in settling the question.


said, the primary question before the House was, whethe-those two institutions should be amalgamated. The Royal Commission had re- ported in favour of their amalgamation. He had been surprised that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel) should hare said that he quite acknowledged the justice of the argument against that Report of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Gregory). The right hon. Baronet appeared only too eager to throw over the recommendations of the Commission appointed by the Government of which he was a Member, and to appeal from their Report to a Select Committee of that House. The Report of the Government's own Commission was distasteful to Dublin, and therefore also to the right hon. Baronet; and no doubt they might constitute a Committee which would reverse that Report, and substitute for it another that would be more palatable. Of course, it was an unpopular measure in any locality to stop up one of two existing avenues to the Exchequer, but the broader interests of the public should not be forgotten in this House. He confessed he was surprised at not seeing the Vice President of the Committee of Privy Council in his place, for that question referred to his Department. But why was that right hon. Gentleman not there? Because he had compromised himself and expressed a strong opinion in favour of the Report of the Commission, and he therefore could hardly have taken the part so boldly taken by the right hon. Baronet. The right hon. Baronet, moreover, proposed to proceed in a somewhat Irish fashion, for he expressed his desire that they should have an inquiry, and then he went on to pronounce by anticipation the most decided opinions as to what the issue of that inquiry should be. He strongly condemned the Report of the Commissioners, by way of an argument for an inquiry into its subject, and professed himself astounded that anybody should recommend the amalgamation of the two societies, which is one of its alternative conclusions. The inquiry was thus to be a sham one, starting with a foregone conclusion. It could not be denied that those institutions were, to a great extent, identical. Neither could it be denied that both institutions had done a great deal of good, but the question was, whether they would not have done a great deal more if they had been amalgamated. If the argument of the hon. Member for Galway were good for anything, then, instead of amalgamating those institutions, the House ought to double or triple their number. He could not agree with the hon. Member that the metropolis of Ireland would be affronted or reduced to the level of a provincial town if those two identical institutions had one staff of officers and one principal by whom they might communicate with the Government, and one sucker to the Treasury. He was sorry the Government had thrown over the Report of their own Commission which had so recently inquired into the subject. All the evidence that could be useful had been taken, and the facts of the case were fully known, and it would be a waste of public money to ask the same witnesses to come to London and give their evidence over again. He feared that the Committee would be called together not for any practical object, but to assist in carrying out a foregone conclusion. The duplication of this institution was a simple and notorious job; the verdict of the Royal Commission was the only one impartial judges could give; and packing a Committee to reverse it would maintain, but in no way justify, a public imposition.