§ Order for Committee read.
§ MR. E. P. BOUVERIE
Sir, I do not propose to occupy the attention of the House at any great length, having on former occasions stated the circumstances which appeared to me to render such a measure as this desirable. The House will be good enough to bear in mind that this Bill does not touch the question of the Universities in any degree whatever. It can only indirectly affect the Universities, inasmuch as by modern practice nobody can be a member of them unless he be also a member of one of the Colleges. In ancient times, as is well known to those who are familiar with these subjects, the Colleges were mere offshoots of the University, and had no direct and immediate connection with it, except as far as these were places where members of the University lived. But in modern times the Colleges have established a complete monopoly, and no one now can be a member of the University except he be also a member of a College. The Bill, therefore, only affects the Universities indirectly, its direct object having reference to those corporations—the Colleges—included within the two Universities. The position of Cambridge and of Oxford with respect to the subject-matter of the Bill differs somewhat, and I will state shortly what the present position is. As regards Oxford, as everybody will be aware from the discussion which took place the other day upon the Bill of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter, religious tests are still imposed in the case of all degrees except that of bachelor. Under the Oxford University Act there was an express prohibition of any religious tests being imposed in taking bachelor's degrees in arts, music, or medicine; but, as regards masters of arts, doctors of music, doctors of medicine, theological degrees, and so forth—with regard to all these, the ancient tests are still retained. That is to say, a candidate, before the degree is conferred, is required to sign the Thirty nine Articles and the 36th Canon, by which, in effect, he declares his adhesion to the Church of England. Unless, therefore, the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter becomes law, this Bill, as I shall presently explain, can have no direct and immediate operation in the Colleges 2014 in Oxford; because, though it removes the test applied by the Colleges respectively under the Act of Uniformity to the candidate for fellowship, yet, as the fellows, in taking the master's degree, which at Oxford is a condition of the fellowship, must take these University tests under the existing law, the change which my Bill proposes would merely remove one difficulty in the way of Nonconformists becoming fellows, and would not remove the great and substantial difficulty of University tests. But at Cambridge matters are entirely different. Under the Cambrige University Act no religious test whatever is imposed upon any degree except the theological degree, and the test which a person taking a degree is required to swallow, if he wishes to become a member of the Senate, to have a voice in the governing body of the University, or in the choice of a Member of Parliament, is a simple declaration of bonô fide membership of the Church of England. If therefore there were no further impediment in the way of a Nonconformist becoming fellow of a College at Cambridge, the object of my Bill—which I distinctly avow is to enable Nonconformists to obtain I such fellowships, in certain of the Colleges, at any rate—would be accomplished, without further legislation, But there is another impediment. In the first place, most of the Colleges by statutes of their own insist that a candidate for fellowship, before taking his fellowship, shall declare that he is a member of the Church of England. There are but six of the Colleges at Cambridge, of which Trinity is the principal, which do not impose that requirement through their own statutes. And therefore, unless I proposed to deal with these College statutes and to impose by the power of Parliament a prohibitory clause, saying that for the future they should not require these tests, the Bill which I have now the honour to submit to the House would not apply to the large majority of those Colleges. There are, as I said, six Colleges at Cambridge which make no such requirement at all. They either impose no test upon the candidates, or else one so wide and general in its character that nobody who is a sincere believer in Revelation could have any difficulty in taking it. But there is still a bar imposed by the Act of Uniformity. That Act requires the fellows and heads of Colleges, in taking their fellowship or headship, to make a declaration that they will 2015 conform to the Liturgy of the Church of England. That enactment had been so little thought of before the great changes which took place in the University under the University Reform Acts, that in many instances it was thought not even to be in operation. And, if I am rightly informed, the great bulk of the fellows at the University of Oxford have never taken this step, and are in consequence liable, under a strict interpretation of the Act of Uniformity, to the forfeiture of their fellowships. But, however that may be, at Cambridge all candidates for fellowships are required to declare in the terms of the Act of Uniformity that they will conform to the Liturgy of the Church of England. That Act at present is in a state of considerable confusion on this subject. For not merely fellows and heads of Colleges were required by its provisions to make the declaration, but a great number of Ecclesiastical persons as well; in fact, till last year it was required from all beneficed clergymen. The eighth section of that Act enumerated heads and fellows of Colleges in a long list comprising a great number of spiritual persons, and also including school-masters, tutors, and others, who were all required to make the declaration. But last year we altered the tests required of those who are beneficed clergy in this country; we repealed the tests requiring a declaration from them of unfeigned assent and consent to the Book of Common Prayer, and we also repealed the whole of that section eight of the Act of Uniformity which enumerated the various persons required to make this declaration of conformity to the Church of England. As the matter at present stands, therefore, in clause nine, there is merely the bare declaration—"I will conform to the Liturgy of the Church of England;" and then, in another section, there is an enumeration of the consequences that will follow if that declaration be not taken, not merely by the fellows and heads of Colleges, but by all the Ecclesiastical personages who, under section eight, now repealed, were required to make that declaration. And this has thrown the Act of Parliament into such confusion, that doubts are entertained by legal minds whether the repeal of section eight, enumerating all the persons required to take the declaration, has not by implication repealed the following sections—nine and ten, enacting the declaration itself and the penalty for not taking it. Whether that be so or not, I do not think it would be satisfactory to Par- 2016 liament or to this House that this test should be got rid of in an indirect way. That would be taking advantage of an Act of Parliament passed altogether with a different object, and although these doubts were suggested to me, I thought that by far the more direct course was to submit the question directly to Parliament, and ascertain whether it would not be willing to repeal the remainder of the clause, and to enact that this declaration of conformity should no longer be required. I ought also to state that fellows and heads of Colleges, in common with a great number of other office-holders of various kinds, civil and Ecclesiastical, are required to take the oath of abjuration. This oath, if it is insisted on, no doubt would be a formidable and insuperable impediment to Roman Catholics being able to take fellowships in Colleges. My Bill does not propose to deal with that question, and for this reason—not because I have any doubt that a rule which is just as regards Nonconformists is equally just as regards Roman Catholics, but because that Act forms part of a very large subject. The requirements of that oath are insisted on by Parliament in the case of a very large number of persons—barristers, advocates, attorneys, solicitors, clergymen, and a large string of officeholders in the different professions, and that subject must be dealt with by itself. I rejoice to think, from what has recently happened in another place no later than last night, that there is some reasonable prospect of that matter being fairly considered. It is a comforting sign of the times that at last the Conservative leaders in this and the other House of Parliament have discovered that there is no real security in these tests for the permanence of those institutions which they so justly cherish, and to which we are not less warmly attached, and that no real support comes from the maintenance of such forms. What possible security can be attained by the imposition of this test? In the first place, it is no evidence whatever of religious belief. What conceivable belief is it that is implied in a declaration of conformity to the Liturgy of the Church of England? The House will remember that on the second reading of the Bill I presented a petition from one of the gentlemen who are injuriously affected by the Act of Uniformity—a gentleman who took a very high degree, and would have had a fellowship if he could have made this declaration; but he was advised by one of the most 2017 eminent counsel, now a Judge, that this declaration would engage him to observe all the Rubrics of the Church of England, and he felt, as an honourable and conscientious man, he could not make that promise. There were some of the Rubrics at which he scrupled, and he refused to make the declaration. That gentleman had been brought up as a member of the Baptist denomination, but when an undergraduate in the College to which he belonged he had always attended chapel without a murmer. He had constantly received the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the rites of the Church of England; and what conceivable good could be attained for the interests of religion or of the Church by excluding such a gentleman as that from the just rewards of his literary eminence? And I should observe that with regard to a declaration of religious belief any honourable man who does not entertain it would scruple to make such a declaration, whatever his opinions were. It is quite true with regard to all these tests that they have very much broken down and have failed; because men have not scrupled to take them, and I believe that a laxity of morality has been created very much by their imposition. But I wish the House to see that anybody who believed in anything or in nothing might have no scruple in saying that he would conform to the Liturgy of the Church of England. The ordinary interpretation would be that when at church you would use the Prayer Book; or when you went to public service at all you would go to the Church of England. Who would scruple to make such a declaration, involving no assertion of belief, but merely that you would pursue a certain course of conduct in certain circumstances? Well, then, I say this test is really no security for anything at all. It is not a security for the religious belief of those from whom it is required; nor is it any security—and this is the hitch with hon. Members opposite—that the governing body of a College and those to whom the instruction of a College is confided shall be exclusively members of the Church of England. To hear this subject and analogous questions argued in this House, one would imagine that the whole educational apparatus at Oxford and Cambridge was directed to the religious instruction of undergraduates. There is nothing of the kind. No direct religious instruction is conveyed at Cambridge, and very little more, I believe; at Oxford. Undergraduates are required to show a certain 2018 knowledge of the Thirty-nine Articles, but in my time there was no daily instruction in religious dogma or practice of any kind. The tutors at Cambridge lectured on Aristotle and Newton's Principia, and various other branches of learning, in which undergraduates have to pass before taking their degrees. I was myself a tolerably diligent student while at Trinity College, Cambridge; but I do not recollect any religious instruction whatever being given to the undergraduates. We had lectures on algebra, on Aristotle, on the differential and integral calculus, and other branches of high learning; but there was no instruction in religious doctrine. We were required to go to chapel; those of us who were regular in our habits did so, and on Sundays we went to St. Mary's Church and heard a sermon, which was sometimes a good, and sometimes a bad one. That was pretty nearly the amount of religious instruction received at Cambridge. I do not mean to say that there would be no advantage whatever in the authorities of a College belonging to a distinct religious body, and that the parents of young men should have no security that the doctrines taught in the chapel sermon, and the general tendency of instruction, should be in conformity with the views generally entertained in the Church of England; but what I say is, that this test is no security whatever, it does not advance you one step further towards the attainment of that object. If hon. Members will carry their minds back to many of the fellows they have known, they will have no difficulty in recalling many instances—though it would be invidious in me to particularize—where men obtained fellowships in consequence of their University distinction, but to whom we should not like to intrust the education and instruction of our sons. Yet these men had taken this test and conformed. These tests, indeed, do not and cannot exclude men of sceptical opinions or irregular and immoral life, but merely a few conscientious men who have honest scruples about taking them. At Cambridge we had really nothing of what is commonly known as religious instruction. For the University examinations a certain amount of information in the Gospels in Greek was required with Paley's Moral Philosophy and Evidences—a moral philosophy which a great many theologians of authority say is of a very questionable character, and not calculated to improve the tone and temper of our morals. If the House relies 2019 on a statutable security for the religiousness of these establishments, it is not to be found in this portion of the Act of Uniformity at all. The history of this declaration shows that it was enacted by Parliament for a totally different purpose. An attempt was made in the reign of Charles II. by a system of statutes—by this and by the Corporation and Five-mile Acts, to secure an entire monopoly to the Church of England of all instruction; so that we find even tutors in private families and schoolmasters were required to take this declaration. After the civil wars, when the High Church party were rampant in this country, and determined to put down the Puritans, fas aut nefas, they endeavoured to engross the monopoly of religious instruction, not only in the Universities, but all over the country. In Kennet's Register are to be found the discussions between the Lords and the Commons with regard to the Amendments proposed in the Act of Uniformity, and the question seemed to have arisen whether schoolmasters and tutors should be included or not among those who were to take the test. It was urged by the Commons on the Lords—who then as now seemed sometimes to be more rational than the Commons—that a great many of the nobility and gentry during the rebellion had been adherents of the Parliament, and to obviate this, that the Church of England should have complete control over the whole educational system of the country. But this test has entirely failed of its object, and I bold it is unjustifiable and wrong now to maintain such an enactment for a totally different purpose. It has, however, succeeded in one thing, in which I think all reasonable men will agree it should not have succeeded—namely, in excluding from the proper reward of intellectual distinction a certain number of English Nonconformists, who scruple to take it. When I argued this subject some years ago, I was told this was purely a hypothetical grievance. One Senior Wrangler had indeed refused to take the declaration; but he was put up to it, it was said, by the Nonconformists, and there was no practical grievance whatever. That cannot be maintained now. No less than six gentlemen, all of whom have petitioned the House, have really been excluded since the passing of the University Act from getting fellowships, which according to all human probability, from their place in the triposes, they would otherwise have attained, because they scru- 2020 pled to take this declaration. They were, no doubt, persons of the very class whom the declaration was intended to hit—but these are just the persons who might be admitted to fellowships without the slightest danger to your securities. If you want a security by Act of Parliament, it is to be found in the 17th section of the Act of Uniformity, which enacts that the chapel service shall be in conformity with the Book of Common Prayer, and also that the heads of Colleges shall sign the declaration contained in that Act of unfeigned assent and consent to the Book of Common Prayer. The tutors engaged in the business of instruction are not elected by the governing body, but appointed by the heads of Colleges at Cambridge—and I believe at Oxford also—as gentlemen qualified to instruct the undergraduates. If, then, according to your statutory requirements, the head must belong to the Church of England, and the services in the chapel must be conducted according to the Liturgy of the Church of England, what possible security can you require more for the religiousness of these establishments—so far as they are religious establishments? If the Universities were merely theological Colleges—places for the training of a certain number of clergymen for the Church of England—the case would be different and you might require something more; but they are places for instruction in the arts and general learning, and not directly theological institutions. On that point, indeed, we are at issue with those hon. Gentlemen who represent the Universities; but they are practically the representatives of the country clergy of the two Universities. The lay element is a powerful one in intellect, in cultivation, and in knowledge, and I trust from day to day it is getting more powerful. I think I see symptoms that this is so. But still practically the representation of the Universities is in the hands of the country clergymen, and their impression naturally is that the Colleges are schools for training young men in theology instead of fitting them for the world at large. I wish to satisfy hon. Members opposite that this proposal of mine is not aimed with any hostile intention at the Church of England, nor intended to injure its influence in the country. The gentlemen who first requested me to take the matter in hand were all members of the Church of England. The petition I presented four years ago on this subject was signed by members of the Church of 2021 England and by seventy-four fellows and members of Colleges. This is not, therefore, a hostile movement against the Church of England. On the contrary, it is a friendly movement arising from a desire to see the Church of England assume that position which she ought to take up, and to take the lead in removing these restrictions, which can never be to its advantage. I would ask the House, whether any good end is served by excluding such gentlemen as I have described from the just prizes of their ambition? They would have remained some of them at the University, engaging in what they were admirably qualified to undertake, the professorial education of the University; and there is no reason that I know of why Baptist.?, Congregationalists, and Scotch Presbyterians should not instruct in the various branches of secular learning—in mathematics for instance. Is it necessary for teaching the differential calculus that a man should declare his unfeigned assent and consent to the Book of Common Prayer? Here is one case furnished to me—A gentleman who had taken his degree and took the first place in the Science Tripos wished to become a candidate for the comparative Anatomy Chair, which was vacant; two other gentlemen who did not occupy so distinguished a position in examination on the science they were required to teach were candidates; but because he was unable to declare that he would conform to the Liturgy of the Church of England he was unable to compete for the chair. Is there not really something absurd in maintaining that a man shall not teach comparative anatomy—a knowledge of the form, physiology, and constitution of animals—because he will not take such a declaration? My proposal is simply to get rid of this declaration of conformity. There would still be the security, if security were wanted, of the chapel services, the mode of selection of the tutors, and other securities for the general business of the Colleges being conducted in accordance with the views of the Church of England; and I do not believe that this declaration gives any additional security whatever. Even if this Bill should pass, the greater part of the Colleges would still have a majority of clergymen among their fellows. It seems absurd to suppose that the introduction of a few Nonconformists would in any way endanger that mysterious connection between the Colleges and the Church of England which hon. Gentlemen opposite 2022 are so anxious to maintain. The House will bear in mind that this is a statutory restriction on the freedom of these corporations. I do not propose to interfere with their freedom. I do not say they shall not in their bye-laws impose such restrictions and conditions on fellowships as they please. I do not ask you to impose any non fetters on fellowships, I only ask you to relieve these Colleges from statutory restrictions on their freedom. That freedom of action they have a right to claim—that freedom which is reconcilable with the common right which, I maintain, every dutiful subject of Her Majesty has to become a member of a lay corporation, if he is willing to fulfil the duties required by its bye-laws. I simply move, Sir, that you do now leave the chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Deputy Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. E. P. Bouverie.)
§ MR. WALPOLE
I think, Sir, if my right hon. Friend had remembered the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford presented a petition the other night, which has been ordered to be printed by the Petitions Committee, under the corporate seal of that University, and had he borne in mind the further fact that I myself, just before he commenced his speech, presented a petition under the corporate seal of the University of Cambridge, he would hardly have made the remark which elicited cheers from the other side—that we were the representatives in this House of the clergy and not of the two Universities. The petition which I have had the honour to present on behalf of the University of Cambridge expresses so clearly, so briefly, and so justly the objections to this Bill, that I hardly know whether I can do anything better than call the attention of my right hon. Friend to it as furnishing a complete answer to the statement which he has just made to the House. The petition begins by stating that everything connected with the government, studies, and religious training of the Universities was referred, as the right hon. Gentleman well knows, to a Royal Commission, among whom there were many persons familiarly acquainted with the constitution of the Universities, and also with the religious education carried on in the separate Colleges. It then goes on to state that those members of the University of Cambridge, to whom I have 2023 referred, recommended, long before the University Acts were passed, that persons who were not members of the Church of England should be allowed to proceed to take degrees in the University, but that the taking of those degrees should be accompanied by certain securities for keeping up the connection between the University and the Church of England. The petition proceeds to point out that, pursuant to those recommendations, an Act of Parliament was passed by means of which all the advantages of a University education were extended to persons not members of the Church of England, and that in the course of that education all such persons are entitled to compete for scholarships, prizes, and exhibitions; that they can take degrees—in Cambridge, at least, both Bachelors' and Masters' degrees—and that this arrangement is only qualified by the reasonable condition that they should not have a governing part in the institutions which were never founded by, nor intended for, such persons; and that they should not fill any offices which had heretofore been filled by members of the Church of England. My right hon. Friend opposite seems to forget these facts, which are really the important facts in the discussion of questions of this kind, for what do they amount to? They amount to this—that the arrangement which Parliament made in respect to the University of Oxford in the year 1854, and in reference to Cambridge in the year 1856, is an arrangement both Liberal and just—liberal, inasmuch as it gives to Dissenters and Nonconformists all the benefits of a University education; and just, because it secures the trusteeship, the management, the government of these Colleges to those persons who alone can administer them according to the wills and intentions of those who founded and endowed them. Well, but then my right hon. Friend concluded his speech with some very warm and animated remarks, and he seemed to get warmer and more animated as he approached those remarks—the substance of which was, "All I want is to take away these statutory restraints upon the Colleges; I want to give them some little freedom." Now, surely my right hon. Friend ought first to ask the Universities themselves if they desire this freedom for which my right hon. Friend is so earnestly contending. [Mr. E. P. BOUVERIE: The Colleges.] My right hon. Friend says "the Colleges;" but has a single College presented a petition, for 2024 that purpose? Is there a single College which will present such a petition? So far as I know the University of Cambridge, I believe there is none, but this I do know, that, though my right hon. Friend some four years ago presented a petition from about seventy gentlemen who were, I am quite free to admit, very able and distinguished men, praying for the substance of I this Bill, though it took a different form on that occasion, from that time to this we have had no other petition to the like effect. That petition, as soon as it was first heard (for it was privately circulated and signed before being presented to this House) was met by counter-petitions from both Universities and from many of the Colleges. Divisions were taken both in the University of Oxford and in the University of Cambridge, in Convocation in one place and in the Senate House in the other, to see how far the different Members of those Universities approved this Bill or not, and what was the result? The result was this, that in Oxford 182 declared against the Bill of that day, and only 51 for it; while in Cambridge 150 were against the Bill and only 25 were for it. So that when the matter came to open discussion some of those seventy persons who had signed the petition withdrew from the opposition, [Mr. FAWCETT: No, no!] At any rate, they did not appear in the Senate House to support the opinion they expressed in the petition. And what has happened this year is still more striking; for, though full notice was given of a Motion for the adoption of the petition which I have this day presented, when it was discussed in the Senate not a dissentient vote was recorded, and I even venture to say that hardly a dissentient voice was raised. I only mention this to show that my right hon. Friend is hardly justified in thinking there would be any appreciable effect produced by this Bill on the minds of those who are resident at the Universities, and who, therefore, with all respect be it spoken, know even better than the country clergy what is good for the Universities; and to show further that those gentlemen do not desire this freedom to be given them, which would be turned, as I believe, into a source of agitation for the purpose of obtaining compulsorily that which the supporters of the Bill now only seem to ask for voluntarily. Now that being the case, perhaps my right hon. Friend will allow me to state how I think the matter stands. The education of the Universities has always been carried 2025 on and conducted in connection with the Church of England. The education of the Universities has always been in strict conformity with the wills and intentions of those who founded the Colleges—that is to say, in strict conformity with the doctrines and discipline of the Church of England, by the members of which these Colleges were endowed. Now, my right hon. Friend says that this declaration in the Act of Uniformity is a test. I take leave to dissent from that opinion altogether. I say it is that which my right hon. Friend admitted it still to be—namely, a means by which you practically secure religious discipline in connection with the Church of England in the Colleges and Chapels; and if by the removal of this test, as my right hon. Friend calls it, you allow any person, whatever his religious opinions, to obtain not only fellowships and tutorships but chaplaincies and masterships in those Colleges, you would either have to carry on the religious discipline of the Colleges in a different way—that is to say, either by persons of different religious creeds, or by having no religious services at all. For if you have a certain number of men in the Universities who do not agree with, and do not conform to, the Liturgy of the Church of England, I should like to know how religious services can be carried on in the Colleges except as I have said. Either you must have as many different chaplains as there are students of different religions in the Colleges, or finding that au impracticability, which you would soon do, then you would say, "We will have no compulsory religious training whatever." In other words, I am convinced that you would arrive at this point—namely, either you would have in the Universities what I venture to call religious confusion, or you would have religious indifference. Now, to either of these results I am decidedly opposed. Religious confusion is not the way in which to train up the impressionable minds of young men, and religious indifference is the very last thing which ought to be allowed in any of our seminaries, since the better part of education will thereby be ignored. I tried to gather from my right hon. Friend's remarks what were the real grievances which he thought existed in the present state of the law, and those grievances I think I may sum up on these two points—first, that it was not for the benefit of the Colleges themselves that very able men—one whom he mentioned was a very able 2026 gentleman indeed, a Senior Wrangler, and one of those who might no doubt have become a fellow of Trinity College if he could have made this declaration—should be debarred from enjoying the full benefits of these institutions; and secondly, the supposed injury inflicted upon certain individuals in depriving them of the opportunity of sharing in the highest honours which their talents and ability entitled them to enjoy. Now, Sir, with regard to any injury which accrues to the Colleges through their not having the opportunity of electing gentlemen who do not conform to the Church of England to their professorships and tutorships, I believe it is a matter of infinitesimal account. I quite agree with my right hon. Friend that it is very advantageous for the Colleges to have men of the highest character and ability placed in the foremost position in these Colleges; but I say that that is already as well determined by the Colleges themselves as it could be by any statutory freedom which my right hon. Friend would wish to extend to them. The heads of these Colleges have taken care, and will take care, that the ablest men for all the purposes for which a University education is given will be found at those Colleges. Hitherto, I believe that no injury whatever has happened to the course of that education because some one or two men are not admitted, in violation of the principles upon which the Colleges are founded, and of the wills and intentions of the founders, to take part in the government of those institutions. Well, now, with regard to the injury to individuals, that injury, I allow, was a great one in former times, before two things happened. Thirty years ago the Nonconformists of this country could truly say, "We have no opportunity of receiving the benefit of a University education, for we have no University in which we can be educated, and we have no means by which we can go to National institutions like Oxford and Cambridge." But five-and-twenty or thirty years ago the University of London was established for this express purpose, and all the grievance which a Dissenter could feel in being debarred from a University education was by that measure reduced to a minimum. The only disadvantage the Dissenter could then feel was this, that he had not the prestige of a University degree conferred upon him by the old Universities of Oxford or Cambridge. Even that, however, was subsequently removed by the two University 2027 Acts, for not only did those Acts fully and freely give the benefit of education at those Universities to Nonconformists as well as to members of the Church of England, but they gave full opportunity to any person who might wish to establish private halls, as they are called at Oxford, or hostels, as they are termed at Cambridge, where those who were not members of the Church of England might be educated according to their own religious notions, and attend Chapels in conformity with their own religious views. The grievance, therefore, has been entirely removed, and unless you mean to contend that Dissenters have a right to the endowments of Colleges which were not founded for them, but distinctly for other persons, you have not an atom of a case for this Bill. My right hon. Friend did not say it in so many words, but I cannot help thinking that what was in his mind in this matter was that which has been so often urged in this House and elsewhere—namely, that the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are, in fact. National institutions, and that every subject of the Queen has aright to enter them and receive the education that is there imparted. [Cheers from the Ministerial side of the House.] I am delighted to hear that cheer, because it enables me to meet the point which is evidently uppermost in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) was one of those who cheered, a distinguished Professor in that University which I have the honour to represent, and one for whom I must always entertain a sincere respect. Let me deal, then, with this argument in his presence; let me see what you mean by calling the Universities National institutions. I contend that there is a fallacy in the proposition as you enounce it. I perfectly agree that they are National institutions in one sense, but they are not, and never were, National institutions in that sense which the supporters of the Bill wish to convey to us. They are National institutions in this sense, that they offer the fullest University education to every person in this country who chooses to take advantage of it; but they are not National institutions, they never were National institutions, and they never ought to be National institutions in the sense that every one who goes there has a right to claim the benefit of endowments which were never intended for him, or a share in their go- 2028 vernment which was only to be carried on in connection with the Church of England. They are, in fact, National institutions just as the Established Church is a National institution. The Universities have always been connected with that Church; they have shared its fortunes, they have followed its vicissitudes, they have strengthened its means of doing good, and I am happy to say that they are partaking in its triumphs and successes in spreading religion throughout the country. The Established Church is a National institution, because, just as the Universities open their doors to every person who wishes to have his education there, so it opens its doors to every person who wishes to partake in its worship, in whatever part of the country he may be dwelling; but the Church of England is not, it never was, and it never ought to be a National institution in the sense that those who will not conform to its doctrines and its discipline ought to have a voice in its management, and partake of its revenues. That is the fallacy which always prevails upon this subject when people talk of Universities as National institutions. I concede that they are such in the sense which I have interpreted. Now I will concede more than this—I will concede that they are National institutions in the sense that they have been founded and endowed by great public personages, reaching down from the Sovereign on the Throne, through nobles and prelates, and persons below those ranks in life, who have given their estates and munificent benefactions for the purpose of establishing a system of education upon just, and safe, and religious principles. They are National institutions as coming from such quarters, but the persons who gave those endowments gave them not out of any public money belonging to Parliament, but out of their own private means, and they contributed those benefactions for the maintenance of those principles which they wished to prevail in the Universities; in other words, one and all of them, from first to last, desired the Universities to be in connection with the Established Church. And I must here say, as I pass by this part of the subject, that I think there never were institutions which have more nobly or more gloriously discharged the trust which was committed to them, for they have produced a constant succession of men who have served their country with unparalleled success in all the great walks of politics, literature, science, or religion. In this 2029 sense our Universities are National institutions, but they are not and never were so in the sense that persons who will not con-form to the conditions under which the Colleges were founded are to have the right to share in the endowments or the government of them. Let me illustrate this by a case which is familiar to all of us. London University and the Queen's Colleges in Ireland are National Universities which have been established and supported in whole or in part by grants made by Parliament, and, receiving such aid, Parliament has the right to impose its own terms as to the way in which the education shall be conducted. But what happened in the case of the London University? Dr. Arnold, one of the best men that ever lived, and who always thought that education should be based upon religion, was anxious, when the London University was founded, that religion should have a place in its teaching, and he thought that religious teaching might be given by lecturers appointed for the purpose, who should deal with the general topics of religion, and should not enter into any of the distinctive differences between one communion and another. It was found, however, that that would not answer, and the consequence has been that as a part of University teaching you have no religious instruction in the University of London. You may have it separately: but it is no part of the University system. The inference I draw from this is not that that University does no good, but that when you attempt to mix up different religious denominations or different religious creeds in the persons who are to instruct the students, you will find that you cannot carry on a common education in religious matters, because you will differ as to the form and manner in which it should be conducted. Now I come to the Queen's Colleges in Ireland. They were founded by grants from this House; and there you did combine different religious teachings. The Roman Catholic can have his Dean of the chapel, the Presbyterian or the member of the Church of England can have theirs; but what has happened last year and this year? Why, I find that the largest proportion of the inhabitants of Ireland, the Roman Catholic portion of the population, are so far from being satisfied with the result that they are insisting upon what has always been the case at Oxford and Cambridge—namely, that they should have Universities of their own, where they can carry on their own distinctive religious 2030 teaching. Now, Sir, for these reasons I think it is tolerably clear that since these Universities were founded on the condition that they should be connected with the Church of England, and since they always have been so connected, there is nothing whatever in the proposition of my right hon. Friend which ought to commend itself to the approbation of this House, contrary to the mode in which this question has now been settled for so many years; and if I might venture to sum up the reasons which induce me to move the rejection of the Bill, I would put it in this way. I gather the points together, that my right hon. Friend may answer them if he can, and, if he cannot, I claim the decision of the House in favour of the Motion which I am about to propose. I say, then, that I object to this Bill, in the first place, because it disturbs a just and reasonable arrangement made by Parliament in the University Acts only a few years ago, giving to the Dissenters all the facilities of a University education, but reserving the government and management of the Colleges of the University to Members of the Church of England. In the second place, I object to this Bill because it begins by being permissive, and, if permissive, is not needed; while, if it ends in being compulsory, and allowing gentlemen not members of the Church of England to he admitted to the governing body of the Colleges, it will then be no longer a measure not needed, but it will be a measure that is absolutely injurious. I object to this Bill, in the third place, because it applies to the Universities the novel principle of their being National institutions, in the sense that persons who will not be bound by the conditions on which they were established may claim as a right a share in their endowments and a voice in their government; and I object to this Bill, in the last place, because, as I understand it, it would ultimately, though not immediately, remove the basis of religious teaching and religious discipline from University education. Inasmuch, then, as I am one of those who think that education is of comparatively little worth unless religion is connected with it, I, for one, will always maintain that noble legacy which has been handed down to us by our ancestors to he secured to our posterity as we have received it from them, and that is that in all these National institutions, wherever you plant the tree of knowledge, there the tree of life shall always be planted along with it. I beg, 2031 Sir, to move that this Bill be read a second time this day six months.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day six months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—(Mr. Walpole,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, he was anxious to make a few remarks upon the subject under discussion, as from his long connection with the University, he was thoroughly acquainted with all the details of the administration of Colleges, and because he trusted he should be able to interpret fairly and candidly the opinions of those gentlemen who, like himself, appealed to Parliament to remove a restriction which they believed acted prejudicially against the best interests of the Universities. He thought he should be able to show the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University (Mr. Walpole) that he did not quite understand the feeling of the University with regard to open fellowships. It was quite true that each University, as a University, had petitioned against this Bill, and that in the case that had been alluded to in this debate the fellows agreed not to oppose the petition from Cambridge, and for this reason—any one in the University who was not resident could vote, and consequently those who formed the residential body were swamped by men who were not resident, and came from all parts of the country, and therefore they thought it better to refrain from voting on the matter. Three or four years since the right hon. Gentleman who had already spoken on the question presented a petition in favour of open fellowships, signed by seventy-four fellows, including many most distinguished ornaments, not only of the University, but of the Church. That was a public petition circulated in every commination room, and was emphatically a fellows petition. The right hon. Member for the University had said they did not repeat that petition, and therefore threw out the insinuation that the same feeling did not now exist in the University; but the reason why they did not repeat the petition was that every one who signed that petition had not altered his opinions; on the contrary, his convictions were strengthened. If the value of a petition was to be estimated by the names 2032 attached, let hon. Members look at the names appended to the fellows' petition. In Trinity College, out of sixty fellows, twenty-eight signed, and out of thirteen tutors and assistant tutors, nine signed and two remained neutral, refusing likewise to sign the counter petition; while in some of the Colleges there was actually a majority of fellows who signed it: and if, during the debate, any hon. Member said that those who signed had a feeling opposed to the Church, he would not reply to that by a parade of his own churchmanship, which was always an invidious thing to do, but he would refer hon. Members to the signatures in the petition, amongst which would be found those of some of the most eminent men in, and the best friends of, the Church. A reference to those names, amongst others Professor Sedgwick, would show that they did not intend to injure the Church. What they asked for was as just and as moderate as anything could be. He would briefly, and as clearly as he possibly could, state the case as it existed at the present time. By recent legislation the Dissenter was admitted to study in the University. He could obtain scholarships and exhibitions. He could obtain the M.A. degree, but the degree was shorn of half its dignity and advantages, as its possessors could not become members of the Senate. In the new statutes it was specially provided that the majority of the fellows of a College might from time to time, by petition to the Queen in Council, get those statutes altered; but if there was in existence an Act of Parliament such as the one which it was now sought to repeal, of course the provisions of the statutes were overridden, and the fellows had no power to get the statutes altered, notwithstanding that the Colleges might be unanimously in favour of admitting to fellowships distinguished students, who might not be able to express their conformity to the Liturgy of the Church of England. It was now sought to repeal that clause of the Act of Parliament, and to leave everything with regard to the election of fellows entirely to the free will of the governing bodies of Colleges. He would say at once, that to a measure to compel Colleges to elect Dissenters or members of any other religious body to fellowships, all the Colleges would join the right hon. Gentleman in offering a most determined and uncompromising opposition. What was desired was that, if a College unanimously thought—and the case had occurred—that the election to a fellowship of one of its stu- 2033 dents who had taken brilliant degrees, and who was of unimpeachable moral character would be of infinite benefit to the College, they should be at liberty to elect him, notwithstanding the fact that he could not conscientiously conform to the Liturgy of the Church of England. What were the reasons upon which they founded the demand for the repeal of the clause in question? In the first place, they said that the repeal of the restrictive clause of the Act would promote the best interests of the College; secondly, it would uphold the influence of the Universities as the great seats of learning, and that influence would be extended; thirdly, by the repeal of the clause no security of the slightest worth would be taken away from the Church. As to the first point, he for one would contend that it was of primary and essential importance that the College should be able to retain, for the purpose of carrying on the education, the ablest and best men. The existing restriction prevented them from doing this. It must not be forgotten, in speaking upon this point, that the demand now made came in the first place not from the Dissenters, but from the Colleges themselves. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kilmarnock had told the House that the great College of Cambridge, Trinity, was for twelve or fourteen years without a Senior Wrangler. At last it obtained one; and a most brilliant man he was, for not one in a century passed a more distinguished examination. That man was Mr. Stirling. He was universally beloved, he was distinguished for his high moral character and great intellectual power. A more conscientious man never was a student there. But he could not conform to the Liturgy of the Church of England, being a Scotchman; and what was the result? The College, although unanimous in wishing to give him a fellowship, and in retaining him in the College to assist in the education of the College, could not do so, and they were obliged to put an inferior man in the place which he ought to have occupied. But the mischief thence arising was destined to be repeated. Three brothers, the gifted sons of a gifted father, took year after year brilliant degrees in the College. But not one of them could be elected to a fellowship because they were Nonconformists. But this kind of mischief was not confined to one College. In his own University the great majority of the fellows were in favour of the repeal of these restrictions. Two or three years since Mr. Jardine, 2034 a student of Christ's College, Cambridge, obtained a high mathematical degree, and stood first in the moral sciences examination. At that time, in consequence of certain changes which had been introduced in the studies, the College was anxious for a man to lecture on moral science, and they wished to elect this Mr. Jardine, and he was authorized by the Rev. Mr. Dunster to state that he could not be retained in the College as a fellow on account of his being unable to take the oath. The resulting mischief to the College could hardly be over-estimated. But the mischief did not stop there. A great inroad had been made on the great and glorious principle which regulated the elections of fellows in the Universities. What they prided themselves upon was what he might call the life-spring of the University. What every University man felt particular pride in was this—that they elected the most distinguished students to fellowships. And they felt deeply pained when, in consequence of these religious restrictions, they were obliged to cast aside a distinguished man, and elect in his place one less distinguished. Then, with regard to the second ground on which they based their claims—namely, that so long as the restriction was retained the Universities would not do all the good they might do as national seats of learning. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter, in a brilliant speech they would all long remember, seemed to think that when the Dissenter was admitted to the M.A. degree he ought to be satisfied. But they were now asking for a much more important measure. What was now asked for on behalf of the Dissenters was that they should have the full right to look forward to the endowments of the University as the reward of their intellect, What a mortification it must be to a man going to Cambridge, taking a distinguished degree, becoming attached to the University, feeling that he would like to make the University his home, and to take part in the future education of the country, and then to find that because he was a Dissenter this restriction stood in his way, that he should be cut off from his reward, and see a less distinguished man placed over him, and in the receipt of the remuneration which he, the Dissenter, had won. Thirdly, he maintained that the restriction was no security to the Church of England, as it could be, but a mere cobweb defence in the event of hostilities, while it was the foundation of a real grievance. Had reli- 2035 gion ever been promoted by fostering a grievance? And ought not the promotion of religion to be the end and aim of all education? Even admitting that it was some slight security to the Church, he should contend that so many other important interests were affected by it that the Church of England had no right to retain it. His right hon. Friend the Member for the University had spoken of the original intentions of the founders of the Universities. He seemed to forget that most of the Colleges were founded for the performance of masses for the dead, and, therefore, it was impossible to give a literal interpretation to the intentions of the founders. But let the right hon. Gentleman give a free interpretation to the founders' wishes by bringing as many as possible under the hallowing and inspiring influences which must always be connected with places where the best, the wisest, and some of the noblest of the nation had been educated. It had been said that if we admitted to fellowships persons of different creeds in one College we should introduce religious bickering and discord. He did not look much into the future; but the predictions of hon. Members opposite, when they essayed in that direction, were often only uttered to be falsified. When it was proposed to admit Dissenters to scholarships the discord prediction was resorted to. But in his own College he had seen half the scholarships filled by men who did not belong to the Church of England, and a more united College there could not, possibly, have been; and one of the most popular men who held a scholarship was the son of a distinguished Roman Catholic Judge. And such he believed would be the case in regard to the prediction that discord would be introduced into Colleges by admitting Dissenters to the fellowships. It must not be forgotten that among men of education differences of opinion, whether on religion or on other subjects, were freely tolerated. But, asked his right hon. Friend, ought not the Dissenters now to be satisfied? Had they not their London University? Were they to be satisfied, indeed, in face of the vast endowments of Oxford and Cambridge? Hon. Members seemed to forget what these endowments were. Why, it would take more than £20,000,000 to found another Oxford and Cambridge. And in such splendid endowments ought not the whole nation to be entitled to participate? But they talked about founding another 2036 College or another University in which the Dissenters could be educated separately from the Church of England. But if they could get the money there would still be something absent which money could not buy. Could they buy the historical memories of the past? Could they buy the historic prestige connected with the old Universities? Could they buy those associations which must ever be called forth when a youth visited the spots where Milton wrote his sublime poem, and Newton acquired the power to perfect his as sublime discoveries into the laws of the universe? Connected with these old Universities were influences under which he claimed that the whole nation should be brought. If we could found a University for Dissenters the result would be most unfortunate. Nothing was so mischievous as separating men in education, because they held different religious opinions. To advocate such a separation a man must have a narrow mind; and there was nothing he felt so strongly, in looking back into the past history of this country, as to see how much of the energy and the power of good in a Christian nation had been wasted, because Christians had not been sufficiently united. How much better would it be to foster a union of sympathy by bringing together young men of different religious opinions? They would then learn to respect and love each other, and to work together in those good works which Christians holding different opinions on more essential matters might yet unite to perform. He had only one word to add on another subject. He had been asked by members of the University to thank the right hon. Member for Calne for the speech which he made when the Oxford Test Bill was before them. That speech laid down ably and clearly the programme of the Liberal party on the question. He was the more anxious to give the right hon. Gentleman this recognition of his services, for he thought it well to be generous in a time of great political excitement. He could only wish that the same outspoken language and definite policy might be advocated on this question by the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench, and then there might be a chance of their just and moderate demands being conceded. It had been said to him that he ought to feel grateful to the University, and that he ought not to meddle with it. No one could be more grateful to the University than he was. He had there passed some of the happiest days of his 2037 life, and had acquired all he had that was worth possessing. But because he had also there learned to love freedom of thought, and liberty of action—and from day to day only more and more prized these advantages—he should, he believed, be pursuing a mean and ungenerous policy if he did not endeavour to extend such advantages to the greatest possible number of his fellow-countrymen?
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
congratulated the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) on the eloquence, earnestness, and sincerity, which had characterized his speech, abounding, as it did, with an enthusiasm and gush of feeling which was rarely met with in that House. He was sure that they all heartily sympathized with the feelings which prompted the speech, though they might not all agree in the views laid down. The first part of that speech, though less forcibly argued than the second, was the portion which would tell most sensibly on his hearers. Accustomed to hard calculating views on the questions which came before them, they were naturally apt to be carried away when a Member burst through the conventionalities of debate with a genuine gush of nature. More, therefore, was the reason that they should be on their guard to act under such a contingency by reason and not by impulse. He referred to that part of the hon. Member's speech in which he argued that there was a strong undercurrent of feeling against the petitions presented on this subject from the University, evinced by the declarations of various fellows of Colleges, and especially of the twenty-eight fellows of Trinity College. These twenty-eight names included persons for whom he had the highest respect, and who were among his most intimate personal friends. They belonged to that illustrious College of which it was his own privilege—one of his greatest privileges, as he always felt—himself to be a member. But, after all, what did it prove? It merely proved that those eminent fellows of Trinity were no more than men. The College had been deprived of the services of such men as Mr. Stirling and Mr. Aldis, who had been trained under their eye and their care for the honours they had gained, and he sympathized alike with the College on its loss, and with those gentlemen on the high and conscientious feelings which led them to renounce the prizes which their ability and perseverance would under other circum- 2038 stances have insured. But when he had said that, he had urged all which would be averred for that side of the argument. Was there, he asked, any law in the world which did not, in some way or other, lead to instances of individual hardship? If the case was that of naturalization, it necessarily happened that men of brilliant talents were sometimes shut out from serving the Government of other countries than those in which they were born, although their whole interest might be locked up in the new country of their adoption; and if they looked to the laws relating to those most sacred and delicate ties of private life, the marriage laws, and if, as it must he, they admitted any kind of restrictive legislation as the correlative of the idea of marriage, they would find as the necessary sequel some case or other of personal hardship therein involved. If this were so, did the personal hardship in the present case furnish a sufficient reason for altering the law? He must here remark parenthetically upon the manner in which the debate on the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Exeter ran into the question involved in the present discussion. This debate on the Bill of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock resolved itself into what was simply a hashed-up second edition of the former discussion. All those remarks which the hon. Member for Brighton had made with regard to the softening and Christianising influences of association, among men domesticated together in our Universities, constituted arguments much more germane to the former, not desirable but much less mischievous measure than the present, Bill. The material advantages of a fellowship had often been exaggerated. Unless it led to a living it was often but a poor provision for a few years; and the man who, after attaining high distinction was thrown upon the world with that distinction as his introduction, might perhaps be better off than one who was tempted to go on agitating upon a fellowship. With the exception of a voice in the governing body, Dissenters had the full right of sharing the advantages of the education afforded by the University, and might carry off the honorary distinctions, which marked the degrees they took, There were very few restrictions, and the whole case might be summed up in the following formula:—"We wish to make Dissenters as full graduates in all the schools of the University except the school of divinity as the most earnest and zeal- 2039 ous members of the Established Church." To this he would moreover add, that he desired Dissenters might have their share in the Parliamentary franchise. The hon. Member for Brighton, descending from his pedestal of eloquence, had twice made an admission of which he probably did not see the full force when he said that the main point at issue was that the Dissenters were desirous of possessing the endowments of the Colleges, and upon this head he would rather accept the testimony of the hon. Member for Brighton than he would that of his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie). His right hon. Friend had passed through a most distinguished career at Trinity College, but after his mingling so long with the world the politician had probably overridden the Cambridge man, while the hon. Member for Brighton was still a fellow of an eminent College in their common University; and he also filled one of the most important professorial chairs at Cambridge. The hon. Member for Brighton, on the other hand, might more than any other Member of the House be regarded as the representative of a resident party—a clever and an active party—in the University itself, and he spoke as it were in cap and gown. He accepted the statement of the hon. Member that the Dissenters wanted their share of the College endowments. That was an exemplification of a peculiar phase, a peculiar development of that often used, very grand, but not seldom oddly applied term, "Liberalism." For true Liberalism he was sure his side of the House had as much regard as any man who sat behind the gentle "whip" of the Treasury Bench. But there was something that was often called Liberalism, but which, when looked into, was found mainly to consist in wanting to get something that belonged to somebody else; and that was the species of Liberalism with which they had then to deal. An attempt was being made to obtain for the Dissenters that which had hitherto belonged to somebody else—namely, the endowments of the Colleges; and the question arose whether they had a fair claim to that property, or whether by so transferring it to them any advantage could be gained to the body politic. These endowments were founded for certain purposes in connection with the Church of England, and the Reformation which took place in the Church had not taken away the right by which they were still held. The other side had not 2040 scrupled to bring up again the old stale assertion that the Church of England had no claim to them, because the Colleges were founded by persons who wished to have masses said for their souls; but it was not less true that they were founded with a view to the maintenance of a certain corporation known as the Church of England before as well as after the Reformation, which as a Church had not unfrequently come to loggerheads with the Pope of Rome, and had in that opposition received the support of the Kings of England. A day came when an end was put to those masses; but that circumstance did not alter the identity of the Church of England. The man who made such a statement would, as Canning said of the man who expressed his admiration of dry champagne, say anything. The Reformation of the Church of England was a long and complicated operation, which continued from the time of Henry VIII. to that of Charles II. himself, and was consummated in that very Act of Uniformity now under discussion; but it preserved intact the old corporation of the Church with its hierarchy, its dioceses, its constitutions ecclesiastical, and its other constituent elements; and it no more disidentified the Church than the Crown was disidentified by the Revolution of 1688. The accidents of the Church were altered by it, but its essentials remained unchanged. Now there was not a single College at Oxford or Cambridge that was not founded in connection with the Church of England; and with a special view to the maintenance of the service of the Church of England, though some were founded by English Bishops in Roman Catholic days, and others after the rupture with Rome. New Colleges at Oxford were instituted by William of Wykeham before the Reformation for the English Church, although that Church was in connection with Rome. Emmanuel College, on the other hand, at Cambridge, was founded by Sir Walter Mildmay in Elizabeth's reign for the promotion of Puritanism, but it was Puritanism in the Church of England that the founder desired to foster. He would go further, and he maintained that if the candid friends of the Church of England should unfortunately now take her reformation in hand, and make such alterations in her doctrine, her discipline and her ministrations as would drive many sincere persons, himself perhaps among the number, out of her pale, nevertheless, if this were done with such legal 2041 prevision and precision as to enable her to maintain, as hitherto, her continuous corporate character in the eyes of the law, she would have a right to carry these Colleges and fellowships with her. It had been argued that these Colleges were lay corporations; and no doubt, in the strict legal sense of the word, they were so, and could not be called Ecclesiastical in the sense in which the Cathedral chapters were such, because a proportion of their members were and might be laymen, and because they had certain lay functions to fulfil; but if regard were had to the formal and official style of these Colleges it would be little better than a quibble to deny that they were religious foundations. Why, their formal designation was the "religious foundation of such and such a Colege," except in a case like Queen's, King's, and Trinity Colleges at Cambridge, where the founder was a sovereign, and then it ran as the "Royal and religious foundation." The right hon. Member for Kilmarnock had spoken of the absence of religious instruction in the Colleges; could he be unaware that the morning University sermon at Cambridge had been done away with at St. Mary's Church, in order to introduce into most of the Colleges, and certainly into Trinity and several of the most important Colleges, a sermon preached for the purpose of the religious instruction of the undergraduates? could he be unaware of the importance which questions on theological subjects possessed in the College examinations, which at Cambridge, at all events, formed so large an element of the general instruction? He asked what was expected to be gained by depriving these Colleges of their relationship to the Church of England? The Church of England, if she were more cunning than conscientious, and wanted in a political point of view to be omnipotent in the realm; if she would save her endowments and wanted to have no liberation societies picking at her heels—had only one thing to do, and she would be mistress of the situation. Let her abolish distinctive doctrine, do away with distinctive discipline, and open her door to every one, and, although her proud function as the keeper of what she believed to be Christ's faith was gone, her power in the State as an organization for political, social, or financial purposes would be paramount. If she renounced her birthright, she would receive not a mess of pottage, but all the wealth of the earth. He trusted, however, that she would never adopt such 2042 a course. But they were now asked to take a first step in that direction by giving their sanction to the present Bill. He believed that the measure would lead them in the direction of that which was the great god of some men's idolatry—of that which was still more difficult to understand than Liberalism—and that was "progress." True progress was a most desirable thing; but there was such a thing as spurious progress, and to it they were then asked to offer up those Colleges as a burnt offering, and to it they would hereafter be invited successively to sacrifice the distinctive religious tenets and practices of the Church, He believed that no little portion of moral greatness of this realm of England had its rise in the fact of the existence of that unique institution—unique in its combinations of moral and material elements—the Established Church of England, a Church which he thanked God was as tolerant as she was learned, a Church conformity with which was no longer a condition to attaining the highest positions in the State, a Church which did not prosecute, which opened the door to all who would enter her portals; but a Church, at the same time, which had her distinctive belief, her own credo, her own organization, and which possessed a great numerical majority in the State notwithstanding that fallacious Census of 1851, cooked up by the Liberation Society, but which it took care not to repeat, when it was invited to do so in 1861—a Church which had mustered to its side the majority of numbers, of intellect, and of wealth. These Colleges were but a small possession of the Church of England, considering the large population the Church could boast, her intellectual vigour, and the high list of her votaries who aspired to the highest honour in the State. But, could the endowments be better employed if they were taken away from the Church? If so, the Dissenters had proved their case; if not, his advice to the Dissenters (given without any feeling of rivalry or antagonism) would be to be content to let Churchmen do their own work, while to the Dissenters he said "go and do likewise." The hon. Member for Brighton said that £20,000,000 could not set up Colleges for the Dissenters; £20,000,000 were not required to found Nonconformists Colleges or halls at Oxford and Cambridge, or elsewhere. The Nonconformists possessed the amplest powers to found fellowships of their own, in houses of their own, as amply en- 2043 dowed, if they so pleased, as those of the elder Colleges. He hoped they would found them. But there were many branches of education in Universities which were not religious. For a long time the Universities had invited learned foreigners to take up a position for general teaching. He should like to see professorships for general teaching and readerships really open to all. At the present moment at Cambridge one of the most popular and eminent classical tutors, was a gentleman who from pure conscientiousness deserted the Church of England for Rome, and whose sincerity had thus earned him the respect and confidence of persons who most regretted and differed from that step. Other Nonconformists might be similarly employed in the University. Having made that statement in all sincerity, he pleaded for the maintenance of the integrity of the Colleges, and in the cause of religious truth, he asked the House to stand up for more sharply-cut lines in defining the character and objects of the Colleges than that to which the fashionable pseudo-Liberalism or "squash" of the day might have to recognize. Nothing would be gained by the infusion of the Nonconformists into the existing Colleges. By the infusion you would spoil the Nonconformists and dilute the Church also. Let every opportunity be given for forming Nonconformist Colleges, but let not those be spoilt which are already in existence, and let them allow the old religious institutions—so long existing and respected—of our great centres of learning to continue to go on in their own old way.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge had maintained that all that Dissenters and those who did not agree with the Church of England could desire was given by the foundation of the University of London. Now, although he had pursued his studies at that University, and bore towards it the same affection which most men bore towards their Alma Mater, he was prepared to contend that there were many things which the University of London could not grant him, but which had he graduated at one of the older Universities he would have obtained. For instance, as the hon. Member for Brighton had said, there were great and beneficial associations connected with the older Universities, apart from all their social advantages. He would also urge upon the House another view which he thought went against the argument of the 2044 right hon. Gentleman. As far as he was aware the University of London had contributed very greatly to the establishment of a good feeling between persons of different religious opinions, and had also given rise to a feeling of common interest and mutual respect. These circumstances greatly enhanced the benefit which all derived from a University education. He believed that this was what the older Universities of Oxford and Cambridge desired to confer, and he contended that one good effect of the present Bill would be to bring about such a result. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge had said that the Nonconformists who pursued their studies at the older Universities could now obtain all they could legitimately desire in the way of degrees. Now he (Mr. Goldsmid) maintained that all those who had become attached to their Universities would like to have some share in their management. Not only the endowments but a portion of the governing power were at present withheld from the Nonconformists—and although it might be a small matter, still they desired to have their share. Some years past, Gentlemen sharing his own religious opinions were denied the privilege of participating in the debates of that House. They could now do so, and he did not think they had done any harm to the Christian character of the Assembly. By the same rule he thought that a beneficial result would follow from persons of different religious opinions taking part in the government of the older Universities. The right hon. Gentleman had also told the House that the original founders of the great majority of the fellowships intended them for the benefit of those who professed the religion of the Church of England, and that their intentions ought not to be frustrated. The right hon. Gentleman had, however, admitted either too much or too little. If the original intention of the founders had been solely attended to, none but Roman Catholics would have been admitted to the scholarships, for the great majority of the founders belonged to that Church. But of late Liberal views had extended their influence, and the Universities had given the benefit of education to all persons whatever were their religious opinions; consequently, having admitted Nonconformists to a share in the education, the Universities were bound to carry their principle to its legitimate conclusion, and also admit them to a share in the endowments and the govern- 2045 ment. He maintained that the principle of this Bill was one that ought to be affirmed by the House; and in conclusion he would add that he should not have trespassed upon the time of the House if it had not been asserted that the University of London could confer all the advantages which could be acquired at the older Universities. He must also say that he believed that the influence of the London University had been of service in inducing the older institutions to extend their usefulness, and open wider their gates.
§ MR. SCHREIBER
observed, that having been for ten years resident at the University of Cambridge he naturally took an interest in this subject of the debate—and this circumstance placed him in a position in which hon. Members trespassed with most confidence upon the indulgence of the House—namely, when their acquaintance with the subject under discussion was not altogether speculative. The Bill before the House proposed to remedy a grievance, but he denied the existence of a grievance. It had not befallen him in the course of his University career to have, as far as he was aware of, a Jew or 8 Nonconformist for a competitor. Had it been so, he was free to confess, that it would not have been without regret that he would have parted company with him upon the threshold of a fellowship or a Master of Arts degree. But it would have been with something of surprise that he would have heard from his friend that he had anything to complain of, and those who had a practical acquaintance with the rivalry of the University would understand what he meant by this observation. That friend would have entered on the competition with a full knowledge of the conditions connected with it; he would have received all the educational advantages of the University course, and, what was beyond all price, he would have imbibed the spirit and shared the associations of the place. That was his answer to his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett); although, perhaps, to have shared those associations and imbibed that spirit would not altogether satisfy those whose cause the hon. Gentleman pleaded. As a man of spirit, proud of the principles which he professed, he would have thought that the first impulse of a Nonconformist would have been to resent the officious interference of friends who were anxious, as hon. Gentlemen appeared to be in this matter, to make things pleasant for him. How was it in life, and how was it in that 2046 House? Was not every man making sacrifices which, regard being had to the great principle for which they were made, were not sacrifices at all? How would right hon. Gentlemen and noble Lords who had conducted a life-long opposition from the front Bench on that side of the House, regard a sort of Bill of Indemnity for their political principles, which would admit them to share the prizes of political life in consideration of the high ability which they had displayed? He believed they would have regarded it as something of an insult. Even if the Bill before the House would remove the evil complained of, which was only an imaginary evil, it would create most serious difficulties. The University of Cambridge might be divided into Trinity College and the smaller Colleges. He would take the case of the latter first. How it might be with respect to classical studies he did not know, but there was nothing in Nonconformity incompatible with great mathematical excellence. Nothing would be easier for Nonconformists than by sending their able mathematicians to carry all the small Colleges in detail; and when they had done that, and had established a majority of Nonconformist fellowships, how would it fare with the established service of the Church of England and the master of the College as a member of the Church of England? The case of Trinity College might be taken, where the fellowships were held for seven years by individuals as laymen. Under the provisions of the Bill there might be persons engaged in the tuition of the College who were Roman Catholics, and although he was not one of those who would argue that such a thing would place the theory of gravitation, or the earth's motion round the sun, in danger, he would ask the House how would the heads of families throughout the country regard such a result? Would it tend to increase or to impair their confidence in the University? Would it not deter them from sending their sons to the University? And would not that be a great evil? But, if the Bill were to pass, would the matter stop at that point? There were hon. Members in that House whom no concession would satisfy. The admission of Nonconformist fellows would constitute the religious service of the chapels an intolerable grievance; and the House would have the honeyed eloquence of the hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge) employed in saying that it would materially serve the interests 2047 of the Church of England to separate both the Colleges and the University from that Church. No man who was not blind to the way in which these subjects were argued on the other side of the House could have the smallest doubt upon that question. The present position of the University was most logical and intelligible. It admitted the Nonconformist to all the educational advantages of the place, but it denied him a voice in the governing body, and that was a position which ought to be maintained and defended at all hazards and all costs. No hon. Member on either side of the House was more indebted than he was to his University and to his College, and he could not reconcile his sense of the deep obligations he was under to them with giving a silent vote on this question.
§ MR. NEATE
said, that much stress had been laid upon the objection that the Colleges were so far private property that the State was not at liberty, without departing from the principles upon which all property rested, to modify those institutions in the way proposed by the Bill now before the House. Now, he was not surprised to hear such a preposterous notion coming from the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent. That hon. Gentleman had intimated that the Church of England was a great corporation holding its property by a title independent of the State, and that it was at the same time at liberty at any time to renounce its connection with the State, and yet to retain its property. He confessed that he was not surprised to hear such a notion from the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, but he was surprised to hear his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge so far forgetting those legal studies in which they once took common part as to lose sight of the great principle that whatever was given in the way of charitable endowments was given to the State upon the condition of public utility. He did not suppose that there was any lawyer in the House who would venture to contradict this principle. The real state of the case was that the State in the first instance had to judge of the utility, and if the endowments were accepted, the Attorney General on behalf of the State was called in to settle the mode in which it should be administered. If, in the course of time, abuses crept in, the action of the State would be required, and the intervention of the Attorney General. He did not mean to say that it was desirable or right that the State should 2048 too lightly exercise the right of diverting property from that application of it on condition of which it was accepted. But if the State at any time found that the restriction of an endowment in any particular way acted in opposition to some great principles which the State had subsequently adopted, it was at liberty to modify that endowment so as to suit great and paramount interests. This course was not only adopted by the State, but it was a principle of law. He did not lay any stress upon the fact that the property was chiefly either intrusted to the State, or was the endowment of individuals when masses were said throughout the country. Because in either case the State had precisely the same right to the property. He would now come to the question under the consideration of the House. The House would see that after the removal of the declaration the Church of England would still be in possession of far stronger protection. With respect to the University of Cambridge, the extent to which the adoption of the Bill would affect that University had not been clearly stated. It was expressly required that the heads of Colleges should make regulations in the case of each College for the maintenance of the doctrines of the Established Church, and there were other safeguards in the administration of the Colleges which would prevent any violation of the intentions of the founders through the instrumentality of this measure. The protection which the law gave to the Church of England in those Colleges was very slight, and its removal could not entail any serious consequences upon it. The law in question was enacted in the time of Charles II. The difference between that time and the present forbade the presumption that the same law would be applicable now; and the onus lay upon the supporters of the present system to show that the law of Charles II. was now required. If the Colleges were of recent foundation, and provision had been made by the founders for the maintenance of worship according to the usages of the Church of England, would the House pass a law requiring that all those who were to be educated in those Colleges should conform to the Established Church? Yet he must insist upon the fact that the retention of the present system would be tantamount to re-enacting a law which they would not think of passing if the case were entirely new. The Church of England did not continue to exist because of its laws and re- 2049 gulations; it had a firmer foundation; it stood because its members comprised the greater portion of the intellect and learning and goodness of the land, and when it ceased to do so "all the King's money and all the King's men would not be able to set it on its feet again." Therefore, when he asked them to support the further progress of the Bill he was only asserting the same principles as those which had led to and sustained the Reformation—the principles of freedom of thought and honesty of purpose, and he was doing no more than advocating a measure of jus tice—the granting of which would redound to the advantage of the Church of England itself.
§ MR. SELWYN
observed, that the hon. Gentleman who last spoke had ventured to assert, in reference to one of his propositions, that no lawyer would dissent from his views; he, however, would be rash enough to do so. The hon. Gentleman had asserted that whenever the times and circumstances of the case had changed, and the Attorney General had been called in, the courts had considered themselves at liberty to alter the laws and constitution of charitable or educational foundations; but he had entirely overlooked the principle upon which the courts so acted, and upon which the Attorney General was called in with respect to the questions raised in connection with those foundations. The will of the founder, if clearly expressed, was the one distinct rule from which the courts would never depart. This fact would be admitted by the hon. Gentleman if he referred, even for one moment, to the elementary principles of those legal studies which he stated that he had once pursued. If the instrument of the foundation did not clearly express itself on the matter in dispute, the circumstances under which the foundation was made might be taken into account; and these were often sufficient to lead to a correct estimate of the will of the founder with reference to the altered circumstances of the times. This was not a doctrine insisted upon for the exclusive benefit of the Church of England, In proof of that fact he need only refer to the familiar case of Lady Hewley's charity, where the same principle and doctrine were insisted upon by the Nonconformists, and where in accordance with such principle a Trustee, otherwise unobjectionable, was ejected from the governing body of that charitable institution solely on the ground that he was a member of the Church 2050 of England. He hoped he might be allowed very briefly to correct one or two assertions made, no doubt unintentionally, by some hon. Gentlemen, especially by the right hon. Gentleman who introduced this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman rested his case upon two supposed grievances: first, the grievance which the present law inflicted upon certain individuals; and secondly, the supposed injury done to the Colleges by the exclusion of some of the ablest men in the Universities from the office of teachers. Now, in respect to the first allegation, the right hon. Gentleman as well as the hon. Member for Brighton were compelled to admit that the existing law admitted Non-conformists to all the educational advantages of the University, and permitted them also to acquire any of the scholarships. They had thus every facility for pursuing their studies, and were admitted to all the social and educational advantages and honours conferred by the University; but they were excluded from the governing body. The hon. Member for Brighton, however, went much further and announced that he and those who were of his opinion claimed the endowments of the fellowships. That, indeed, was the case which the House had to decide. It was contended that these fellowships were prizes, and it was unjust to deprive the Nonconformists of those prizes. But it must not be forgotten that all such prizes were accompanied by duties, and that those who held them had obligations to discharge; such as conducting the education, superintending the discipline, and performing the religious services in the chapels and the other various duties of fellows of Colleges, in which it was admitted that distinctive religious teaching did and ought to form a material part of the system of education. That circumstance had been entirely overlooked by the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill, and who had treated these fellowships as mere prizes. He was afraid of venturing an opinion of his own, as it has been said that the University Members represented only the country clergy. He might, however, be allowed to say that in making these statements he believed he represented the feelings of a very large majority of the legal and medical professions, as well as of the country gentlemen who were members of the University, and who wished to transmit it to their children with the same advantages which they had themselves enjoyed. 2051 He would not, however, give his own opinion, but that of one of the leading lights of the Liberal party who had stated—That he was a decided advocate for the claims of the Dissenters; but that when the power of obtaining degrees was given to them they had received all they had a right to ask. They had no right to complain of being excluded from fellowships. These were founded for members of the Established Church, and those who were not members of the Established Church had no more right to claim to participate in the pecuniary advantages which belonged to that Church than any member of the Church of England had a right to share in the endowments founded at Highbury, Maynooth, or Stoneyhurst, or any other dissenting College. The individuals who bestowed the funds from which fellowships were derived had a right to prescribe any restriction they chose upon the disposal of them, and the Dissenters had no more ground to complain of their exclusion from these emoluments than they had to admission into any private charity."—[3 Hansard, xxv. 866.][Cries of "Name, name!"] He had quoted the opinion of Lord Brougham. Then, with reference to the second point, the alleged injury to the College, it was asserted that the present law prevented the appointment of a Dissenter as a teacher in the College, although he might be eminently fitted for the post in all other respects. That was altogether a mistake; it was true the Nonconformists were excluded from the governing body, but they were not excluded from the teaching power, and it was perfectly competent on the part of those with whom the appointment lay to make any such gentleman a lecturer, in order that he might give the College the benefit of his experience and learning. But there was another place open to them, a lucrative place of very great importance. Anyone who knew anything of Cambridge University knew that if they wanted to find the Senior Wrangler they would not go to any of the lecture rooms in the Colleges, but to the rooms of some private tutor, such as Mr. Hopkins, or the gentleman now holding his place. It was quite open to Dissenters to constitute themselves teachers such as Mr. Hopkins was. No better proof of the absence of injury to the Colleges could be given than that offered by his right hon. Friend the introducer of the Bill, when he observed that the numerous bodies who were supposed to be sufferers had abstained from complaining. They had evidently been acting on the faith of the settlement of 1856; and having reformed themselves as occasion required, rested perfectly satisfied with their condition. On what grounds, 2052 then, could the House be asked to interfere on their behalf? Then the right hon. Gentleman said his Bill only extended to fellowships, and did not affect the heads of the Colleges; but could the House believe the matter would stop there? It was impossible; if such an extension were admitted at all, it would speedily reach the heads of Colleges. Pursuing the consideration of the opinion expressed by Lord Brougham, he would ask any hon. Gentleman who had seen the trust deeds of Nonconformists' endowments, whether their terms were not most stringent with respect to the religious opinions of the governing body, and whether they had not noted the caution of the founders that none but the principles of their creed should be taught by means of their endowments. The Courts of Law, too, had continually maintained the justice of those trusts. It was evident that unity of religious feeling must be preserved in the governing body, and he did not see how that could be insured if this Bill were allowed to pass, and it must be remembered that many of the Colleges were very small bodies, and that to them it would be most disastrous to introduce the element of religious differences. It had been truly said by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bouverie) that the appointment of tutors was vested in the heads of Colleges, and he proposed that the law should still be left so in order to insure the appointment of a proper religious teacher; but if the most competent among those eligible for the tutorship did not conform to the Church of England, would the head of the College venture to pass him over? It was impossible to assume that. Besides this, in many of the Colleges there were officers who were appointed by seniority, as, for instance, the Dean, who was the officer to whom the whole of the religious discipline was intrusted, and who was appointed solely on account of seniority, and a Nonconformist might therefore be placed in that position. So that if this Bill passed into law, a Roman Catholic, or Unitarian, or a member of any other denomination, might by seniority fill the office of Dean in a College established for distinctive religious teaching in connection with the Church of England. Was it, he would ask, in the slightest degree probable that the parents of nineteen-twentieths of the young men who were sent to the Universities would continue to send their sons there if a share in their government was given to Dissenters as the Bill proposed?
2053 But, beyond that, would not the effect of such a proposition be calculated to be prejudicial to the interests of Dissenters themselves? They did not like to have their sons sent to separate halls, because they objected to being ticketed. They would not purchase even exemption from church rates on that condition. What they desired was to be admitted to all the social as well as the educational advantages which Oxford and Cambridge conferred; to mix and to compete on terms of equality with members of the Church; but in attaining their object by being admitted to the governing body they would alarm the religious feeling of the country, and be doing themselves the greatest harm, inasmuch as members of the Established Church would be driven perhaps to seek some other institution for the education of those belonging to it, hedged round by regulations so stringent that it would be impossible for Parliament to divert it from its original purpose. The Dissenters had been fairly and liberally treated by Churchmen, and it was not too much to ask them to act fairly towards the Church of England in return. But then it was said that the Universities were lay corporations, and he was surprised to hear that argument endorsed the other day by one so well versed in the law as his hon, and learned Friend the Member for Exeter. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London had read a familiar passage from Blackstone's Commentaries which defined a lay corporation to be a corporation of which some of the members were laymen, and it was a mere truism to say that the Universities came within that definition. But that fact did not in the least advance the argument on the other side. There were many other bodies, such, for instance, as the Ecclesiastical Commission, and the lay clerks in the Cathedrals, of which many or all of the members were lay, but which were nevertheless created solely for purposes affecting the Church of England. And it might as well be said that because lay clerks were lay men, the money given to them for the purposes of service in a Cathedral ought to be taken away and devoted to other purposes, as that the endowments of our Universities and Colleges might be placed at the disposal of Dissenters as members of the governing body to direct them, it might be, into other channels than the present. He would only add, in conclusion, that he hoped he had succeeded in showing the House that the Dissenters had no real grievance to com- 2054 plain of in this matter, and that it ought not to assent to any proposal which might load to the diversion of the endowments of the Colleges at our Universities from the objects to which they were, in accordance with, the will of the founders, legitimately appropriated. And he would appeal to his right hon. Friend, and entreat him by the love for his University and his College which he had expressed, to withdraw his Bill, and to give to them both that period of repose which they so much desired.
§ MR. THOMAS CHAMBERS
was surprised to hear from the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down an argument which he considered to be fatal to the position which the hon. and learned Gentleman wished to maintain—namely, that Dissenters having been admitted to the office of teacher at the Universities ought to be satisfied with that concession. It seemed to be forgotten by those who urged that argument that Oxford and Cambridge were places of education; that those who acted there as teachers filled positions at once the most responsible and important; and that the fair inference to be drawn from the fact that Dissenters were allowed to occupy such positions was that no good ground any longer existed for refusing to them the further slight concession which the Bill proposed to grant. A fallacy, he might add, pervaded the great majority of the speeches in which I such a concession was opposed. It was assumed that the various Colleges at the Universities were founded for the purpose of maintaining the Established Church in this country; and, no doubt, the recital of the Act of Charles II. plainly showed that at the time when it was passed the Established Church had determined, as it were, to take possession of the whole mind of the nation in the matter of education. The provisions embodied in five-sixths of that recital had, however, been since repealed, because a different state of things had arisen and Parliament had come to the conclusion that all attempts to take possession of the mind of the country in that way, on the part of one body, however respectable, were prejudicial to the religious as well as to the literary and intellectual welfare of the nation. That being so, his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock merely asked the House to repeal the last portion of the Act of Charles II., the result of the operation of which Act had been to reduce the Church and the country at the expiration of 100 2055 years after it had passed into law to a position, both as respects religion and learning, lower than that which it had occupied for centuries. It was well, too, to bear in mind that in proportion as the provisions of that Act had been done away with, in proportion as the education of the people had been taken from the clergy, had there been an increase in the activity, the energy, and the earnestness which the Church of England had exhibited, and in the influence it held in the affections of the people, until it at length occupied a higher and nobler position, and had become a greater agent of good than was ever the case when all other religious bodies were discouraged and persecuted, and the Church was backed up by the whole authority of the State. But it was said that the grievance of which the Dissenters in the present instance complained was, after all, a very small one, inasmuch as it amounted to little more than the exclusion of one or two Senior Wranglers, who belonged to that body, from being fellows of Colleges. He, however, put the question at issue on the broad principle that our Universities were institutions for the promotion of learning, and that a man having gone with credit through the curriculum which they prescribed was entitled to reap the rewards which they held out to successful merit. Besides, in proportion as men who were calculated to do credit to the Universities were debarred from taking advantage of the education which they offered, in the same proportion was their influence and the benefits which such an education was calculated to confer diminished. What, then, were the difficulties in the way of acceding to the Bill before the House? It was said that the result of its passing into a law would be to put an end to religious education in the Universities, and the noble Lord the Member for Stamford facetiously suggested the other day the appointment of a Committee to determine what was meant by religious instruction without any doctrinal peculiarities. But he, for one, must admit that he did not estimate the religious discipline and teaching of the Universities at so high a rate as the noble Lord the Member for Stamford and others who supported his views. He had been at the University of Cambridge himself, and, with the exception of critical lectures on one of the Greek Gospels, he knew nothing of any particular religious instruction which was communicated. In fact, so little of that 2056 kind of teaching was there, that several Colleges had been built to supplement the University teaching of theology. It had been urged that indifferentism would be the consequence of introducing into the governing bodies persons not members of the Established Church, but he had no fear of such a result, as he believed that the bringing of persons belonging to different religious persuasions into contact with one another at the Universities would rather tend to create an interest in religious questions. He placed, he might add, no faith in the prediction that painful collisions of opinion would be a result of the operation of this Bill. For he did not forget that between 1830 and 1836, when there were no Dissenters at Oxford, and when the governing body was supposed to consist only of conscientious arid steadfast members of the Church of England, a schism had arisen greater than any which had been known in that Church for 100 years before. There was, he contended, the widest possible distinction between being indifferent to the truths of the religion which we professed, and being uncharitable and unjust to those who differed from us in opinion; and zealous Churchmen ought, he thought, rather to rejoice than the contrary to see young men belonging to the Dissenting bodies brought within the hallowing influences which our Universities, with all their old associations, exercised. He believed that nothing but good could come from this Bill. Those who opposed it were standing on ground which was becoming narrower every day, because they did so on the assumption that the Established Church and the nation were one and the same thing, which was daily becoming more and more wide of the truth.
§ SIR WILLIAM HEATHCOTE
said, that they had heard two remarkable speeches in this debate which he thought must have left no doubt in the minds of hon. Members as to what was meant to be the effect of this Bill. Nothing of that effect was to be discovered in the cautious speech of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock, or in the speech of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the city of Oxford. But the hon. Member for Brighton had told them distinctly that what he had in view in supporting the Bill was that Dissenters should share in the endowments of the Colleges, carrying with them not merely pecuniary advantages, but the high duty of governing the University and leading the minds of a great part of England 2057 through the connection existing between the Church and the University of Cambridge. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just addressed the House, had left no doubt as to his views on the subject. The hon. Gentleman considered the claims of the Established Church to predominate in the education of the country to be entirely unfounded. That was just an illustration of the great difficulty which every one must feel in a debate on those subjects—he presumed to call them unhappy subjects—which occupied so much of the time of that House. The difficulty was that there was no common ground on which they could conduct their argument. On other subjects, however much they might differ, some common ground of debate was found, and no one was at a loss to mistake the object aimed at. Thus on the Reform discussion they proceeded on the common ground of love of country. One party said they wished to improve its institutions, while those on the other side contended that what was proposed would damage them. Within these narrow limits the; controversy was confined, but here it was of little avail, except for their own satisfaction, that those who were devoted to the Established Church should demonstrate that certain measures would damage the University or the Established Church itself, when they very well knew that that was the very object sought to be attained by those who supported those measures. This was not disguised by many. There were indeed some few who advocated such measures, and yet went on different grounds—Gentlemen who shared in the poetic visions of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter, and thought all kinds of advantages would result to the Established Church from these measures. He would venture to tell his hon. and learned Friend that if he made out his case he would lose a great many of his supporters, and that few of them would go into the lobby with him. For these reasons he was not disposed to go over the ground again, especially as his right hon. Friend on his left had dealt so ably with the question, and had shown how the Bill would be injurious to the connection which existed between the University and the Church. But there was another point alluded to as to which he wished to say a few words. They had heard a great deal in a recent debate of the danger of fragmentary legislation—how in dealing with a part only the difficulty was increased of dealing with the rest. The present mea- 2058 sure was open to that objection. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock said that he was not going to impose any law on the University of Cambridge, but was going to give her an opportunity to make laws for herself. The right hon. Gentleman was going to establish in every College in Cambridge a standing subject of debate, not tending to peace, or to assure parents that they would find, in a year hence, any College to which to send their sons. The right hon. Gentleman said that he desired to open the University with all its advantages to Nonconformists without distinction, and had used, as an argument against the Church claiming any special right in the property of the Colleges, the fad of a great part of it having come from Roman Catholics before the Reformation. This argument, however, would not servo the present Bill, or rather it would be fatal to it. The argument had indeed been answered again and again. It had again and again been demonstrated that for such purposes as the present the Reformed Church of England was the real representative of the Church of England established before the Reformation—and he thought rightly—that the Universities had inherited part of that property, and that part of it had come into the possession of the Church and the University at the time of the Reformation. But be that as it may, it is clear that if any religious body was entitled to use that argument against the Church of England it was the Roman Catholic Communion; whereas the Roman Catholics would be excluded from the University by the Bill of his right hon. Friend, though every other Dissenter from the Church of England might come in. In his spirit of universal toleration his right hon. Friend still left Roman Catholics subject to the Act of George III., and to the Amendment Act of the present reign, which required them to abjure the supremacy of the Pope, and thus they were prevented obtaining any of the advantages enjoyed by others. If the Legislature attempted to deal with that difficulty they would land themselves in doctrinal discussions on the subjects to which the tests had been applied. In fact, what was said amounted to this—"We do not exclude on account of religion—we admit those we favour, and we keep out those we do not like." A test based on the principles of the Established Church and because it was established, was one which the Legislature could adhere to without difficulty, 2059 and without entering on the regions of polemics, because the Established Church was an established fact, recognized by law; but the moment it was sought to prescribe any other test, questions would spring up which could not well be discussed on the floor of that House, and the attempt to introduce them would turn the House into an assembly of Divines. He thought that the Bill ought not to pass this year, and that it ought either to be re-considered or put in a different shape. He must say he was surprised that the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock had spoken so slightingly of the amount of religious education given in the Colleges. His own recollections were at variance with the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. A great portion of the lectures in his day were devoted to the study of Scripture and to the distinctive doctrines of theology. There was another point which he thought betrayed some weakness in the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. His right hon. Friend said that these tests were effectual against conscientious men, but that they did not exclude men who had no conscience in that matter. But did his right hon. Friend mean to say that those men, who, from the very statement of the case, must be unworthy of being trusted in any relation of life, were really common in his acquaintance? As his right hon. Friend made that assertion, he, of course, concluded that instances had come within his observation of men making those declarations, who did not believe in them; but in this case also he must say that his own experience did not agree with that of his right hon. Friend. He repeated that in his opinion the Bill was a partial and an ill-considered measure, and that it would lead to difficulties instead of solving them. In conclusion, he would therefore express the hope that his right hon. Friend would either withdraw his Bill for the purpose of re-considering it, or, what would be better still, that he would withdraw it with the intention of not bringing it forward again.
§ MR. E. P. BOUVERIE,
in reply, said, he had no doubt that before a very long time the question of the oaths taken by Roman Catholics in connection with the holding of offices by persons of the Roman Catholic religion would occupy the attention of Parliament, and that subject was a much wider one than the question with which the present Bill proposed to deal. But he hoped his Roman Catholic friends would not for a moment suppose that he 2060 intended to exclude them from the advantages of the Bill. They would be enabled to avail themselves of those advantages; because, as the House was aware, there was an Act passed every year—retrospective as far as the period of the Session which elapsed before the passing of the Act, and prospective up to the commencement of the next Session—to relieve from the penalties imposed by the old Acts of Parliament those who did not take the oath of abjuration. The right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge said that the Bill would disturb the arrangements come to four years ago. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends now took credit for that settlement, though they had resisted at the time the basis on which it was founded. The Colleges were either public or private bodies. If they were public, and Parliament had a right to interfere with them, then no objection could lie against his proposal. If, on the other hand, they were private establishments, Parliament ought not to have interfered with them by the Act of Uniformity, and he was justified in seeking to abolish that interference. His right hon. Friend said that the University had petitioned against the Bill. He should like to know whether the Colleges had petitioned against it. He was aware that even if the Bill were passed a great number of the Colleges would not for the present avail themselves of its provisions; but he also believed that Trinity College, the greatest College, in the University of Cambridge would take that opportunity of admitting Dissenters among its fellows, and he felt persuaded that other Colleges would gradually follow its example. Even though the House should refuse the concession demanded on this occasion, those who urged it would not cease until it should be conceded, and the whole history of the movement for opening the Universities to Dissenters showed that it would not be much longer postponed. He would add that he should not feel at all surprised if his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge and his party were to return to office to find them, as Ministers of the Crown, proposing those very measures of justice and toleration which they were at present resisting. He would go to a division; and he hoped the majority of the House would show by their votes that they were favourable to the Bill.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."2061
§ The House divided:—Ayes 208; Noes 186: Majority 22.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ House resumed.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read the third time upon Wednesday 6th June.