HC Deb 18 June 1867 vol 188 cc55-80

said, that his Motion proposed to open the Fellowships and Foundation Scholarships of Trinity College, Dublin, to persons other than members of the Established Church. The University consisted of a single College but was complete in itself. It was efficient in all the requirements of an University. It possessed a museum and library, with privileges similar to those of the Bodleian and University libraries at Oxford and Cambridge. It was the richest collegiate foundation in the world. Its estates extended over seventeen Irish counties, and comprised 200,000 acres. Its revenue in 1851 was £92,000. There was no such College at Oxford or Cambridge. In spite of the bad principles on which the revenues of the College were managed, they conferred splendid rewards upon learning and scholarship. The seven senior Fellowships in Trinity College, Dublin, were more splendid prizes than any which were given in Oxford or Cambridge. Besides these there were twenty-eight junior Fellowships, the value of which varied according to the offices held by the junior Fellows, and seventy foundation scholarships. The whole of these splendid endowments were appropriated to those professing the religion of the minority of the nation. The religious disabilities associated with Trinity College, Dublin, represented a higher order of injustice than the religious disabilities — which he had always opposed—connected with Oxford and Cambridge. In those Universities persons could at any rate put forward the excuse that rewards were appropriated to the dominant religious party, but in Ireland the vast collegiate endowments were exclusively appropriated to a small religious faction. Upon this question he thought he should secure the votes both of the Conservatives of the North of Ireland and the Liberals of the South, because the injustice which he was bringing under the notice of the House equally affected Protestants and Roman Catholics. This systematic exclusion affected the Presbyterian as much as the Roman Catholic, for no Nonconformist was allowed to become a scholar or Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. The Committee appointed in 1851 to inquire into the state of this College made some useful suggestions, but they seemed paralyzed by the opposition which they met with from influential Protestants who had profited by the exclusive privileges they had enjoyed. Bishops, clergymen, and laymen came forward and said, "Throw open the foundation scholarships of Trinity College, and what do you do? You destroy the Protestant character of that institution, and you strike a blow at the Protestant principles upon which it is founded."

Notice taken that forty Members are not present; House counted, and forty Members being found present—


rose to a point of order. He desired to know whether it was competent for an hon. Member who had moved that the House be counted to immediately leave the House.


It is competent for any hon. Member to take notice that there are not forty Members present, and he need not himself remain in the House afterwards if he does not think fit to do so.


said, it had been argued that if the scholarships were not exclusively appropriated to members of the Established Church, the distinctive character of the College would be lost, and the purposes for which it was founded would be unfulfilled. The College was founded in the reign of Elizabeth, at the time when, with a view of exterminating Roman Catholicism, the people of Ireland were subjected to cruelties the remembrance of which for ages tended to destroy all kindliness of feeling between the two countries. It might, perhaps, be said that a Protestant University in a Roman Catholic country was an insult upon the inhabitants. The association of any religious title with a University was a most incongruous procedure. A University had higher and nobler ends to perform. Under its influence men of the highest culture, without regard to their religions opinions, ought to be able to live together in intellectual communion undisturbed by sectarian differences. His Motion would incur the opposition not only of those who thought the course he proposed would tend to weaken the ascendancy of the Established Church in Ireland, but also of many Roman Catholics—the persons he desired to benefit. Many of the latter would be more content to witness the injustice resulting from the system than to acknowledge, that any advantages would accrue from unsectarian education. But, while no one desired that the Roman Catholics should be compelled to send their sons to Trinity College, many Roman Catholics already received their education there, and it was indefensible that those so educated at the College should be unable to obtain substantial rewards. The fourteen scholarships which had been thrown open during the last few years did but little to remedy the injustice. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell), who had placed an Amendment on the Paper, the object of which was somewhat similar to his own, would not press it, but allow the sense of the House to be taken on his Motion, which raised a distinct issue. As long as Ireland remained in its present state she would lend no strength to the Empire at large. Large districts of Ireland were essentially disloyal, and there was a feeling of bitter antagonism against this country. It was impossible that Ireland could be of any advantage to England until something was done to create a bond of attachment between the two countries, instead of keeping them together by force of arms. If they did what they could to remove every grievance, they would have the satisfaction of knowing that they were not to blame for Ireland's discontent. They might also hope that her disposition towards England would be better for the future. Although this might appear a small question, it struck at the root of a great religious disability. Of all the ills and curses that had been inflicted on Ireland probably the most disastrous had been due to attempts in past ages to enforce on a Roman Catholic country a religion to which they would not consent. In order to make some amends for the past, and as an act of simple justice, they should no longer allow those splendid Collegiate endowments to be exclusively appropriated to a small religious sect. They should allow them to be enjoyed by the whole nation. Trinity College might then become the nucleus of a great University, where men of different religious opinions might live together, and from it extend over the entire country a religious harmony which could not fail to produce effects of the most tranquillizing and beneficent character.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, in the opinion of thin House, it is undesirable that the Fellowships and Foundation Scholarships of Trinity College, Dublin, should be exclusively appropriated to those who are members of the Established Church."—(Mr. Fawcett.)


said, he thanked the hon. Member for the tone and temper of his speech, and the generous sympathy towards Ireland, which animated the Motion he had submitted. No time could be more opportune than the present for discussing this question. During the last week the Attorney General for Ireland having consented to the action brought against the Senate of the Queen's University with reference to the supplemental Charter, they had withdrawn from the contest thinking it unseemly that the representative of the Crown should be concerned in a suit for abrogating a Charter which Her Majesty had graciously issued during last Session. Therefore, at the present moment, there was with regard to University education a tabula rasa in Ireland. The great mass of the population were excluded by their conscientious convictions from obtaining the advantages of academical degrees. It was the duty of that House and of the Government therefore, with as little delay as possible, to consider the circumstances of the case, and the best means of remedying so crying an injustice. In a petition which had been presented to-day, signed by 4,000 laymen in Ireland belonging to the Established Church, the claim had been put forward for exclusive and sectarian education for Protestants. Those who asserted that claim for themselves had opposed the establishment of a new system under which degrees might be obtained by Roman Catholics educated in Roman Catholic establishments. They refused to apply to Catholics the principle upon which they asked to be treated themselves, and the consequences of that injustice would recoil on those who practised it. Unless they came to some reasonable compromise on the subject they would find that the strong opinion of the House would carry this Motion, and break down the religious character of Trinity College. On the other hand, he must remind the hon. Member for Brighton that this question required the greatest and most deliberate consideration. It would be unwise to attempt to patch up the Irish system of education without considering the principles on which they desired it should be developed. In the consideration of these principles they must mainly look to the feelings and wishes of the Irish people. His hon. Friend not having a sufficient knowledge of Ireland had not taken these feelings into account. With respect to the right of the House to deal with the revenues of Trinity College and to open the Fellowships, there could be no doubt. It did not appear to have been founded in the first instance with any special object to religious instruction. In the letter which Lord Deputy Fitzwilliam was commanded to write in 1591, directing the sheriffs throughout Ireland to collect money for the College, the reason stated was— That the University will prove to the benefit of the whole country, whereby knowledge, learning, and civility may be increased. There was not one word of reference in that letter to the question of religion. However, be that as it may, they were not now to be bound by what was done in days when no teaching, save that of the Established Church, was permitted, and when any one who attempted to teach publicly any other religion was silenced and punished. He could not understand how hon. Gentlemen could say that it was just or right that Colleges founded by Roman Catholics should be monopolized by the religion of the State, and maintained at the same time that it was not just or right for the House to deal with the revenues of Trinity College under the altered circumstances of the times. He took it for granted they had a right to deal with the revenues of Trinity College. The first question was in what way they could deal with it to the advantage of the Irish people. What were the feelings of the Irish people on the subject? He believed that the Irish people, both Protestants and Roman Catholics, were unanimous in desiring that their children should be brought up in the religion of their parents. It was utterly impossible for any system of education not founded on that principle to prosper in that country. As an instance, he might refer to the Queen's Colleges. There was one of the Queen's Colleges successful—namely, the College of Belfast, which was denominational and animated by as strictly a Protestant spirit as even Trinity College itself. In that College they had excluded Roman Catholics from every place and position of influence. This being the case in Belfast was a proof of what he had asserted even as regarded the Protestant population. As to the Colleges of Galway and Cork, Irish Gentlemen who had paid any attention to the subject would agree with him when he said that parents sent their children to those Colleges only because they thought they could gain for them some very great temporal advantage. The proposal before the House was, that the governing body of Trinity College, Dublin, should be open to persons of all religious opinions. If that plan were carried out, and in the course of ten years one half of the Fellows should be Roman Catholics and the other half Protestants, the result would be that neither Protestants nor Roman Catholics would send their sons there. The change would not benefit the position of the Roman Catholics, and would lower the position of the Protestants. His hon. Friend might depend upon it that if his Motion were acted on, Trinity College, which, at all events, was popular with Protestants, would become unpopular with both Protestants and Roman Catholics. If that were so, the principle on which the Motion of his hon. Friend was founded could not be a right one. One mode which had been suggested for remedying the grievance was, that there should be Universities founded for different sects in Ireland, so that each of the great religious bodies should have a University for itself. The establishment of such a system would be one of the severest blows that could be inflicted on the intellectual development of Ireland. Putting Rome aside, whose circumstances as the head of the Catholic world were peculiar, he did not believe that there would be found in Europe a town with two Universities. The obvious reason was the advantage which must result from the young men who came from different Colleges competing together in generous rivalry in one University. It would be the greatest blessing to Ireland to have one University, to which the students from different Colleges might go for the purpose of competing together. He would now ask the attention of the House to the Amendment of which he had given notice. Trinity College was the only College belonging to the University of Dublin. It was not intended that that should be the case. In 1660 a sum of £2,000 was set aside for the purpose of founding another College connected with the University. Why that object was not carried out he did not know. In 1795 an attempt of the same sort was made with a similar result. Lord Palmerston, in the discussion which took place with respect to the Queen's Colleges in 1845, stated, that it would be found necessary to establish some central point—probably in connection with Trinity College — which should combine different Colleges into one University. Therefore, for the scheme he proposed, he had the precedents of former times, and the high authority of Lord Palmerston. The proposal was, that the constitution of Trinity College should remain as it was, but that the University of Dublin should be separated from it and should be entirely non-sectarian, having a president and senate composed of persons belonging to the different religious bodies throughout the country, in which all could feel confidence. He proposed that there should be connected with the University Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Protestant Colleges, representing all the various shades of religious opinion in the country, and that from those Colleges the youth of Ireland should proceed to the University, there to compete in honourable rivalry. In what way could such a scheme affect the students of Trinity College? They would continue to have the same religious education as at present. They would be examined by an external body, instead of by their own teachers, while the competition with other students would tend to intellectual development. He would put it to his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Lefroy), was it just that one man who had to compete with another of his countrymen in the walks of life should be denied the opportunities his competitor had of improving his intellect? There were two courses by which it was proposed to remove the religious disabilities under which the people of Ireland had so long suffered, and to establish complete equality. The one was a just and righteous course, such as that he had suggested, which would be in perfect harmony with the feelings and wishes of the Irish people. The other was that which would establish what was called unsectarian education, in other words, education which excluded religious teaching. He would tell his hon. Friend (Mr. Lefroy) that unless he could prevail upon his constituents to come to some such arrangement as he had suggested, the two currents, the one in favour of complete religious equality, the other latitudinarian, uniting together would be too strong for them to resist. The sectarian and religious character of Trinity College would be swept away, and they would lose what they valued most because they would not do justice to their fellow-countrymen. They would find out at last that in resisting justice to their neighbour they had destroyed themselves. He could not exaggerate the importance he attached to this question, or to the necessity there was for making the people of Ireland feel that Parliament intended to deal fairly and justly by them. He had received to-day a petition from fifty young men who were prevented from going up for examination with a view to taking a degree under the supplementary Charter. That petition was given to him by a gentleman of the highest character, who assured him that nothing could be more dangerous than the feeling which had been created in the minds of these young men by being debarred from that to which they believed themselves justly entitled. Those young men naturally felt that if they were treated in such a way it was probable that Ireland generally was dealt with on the same principle. The proposal he made was made in a spirit of conciliation, and with a conscientious conviction that it could not injure Trinity College. In this way an honourable settlement might be effected, which would remove many difficulties, while it would at the same time respect the religious convictions so deeply implanted in the Irish breast. He begged to move his Amendment.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "House" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the constitution of the University of Dublin should be altered so as to enable and fit it to include Colleges connected with other forms of religion than that of the Established Church, and that the members of such Colleges should be entitled to share in all the benefits now enjoyed by the Members of Trinity College,"—(Mr. Monsell,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, that as one of the Members for the University of Dublin, and after the way in which he had been appealed to by his right hon. Friend, he should not be discharging his duty if he did not state his opinions upon this Motion. He was much surprised when he saw upon the Paper the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman. That Amendment would not be likely to meet with the sanction of the House. He would not at that time enter upon the scheme of his right hon. Friend, for he had not yet had time to consider it. But he thought that a great portion of the argument by which he endeavoured to support it was not sound or well founded. His right hon. Friend said that those who were educated in Trinity College had not the full advantages of competition. But truly there was competition enough there upon almost every subject, and it was difficult to see that the scheme proposed would better the state of things that now existed. He would not enter at present further into the consideration of that plan, but would say a few words upon the proposal of the hon. Member for Brighton. The hon. Member appeared to forget that the University of Dublin had been founded by a Protestant Queen, at the request of the Archbishop and clergy of the day, avowedly upon Protestant principles, and that by Charter its Professors, Fellows, and scholars were to be Protestants. Under these circumstances, he did not understand how the hon. Member could propose that the constitution of the University should be at once abolished, and Roman Catholics and Dissenters admitted to the governing body. At first all who were to receive instruction at Trinity College were obliged to be Protestants, but by degrees that rule was relaxed, and in 1793 the benefits of education were extended to all classes. They were all aware how many distinguished Roman Catholics had availed themselves of that concession. From that period various other concessions were made until 1853, when it was alleged that Roman Catholics were unfairly treated in not being allowed to become scholars. A Royal Commission was appointed, and it was suggested that the scholarships should be thrown open to Roman Catholics. On consideration this was not approved, it being thought better to establish an unlimited number of non-foundation scholarships, with the same benefits as the foundation scholarships. Under this plan Roman Catholics who passed the examination gained scholarships at once, and had not to wait for vacancies. As to the legal aspect of the question, there had been a distinct legal decision that only Protestants were eligible for scholarships or Fellowships. In 1858 there were fourteen studentships founded, open to all religions, each £100, and two are now held by Roman Catholics. They are analogous to the Fellowships in the English Universities. It was admitted by the late Mr. O'Connell that the foundation scholarships having been originally intended for the benefit of young men destined for the Church, it would not be just for Roman Catholics to deprive them of those advantages. The grievances complained of were only imaginary. The doors of the College were open to Roman Catholics and Protestants alike. He trusted that a state of things which worked so admirably, and was conducive of so much advantage to the country, would not be disturbed or destroyed by the adoption of either the Motion or the Amendment. He regarded the proposal of the hon. Member for Brighton as most unjust to Trinity College, and he hoped the House would refuse to sanction such an attack on its rights and privileges.


said, he did not say a word against Trinity College as a Protestant Institution, because he believed that, considering it in that light, it was as liberal as they could desire. But that was not the question before the House. The question introduced by the hon. Member for Brighton was whether the Fellowships and scholarships of Trinity College should be open to persons of all religious persuasions in Ireland without any distinction. When that Notice was placed on the Paper he felt himself in some difficulty; because, while he could not deny that there was a good deal of justice in the statement that it was not desirable that all the emoluments of the University of Dublin should be confined to persons of one religion, the religion of the minority of the population, he at all times had maintained that religion should be combined with education. He had always felt that the principle embodied in the Queen's University of Ireland was not satisfactory to the people of that country. Therefore he felt that there might be some inconsistency in his acceding to an alteration of Trinity College, which would be practically bringing Trinity College into the same position as the Queen's Colleges. A Bill had been introduced for opening the government of the Colleges of Oxford to persons of different religious persuasions, and that Bill had been strongly supported by the hon. Member for Brighton. Though he had never voted upon that question, there was a great difference between the proposal with respect to Oxford and that with respect to the University of Dublin. In the case of Oxford the Bill was permissive, enabling any College to permit persons not belonging to the Established Church to take part in the government. But the proposal with regard to the University of Dublin, where there was only one College, was compulsory. He could not deny the justice of the statement of the Resolution that it was undesirable that all the emoluments attached to the University of Dublin should be enjoyed by the minority, and a rich minority, of the population. It was in accordance with that view that the right hon. Member for Limerick gave notice of his Amendment. In the spirit of that Resolution he entirely concurred. He believed that in it would be found the real solution of the difficulties of University education in Ireland. The Resolution of the hon. Member for Brighton did not deal with the whole question, but referred only to the emoluments connected with one particular foundation. The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman went further. It remedied the anomaly of having the benefits of a University education confined to a particular persuasion, while it did not conflict with the maintenance of the religious element in education. At present, while the Established Church had a College of its own, Dissenters and Roman Catholics could obtain degrees only by going to institutions conducted on no religious principle. The Roman Catholics and the Dissenters were now at a disadvantage. The hon. Member for Brighton proposed that members of the Established Church should be placed under the same disabilities as the Roman Catholics, and have no means of getting University education for their children unless they sent them to a College where no religious education was given. Having always contended that the position of the Roman Catholics was unsatisfactory in this respect, he was not so inconsistent as to ask that the Members of the Established Church should be brought down to the same level. His desire was to place on an equality the members of all religious persuasions in Ireland, not by lowering the position of the members of the Established Church, but by elevating their fellow-countrymen. The proposal of his right hon. Friend the Member for Limerick would effect this object. He was not an advocate for unnecessarily increasing the number of Universities. The best system would be to have but one University for Ireland, and to have it open to all religious persuasions. He would also have, in connection with this University, Colleges in which the youths of different persuasions could be educated according to their respective creeds. It might be asked how could they who differed as to common instruction, agree upon a common examination, and would not difficulties arise in regard to the text books to be used? These difficulties might easily be got over, as the example of the London University proved. Students coming from Roman Catholic Colleges graduated at that University, and no difficulties as to text books had been found insurmountable. The explanation of this was very easy. Take, for example, the question of Moral Philosophy, on which the greatest difficulties might naturally be expected to arise. Roman Catholics would probably most strongly object to having their children instructed in the tenets of Paley or Bentham by Professors who accepted those tenets as true, but they had no objection to having those works used as text books in Catholic Colleges, where the teachers would, in reading them, point out what they considered their errors. Believing that the proposal of his right hon. Friend was quite consistent with maintaining the denominational character of Collegiate education, he considered it far more satisfactory than the proposal of the hon. Member for Brighton, and therefore gave it his most cordial support.


said, he must congratulate the House upon the tone and temper of the present debate, as contrasted with the discussions which used in former days to excite so much religious animosity without attaining the object desired. The two proposals before the House were essentially and entirely antagonistic. The hon. Member who opened this debate was an undisguised, firm, and no doubt conscientious adherent of united education. He seemed to be ignorant, however, of the system of education pursued in the University of Dublin, and also as to the position it held in the opinion of the great mass of the Irish people. The hon. Member spoke of its existence as an insult to the Roman Catholic population, and said he did not believe that anything could be more conducive to the maintenance of ill - feeling between Irishmen than such an institution. In all the debates on this subject, that was the first time the existence of the Dublin University was put forward as an Irish grievance. So far from this being the case, there was not an Irishman who was not proud of that institution as it stood, and who would not be sorry to see it altered or overthrown. He believed that it had taken hold of the affections of the great body of the people, and that no feeling against it really existed. Trinity College represented the religious opinions of the vast majority of those classes who were likely to take advantage of University education. The position of the people of Ireland in regard to Trinity College was different from their position in regard to primary education. A. large majority of that portion of the population who are in a position of life to take advantage of primary education were Roman Catholics. An equal if not a greater majority of those whose means enabled them to give their sons a University education did not profess the Roman Catholic religion. He fully agreed with the hon. Member for Brighton—there was no country in the world where it was more desirable to mitigate and assuage those sectarian feelings that had existed for so many years. Of all the institutions of Ireland, however, Trinity College had done the most to mitigate and assuage those hostile feelings. Long before any system of University education had been thrown open to all religious persuasions, Dublin College set an example of liberality and unsectarianism which had been gradually followed by all the great educational institutions of the country. For eighty years the degrees of the University had been thrown open to all religious denominations. For the fair consideration of the question it would be necessary to remind the House very shortly of a few of the features which that institution possessed. Trinity College was founded a great many years ago—in the reign of Elizabeth. Anybody who would take the trouble to look back to history must admit that the institution was founded originally for Protestant purposes, and had maintained an essentially Protestant character ever since. It had maintained that character in the best sense. For nearly 100 years it had evinced greater liberality and toleration towards all other sects than any other quasi-sectarian institution. But Trinity College occupied a peculiar position. The College and University were intimately interwoven throughout its constitution and teaching. It stood almost alone in this respect among our Collegiate institutions. To that circumstance he attributed a great portion of its success. The endowments nominally belonged to the College. But the Collegiate and the University systems being so closely interwoven together, these endowments contributed almost as much to the University part of its objects as to the Collegiate. It would be most difficult to separate the two. The governing body of the University was selected from the senior Fellows, of whom the number was seven. Though the junior Fellows were called Fellows, that term, as known in the English Universities, did not represent the position they held in the Dublin University. There the Fellows, as a class, were almost all occupied in professorial and tutorial duties. A great portion of the most important educational duties of the College were performed by Tutor-Fellows. The result was satisfactory, and the standing of the College in learning was extremely high. At the close of their report describing the general aspect of the College, in 1853, the Commissioners said they found that improvements of an important character had been introduced from time to time by the authorities of the institution, and that the general state of the University was highly satisfactory. They spoke very favourably of the efficiency of its different departments, and also of the spirit of improvement which had always been evinced by its authorities in effecting from time to time changes for the purpose of adapting it to the requirements of the age. That was the conclusion come to after an inquiry of the most searching kind, conducted by able men well acquainted with the general subject of University education, not only as to every phase and mode of the education given in the College, but also as to its financial arrangements, its discipline, and, in short, everything connected with the establishment. Contrasting that opinion with the opinion expressed about the same time with regard to similar bodies in the country, no higher testimony was ever borne to the efficiency of a great educational institution. The principal benefits which it now offered to its students in their undergraduate course were those seventy foundation scholarships which formed part of the subject of the Motion of the hon. Member for Brighton. It was true that those foundation scholarships were by the fundamental rules of the College close scholarships, inasmuch as they could be held only by members of the Established Church. But as little importance had been attached to that circumstance, he would not allude to it further than to say, that if the opinion of Parliament was that an alteration ought to be made in respect to those particular scholarships, he greatly doubted whether within the walls of the College itself any great objection would be raised to the opening of those scholarships. He had no direct authority to speak on this subject, but his conviction was that a great change of opinion had taken place as regarded those scholarships. He should not be surprised if the authorities of the College themselves, at no distant day, were to propose to Parliament that they should be thrown open generally to all religious denominations. It having, however, been felt that there was an objection to so large a number of those scholarships being confined to members of the Established Church, a few years ago sixteen new scholarships were founded. Those scholarships were practically open to Dissenters and Roman Catholics only, because they were given only to those of a different religion from that of the Established Church who qualified for the other foundation scholarships, but were unable to take them. Out of the whole sixteen only ten had been occupied, that number being found to be enough for those who offered themselves for examination. In addition to those scholarships there were lately founded fourteen new sizarships, open to all religious denominations. Within the walls of the College there was no desire, and no rule existed, to prevent any person of any denomination whatever from taking the fullest advantage of all the education offered. The only things, from which those who did not belong to the Established Church were debarred were the Fellowships. Not only were the great educational prizes to which he had referred offered by the University to men of all denominations, but a great number of the professorships could also be held by persons not connected with the Established Church. He did not wish to conceal from the House that the most important and valuable professorships must still be held by Fellows and members of the Church of England. But out of thirty - three professorships twenty-two were open to persons of all denominations. The professorship of one particular branch of study, in respect to which it might be thought that some jealousy might be excited—namely, political economy, was now held by a Roman Catholic. Hon. Gentlemen may smile; but in some educational institutions he could mention, a Protestant professor of political economy would be looked upon with considerable suspicion. Last year the medical professorships were also thrown open to all religious persuasions, and an Act wan passed for that purpose. It was the desire of the University to choose the best men for those positions. The absence of Dissenting and Roman Catholic professors arose from the fact that they did not present themselves for election, and, in fact, Roman Catholics do attend in some number, for with regard to the students, the average number of Roman Catholics who during the last few years had generally been found going through the undergraduate course was about fifty. Some of the most eminent Roman Catholics of our day had received their education within the walls of Trinity College, Dublin. That had been the case with six out of the nine Roman Catholic Judges now on the Irish Bench. It was, therefore, a mistake to say that no mixed education existed in that institution. Not only did a mixed education exist there, nearly to the same extent as in some of the Queen's Colleges, but it was probably increasing. It was far more real and effective than anything of the kind to be found outside its walls. The students of different creeds met and dined together. They united in all their sports and their studies. The education was real, practical, and different from that of any other institution. Speaking generally, there were in Ireland three systems of education in operation—the denominational, the united, and the mixed, which latter in many respects combined the principles and advantages of the other two. The denominational would be found in the diocesan schools, the schools of the religious orders, and, in its purest form, in the College of Maynooth; the united, in the vested schools of the National Board, in their model schools, and also in the Queen's Colleges; the mixed system, in the non-vested schools and in Trinity College. Everybody must admit that the combination of the united and the denominational systems had, of the three systems, worked most successfully. At the present time about 170 Bachelors of Arts took their degree in Trinity College; more than half of the whole number of those who took their degree at the London University. The Motion of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) would, if carried, entirely revolutionize a system which operated so well, and for that reason it was one which the House ought not to adopt. The difficulties in the way of carrying out such a plan as that proposed by his right hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monaell) appeared to be almost insurmountable. The first difficulty was that those Colleges which would be affiliated to the University would of course be held to be entitled to have a share in its Government, and to take a considerable part in the arrangements connected with it. He did not deny the great advantages that a single University would possess if its institution was possible; but, looking at the past history of Ireland, he had great doubt whether the governing body of a University composed of men entertaining totally different opinions on the subject of education would work satisfactorily. He would take, for example, two men, who were, perhaps, the best typos of their respective classes in Ireland, the Provost of Trinity College—one of the most distinguished men who ever held that office—and the President of Maynooth. He would put it to the House whether those two men, possessing, as they did, great attainments, but being also men of very strong political and religious opinions, were likely to act harmoniously in the arrangement of any particular course or system of education. He did not believe that if a University were to be established in Dublin, based on the system which prevailed in the London University, it would find favour with the Irish people. A feeling of considerable mistrust would be excited, and it might be found that an efficient system of University instruction had been destroyed, while no other likely to be generally acceptable was supplied. But there was another and very important consideration connected with this question, which his right hon. Friend did not touch. He could hardly admit the accuracy of his right hon. Friend's historical researches when he said that in its origin Trinity College was not intended for Protestant teaching. Within that establishment was to be found one of the most efficient theological schools in the United Kingdom. The mission of Trinity College had always been to give a sound literary and theological education to candidates for holy orders in the Established Church. He did not see how a College, one of the main objects of which was to carry on combined literary and theological education, could be turned into a secular University. Suppose it were suggested to affiliate Maynooth to a non sectarian University, did the right hon. Gentleman think the heads of the College would consent? Would such a proposal be tolerated for a moment? With regard to Maynooth, according to the views entertained by all the Roman Catholic authorities on education, the education of men intended for the ministry of the Roman Catholic Church was necessarily of a more secluded and isolated character than the education of ministers of other creeds. Roman Catholic Divines objected to clerical education being mixed up with secular education, particularly towards the close of the academic course. With us it is quite different. He thought that great good results from students of Trinity College taking their secular education with other students. He felt convinced that if the proposal of his right hon. Friend were carried out, feelings would be aroused which would lead, he felt confident, before long, to the establishment alongside Trinity College of a clerical College, in resorting to which the students of theology would be deprived of those advantages they enjoyed under the present system. There were other objections to the proposal, but he would not weary the House by entering into them. He by no means wished to contend that there was not much in the question which was not worthy of the gravest consideration. University education in Ireland was not in a satisfactory position. The House would give the present Government credit, as they had given their predecessors credit, for an earnest desire to grapple with the difficulties by which the subject was beset. He felt at the same time convinced that Parliament would take an erroneous course if it were to sanction the overthrow of an institution which for centuries had worked nothing but good, unless it were prepared to set up in its stead some other which would commend itself to the unanimous approval of the Irish people. This matter had received and would continue to receive the most anxious consideration of the Government, and he was certain that any proposal they might bring forward would be received with the greatest frankness by the House. He believed that it would be possible to frame some measure which would effect the desired object without disturbing the existing institutions. Experience showed that there need be no fear that new educational establishments in Ireland would interfere with the existing Universities. He had not the same objection as his right hon. Friend to the existence of two Universities in the country. No fewer than four Universities existed in this country, and University teaching is daily on the increase. Fears were expressed when the Queen's Colleges were established that they would interfere with Trinity College; but Trinity College had in no degree suffered in consequence of the establishment of the Queen's Colleges, the number of degrees taken in the former having rather increased than diminished since the establishment of the latter College. The question for the decision of the House and of the Government was whether, if it should be found impossible to unite in one existing institutions, we might not be able to establish some new University which would supply the want now felt by those who were unable to avail themselves of Trinity College. It would be a bad way to solve this question to upset the hitter, which had taken a firm hold on the affections of the great mass of the Irish people, and might be much more for their advantage to supplement or to add than to overthrow and destroy.


said, that the noble Lord had asked him whether he would approve of the students at Maynooth being examined by a non-sectarian examiner. He had to inform the noble Lord that a great number of students at Maynooth had intended to go up for examination to the Queen's University under the supplemental Charter.


said, that as he was a graduate of Dublin University he could not be thought to have any hostility to that University. He thought that the attention of the House had been somewhat called away from the original Motion by the Amendment which had been proposed. The proposal of the hon. Member for Brighton was that the Scholarships and Fellowships of Trinity College should be thrown open to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects. The right hon. Member for Limerick had defined Trinity College as a denominational institution, whereas the noble Lord had described it as being open to all Her Majesty's subjects. What was the real state of the case? Only fifteen or twenty Roman Catholics in each year had felt themselves at liberty to avail themselves of the benefits it afforded. The objection entertained to this College by Roman Catholics was that they were excluded from emoluments open to members of the Established Church. He could not see what objection there was to permitting Roman Catholics to hold Scholarships which involved no religious duties. While Roman Catholic scholars remained non-foundation scholars they had no right to vote in the election of Members for the University. The objection to throwing the Fellowships open to Roman Catholics was that the Fellows were engaged in training students intended for holy orders. Why should an arrangement of that character be perpetuated? He recollected one case of a distinguished mathematical scholar, who was tutor to many who had become Fellows, but who had been debarred from becoming a Fellow himself in consequence of his being a Roman Catholic. The Fellows ought to be relieved from the obligation of taking orders, and should give their undivided attention to their own departments of science. Fellowships were granted to those who had distinguished themselves in certain branches of learning. Therefore, they should be conferred irrespective of the religious persuasion of those whose industry and talents rendered them worthy of receiving such rewards. On what public grounds could the exclusion of Roman Catholics and Dissenters be any longer upheld? In the time of Queen Elizabeth the theory was that Ireland was, or would shortly become, a Protestant country. But it was necessary now to deal with the facts of the present day, when 77 per cent of the population were Roman Catholics and 23 per cent Protestants. Great benefit would accrue by placing the University of Dublin on a broader basis. It was too closely connected with the Established Church of Ireland, and the great majority of its Members belong to that Church. If the University were liberated from that influence it would more worthily fulfil its destinies as an educational institution. As to the question of Irish education, he was glad to hear the noble Lord avow that it should not be allowed to remain in its present condition, which was eminently unsatisfactory. The only College at present connected with the University of Dublin was Trinity College; but why might not the sphere of the University be enlarged so as to include the Queen's Colleges and other institutions? He saw no reason why a University should not be established which should be open to all comers. He strongly deprecated the idea of multiplying Universities in Ireland. He thought it would tend to degrade the standard of education. The Roman Catholics of Ireland were entitled to say that they would not send their children to be educated in Colleges of which they conscientiously disapproved, and that if they were unable to obtain academical education in any other way they ought to be allowed to establish a University of their own. He believed, however, it would be better not to establish such a system. The plan shadowed out this evening would, he thought, commend itself to the consideration of all candid and sensible men, because it offered a solution of a difficulty which had created more ill-feeling in Ireland than any other question of modern times.


said, he had presented a petition signed by 2,090 influential Protestants against any alteration in the rules of Trinity College. He thought the present Motion would be regarded in Ireland as an attack upon Trinity College, which had done as much as, if not more than, any other educational institution in Ireland. Whatever might be argued, the popular belief was that the foundation of Trinity College was Protestant. No one could attribute to it the illiberality which had been charged against the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In the year 1793 the degrees of the University of Dublin had been thrown open to all religious denominations, and eight or nine years ago seventeen Scholarships were thrown open irrespective of religious creed. It ought therefore to be in fairness allowed that the University of Dublin had displayed greater liberality than either Oxford or Cambridge. The average number of admissions to Trinity College had been over 300 annually during the last four years. In making an attack on an institution of this kind it was necessary to prove that its foundation had been a failure. No such proof had been given. Trinity College must be looked upon very much as a place for the education of the clergy of the Established Church. Even if, as had been suggested, the Established Church might cease its connection with the State in Ireland, there would always be a number of its clergy there who would require an education. The question was, where were they to be educated? Roman Catholics were allowed the exclusive use of Maynooth, with its endowment of £30,000, in addition to the £20,000 voted for the Queen's College. The Clergy of the Established Church in Ireland must have some place for their education, and if Trinity College were to cease to be denominational the result would be that the clergy of the Established Church, and those who thought with them, would no longer send their sons to be educated there. If there was to be a separation between the clergy and the laity in their general University education, the result would be disastrous to both parties. In correction of the statement that the endowment of Trinity College amounted to £90,000, he wished to observe that the net endowments amounted to only £34,000. He could not but think that great difficulties would arise from altering the governing body of the University of Dublin. Though he was not exactly in favour of a Roman Catholic University, he was quite prepared to consider the question whether it would not be better to establish such an institution rather than admit Roman Catholics to the governing body of the University of Dublin. They might fairly assume that if Roman Catholics were admitted to Fellowships and to the governing body, the fundamental principles of the University of Dublin would be changed. Their experience of what had taken place with reference to the national education system in Ireland ought to be sufficient to convince the House of that. With regard to the English Universities, it had always been urged, on the part of Dissenters, that though they were able to take degrees at Cambridge they were unfairly prevented from obtaining Fellowships, on the ground that a Fellowship would give them power over the government of the University. But even assuming that they obtained a large number of Fellowships, there would be so great a diversity of opinion among the different Dissenting Fellows that he did not believe there would be any danger of concerted action among them to alter the character of the religious education of the place. In Ireland, however, it was different. The Dissenters were almost wholly Roman Catholics, and they all knew what uncompromising and conscientious views Roman Catholics took of all religious matters. If they obtained a footing in the governing body of the University they would not be satisfied, if they were sufficiently strong, until they had effected a fundamental alteration in the teaching and government of the body. He would ask hon. Members to pause before they introduced such an element of discord into the University. He hoped that if the hon. Member for Brighton thought that questions like these ought to be connected with the everlasting subject of the ills of Ireland, he would make a tour of that country and inform himself by the light of his intelligence, rather than by what he might read in certain newspapers, or hear from some hon. Gentlemen in that House.


moved the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Henry Austin Bruce.)


said, it would be a great pity to adjourn the debate after the discussion that had taken place. The sense of the House ought to be taken upon the Motion.


said, he would not join in deprecating an adjournment of the debate if the feeling of the House was that the question required further consideration, and he understood there was a general feeling that it ought to be further considered. As, however, this was the 18th of June, and as the House was occupied with other subjects of interest and importance, he was not very sanguine as to the period of the Session at which it might be practicable to procure a day for resuming the discussion. From a statement made that evening—important as giving a practical turn to the discussion—it appeared to be the view of Her Majesty's Government—though one not before expressed—as well as of the great majority of the Members on the Opposition side of the House, that the state of the higher education in Ireland was such as to call for a speedy interference on the part of Parliament. That being so, and there being a difficulty in getting an opportunity for the further dis- cussion of the matter within the walls of that House, he hoped that Her Majesty's Government would keep in view the urgency of the question. It was time that in some at least of these Irish questions progress should be made. The greatest opposition had been offered to the plan proposed by the late Government. Another plan had been brought forward by his right hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell), and a third had been glanced at by the noble Lord (Lord Naas) and the hon. Baronet (Sir Frederick Heygate). While one of those schemes might have his preference rather than either of the others, yet, keeping in view the fact that real civil disabilities were at present inflicted on the majority of the inhabitants of Ireland in connection with the University question, he would rather see the adoption of any one of the plans rather than an indefinite postponement of all interference in the direction of a removal of those disabilities. At the same time, glancing at the proposal favoured by the last speaker, and apparently by the Government, he entreated them to consider well the serious inconveniences which would follow a multiplication of Universities, which, if united together, might be able to give a valuable degree, but which severed might fall into secondary rank. It was not the mere name nor its power of granting degrees which secured, respect for a University and the honours it conferred. Until recently the Scotch Universities were an example of this. There was nothing more ruinous to Universities than competitions, because it was a competition downwards. As Universities were multiplied, each became tempted to lower its standard in order to attract pupils. It I would be impossible to keep the standard high, except under such circumstances as those surrounding the University of London, which had the best examiners, who were above the imputation of low and unworthy motives, and in the cases of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, where the comparative competition between the Colleges and the great variety of bodies comprised within the precincts of the University supplied those elements of diversity and impartiality absolutely necessary to maintain the standard of examination. If the Dublin University Charter were altered, it should be altered in such a way as to be a real boon to the people, by becoming possessed of the power to grant degrees which should command the confidence of the public. That desirable object could not be attained if Ireland's University were not entitled to public confidence and national Consideration.


said, it appeard to him that the party opposite (the Opposition) were dealing in the most inconsistent manner with the question. It was only that morning that they had voted against the union of the University of Durham with the University of London. They had in that case supported the principle of exclusion. At present they sought to establish the principle of inclusion and fusion, irrespective of all religious considerations. That was an awkward mode of proceeding, and hon. Gentlemen opposite were beginning to feel the difficulties of their position. A late able and witty Member of that House once stated that Liberalism was antagonistic to religion. The Gentleman to whom he was referring was the late Mr. Henry Drummond. He justified his statement by observing that Liberalism was quod liberat—that which loosens; while religion was quod religat—that which binds. He added that those who objected to his allegation must quarrel, not with him, but with the dictionary. He (Mr. Newdegate) believed that that difficulty pinched the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) and all his party. They yielded to the demand of the Roman Catholics for strict exclusiveness at Maynooth and in the Roman Catholic poor schools of this country; yet they would not allow the same principle to be extended to the Protestants, who constituted the great majority of the population of the United Kingdom. They wanted to deprive the Dublin University of whatever remained of its exclusiveness, because it was a Protestant, not a Roman Catholic reservation. The Liberal party were in the difficulty of Laving no principle to guide them. Who ought to lead that party? A consistent Jew, a consistent Mahometan, who was a consistent Unitarian, or a consistent Atheist, who had no religion whatever? At present they were dragged hither and thither by the Roman Catholics, who thereby involved them in a maze of inconsistency. Having no principle of their own they were obliged to follow that body, and in doing so utterly to violate that principle of equality for which upon other occasions they so strenuously contended. Their position was thus infinitely absurd. He could easily understand that the right hon. Member for South Lancashire wished for an adjournment which might afford him an opportunity of considering the embarrassing condition to which he and his party were reduced. He (Mr. Gladstone) wished for time in order to consider how to escape from or to evade the fathomless difficulty into which compliance with the arbitrary demands of the ultramontane Roman Catholics had plunged him.


said, the Liberal party's object was clear. The University was sectarian, and they desired to make it national.

Question put, and agreed to.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow.