§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [13th May], "That the Bill be now read a second time;" and which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Walpole.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. POWELL
said, he would point out, as one of the objections to this Bill, that it had not received the favour of the Universities themselves, for as regarded Cambridge alone, petitions signed by no fewer than 2,232 Members of the Senate had been presented against it. It was a common thing to compare the German and other Continental Universities with the English; but, in truth, they were wholly dissimilar. The former were founded by the State, directed by the State, and, in fact, were the creatures of the State; whereas the latter consisted in a great degree of Colleges which were the result of private benefactions. But although the 427 Continental Universities were the creatures of the State, the State was sometimes afraid of its own creation. We often heard of foreign Universities being closed on account of disturbances among the students; but when had it happened, at least in recent generations, that Oxford or Cambridge University had been closed in consequence of disturbances among the students? He thought the old Universities of England had no cause to shrink from the comparison, and that they had not failed in their first duty of guiding and forming the character of the youth of the country. Most of the Colleges of our Universities were founded or enriched by wealthy Prelates, who gave of their abundance, by clergymen who gave from their small pittances, or by laymen whose affection to the interests of religion and learning induced them to give according to their ability. Though some Royal personages had in certain cases contributed to their funds, they were in the main the result of private donations given, not for the support of any merely secular system, but for the promotion of a higher education, to be conducted in the spirit of religion. That object they had fulfilled, and the interest now taken in theological subjects, not only by those who were preparing for Holy Orders, but also by students who were preparing for lay careers, showed that religion was still alive and active in those ancient institutions. No one could say that the Universities had not been faithful to their trust. He spoke particularly of Cambridge—his own University—and he was able to say that there never was a time when the Colleges did their work more effectually, when the altars of their chapels were resorted to by more earnest worshippers, and when those who were designed for Holy Orders received a more effective training. He asked the House, therefore, to pause before it rudely broke up a system which worked so well and so beneficially. The great object which he and those who believed with him had in view was, that the governing power in the Universities should be in the hands of persons holding one faith; they had no wish to keep Nonconformist students out of the Colleges, but would rather they should come in. It was most desirable that Nonconformists should participate in the higher culture and the genial influences of a University education; and he hoped the effect of that culture and those influences upon that class of students would be to induce them, at least in after life, if not 428 before, to join the Communion of the Church of England. But it was most important to keep the governing bodies in intimate, connection with that Church. When dealing with ethics, with history, and even with law, it might be requisite that the teaching should retain the impress of the Church of England; but with respect to chemistry, and some other sciences, the same necessity might not exist; theology might, indeed, be turned into acids, but it would not be easy to turn acids into theology. It was not possible to expel religion from places of education. The cry for its expulsion reminded him of the words of the Roman poet, reproving the proud and highly-luxurious men of his time—Naturam expellas furcâ, tamen usque recurret, Et mala perrumpet furtim fastidia victrix.Such would be the case with Christianity and religion. They might endeavour to expel religion from their seats of learning; yet, once expelled, he believed it would ever return. But they did not know in what shape it would return. They should note the fact that the same year which had seen the Liberal party endeavouring to throw open Trinity College, Dublin, had been characterized by the putting forth of claims on the part of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to exclusive religious teaching, such as had not before been advanced in this country. They knew what the religious teaching in Oxford and Cambridge was—it was the teaching of the Church of England; a Church comprehensive in her articles of belief, and even more comprehensive in her practice than in the letter of her laws. Let them take heed that they did not expel that which was so beneficent, and which worked so well; let them retain, while they still had it, that which combined a firm adherence to faith with fearless investigation, and which, while it taught the tenets of an ancient and venerable religion, at the same time appealed to reason, without which religion was apt to degenerate into the assertions of unscrupulous theologians, and the superstition of a misguided and an ignorant people.
MR. GRANT DUFF
said: The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has told us a great deal about the petitions which have been presented against this Bill; but although the two Universities have affixed their corporate seals to petitions against it, as indeed they have done to petitions against almost every good Bill in which they have been pleased to take an interest 429 for several ages, the House is nevertheless aware that, in weighing petitions, quality must be considered as well as quantity. Now, petitions have been received by the House which show that our Bill is supported very powerfully indeed amongst the persons who are really carrying on the educational work of our two Universities. So strongly, indeed, is it already supported by resident opinion in Oxford and Cambridge, and so steadily are the reformers gaining ground there, that I, for one, after what has happened with regard to the Bill of the hon. Member for Dumfries (MR. Ewart), would be quite content to leave this matter of tests in the hands of the working tutors and Professors of the Universities, if they had the power to deal with it. Unfortunately, however, the ultimate power in the Universities resides rot in the Universities themselves, but with the country clergy; and even if the country clergy were favourable to us, they could do nothing without the interference of this House, because what we are striking at are not mere University regulations, but legislative enactments. In advocating this Bill, I, though a humble member of the Church of England, admit most fully that i am thinking only of the nation at large, and of the higher education in particular, and am taking no thought whatever of the sectarian interests cither of the Church of England or of any other religious body; but, if it were any special business of mine to look after the sectarian interests of the Church of England, I have no hesitation in saving that I should adopt precisely the same policy. I am afraid I think better of the strength of the Church of England than her professed advocates; for I firmly believe that out of 100 Nonconformists who should go up to Oxford, 95 per cent would leave it, if not Churchmen, at least very willing to live good friends of the Church considered as a religious institution, "buttresses," as Sidney Smith said, "if not pillars." Hon. Gentlemen opposite are as anxious to prevent Nonconformists going to Oxford, as was the friend of the Jew in Decameron, to prevent him going to Rome; but, however badly they may think of the Church of England, as it appears in its favourite University, they may take comfort from that famous story, since they will remember that the Jew came back from Rome a very good Christian, for he said—That religion must be indeed divine which can maintain itself in spite of all that goes on in the high places of the Church.430 I take a different view from hon. Gentlemen opposite. It appears to me that the English Church shows so well in both her Universities that the members of all sects who go up thither will be greatly shaken in their allegiance to their own sects, and drawn to one or other of her religious parties, always, of course, excepting the Roman Catholics, who can meet her prestige and traditions by a prestige and traditions older than her own; but then everyone knows that, for the present, and for, I fear, a long time to come, the number of Roman Catholics who will go to our Universities is quite trifling. The whole influence of the Roman hierarchy in England, and the whole strength of the party now in power at Rome, will be exerted against their doing so. Gentlemen on the other side are misled, I think, by the long connection between the Universities and the Church; but do they not comprehend that the only reason why the people have not long since interfered to put the Universities on a new footing is that, till quite recently, the mass of the people has felt no more interest in the internal affairs of Oxford and Cambridge than they have in the internal affairs of the Carlton or of Brooks's? Now, all that is being changed. The people are beginning to take an interest in the Universities. The question of their reform is becoming a question for addresses and hustings speeches. How, then, should the people of this free country, when they once begin to care about the Universities, allow them to remain in the hands of the dominant Church any more than is the case with the Universities of France or of Prussia, of Holland or of Switzerland; nay, even with those of Italy, hard by the cave of the old lion himself, if I may be permitted to borrow the expression of a Cardinal? More than twenty years have gone by since the Scotch Universities liberated themselves, except as to their Theological Chairs, from the last remnants of ecclesiastical control. Why is it that they so long preceded England in the path of reform? Simply; because the Scotch Universities have a far I greater hold on the masses of the nation I than Oxford and Cambridge have hitherto had. If their concerns had been as remote from the business and bosoms of the majority of Scotchmen, as have been the concerns of the corresponding institutions in England from the business and bosoms of the vast majority of Englishmen, who knows what strange customs and foolish 431 tests might be now prevailing in Aberdeen or Glasgow? Till a few years ago, the truest reflection of the spirit, of Oxford at least, was to be found in the pages of the Lyra Apostolica. I suppose it would be difficult, in the whole range of English 19th century literature, to find a book more utterly and hopelessly uncongenial to the feelings and ideas of the great mass of Englishmen—of that great mass which will henceforward rule the rulers. The ideal University which we oppose to that semi-monastic University, of which the men of the 1833 movement dreamed, is a University which shall gather into one focus all the light of the age, which shall lead the scientific movement in every branch of knowledge. We want a University which shall occupy itself in the discovery and dissemination of truth, wholly irrespective of the interests of any sect or party, religious or political. I do not know that I can better express the sort of spirit which we wish to see prevailing in the scats of our highest education, than by reading a few lines from an address lately delivered on the subject of Universities by the German historian, Von Sybel. If the, hon. Member who has just sat down had given a tithe of the attention to the German Universities which he has done to the English, he would not, of all accusations in the world, have brought against the German Universities the accusation of being mere echoes and creatures of the State. Von Sybel says—During the preparatory years of school life, the principle of authority must necessarily hold paramount sway; and again, in later life, the force of circumstances and authority have a large share in determining our course of action; but there should be at least one moment in the life of every educated man in which all the organs of authority—the nation, the State, and the teacher himself—should proclaim to him, as his first and highest commandment, that he be intellectually free. … Whether the individual man, as a result of his studies and labours, takes this or that direction—whether he becomes Liberal or Conservative, re-actionary or progressist, orthodox or Liberal—for us who direct the University system, that which is really essential is this, that whatever the youth becomes, he should become it, not from mere youthful habit, not from dim sentiment, or traditional obedience, but that for the rest of his life he should be whatever he is as a result of scientific consideration, critical examination, and independent resolve.Is that the sort of language which the hon. Member expects from echoes and creatures of the State? Why, the ought to know that Lehrfreiheit—the freedom of speech in the Professor's chair—is the very life 432 of the German Universities. Now, which of these two spirits—the mediæval spirit of bondage, or the modern spirit of liberty—do hon. Gentlemen think that the people of England will wish to see for the future prevailing in our Universities? If anyone answers "the first"—if he really believes that the English people will allow these vast endowments to be directed to the support of semi-monastic Utopias—it is, of course, very right for him to oppose our Bill, But if this is hopeless, surely he must accept our idea of what a University should be, and endeavour to break down these sectarian barriers as quickly as possible. I do not see what alternative there is, for no one can wish to prolong the present wholly illogical and unsatisfactory state of things. No one can wish to see the Universities continuing year after year the battlefield of contending political parties. Hon. Gentlemen opposite blame us and our friends at the Universities for stirring up strife; but they do us much injustice. It is not us with whom they are fighting. The whole spirit of the age, the whole of its literature, the whole of its deepest and calmest political tendencies, the whole of its fierce and feverish life is in the opposing camp. As has been truly said, "the stars in their courses are fighting against them." Depend upon it, he was one of the most far-seeing, as he assuredly was one of the sternest, of 19th century Conservatives, who cried—"Power is against us, the masses are against us, the stream of time is against us."
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said: I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for the Elgin burghs, who has just addressed the House, should have done himself an. injustice in the line of argument which he has adopted in supporting this Bill. Those who have listened to his speech and who have merely read the Bill of my hon. Friend opposite, on the back of which the name of the hon. Member for Elgin is also found, would be tempted to believe that he had not himself read the Bill which he has been supporting. This measure is an amalgamation of two preceding Bills—the one of the hon. and learned Member for Exeter for opening the Universities, and the other of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock for opening the Colleges. But from first to last of the speech just concluded not one word was heard with regard to the constitution of the Colleges. From first to last my hon. Friend dealt with the secondary and minor element of the pre- 433 sent Bill—the opening of the Universities—and so ignorance on his own part of his own measure might have been reasonably inferred by those who have been listening to his oration; but in exposing himself to such criticisms, he really does himself an injustice. He is not forgetful, but only too candid. He overleaps the present stage of the controversy, and opens up to us the further designs of that section of thinking men whose mouthpiece he has constituted himself in this House. He tells us that which, if he had been a better tactician, he would have kept to himself—that by supporting this Bill we shall be entrapped into further concessions to the party of relentless progress. He lets out the secret of this Bill, and he tells us what it has for its ultimate object with an unconsciousness of results which is from its innocence almost engaging. It is almost with an exuberance of intellectual abandon that he throws himself forward into that dreamland in the promised advent of which the friends of free thought love to indulge, and it does not occur while indulging in such visions that there is such a thing as binding force in the limitations no less than in the permissions of an Act of Parliament. He suppresses the restrictive provisions of the printed Bill, while he flaunts before us that which he intends shall be the ultimate result. There is no disguise about the goal at which we are to arrive; the Bill, as drafted and printed, is intended in the first place to open seats in the Senate of the University of Cambridge and of the Convocation of the University of Oxford to Nonconformists. Well, that is a proposal which may be good or may be bad—I shall have something to say on that subject presently—but which is in itself a clear and intelligible issue. In the second place the Bill goes on to repeal a portion of the Act of Uniformity, so as to enable the Colleges to elect, if they please, Nonconformists as follows, independent of the Church of England. [MR. FAWCETT: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member for Brighton cheers this, and I admit that it is so far a clear and intelligible issue which we are called upon to discuss. But after we have agreed upon the abstract nature of the Bill, we shall have to consider what the effect of these changes will be. Here I seek enlightenment from my hon. Friend the Member for the Elgin burghs, who, in his chivalrous and ardent manner, puts himself forward as the mouthpiece of the 434 movement party in this House. If he has realized to himself what it is proposed to do under this Bill, the conclusion in which he lands us is that the object is not to admit Mr. Aldis and other eminent Nonconformists to Fellowships; it is not to admit Mr. Aldis and those who are in the same case with him to votes in the Senate House; but it is to put in a position of independence and of power boys—it may be of twenty years of age—at the moment when, in the glowing language of my hon. Friend, they have in the pride of scientific superiority cast aside all their former faith, all traditionary influences, all school teaching, all home associations, and are starting forward on a career of absolute and triumphant scepticism from the stand-point of a moment of unqualified and unblushing nihilism. That is the enticing picture drawn with a glowing pencil, which is presented to us as the thing which we should desire if we consent to read this Bill a second time. So enlightened and so forewarned, I call upon the believing Nonconformists, men of a fixed faith which they accept, and in whose behalf they are ready to make substantial sacrifices, to say if that is a picture which meets with their approval? I call upon, them to see the final issues of that movement which they are now blindly helping on.
The advocates of this Bill may be divided into four classes; there is, first, the class of Liberal Churchmen, members of the Church of England, who would honestly and anxiously endeavour to maintain the predominance of Church teaching and Church influence in the Universities, but who still wish to offer some more liberal concessions towards Dissenters than the Universities at present hold out; and to frame, so to speak, a wide Conscience Clause. Without agreeing with this party, I understand it and I sympathize with it, and I should hail some suitable point at which we might meet. That party is ably and honourably represented by my hon. and learned Friend who brought in this Bill. No doubt there were passages in his speeches which might lead those who are less acquainted with him than I am to doubt this conclusion; but he must allow me to say that though there were these sentences which I heard with regret, yet that they might be described by a phrase which he has himself made classical in another place—namely, "tall talk." But, putting aside this 435 "tall talk," I venture to class him as an advocate of this Bill out of no evil feeling towards the Church, of England, but from a conscientious belief that the liberty he claims will be beneficial to the Church as well as to the State. That is one intelligible view of the case. Another view, which is also clear and intelligible, was expressed with great ability and fairness in the maiden speech of the hon. and learned Member for Stroud. That Gentleman desired additional culture for the Nonconformists, to whom he himself belongs, as well as an equal share in collegiate advantages; and he asserted their moral right to enjoy a position in the Universities adequate for the objects which he was advocating. In supporting his cause with such arguments, and in extolling the value of those good things in which he claimed a share for his co-religionists, the hon. and learned Member was in truth paying a high compliment, although from the other side of the hedge, to the old Church system of University teaching, which, by his own showing, had borne such good fruits, of which the Dissenting stock could show no parallel. Well, I can respect that feeling. I can deal with a claim urged upon such considerations. I respect also the feeling of the Member for Exeter. Either or both of them might form the elements for a satisfactory compromise on this subject. But there is a third party which it is not unfair to say is represented in this House by a. Member whom I do not see here now—if he were, I would say to him what I have already said of the party he represents—I mean my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne. That is a party which, without disrespect, I may call the hard and dry secular educationists. That party cares comparatively little for the supernatural and the future—they do not regard theology as a study which must have its place provided for it in the great scheme of education; their wish is to turn out good human machines for getting on in the battle of life. That party's standpoint is one with which I do not sympathize; but still I can understand it. They desire to create a good school of students in the natural sciences, to turn out eminent engineers, to teach the abstruser branches of mathematics and arithmetic, and all those other things of which the elements are to be ground in by village schoolmasters, to the advanced classes and the bigger boys of the State. Their school 436 is a complete chainwork embracing all grades, embracing fine-drawn secular teaching. But there is yet a fourth class of which the hon. Member for Elgin is the outspoken mouthpiece. That is the party of absolute free thought. Its leaders care as little for Dissent in itself as they do for the Church, and I believe that they care very little either for the hard practical educationists; they stand upon their own pedestals—self-sent apostles of a new philosophy of which the foundation is denial of all authority—iconoclasts of traditionary beliefs, on the ruins of which they profess to rear the temple of a system, of which the main condition is the unfettered recognition of free thought on all questions. That is the party of which my hon. Friend desires us to take him as the representative. Here let me guard myself, and let me beg the House not to think that I am opposed to free thought, supposing that it is thought, and that it is free but not unbridled. On the contrary, I hail it, if taken up in the spirit—I will not say of Christian—but of intellectual humility, with a deep sense of the littleness of the human intellect, even when most acute, and of the claim to respect which the accumulated authority of the collective intellect of ages past and present presents when brought in contact with the single intellect of the individual investigator. Let the intellectual school proceed in this spirit, and if it pursue its course in the freest spirit of investigation, I shall hail it with satisfaction. I look upon the recent discoveries in geology and the physical sciences as among the greatest blessings given to our race. But if you are to carry on free investigation you must do so in a constructive, not in a destructive i spirit; you must analyze as men who are I rather hopeful to prove, as the result of: your inquiries, that the old truths stand sound upon your new principles, than, yearning to wipe away that which has I been the solace and the mainstay of the human soul in former days, whether in matters moral or intellectual. You must labour as men who treat all truth as portions of one great circle of which revelation stands at one pole and investigation at the other—a circle so vast in its circumference that long segments seem but straight lines, and that the students starting right and left from the same point—some following the guidance of investigation, and others of authority—seem to be moving in opposite directions, never again 437 to meet, while really they are but traversing different segments of that one great circle destined in the dim coming ages to face again at the other end of the unperceived diameter. This is the spirit of investigation followed by the Christian and open to the philosopher, whether in politics, science, or morals; and if the abolition of all tests would have the effect of increasing this spirit in our Universities, I would heartily bid the enter-prize God speed. But I cannot help seeing that the very contrary is the case with some who are foremost in the present contest, and that there is a party among us so eminently philosophic that it looks upon every opinion which has been held by former schools as a narrow bigotry which can only injure and weaken free thought. I am driven to the conviction that it does not wish for the happy marriage of religion and philosophy, but would rather construct the new system upon the ruins of that which all who have gone before them held divine and sacred. If I seek the prototype of this party I fear that I must look for it in the school of the comedian's sophist, hung up aloft in his basket, and loudly proclaiming by the mouth of his disciples that his lecture-room is the "thinking place of wise souls "— To the cloud-deities of this sham Socrates—not that real Socrates who died as a martyr for his convictions, but the imaginary and burlesque Socrates presented by Aristophanes—we may be called upon to sacrifice our Universities, if we throw open the endowments not in the name of conscientious though dissident belief, but of free thought. I am not talking without book. I have lately been perusin a volume written by one of the most moderate representatives of the advanced thinkers—the head of a House in Oxford—a gentleman for whom personally I have a high regard and respect, and who I am sure is sincere in whatever views he promulgates. He was one of two contributors to Essays and Reviews out of seven, whose discourse did not give any considerable shock to tolerably well-balanced minds. I mean the Rector of Lincoln College, Mr. Mark Pattison, who has lately published a remarkable book, entitled Suggestions on Academical Organization with especial Reference to Oxford. I seldom trouble the House with quotations; but I will produce one passage, which I can testify fairly represents the 438 general spirit of the Essay. Mr. Pattison's scheme of reform is singularly wide and sweeping. He is a disciple of the "higher culture," so called—the philosophy that is of my hon. Friend—descended by a very authentic pedigree from the teaching of the old sophist up in his basket. In the eyes of those who represent this phase of opinion, the simple and laborious task of educating youth is a base and mechanical pursuit, and the Universities are bound to subordinate it to higher flights of thinking and theorizing. There are indeed certain Colleges in Oxford of an outer class that might be called upon to fulfil such subaltern functions as the academical Gibeonites, as hewing out scholars and drawing for Fellows. The remaining Colleges are to be filled with men of science, who are to share their endowments, not with undergraduates, but with men of mature years and scientific pursuits, whose function in life will be perpetual argument. Here is one of the passages from Mr. Pattison's book. He is speaking of the Church revival—he calls it the Catholic revival—but, as he explains, it is the revival of zeal and earnestness which has characterized the Church of England as well as that of Rome, and he declares it to be the great opponent of his schemes of University reform. He says—For my own part, I think the fears of the Catholic party, whether within or without the National Establishment, are substantially well founded."….. "It is the school of classics (Literœ Humaniores) only, and specifically the philosophical subjects which have developed themselves within that school, which alarm the Church party. This the party must either conquer, or be content to see all the minds that come under the influence of that training—that is, all the minds of any promise that pass through Oxford—hopelessly lost to them."—[pp. 298–9.]The House will see that this conflict of opinion is represented as an internecine conflict, in which either the Church party must destroy philosophy or philosophy must destroy the Church party. There is no compromise possible, no accommodation to be thought of. Now that is an assumption which I peremptorily deny. I do not want to see either party destroyed; and yet it is the deliberate opinion of a moderate and eminent and learned member of the advanced party that fusion is impossible, and that the bitter end must lead to destruction on the one side or on the other. This is a warning which, as men of sense, we must heed while dealing with the Bill 439 before the House. Mr. Pattison then denounces a pamphlet, which had been previously published on the same subject, as virtually a reactionary pronouncement; and to show to the House what is the nature of the views contained in that pamphlet, which has brought down the dissent of the Rector of Lincoln, I will read the passage which he singles out for criticism—I venture very earnestly to urge the conviction that the intellectual freedom for which Mr. Mill gives Oxford credit, and which, within the bounds defined by Christian humility, I do not desire to abridge, would be more safely exercised, and would be stronger and more healthy, if there were less ignorance of common principles and laws of nature, more security for sound training in exact studies, admitting of definite certainty, requiring care in the statement of the datum and the quœsitum, imposing due regard to the statement of evidence, before young men are plunged into the ocean of doubt about the reality of the faculties, intellectual and moral, with which we are endowed by our Creator."—[pp. 302–3.]Well, now, who is the author of that pamphlet? Is it Dr. Pusey, or some right rev. Bishop? Not at all. It is the production of a Member of this House, known and respected by us all, himself a prominent advocate of this Bill. Those are the words of the hon. Member for North Devon (MR. Acland), a supporter of the proposed concession, but from a different stand-point from that occupied by the Rector of Lincoln or the hon. Member for the Elgin burghs.
Now, what is the inference which I would draw from these passages, and from the fact of the different parties which I have mentioned combining to push on the change? It is that those who come forward to urge these reforms do not merely differ in the intensity of their views, but that they hold positions absolutely irreconcilable, and that while they agree in the immediate cry they are in total discord as to their ultimate intentions. There are on one side—not to talk of the secular educationists—orthodox Dissenters and liberal Churchmen, both fairly agreeing together; and there is on the other the party to which I will not pay so unpalatable a compliment as to say that its members are cither Churchmen or Dissenters. Their thoughts are far too occupied with new-world speculations to leave thorn time to care for such secondary questions as forms or creeds. If they are born Churchmen they naturally go on culling themselves Churchmen; if they are horn Dissenters they naturally go 440 on calling themselves Dissenters; while, in a case of doubt, they probably give the preference to the Establishment as such. To resume, then: on the one side are marshalled the votaries of free thought under the banner of the negation of absolute dogma and traditional authority, on the other there are the phalanxes of the Church—High and Low—for on this point there is perfect agreement between the two parties—of the orthodox Dissenters and of the Roman Catholics. The old school of Dissenters, while differing in so many things from the Church of England, agrees with her in accepting the Apostles' Creed as the foundation of all which has a right to be called Christianity. In this they agree not only with us but with the Roman Catholics. How far, then, do these men see under whose banners they are now asked to enter? How far do they realize that, by the confession of the hon. Member for the Elgin burghs, those whom they called upon to accept as the Leaders of this movement are as completely opposed to the dogmas of their religion as to those of the Church herself; and how far are they prepared, without misgiving, to embark in a controversy, the ultimate motives of which are so little disguised? Take the test of the poll—poll the people of England—poll Churchmen, both those who are afraid of, and those who are anxious for the admission of Dissenters to the Universities, provided it can be done with safety to the Christian faith—poll the Dissenters who are scandalized by the party of free thought—poll the Roman Catholics, and then tell me if the views of the hon. Member for the Elgin burghs will not be left in an inconsiderable minority; even if we make him a present of the section whose watchword is the promotion of exclusively secular teaching. If such then be the case, I venture to assert that the party of so-called free thought, from the interest they have lavished upon this Bill, and from the bustling importance with which they have put themselves forward as the patrons and promoters of University Reform, have thrown back the case of the Dissenters to an indefinite period. Without their interference the case was ripe for hearing; the Church was prepared and ready to see what could be done to meet their claims—the claims of men, the hardship of whose personal position we feel as much as they themselves can. We would gladly have promoted their views, as far as the general good estate 441 of the Universities made it possible—we would gladly have put them in a position commensurate with their intelligence and ability, provided only that it was done in a way that would not affect the fundamental position of the Universities themselves. If this has not been done, the friends of; free thought are responsible for the miscarriage. If they were to be allowed to carry out their views, it is probable that the Dissenters themselves would decline to have anything to do with the Universities. The hon. and learned Member for Stroud referred the other day to the inferior culture of the Nonconformist ministers; but if the free thought movement were to gain the upper hand, it is not improbable that the Nonconformists would pass a prohibitory measure—such as we are told that the Roman Catholics have done, on the ground of danger to the faith from contact with that school—to the faith, provided no other remedy could be found. [Mr. WINTERBOTHAM: Certainly not.] If so, it may be that the Dissenters also are divided into parties, and that the principle of disintegration is at work amongst them.
But at any rate the supply of clergymen for the Church of England would fall off. We have heard much of the grievances of Dissenters, but we need to be reminded of the grievances of the large body out of whom our 15,000 parochial clergymen have to be supplied—men requiring high culture, enlarged minds, and an acquaintance with many things which no exclusive theological seminary can impart, and which are only to be found in a University. What would the House say of the grievances of such a body of men if the clergymen of the Church of England no longer found it safe or possible to obtain the education of the Universities? Would not that impossibility amount to the magnitude of a national misfortune? Would it not be a national calamity to separate the clergy of the national Church from the wide discipline of general academic training—from the teaching of the College hall and the combination-room, from the lecture-room and the union, from the companionship of those preparing for the battle of life in all and any profession—aye, and from the teaching of the river and the cricket-ground? If the Universities became forbidden ground to our future clergy, would these advantages be supplied by the training of any seminary? We shall very possibly be told that the 442 clergy who refused to take advantage of the education which the Universities under the new system would provide were hopeless bigots. But that is a mode of meeting the difficulty which is not only unworthy of enlightened disputants, but it is founded on an assumption which is contrary to the real nature of things. If there is any body of men who are anxious for the most ample culture—who have earned the highest distinction in science and philosophy—it is the clergy of the Church of England. It is sometimes said that the clergy have had a monopoly of University learning. I do not now quarrel with the word; but I will ask if that monopoly has not produced men of the highest scientific eminence—men of distinction in mathematics, in physical science, in philology, in history, in poetry, not less than in theology—men who have made names for themselves in literature of which all England and the world may be proud? Let any man say whether the privilege which the clergy may claim in the Universities has been; forfeited by any recent neglect on their part. Neglect there may once have been; but that was at the dead time of the last century, when the nation and all the professions as well as the Church were slumbering together in forgetfulness of conscience and responsibility. That time is passed, and in the stir of active life, which has since made itself felt, have not the clergy been foremost in the teachers' chairs at the Universities? Look, among many more, at the names of Whewell and Peacock, of Mansel and Mill, of Willis and Challis, of Arnold and Hawkins, and Merivale, of Pusey and Jowett. You may meet me on this point and say that I have recited the names of men whose philosophic views and religious doctrines are as widely different as it is possible for them to be; you may argue that if we can already admit in the Universities men whose teaching is so dissimilar, but who yet act together because of the corporate bond of the Church of England, where is the valid argument against opening the doors of the Universities still wider? This is, perhaps, the most plausible argument that can be urged in favour of the present Bill; but after all it is a mere begging of the question. It assumes that because there is an existing state of things which, from its liability to certain antecedent restrictions, is found to be advantageously workable, although with 443 admitted difficulties, therefore if you remove those restrictions the working power would still exist. On the other hand, I maintain that it is the fact that men of diverse theological opinions from belonging to the same Church have a bond of union—unfelt it may be by themselves, or hardly ever felt, but which is not less real—which does in fact maintain the peace, and makes free action within the Church of England possible under those restrictions. Let men cease to feel that they are members of a larger communion than their own school of thinkers by belonging to the Church, then the spirit of controversy may seem to go out of the University for a time, but it will speedily return, bringing back with it seven other spirits more reckless than itself. Looking at the present Bill, I cannot resist the conclusion that such would be the result. Certain petitions against the Bill have already been referred to by the hon. Member for the borough of Cambridge. But there is one petition that has not yet been mentioned in this House—a petition that was signed exclusively by members of the University of Cambridge, fifty-six in number, and which was presented in "another place" by a right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of London)—himself a distinguished light of the sister University—which urges that some means should be found for opening the Universities more widely to Dissenters than they are at present, while the restrictions as to collegiate endowments should be maintained. That petition was supported in an able and temperate speech by the learned Prelate, who while advocating the former portion of it, vindicated the latter one by arguments founded on his own experience as a former College tutor. I do not know whether the scheme there proposed would work or not. It is a scheme which, if we once got rid of the present Bill, we might be seriously called to consider. There is certainly a primâ facie objection in the fact that the governing bodies in the University regulate the studies of the University, and that it is therefore difficult to admit Nonconformists to be members of those governing bodies—and not only Nonconformists but also the members of the school of free thought—without giving them a considerable and, possibly at last, a preponderating influence in the studies of the University, and thereby in the collegiate arrangements themselves. This is a point, however, which I decline at present to argue, as it is more a matter for the 444 Universities themselves to consider. But here at least is the basis for a compromise which may be made fair and reasonable; but which it is out of our power to deal with so long as we are threatened with such a Bill as the present. A peculiarity in the petition to which I have adverted is that among those who have signed it are the names of some who have also signed against this Bill, and of one or two who have signed in its favour; so that the document, including as it does the names of many of our most eminent professors, and clergymen of distinguished official standing, includes persons who are able to petition both on the one side and the other of this Bill, but who agree nevertheless that a compromise on this subject is the result which will really be the most satisfactory. Clearly, therefore, there is a disposition among moderate men on both sides to see what can be done for the benefit of those persons who have reached the highest honours of the University without reaping their solid fruits. But I say you must give the Universities time to inquire for themselves into the remedy. Something might be devised in the way of prelectorships, or of University fellowships, in the nature of an honorarium for those gentlemen, which can be given without breaking in upon the Church life of the Colleges, and which may be accepted by them without any injury to that sense of self-dependence and self-respect which is felt by them, as shown by the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Stroud. Something of this kind might be done; but the only way to do it is to trust the Universities, and to leave them to themselves. I know that there is a section of liberals who are always ready to attribute to the members of any corporation that reproach which the Greek poet attributes to the man who has become poor—that of only having half a man's nobler qualities—and who seem to think that there is something in the spirit of a corporation which deadens every sense of moral and intellectual feeling, and leaves its members in perpetual danger of committing some great injustice, unless there is a State policeman constantly at hand to watch them, and to search their pockets. My answer to arguments such as these, is simply to say that I entirely and indignantly repudiate the imputation as applied to the Universities. If men will approach us with arguments like these there is nothing to be done but to fight to the 445 uttermost. But if not in this House, I am sure that in the country—if not universally, at least very generally—there is found a generous spirit of confidence in the Universities. The advocates of this Bill demand concessions which we believe to be unnecessary, and which cannot co-exist with the principles on which the Universities are based. To these we will not yield; but, in taking our stand, we desire to express the utmost tenderness for those students who cannot subscribe to our formularies, and we wish to see if something cannot be done to meet their case by prelectorships, by University Fellowships, or by any other scheme which will not interfere with the government of the Colleges. If we go to work in that spirit do not treat us as enemies to all reform—do not bring this House to bear upon our affairs. Let Parliament attend to its own legitimate business—to questions of its own internal reform, to the Budget and foreign politics—and let it believe that the Senate and the Convocation of Cambridge and Oxford possess men who desire to promote the cause of liberal education for all the nation, who are anxious and earnest to devise a scheme which will work well, which will be honest and reasonable, and which will give satisfaction to moderate men of all shades of opinion.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, that amidst the lights and shades of what he might call the kaleidoscopic speech of the hon. Gentleman who had just eat down it was difficult to find anything substantial upon which the eye could rest or with which he (Mr. C. Fortescue) could deal in the way of serious argument. But he was surprised to hear a representative of one of our great Universities—a place which professed to be the very temple of intellect—adopt a tone of something like undisguised contempt for what he termed "free thought," or, in other words, intellect freely used. For his own part, he should rather have heard from a Member for the University of Cambridge expressions of even pedantic admiration for intellect so used. The hon. Gentleman seemed to imagine that if once the restrictions which the Bill was intended to abolish were removed, and the Universities thus exposed to the rude air of liberty, the cause of religion in the Established Church would be hopeless—an argument which would not, perhaps, be regarded as strange if it came from a member of the clerical body, but which ap- 446 peared to him to savour too much of the ecclesiastic in its tone, and to be scarcely worthy of the lay representative of a lay University. Now, the Bill before the House presented itself for consideration under two aspects—as it affected members of the Church of England, and as it affected those outside her pale. Speaking as a member of that Church, he, for one, desired to see the tests in question finally removed. In the opinion of the great majority of the members of the Church of England, which derived its origin from the exercise of private judgment, she did not profess to impose on them absolutely, as of authority, a great body of controversial divinity. But if the Church of England did not do that, was it not monstrous that Parliament should take a contrary course? All that the House was asked to do was to put an end to restrictions which were maintained by Parliamentary authority alone. Nor were these tests mere matters of form, or acts of submission, as was shown by the conduct of Parliament itself. A very few years ago they were imposed not only on Masters of Arts and Fellows of Colleges, but on Bachelors of Arts and upon schoolboys who came up to Oxford for the first time; but Parliament had since thought it right that they should be done away with in the case of the latter. Passing from that point to the case of those who were outside the Church of England, he would ask, were Nonconformists to be debarred from their share in the privileges which the Universities had it in their power to bestow? In dealing with that part of the question two considerations of an opposite character presented themselves. There was, in the first place, a desire to render the Universities what they once were—really national institutions; while, on the other hand, fears were entertained lest changes proposed with that view might injure the religious education which those who became members of them received. They had an Established Church fulfilling great duties and supported by a great preponderance of national sentiment, but they were bound to take care that the rights and feelings of other classes were not sacrificed to the maintenance of that Church. They had not yet accomplished that object, and the present state of things was bad for the parties excluded and dangerous to the Established Church itself. He would recommend to the con- 447 sideration of all friends of the Church whether it was not a scandal that it should he upheld and maintained as an obstacle in the way of the attainment by a great portion of the population of the educational and social advantages to which they were entitled. What was the position of things? By recent legislation Nonconformists had been admitted to those advantages of the Universities which could be obtained by mere students. They were told that they might enter in any number, but that they must not be members of Congregation, Fellows, or Tutors. The parties in possession, and ever likely to be in a great majority, asked the minority to join their ranks as students, but refused them any representation in the teaching and governing bodies, and any share in the great prizes and emoluments of the place. Ought those difficulties and perils to be anticipated which some feared from the mixture of Protestants of different communions in every portion of the Universities? If there is any cause of alarm it ought to be felt by the Nonconformists who will be the new comers and the minority. Could it be denied that the dogmatic differences were greater within the walls of the Established Church than between a vast number of the Nonconformists and a vast number of the members of the Established Church? He fully admitted that the case of the Colleges was not identical with that of the Universities, and that the difficulty in respect to them, though it had been much exaggerated, was greater than in respect to the Universities. The obligation of Parliament also to interfere with bodies like the Colleges was not so imperative as in the case of the Universities; but the House should not forget that the present measure was nothing with respect to the Colleges but an enabling Bill, and if it passed, no doubt some of the Colleges would remain exclusively connected with the Established Church, while others would open their doors to Nonconformists. Again, it was impossible not to connect this measure with reforms now taking place at Oxford, which would tend to increase the importance of the University as distinguished from the Colleges, and which, by admitting non-Collegiate students, would materially affect the position of Nonconformists, but especially of Roman Catholics, who would object to enter mixed Colleges. He trusted that before long they might look forward to see, by means of such a Bill as the pre- 448 sent, the termination of an injustice perpetrated in the name of religion, and the admission of a great body of the Queen's subjects, now suffering disabilities, to the full enjoyment of the advantages of the Universities.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, the hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge) had stated the misrepresentations as to this Bill to be extravagant and incomprehensible; but two of its objects were clear enough, one to appropriate property which belonged to the Church of England, and the other to raise a hustings cry to gain the Nonconformist vote. But there was a great division of opinion among the supporters of the Bill as to its policy. One section, with the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor), desired to seize the property of all Establishments, in order that the Church of England "might go farther and fare worse." Another section maintained, with the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton), and also, if he was not mistaken, with the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), that when a man parted with property for a public purpose the State might apply it as it pleased, without regard to the intentions and desire of the donor. Now, if this doctrine prevailed, there would be an end of charitable dispositions; for no one would leave property for a particular public object if he believed it might be forthwith otherwise applied. Those opinions were, however, intelligible, and in accordance with the spirit of the Bill; but there was still a large section of hon. Gentlemen opposite who held that faith should be kept with founders; and their support of this measure, so long as the Church of England was the religion of the majority, was incomprehensible. He would not revive the question of pre-Reformation endowments which were held by the same title as ecclesiastical property; but he would remind the hon. and learned Member for Exeter that one-half of the Cambridge College endowments, comprising three Colleges, many Bye Fellowships, and twenty-two Professorships were given after the Reformation, and there was no more right to seize these benefactions than the property of Nonconformist institutions or than that of the hospitals. It would be monstrous to do this simply because, in the course of thirty years, six individuals had declined to take the tests necessary for holding Fellowships. The hon. and learned Member for Exeter 449 had recently laid down that there was no such tiling as the principle of an establishment, but that in respect of establishments, time, place, and circumstances were the essence of the question. But if the main grievances alleged by the advocates of the Bill were considered, these dicta would tell against the measure. What were those grievances? 1. That the Universities were national establishments. 2. As alleged by the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham) that for 200 years the Dissenting clergy had not been educated and that Dissenters generally wanted "culture, refinement, and a higher life;" and again, the hon. Member for Elgin (Mr. Grant Duff) wished to reduce Oxford and Corn-bridge to the condition of a foreign University, the (Mr. Bentinck) did not think much culture would be the result of this plan; but as regards the other grievances the asserted the Universities were now practically free, and he desired to make them entirely so. Dissenters were now at perfect liberty to erect their own Colleges or Halls in the Universities. Colleges could be founded where no religious tests were required, and students might now enter the Universities independently of the Colleges altogether. The could see no ground whatever, therefore, for destroying the religious character of the Colleges so long as the Church of England was the religion, as the believed, of the majority of the nation. With reference to this last question, he argued that a fair religious Census had not been taken in 1851, but the reverse. In 1861, the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) and other leading Dissenters in the House of Commons defeated by clamour the plan proposed by Lord Palmerston for obtaining a fair religious Census, though their objections did not extend to Ireland. But, even if the Church was not in an actual majority in England—taking any general section of soeiety—it would be found that the great majority of the education, intelligence, and property of the country, and of those who desired University training for their sons, belonged to the Church. Thus, in most populous and wealthy districts, the majority of the upper and the upper-middle class went to Chinch, while the lower-middle and lower classes were—and often from causes which he would not detail and which he regretted—necessarily, driven to Dissent; while in other districts—Wales, for instance—Dissenters generally belonged to the lowest classes of 450 society. ["No, no!"] These results might be inferred from such statistics as were available. They would show that in Westminster and Marylebone, where house-rent was high, scarcely any Dissenting chapels existed; and many similar cases could be cited. He therefore urged that the majority favoured denominational education, and that so long as this state of things continued and until a real grievance could be shown, it was both unjust and inexpedient to abolish the denominational character the Colleges possessed. Moreover, he believed that few Nonconformists and none of the large, influential, and respected Wesleyan body, who were in a position to afford a College education for their sons, would object to the religious teaching at the Colleges and prefer "Godless Colleges;" but if they did, it was notorious that the College authorities did not now enforce any religious education on students not members of the Church. An examination of the petitions presented in favour of the Bill would bear out his view, for, with the exception of the few emanating from learned bodies these for the most part came from small Dissenting congregations, who were never likely to avail themselves of the benefits of the Universities, and who appeared to be ignorant of the dangerous principles as regards their own property which they were advocating. He would conclude with an appeal to the Roman Catholic Members not to support this Bill. At the present time the Roman Catholic clergy all over the world were insisting upon the absolute necessity of denominational education. In the Pope's late Encyclical the following passage occurs:—Those who frequent free Universities incur dangers to morals as well as to faith. It is impossible to discover circumstances which would allow Roman Catholics without sin to attend non-Catholic Universities.If, therefore, the Roman Catholics desired denominational education for themselves they could not deny the same benefit to others; they should do as they would be done by. He desired that every religious communion should continue to enjoy its property, so far as the rules of law permitted, without State interference. But this Bill was only part of a great projected system of disestablishment and disendowment, and was supported on grounds entirely different from those on which concessions had been made on previous occasions; and he trusted the House would reject it altogether.
rose to address the House with feelings of very considerable diffidence for two reasons. In the first place he was a Nonconformist, who had therefore not had the great advantage of an Oxford or Cambridge University training, and never had he so painfully felt the want of those advantages as at that moment; and, in the second place, he had also the unhappiness to belong to the small, low, and insignificant section of the community to which the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) had alluded—a class which, he said, was not even rich enough to have a single chapel in Westminster. [Mr. BENTINCK explained—he did not say that it was small and insignificant, but that it was small in some parts of London.] He would show that if it were small in London, which was news to him, it was a very large, powerful, and rich section of the community in the Northern parts of this country. The hon. Member for Cambridge University divided the persons who were in favour of this Bill into three parties, and he (Mr. Melly) belonged to the second of those—the party that sent up a cry for University culture for themselves and for their children. For himself, he hoped to see his sons rise from what the hon. Member for Cambridge University called "the depths of nothingness," and become scholars and Fellows in one of our national Universities. The hon. Member for Whitehaven told them that their having to sign these tests was a merely sentimental grievance. He (Mr. Melly) was in "another place" the other evening, and heard one of the most eloquent and witty prelates on the Episcopal Bench thus describe the state of feeling known as having a sentimental grievance. He said—It is a morbid sensitiveness as to some fancied wrong, which, because it has not got a real existence, is all the more difficult to remove.It had been said that they do not exclude Nonconformists from the Universities; but upon this point his hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), than whom no Member in that House was more entitled to speak on behalf of the great Nonconformist manufacturers of the North, said, in 1865—You have no right to subject Nonconformists and their children to humiliating distinctions. High education and refinement may be bought too dear, if purchased at the sacrifice of personal self-respect and personal dignity.They—the Nonconformists—must be allowed to be the best judges of this ques- 452 tion, which closely affected their interests. The man who wore the shoe best knew where it pinched him. Let him put this case to the right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the other side who opposed this Bill—who would accept a seat on the County Bench of his district or the Borough Bench of his town, if there was some special legislation which precluded him from ever becoming Chairman of Quarter Sessions, Chairman of the Visiting Justices, or Chairman of the Finance Committee? He would go one step further, and ask what gentleman would accept a seat in that House if it was clogged with the condition that, however great his eloquence or conspicuous his ability, he was never to have a seat on the front Bench on either side of the House? Yet this was the position in which they placed the Nonconformists. Again, was it possible to conceive a more absurd anomaly than this—He (Mr. Melly), though an Unitarian, had been sent to that House by a majority of votes of a large and important constituency—one of the most important in England; but if he sent his son to Oxford or Cambridge, and he would not sign a paper saying that he was a bonâ fide member of the Church of England, he could not have the privilege of opposing the election of his hon. Friend the Member for the University. This Bill gave permissive power only to the Colleges to alter their statutes; but why not leave the Colleges the right to ask the children of Nonconformists to come among them if they wished to do so. There were already sufficient temptations in the way to prevent the nouveaux riches sending their sons to Oxford or Cambridge. They were afraid lest they should gain habits incompatible with the government of vast bodies of men in manufactories; lest by mixing with men of leisure they should lose those habits of business, that close attention and perfect punctuality in which they had been trained, and which had been the daily rule in their own homes. But in addition to this, they said to the sons of Nonconformists, "You shall not obtain any of our prizes or rewards, however able you may be, unless you sign a test that we know as honest men you will not sign;" and they said that even if such a man proved himself competent he should not be allowed to win any of the scholarships or the Fellowships which aptitude in learning and attendance to the daily instruction of the University would give him and everyone else a right to obtain. 453 In other words, and in language that will doubtless be familiar to the hon. Member for Whitehaven, they are at liberty to "bump" our competitors in; the University races, but they might not win the silver sculls. The Dissenting bodies were charged with narrowness and fanaticism. He (Mr. Melly) thought independence in action and deep earnestness of thought would be the more appropriate adjectives. And with regard to what fell; from the hon. Member for Cambridge University on this subject of free thought, he should like to say a few words. The hon. Member attempted to mix up the second and third parties of the promoters of the Bill, and called the hon. Member for the Elgin boroughs (Mr. Grant Duff) the leader of the party of free thought. There; could be no doubt as to the sense in which the used the phrase, and that the meant to charge the promoters of the Bill with infidelity; the inference being that, if the Bill was passed, the time would come when the Dissenting congregations would not permit their ministers to go to the Universities for fear of their being contaminated by the free inquiry they would then find there. He might be allowed to say that he had always found free thought and free inquiry perfectly compatible with the highest and purest religious sentiment, and with the deepest reverence for holy things. He always conceived that the Protestant Faith was founded and justified by freedom of thought and free inquiry. He knew that its simplest and purest forms were so founded and defended. He therefore repudiated, on behalf of the Nonconformist bodies, the idea that their sons would, if sent to your Universities—he said yours now, but the time would come when they would be everybody's, the national Universities—he repudiated the idea, then, that their sons would, in consequence of the course of training and of thought through which they would pass in the Universities under the new régime, come to disbelieve in the fundamental doctrines of our Protestant Christianity. There was another ground upon which he should like to see these young men from the North of England sent to the Universities. He remembered a few years ago going on business to one of the largest of our northern towns. After transacting the business he was taken to the club, and afterwards, not unnaturally, to the smoking room. In this room were seven young men playing billiards, and the friend who accompanied 454 him, pointing to these young men, said, "They and their families possess, or will inherit, £3,500,000, and not one of them has had what is called a liberal education in the widest sense of the term." [Mr. BENTINCK: Why?] Because those young men belonged to the small class spoken of by the hon. Member for Whitehaven as not being rich enough to build a chapel in Westminster, whom they had excluded from the Universities. He believed firmly that the sons of the nouveaux riches, if they would allow them to go on equal terms to the Universities, would raise the tone and improve not only themselves, but their companions. How came it that the great manufacturers of the country—the great employers of labour—were almost invariably found ranged on the Liberal side of politics? It did not arise from any point connected with the extension of the suffrage, as was known to everyone who had watched the course of those men during late years. They were Radicals because they were Dissenters, and as Dissenters they had felt the cruel injustice of class legislation on religious questions. It was against one branch of this class legislation that he was now complaining, and with regard to which he said that a very small amount of modification would remedy the evil. If, as the hon. Member for Whitehaven said, Churchmen were in so vast a majority on the grounds of social position, wealth, and intellect, how came it that they were afraid of a few young men who do not belong to the Church coming up to their Universities? Did they not think they would be able to convert some of these young men by impressing them with the beauty of their ritual and the reverential spirit with which the services of their Church were conducted? By this means, if his supposition were true, the Church party would be strengthening their own hands if they threw open their Universities to Dissenters for everything which tended to broaden the life of a new generation; must do good. As there could be no doubt that many young men of the class to which he referred would in the course of years enter that House, the importance would be seen at once of giving them the best education this country could afford. A right hon. Gentlemen once said, "You must teach your future masters to learn their letters." How much more important still that no impediment should be allowed to prevent our future legislators from receiving the highest culture, the most libe- 455 ral, and least narrow views of life. Perhaps his brief remarks might have sounded like—…. "a doleful song Steaming up a lamentation and an ancient tale of wrong,As a tale of little meaning, though the words are strong.But of this the House may feel assured; seven-tenths of the Liberal party in the new Parliament would regard this as a general question of religious liberty; and on these questions they would win even in this Parliament. The remaining three-tenths would regard it as a personal wrong, and would compel them to admit their sons on terms of complete equality to Universities, which they assert to be national institutions, and which they would then vainly endeavour to maintain as the monopoly of a narrow majority.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
observed that this Bill was much more extensive than any that had been introduced before on the subject; and its opponents might take the credit of having prophesied that the principles laid down in the measure first brought forward by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge) would lead to something still more serous; in proof of which the hon. and learned Gentleman had now combined his own Bill with that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie). In the course of his speech in moving the second reading of this Bill, the hon. and learned Gentleman, forgetting the gentleness he usually showed to his opponents, made some harsh and strong remarks. With reference to what he (Mr. G. Hardy) had himself said, the hon. and learned Gentleman used the terms "coarse and vulgar; "but he proceeded on an entire misconception of what had been said. What he said was that these were establishments founded for religious objects, and that those who were endeavouring to secularize them would pervert them from the original intention of the endowment. In no instance did they find any amount of secular endowments; but always in the case of education the foundation was made by individuals from religious motives and for religious objects. He perfectly understood the position of the hon. Member for the Elgin burghs (Mr. Grant Duff), for he always spoke with great candour and frankness. That hon. Member wished to change the system of our Universities altogether, and make them like the German Universi- 456 ties. But the hon. Member forgot the great distinction that existed between the two. In the English Universities Colleges were special institutions; but they were hardly known in other Universities. So also in the Scotch Universities, there were no Colleges as in the English Universities. In all the changes that had been proposed he could not help noticing that nothing like a settlement was looked forward to. There was an unsettlement without any resting place being given, where they might say here the Universities should take their stand and devote themselves henceforth to their teaching office without being continually interfered with by Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Mr. C. Fortescue) said the Bill did not go far enough—the powers of the visitors should be taken and handed over absolutely to the majority of a transient governing body, who should alter statutes and lay down what rules they might think fit. Then it was said this was only a permissive Bill. The view of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Winterbotham) was intelligible enough—he had told them that the Nonconformists hated sectarian education, and therefore he was for a. purely secular system. The result would be a purely secular system. The hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge) did not deal with the question so logically as some of his supporters. The hon. Member recognized the distinction between the University and the Colleges, and admitted that in the tutorial system the connection with religion should be retained, in order that those who sent their sons to a College should have security that the teaching would be in accordance with the religion they professed. It was a novelty to lay down the principle that in Colleges, which were quasi-domestic institutions, there should be a combination of teachers of different religions. The greatest confusion would be the result of a system of this kind, and in the end religion would be excluded. That would be the consequence of admitting Dissenters to the governing body; they would elect others of the same opinions, excluding Churchmen, and eventually the governing body would be entirely changed, Such a change had actually occurred in the case of a charity in Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire, in a parish called, he believed, East Leake. The school of East Leake was a purely Church endowment, but from elections conducted in the manner he described, the governing body 457 had been practically changed from Churchmen to Dissenters If, as the result of what was called free inquiry and opinion, men were now found to keep a position which they ought not to occupy with changed opinions, having bound themselves to a certain course of conduct in order to obtain it, that must be considered an abuse of the system. But if they laid down the rule that men should be bound by no religious test whatever, and be elected to those positions for their intellect alone, they would find themselves associated with others of strong religious principle and anxious to keep up religious instruction; the element of confusion and discoid would thus be introduced within the College; in the end it would be necessary to exclude religion altogether. He confessed he saw no middle course between the maintenance of the present denominational system and the adoption of a purely secular system. The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Melly) had referred to the great lack of a liberal education among the rising young men of the North of England. Now, the way he accounted for that in many cases was this. The parents of these young men had by their industry and talent raised themselves from a low position to affluence, but before they had acquired their present independence their sons had attained that age when not having had a sufficient preliminary education they were too old to acquire it, and go to the University. But there were various Dissenters' Colleges where, he believed, a very good education was given, and it was rather curious to observe that although the Dissenters professed themselves so hostile to sectarian education, they founded Colleges always in conformity with their own opinions.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
But did the hon. Gentleman mean to tell them that Dissenters were not particular in sending their children where certain opinions would be inculcated? His opinion was that Dissenters were as desirous to have dogmatic denominational teaching as Churchmen themselves. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) when speaking on the subject of this Bill in a former Session dwelt on the necessity of a religious test for teachers. Then it was said the whole intellect of the Universities was in favour of this Bill. The hon. and learned 458 Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge) spoke of the statement laid before the Archbishop of Canterbury the other day as a wild and extravagant document; but those who had appended their names to it were not wild and extravagant men. They were calm and thoughtful men—men of deep religious conviction and great intellectual power. They never would have placed their names to that document had they not felt the deep importance of the question at issue. He might be permitted to read to the House what was said of it by one whose eminence as a preacher was becoming known to the world—he meant the Rev. Henry Liddon. This was what that gentleman said—The questions raised by Mr. Coleridge's Bill are no more continuation of the feud between Churchmen and Nonconformists. They penetrate much deeper; hence our children will understand that all such questions really resolve themselves into this—whether our Universities are to continue to be Christian or whether Chapel services and Divinity lectures are still to be kept up with a view to attracting the sons of Christian parents into lecture-rooms where the existence of God is denied.That was a serious statement to be made deliberately in writing by one who always well weighed his words. The opinion it expressed was held by a great number of men who felt deeply upon this question, and he believed it to be founded on fact. It was said that religious teaching might be given under the system of allowing the teachers to be of any or no denomination, but he looked in vain for any instances which warranted such a belief. It was of the first importance that the tests for teachers should be retained as at present in force in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. If it were said that by retaining these tests the Dissenters were debarred from sending their children to those Universities, he should reply that the Dissenters had no ground for complaint, because, while they were perfectly free to avail themselves of the intellectual advantages the Universities afforded, they were at liberty to provide their own religious education by founding separate halls. The Fellowships of the Colleges were not to be regarded in the light of mere rewards of intellect, they were intended to secure; association for a particular object among persons who should be "Fellows" one with the other, having a common interest, religion, and object. But if rewards for intellectual merit were wanted far rather would the see money taken from the en- 459 dowments for the purpose of founding such rewards than assist in bringing together men of all creeds and of no creed, a course that must eventually lead to the secularization not only of the Universities but of the Colleges, which, it was admitted by the best writers, stood upon a different footing from the former. Mr. Malden, in his Origin of Universities, had said that the Colleges were private foundations. The Fellowships were called national because they were in communion with the national Church, and not because they belonged to the nation generally, or were maintained by the money of the nation, and yet it was now proposed to separate them from the national Church in order to make them national property. The hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Coleridge) began with his little Bill, as he termed it, but the following Session he came down to that House and spoke with exultation of that Bill, on the ground that it had for ever separated the Universities from the national Church. That instead of its introducing the thin edge of the wedge it had driven the wedge home and had created a fissure which was absolutely irreparable. Colleges and Fellowships had been founded upon the faith that they would remain in union with the national Church, and therefore it was unjust to divert those endowments from the purposes for which they were given. But, it was said, that there were pre-Reformation Colleges. He admitted that fact, but he regarded the present national Church, to which he belonged, as being a continuation of the Church which had existed prior to the Reformation. Without entering into the theological question, he contended that the Colleges belonged to the national Church for the time being. There had been a national Church in existence during the whole time of the existence of the Universities. The foundations of the Colleges were placed in connection with it. The founders relied upon their being so maintained, and that what was called the national religion should prevail in those Colleges. Therefore all the Colleges and foundations belonged to the present national Church. As to post-Reformation Colleges it was certain that those who had; given money to found them had done so for the sake of the Church of England as it now existed. Had it been shown that the Universities had so ill discharged their duly that it had become necessary to take their endowments from them in order to 460 give them to the nation generally? He denied that such was the case. He affirmed that they were, doing their duty, and the fact that the Nonconformists were so anxious to participate in the advantages they offered was a certain proof that the duty had been admirably discharged. Was it true that Nonconformists were excluded from the Universities? Why at the present moment there were many Nonconformists and even Roman Catholics attending the Universities. He had spoken so frequently upon this subject that he felt he had no right to detain the House longer, but the object he had in view was to point out clearly the consequences likely to flow from the adoption of this measure, which tended to favour free thinking. If the Bill were passed, the teachers in the Universities would not be bound by any religious tests whatever, and to the care of persons who might believe anything or nothing would the sons of the English people be handed over. By passing this measure, they would be handing over their sons at the immature age of seventeen or eighteen to those who might be free-thinkers, and who might endeavour to convert them to some soulless and Godless theory, in place of their being educated in the spirit of the grand old University motto—Dominus illuminatio mea.
§ MR. E. A. LEATHAM
Sir, the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hardy) has shown how this question strikes members of the Church of England. Notwithstanding what has fallen from the hon. Member for White-haven, I believe that fully half the nation are not members of the Church, and since this Bill is introduced mainly for their relief, it is worth while, I think, before this debate closes to show how the question strikes them. We are taunted almost as though it were an indictable offence with desiring to make the national Universities really national instead of being what they are—very little more than seminaries for the clergy and for those who are content to hang on to the skirts of the sacerdotal vesture. The hon. Member for Whitehaven told us that he would not call this Bill a Bill of confiscation, and immediately proceeded to call it so; and the right hon. Gentleman has followed the same line of argument. But, Sir, it seems to me that the true answer to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman is that the property of the Colleges and Universities is held by Parliamentary title—in trust for the nation. The real question, therefore, is—who are the 461 nation? Now Nonconformists were so long and resolutely excluded from the exercise of nil those functions which stamp a man a member of the nation, that there are still going about amongst us people who cannot bring their minds to believe that the intolerance of our forefathers is now a thing of the past, and that a Nonconformist is to all intents and purposes as thoroughly an Englishman, with all the aspirations and lights of an Englishman, as if he were able to repeat the whole Athanasian Creed from one end to the other without wincing. To this class of persons whose whole political system seems to me to be founded on an anachronism, belongs it appears my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Hubbard) who opposes this Bill on the ground, that we "are not of the nation." Now, my hon. Friend is perfectly candid and perfectly logical. He is well aware that on no other ground can he exclude us from benefits which are national, and so he naturally adopts this ground, although it involves him in an assumption which if he were dealing with any other question than one which appeals to what Sydney Smith would have called the irritability of his belief, he would have scorned and scouted at once. And I would say in passing that if any further proof were wanted to show how untenable has become the position of those who oppose this bill, it is to be found in the strange and gratuitous assumptions to which they are logically driven by the exigencies of an impossible defence. But the right hon. Gentleman who moved that this hill be read a second time this day six months seems to suffer from a peculiarity of vision as remarkable as that which has befallen my hon. Friend. The right hon. Gentleman is in more respects than one a far-sighted statesman. He can discern objects which are yet a very great way off, for example, dangers to his Church, which are looming, if they are looming at all, on the edge of a remote horizon—but he has no eyes for some things which are very near at hand; he cannot discern the grievances under which Dissenters labour in their relation to the Universities. On the contrary he speaks of "the indulgence" with which we are treated, and of "the perfect educational freedom" which we enjoy. "What would you have?" in effect asks the right hon. Gentleman. "Cannot you read as hard as you like at the Universities Cannot you go into as many examinations as you please? Have we not condescended to stamp your proficiency 462 with our degrees? Have we not surrendered everything? Everything, of course, except the crowns of genius and merit. These are ours. Toil, patience, the strenuous industry of years, these are for you. The most munificent provision ever made by patriotism for learning—this is for us. Is not this a natural and equitable distribution?" And so the Nonconformist enters the University under a cloud, remains under a cloud, emerges under a cloud, the goes in at the side door and comes out at the back. He is made to feel to the last that he is only there on sufferance—that he is an object for the indulgence of the right hon. Gentleman. Whatever may be the place which he may obtain at the examinations, he is told when they are all over that his College is no home for him. Whatever may be the interest which he may take in the educational system at the University, he is told that the Senate House is no place for such as he is. In a country the whole essence of whose institutions is comprised in the word self-government, he finds himself a member of a great self-governing corporation, from all share in the government of which the is forcibly excluded. We have heard a great deal about the love which we owe Alma Mater, but if any such feeling finds a momentary place in the breast of a Nonconformist, this Alma Mater of his takes care to nip it in the bud. To him she is hard and distrustful to the end, and the moment at which he would approach her with the feeling that at length he may claim recognition as a son—when he returns to his College perhaps the first man of his year—is precisely the moment which she selects to turn him out of doors, precisely the moment which she selects to inflict upon him that worst humiliation of genius in adversity—to see those whom you have beaten step into the honours which are yours. And right hon. Gentlemen opposite affect surprise that there are such people as political Dissenters—affect surprise that we do not thankfully acquiesce in this system of box-feeding at the Universities. Hon. Gentlemen who are pheasant breeders will understand what I mean. The box is an ingenious mechanical contrivance. It is kept filled with corn, and placed in the woods. It is furnished with a lid in the shape of a ledge, upon which the applicant for corn must perch, and which is so nicely balanced that it only opens when a bird of the orthodox weight jumps upon it. Now there is just such a box at the Universities. It is kept supplied 463 with corn in incredible quantities. It only opens to those who perch upon the ledge with the whole weight of the Thirty-nine Articles. Sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes, nil sects; even stockdoves stamp and twitter in vain. It only yields to birds of the orthodox plumage, and those, I have observed, are most of them of the ring-necked variety. [Laughter.] Now, this may be amusing, but is it just? Is it just thus to divorce merit from reward, and to dissociate learning from honour? But the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down argues that what he calls the religious discipline and teaching of the Colleges would be imperilled if this Bill should pass. How the right hon. Gentleman sweeps the whole horizon for danger before the dares take a single step with the view of repairing what the right hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of this Bill calls a misfortune, what we call a shameful injury For what is the combination of circumstances which he foresees? He foresees such a rush of Nonconformists of the highest stamp to the Colleges as absolutely to swamp in numbers and ability the candidates for Fellowships furnished by the Church, and this when, in the same breath, he tells us that the Bill, if passed, can only benefit so small a number of persons. You must either admit that the Bill will benefit ninny or that it will benefit few. If it will benefit few where is the danger? if many, where is the justice? But the right hon. Gentleman foresees much more than this. He foresees not only an absolute majority of Nonconformist Fellows, but that those who compose this absolute majority representing, as they must, heterogeneous and inharmonious creeds, at variance in everything else, will agree in this, the unanimous opposition which they will offer to the services and teaching of the Church. Has the history of Dissent taught us to believe in this unanimity? Is it not notorious that there are large bodies of Dissenters, the Wesleyans for example, who would be far more likely, in questions of this character, to ally themselves with the Church than with infidels, or even with Roman Catholics. But when you have got this preponderance of Dissenting Fellows, and when you have got this unanimity among them, are there no statutes in the way of this plot to oust the teaching and services of the Church? Why, the very Bill itself protects by a distinct clause the services of the Church. This House must be a party to the plot before it can succeed. The other branches 464 of the Legislature must be accomplices, No such change could be brought about without the deliberate consent of the nation,—and surely, Sir, it is not from the nation that we are asked to save the national Church. But, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman tells us that the introduction of Nonconformist Fellows and members of Convocation will be the introduction of an element of discord, that it will disturb that repose which is essential to the Universities, and turn the Colleges into vortices of speculation and discussion—that is the phrase—and the Senate House into a Babel of conflicting sects. One would suppose, to listen to hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the Universities, instead of being great centres of intellectual activity, were great centres of intellectual slumber—that they were perfect dovecotes, where nothing was to be heard but the monotonous cooing of unquestioning uniformity, and where the names recalled by the hon. Member for Cambridge University—Newman and Pusey, Colenso and Jowitt—were never so much as mentioned. And a right rev. Prelate draws a fancy family portrait, which is positively touching in its tenderness, of the harmony, the purity, the gentle, unreasoning Church of Englandism—of the College life—a Church in which there are no cruel controversies. And he tells us that all this purity and orthodoxy, this simplicity of morals and of faith are kept together, because they are presided over by the Head of the College; the yearning father of this interesting family, who evinces his trembling paternal solicitude, by asking you twice a year to devilled kidneys Pass this Bill, and there will be an end of this dovecot—an end of all this yearning anxiety, of this filial obedience, of this purity of morals and of faith, of this repose of the Colleges. And there will be an end, Sir, as an hon. Gentleman has told us, of the quiet confidence of Christian gentlemen in the country who entrust their darlings to the safe custody of the Church at College, knowing that where Dissent is, there is confusion and every evil work. And as though this picture were not sufficiently heartrending, this Bill of my learned Friend's is to be the straw which breaks the back of the much-enduring camel. This great Church of England, rich in the wealth and in the faith of centuries—a Church which has already within our memory survived more fatal injuries than any member of the feline tribe—this Church not of nine but of ninety-nine lives, is to perish when the Nonconformist takes his 465 seat at the bottom of the Fellows' table, and squeezes his way into the great throng in the Senate House. Why will hon. Gentlemen persist in arguing this question as though the Nonconformist were still shut out of the Universities and the Colleges by law? He is inside; the contamination, if it be contamination, is established by Act of Parliament. Why are not right rev. Prelates afraid of him now? There he sits with his pestilent disbelief in Bishops, poisoning the car of the young, instilling day by day and hour by hour, perhaps in quiet river-side rambles, perhaps at pious wines, doubts possibly about the exalted Christian charity which glows through certain well-known paragraphs of the Athanasian Creed. Who is the teacher of youth? That other youth who walks with you, talks with you, lives with you; or the Professor who thunders at you afar off ex cathedra? There never was a time when infidelity in its worst, because its least honest shape, did not sneak into the Senate House, sneak into Fellowships, sneak into Professors' chairs, and that under all your forms. But then you had no terrors. There was nothing to alarm you in the presence of the man who denied the Almighty. Your fears awoke with the arrival of the wretch who disbelieves in Bishops. Now, it seems to mo that, even taking the narrowest view of this question—one apparently taken by the hon. Member for Cambridge University—looking simply to the advantages of those who are at present receiving the benefits of an University education, but especially of the clergy, you have nothing to fear, but everything to hope from this Bill. The hon. Gentleman insists upon the great benefits which accrue to the clergy from their being educated along with the laity. He tells us that their mind is enlarged and their ideas liberalized by this association. By parity of reasoning, I contend that this clerical mind would be still more enlarged, and their ideas still farther liberalized if the clergy had the benefit of being educated along with those upon whose feelings, habits, and opinions, it will be their mission afterwards to act—the laity of all denominations. I believe that such a system would be the death of that narrow Churchism which confronts Dissenters when they approach the threshold of the Church, as it would be the death also of that narrow sectarianism of which, with equal reason, members of the Church complain in their dealings with Nonconformity; but such a system is impossible while you drive Dis- 466 senters from the Universities by disabilities I which are indignities. Lastly, Sir, on the broadest public grounds I would support this Bill. You have done too much for the Nonconformist or you have done too little. You have admitted him to a seat in this House, and to a seat upon that Bench. Practically, you have declared that religious opinion is to be no bar to the highest Offices of State. One great use of the Universities is to qualify men for these great responsibilities and these high duties. In the public interest you are bound to take another step forward, and to give such men every facility for making that qualification complete. And what stands in the way? This bugbear of danger to the Church. Sir, there is no scarecrow planted in the path of just and necessary legislation which has been so frequently trodden under foot and hoisted again, or which is so thoroughly out at elbows as this. It is not the Church which is in danger, it is the intolerance of the Church. The Church is not a thing of laws and Acts of Parliament. She rests upon the profound convictions of one part of the nation, and the deliberate assent of the other part. When those convictions shall change, and that assent shall be withdrawn, then your Church will be in danger; and there is no statute in the statute book which will serve her in any stead; but you are hastening, you are precipitating, you are not postponing that day by incessantly parading the Church before the people in the light of a grasping monopolist, who not content with the prodigious privileges which she already enjoys in every parish in the kingdom, has usurped for her own purposes the control of the national Universities, and shuts the door of honour and emolument at her pleasure in the face of half the nation.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the advocates of this Bill assumed that orthodoxy and ignorance, and Nonconformity and knowledge were convertible terms. He held that such a proposition was totally untenable. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down used an illustration respecting feeding-boxes, which he held to be ridiculous, and unworthy of the subject; but as it had been introduced he might say that the ring-necked pheasant, the old orthodox English pheasant, always weighed several pounds heavier than the imported Chinese variety, which the hon. Gentleman opposite seemed so much to favour. It was argued on the other side that the existence of tests was a sign of ignorance in faith. Now, it 467 so happened that all the Protestant bodies, the Nonconformists included, repudiated the acceptance of an ignorant faith. They held an ignorant faith to be superstition, so that all the arguments on that score were worth less than nothing. Subscription was a test of study and attainment of knowledge in Scripture history and Scripture doctrine. He should be sorry to rest the statement he was about to make on his own authority, but it so happened that there were many eminent men, for whom this House entertained the highest respect, who held that it would be to narrow and degrade education if they did not demand from the students some knowledge of Scripture history and of theology; which would be, in effect, to shut them out in a great measure from the study of all history, with the view that the void might be supplied by the study of physical science, mechanics, and chemistry—studies, he might add, which already found their place in the teaching of the University. On this subject he wished to call the attention of the House to a letter on the Irish system of national education that the late Archbishop Whateley wrote to Dr. Arnold, and which had a strong bearing on this question. He said—When Lord Stanley joined the Education Board he had no such thought—[as examinations in Scripture of the children]. And when first Mr. Carlyle proposed drawing up Scripture extracts, I partook of the same expectations with Bishop Philpots, that no selections could be introduced with the concurrence of all parties such as should be of any utility. I do not even now think my apprehensions groundless. The obstacles were incomparably greater than those to any analogous plan in England. The result, however, was complete success. All the efforts to raise jealousy in reference to the Scripture extracts have within the schools themselves totally failed. They are read with delight and profit by almost all the children, and I and other Protestants, as Lord Stanley knows, have examined the children of all denominations without knowing to which each child belonged, and found them better taught in Scripture than most gentlefolks' children.Here he (Mr. Newdegate) must remind the House that to this statement was appended a note. In connection with this subject it might be observed that it was in 1837 that the Archbishop produced the celebrated tract, Early Lessons and Christian Evidences, afterwards admitted into the mixed schools by Dr. Moody, and finally objected to by Dr. Cullen in 1853. The Archbishop went on to say in reference to that plan of education—But had the plan gone no further than Lord 468 Stanley at present proposed and expected, I should not have condemned it as furnishing education but only a portion of education, and I should have been glad to furnish even a small part of that portion, if no more could have been admitted. If there had been a scruple against teaching anything beyond the alphabet I should have been glad to have even that taught. From what I have actually done, and thought, and seen, you may pretty well conjecture how I should be likely to act in respect of the London University. In the first place, I should point out, from the experience of a far, very far more difficult time, the perfect possibility of having the historical books of the Bible as a portion of the studies and examinations; and secondly, the importance of this as a portion of general education, on the ground that Christianity is the prevailing religious profession of the country. I should call for no signing of articles—no profession of faith, but I should point out that in those portions of the Empire where the Mahomedan religion prevails it is essential that those who are to reside among the Mussulmans, and hold official situations should have some acquaintance with the Koran. To say that a man can have gone through a course of liberal education in this country totally ignorant of the outlines of Christian history is to imply not merely that the Christian religion is untrue or bad, but that it is insignificant and unworthy of serious attention, except from those who have a fancy for it, as is the case with the mythological antiquities of the Anglo-Saxons, or the dreams of astrology or alchemy. And if anyone should say you need not doubt that the students do acquire this knowledge in other ways, I should say, very well; I do not say to the contrary. I will certify, if you please, that they may for aught I know have gone through a most able and complete course of education; but I will not certify, by conferring anything in the nature of a degree, that they have done so, unless they shall have given proof before the University as such that they have. But if I may be answered that the conductors of the University despaired of the possibility of conducting any examinations or lectures on the Greek Testament so as to avoid jealousies and contests, I should consent to obtain what benefits we could—reckoning even half a loaf or half a quarter of a loaf better than no bread. But nothing would over induce me to call it a whole loaf.These were the opinions of Archbishop Whately, and he believed no Member of the House would maintain that the Archbishop was an illiberal man. He therefore said deliberately, on the authority of Archbishop Whately and Dr. Arnold, that the object of this Bill was to narrow and do-grade education—to bring it down to the level of those Nonconformists who were complaining of their ignorance, and at the same time requiring that the education of the Universities should be brought down to their level. This was his protest against the proposition that orthodoxy and ignorance, and Nonconformity and knowledge were convertible terms, and he would give his opposition to the Bill.
§ MR. NEATE
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had laid much stress on the Address that was presented by members of the Universities to the Archbishop of Canterbury against this Bill. He did not deny that that Address contained the names of many eminent men and men of high standing in the University. But he believed the youth and strength of the Universities to be favourable to the Bill, although the senior Fellows and Heads of Houses were against it; and he would point out that some of the most distinguished Colleges in Oxford were but weakly represented in the signatures to that Address, from which he drew the inference that, although all the intellect of the University had not yet passed, it was fast passing into the ranks of those who were in favour of this Bill.
§ MR. COLERIDGE
said, he would not attempt to answer a good many of the objections urged against this measure by hon. Gentlemen opposite, because those objections were urged rather against some creatures of their own imagination than against this Bill, with which they could have no more to do than with the Bill for the alteration of weights and measures which the House had that day been discussing. It had been said that those who supported the measure did not agree on the grounds on which they should support it. That was perfectly true. They were endeavouring to make an advance in a particular direction, but some went further than others in the path of progress, though all were prepared to go the length of this Bill. Though there was only one way of saying "No," there were 500 ways of saying "Yes," and it was natural that those who approached the subject from a Liberal point of view should approach it with different motives; but, as a party, they were generally content with the measure. The real question was, whether the Bill before the House was one the principle of which the House ought to affirm? The question had been argued as if it was proposed to take from persons who were entitled to keep, and give to those who were not entitled to receive. That argument was not tenable with respect to the Bill, because all that was proposed to be done was simply to remove restrictions which had been imposed by the authority of Parliament itself, and the earliest of these was a clause in the Act of Uniformity of the time of Charles II. If the Colleges 470 had suffered grievously from the state of things which previously existed, and were without protection up to the time of the passing of the Act of Uniformity, there might be some force in the argument; but he could not understand how it could be contended with fairness, or by recollection of history, that the repeal of a clause in a statute passed in the time of Charles H. could imperil the religion of Colleges which had existed for centuries before. The Bill would leave the Colleges in precisely the same state as before that period. It would not affect the statutes of the Colleges. The Colleges would be allowed to exercise their own discretion, and maintain or repeal such restrictions as they chose. He desired to correct an impression which his speech on a former occasion had conveyed to the mind of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. He had not, as had been imputed to him, said that his right hon. Friend had resorted to coarse and vulgar arguments. He could not have used that expression, because he always took care to give as much preparation to any remarks which he had the honour of addressing to the House as his time would allow. He certainly did think that one of his right hon. Friend's arguments did appeal to coarse and vulgar prejudice; but that was a very different thing from saying that the arguments themselves were coarse and vulgar; and as he had not yet been, and he trusted never would be, guilty of such a breach of manners as to apply such words to any hon. Member of the House, so there was no one to whom he should be less inclined to say anything disrespectful than his right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department. He candidly confessed that there were certain difficulties, and perhaps dangers, which would arise both in the Universities and in the Colleges after the passing of the Bill, and which he was not prepared to meet. But that was not the way to argue the question. What ought to be done was to examine both systems as a whole—to take the existing system with its disadvantages—to take the system proposed with its supposed disadvantages—and to see which was best for the interests of the country. It was impossible to meddle or alter an existing system without in so doing committing some positive mischief; but the question really was, whether the advantages were not so greatly in favour of the course proposed that, in spite of certain evils and difficulties which were likely to ensue, it 471 was the proper and statesmanlike course to pursue? That was a broad and intelligible footing on which to place the question, and if that were done in this instance lie, for one, had no fear of the result.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 198; Noes 140: Majority 58.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Wednesday 22nd July,