§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [10th March], "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. Mowbray.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ Debate resumed.1416
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
I wish, Sir, to state to the House the reasons why, in former years, I have not thought it any part of my duty to vote against the second reading of Bills of the same character with that now before the House, and why on this occasion it is not in my power to support the Amendment of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Mowbray). I confess that, looking back to the year 1854, I was one of those who at that time strenuously resisted the first proposal made to remove the obstacles which then existed to the admission of Dissenters to education in the University of Oxford. I did that, not by any means from a feeling of hostility to Dissenters—far from it, or from any want of good-will to mix with them in education; and perhaps I may be excused for repeating the words I then used on that subject. I said that I should regard it in the light of a positive advantage to have intercourse with the Dissenters facilitated in every way which did not interfere injuriously with the functions of the Church; and I opposed that measure because I foresaw that so great a change in the system of the University would necessarily lead to a very great disturbance of those relations between the University and the Church which I felt to be useful to the Church and to the country. And I foresaw also—what experience has verified—that the movement then made would not and could not be final; that you could not possibly stop at the point then indicated, but that if you admitted Dissenters to education on a footing with other young men in the Universities, in the course of time it would be utterly impossible not to extend to those so educated equal advantages with others. I own I did participate in the fears then entertained, and which are still entertained by hon. Friends of mine opposite—that the effect of that change and its consequences possibly, even probably, might be the subversion of the influence and authority of religion in the University—and feeling then, as I feel now, that the subversion of the influence and authority of religion in the University would be a calamity too great to be described, that it would destroy the most essential part of the value of University education, I was unwilling to be a party to what I thought the 1417 first step which might possibly lead to such a result. Sir, if I was too much an alarmist at that time I hope I may be excused in the judgment of the House on account of the magnitude and immense importance of the interests which seemed to be involved. I do not retract or in the slightest degree recede from the principle on which I then stood—that, above all things, the influence and authority of religion in the education given at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge ought to be retained; and if I were in my mind persuaded that it could not be maintained without rejecting this or any similar measure, unwillingly as I should oppose myself to that which, besides being apparently the desire of the House and the country, my own understanding compels me to regard as the inevitable corollary and sequel of what has been done, yet I would oppose it if I continued to think it was impossible that the influence and authority of religion in the Universities could be maintained without resisting such measures. But I confess I am no longer of that opinion. Now, let me ask the House to recollect the course which this question has taken since that time. Even at that time, in 1854, who was it that was mainly instrumental in carrying that first stop which most of us then perceived to involve the consequences now resulting from it? It was the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Stanley). The Government of that day were not willingly led to introduce that subject among the other reforms they were then engaged in promoting. They desired to leave it to the spontaneous action and judgment, if possible, of the University. The Motion for the introduction of Mr. Hey wood's clause into the Bill was opposed by the Government; but the noble Lord came forward and said—"Don't let the House be alarmed; don't let the House trust to future proceedings by the University in a matter in which it sees its own way clearly." The noble Lord saw his way clearly; he had no hesitation or doubt in the matter; he had no fear of the consequences; and I well remember he added—"Don't be alarmed about the House of Lords; don't be too ready to assume that you will meet with any difficulty in the House of Lords if the clause passes this House." And he had extremely good reasons for saying so, 1418 for the Chancellor of the University of Oxford sat in that House, and had a leading influence in it. No one could better know the mind of the Chancellor of the University of Oxford than the noble Lord; and he had, as far back as 1832, been among the most eager, at that time, to contend for the admission of Dissenters to the Universities. That credit belonged to the noble Lord; it was owing as much to him as to any man that the first step was taken at that time, and in that particular manner. What followed? The Oxford Act of 1854 limited the abolition of tests to those previously exacted from undergraduates on their matriculation, and from Bachelors of Arts upon their admission to that degree. Two years afterwards an Act was passed for Cambridge; and then, as Cambridge had always been in advance of Oxford with regard to the admission of Dissenters as undergraduates, so now, in the new legislation, it was in advance again; the Oxford legislation had limited the privilege conceded to the B.A. degree, but the Cambridge carried it forward to the M.A. degree. What has followed since? How have those Acts worked? There has been, if report speaks true, a considerable unsettlement and disturbance of opinion in both Universities; but I will not undertake to say whether this has been in any degree due to the operation of these measures. For my own part, I think it is due to other causes—causes which have operated throughout the Church and throughout the country. I think those who took an interest in the measure may, perhaps, rather see reason to regret that so few of our Nonconformist brethren have taken advantage of it, and I have not heard from any good authority that where they have done so any evil has resulted. But this has, at all events, followed as the consequence of what has been done, that both from within and without the Universities a powerful, constant, and increasing demand has arisen, for the further prosecution of those ulterior changes which were the logical sequence of the change then made; and from both Universities opinions have been expressed by a large number of men of position, character, and attainments, Heads of Houses, tutors of Colleges, and others, in such a manner as to make it manifestly impossible, in the 1419 judgment of any man taking a practical view of the subject, that this question can remain in the position in which it now stands. And that opinion, coming from both Universities with a very great degree of force and power, has been re-echoed from without with a greater degree of force and power; the Nonconformist body, having already got an established footing within them, is determined that that footing shall be extended, as far as the logical principle involved in what has already been done may require. Now, that is the state of things with which we have to deal; and we must consider, not whether we can altogether resist this demand, but in what manner we ought to deal with it—whether we can deal with it for the common advantage of the Universities and the country; and whether, in fact, the principle of that demand does require, that there should be a surrender of the influence and authority of religious teaching within the University. No doubt, a great deal of alarm has been expressed with regard to the Bill of my hon. and learned Friend (Sir John Coleridge). Last year, we know, from both Universities, addresses, numerously signed by persons of high character and in every way entitled to the greatest respect, were presented to the late Archbishop of Canterbury—himself a man of whom no one can speak without the desire to give expression to the feelings, universally entertained, of deep respect for his character, and sincere regret for the loss the nation has sustained by his decease. These addresses represented, in effect, that the Bill of the Solicitor General really aimed at the total destruction of the principle of religious education in the University—or that, at all events, that was its necessary, and not remote, tendency; and the late Archbishop of Canterbury did appear, in some degree, by his answers to these addresses, to have participated in that alarm. Now, the first question is, whether there is reason to believe that those who bring forward a measure which creates alarm do intend those effects and consequences, which it is apprehended may possibly follow from it. If they do not intend them, then, at all events, it may be expected, that if it can be pointed out to them that the measure as it stands may give some reasonable ground for alarm, 1420 they will be found willing to do all that is possible to alleviate those apprehensions, and give proof of their sincerity by agreeing to such modifications, not affecting the substance of the measure, as may tend to show that its principle is not inconsistent with that which they declare their intention to maintain. Accordingly, there came forward some of the most distinguished of those who, out of this House, have advocated this measure, and they disavowed, with undoubted sincerity, the purpose and intention which, if not imputed to them, were supposed to be involved in the measure itself. I will mention two names, one that of a gentleman, whom I am proud to call my relative, and whom I regret not to see now a Member of this House—Mr. Charles Roundell. He addressed a letter to the newspapers, in which he referred to the fact that the late Archbishop of Canterbury had thought it right to express his belief that to entrust University education to men who had no religious creed would inevitably tend to sap the foundations of Christianity; thereby seeming to imply that this would be one of the results of passing the Tests Bill. At this construction of the Bill he (Mr. Roundell) professed his astonishment; and he met it by saying that in every part of the Bill he found the most careful reservation and protection, in the most explicit language, of the religious teaching of the University? ["Oh !"] Hon. Gentlemen may think that the provisions of the Bill are inadequate for that purpose. For my own part, I should like to see that purpose stamped upon the Bill in a much more unequivocal manner; and for that purpose I shall propose certain Amendments, which, without altering the practical part of the Bill, will show that the sense of the Legislature is consistent with the declaration so made, that the purpose and intention with which it is brought forward is not to interfere with the principle of religious education in the University. Another name I will mention, that of a gentleman whose acquaintance I do not possess, but whom I have heard spoken of in the highest terms—Sir George Young. He also addressed to the newspapers certain letters, which he has since published in a pamphlet, and he also disclaimed any idea or intention of interfering with the principle of religious education and 1421 instruction in the University. I feel bound to give credit to such men for sincerity; and from those who agree with them I feel I am entitled to expect concurrence in any reasonable proposition to stamp the evidence of their purpose and intention upon the face of this Bill. If I could, for a moment, be persuaded that it was the purpose and intention of a majority of this House to subvert the authority and influence of religion in the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge; or if I thought the tendency of this Bill must necessarily be to impair its efficiency, I would not only not vote for the Amendment, but no majority whatever would persuade me to yield assent to such principles. I look upon it as a matter of the utmost importance that education should, as far as possible, be everywhere associated with religion, and above all, in those ancient places of learning in which education has always been associated with religion—where education has been stamped with a religious character from the earliest infancy of these institutions—which have always been the nurseries and seminaries of the clergy of our Church; and I think it would be an act of infatuation if this Legislature should ever desire to secularize those institutions and to deprive them of that which, in the eyes of all who place religion above all other kinds of knowledge, must be their greatest excellence. I believe that in saying this I do not express only the sentiments of the Church of England. Notwithstanding the unhappy differences which prevail on matters of doctrine, I believe that these sentiments are not peculiar to the Church of England, but are shared in common with them by the members of the Roman Catholic Church, and by the members of all Nonconformist bodies; all of which, differing as they do as to particular tenets, are as sincere and earnest in their religious belief as we are, and who, as little as ourselves, desire that their children should be sent for their education to any place, the moral atmosphere of which might be hostile to religions belief. As long as we have an Established Church—which I hope may be for ever—and even if, contrary to our hope and expectation, we should ever cease to have one, it will still be of the very highest value and importance that the clergy of the 1422 Church, which is now the Established Church—and which will at all times be the Church of a very great proportion of the people of this country—should find in the University such a system of education as may lit them for the discharge of their spiritual duties. What greater calamity could happen than that where you have an Established Church your clergy should not have a liberal education, and should not mix with the laity; but if you secularize the education of the Universities, and allow Christian influences no longer to speak with authority from places so long devoted to such instruction, how long would it be possible to keep the Universities as places for the education of the clergy? But this is taking too narrow a view of the question. This is a matter not affecting the clergy alone, but the laity. It affects all the people; for ninety-nine out of every hundred it may be taken are religious people, and desire that their children should receive a religious education; and anything that would un-Christianize any of our great seats of learning would be a deplorable national calamity, and not more opposed to the general feeling of Churchmen than to the sense of the Nonconformist portion of the public. How did the Legislature describe the University of Oxford in 1854? As "a place of religion and learning." So also in the case of the University of Cambridge. So also with respect to the Scottish Universities. Uniformly the Legislature has stamped upon its Acts a recognition of that character—that the Universities are places of religion as well as learning. I do not cease to remember the prayer which is offered up in the University of Oxford—That in this and in all other places more immediately dedicated to God's honour and service, true religion and useful learning may for ever flourish and abound.If I thought that this or any other measure would subvert that purpose, I could not support it; but when I look to the Bill I do not think it is at all a necessary consequence that it should do so. The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Mowbray), on Wednesday quoted a portion of the speech of the present First Minister of the Crown which he uttered in 1854, as if he (Mr. Mowbray), had some reason to suppose 1423 that he would not now adhere to the sentiments to which he then gave utterance. I have no doubt he does adhere to them, and so far as I have had communication with him I should believe he adhered to every word. I will read the passage, but I will read the whole of it, which the right hon. Gentleman did not do. This is what my right hon. Friend said—I hold the relative position of the Church and of the University of Oxford to be this—that while the Church is in the position of a national Establishment, so long as the people of this country insist on a connection being maintained between religion and education, so long the Church is entitled to expect that the interests of the University, that the discipline of the University, that the government of the University shall be moulded in conformity with the principles of religion, and with the principles of religion in that specific form in which they are held and taught by the Church of England.And then, after expressing his disinclination to draw any line which could be avoided between admission to the University and admission to such endowments of the University as did not carry with them the power of government, he declared—That supposing due regard should be taken for the security of the religious teaching and discipline of the Church in the University of Oxford, then he considered there would be great advantage—advantage to Dissenters, advantage to the Church, advantage to the nation, if provision were—and he thought it could be—made for the admission of Dissenters to to the profits and advantages of education at the University of Oxford.I have never heard anything fall from my right hon. Friend which would lead me to think he had changed those opinions. I have no doubt he still thinks it right that there should be due security for Christian and religious teaching in the University, and that he thinks this may be afforded at the same time that Dissenters may be admitted to the full benefits of the University. Let us see now whether there is anything in the provisions of this Bill necessarily inconsistent with that principle. I will take the indictment against this Bill which was laid before the late Archbishop of Canterbury. I avow that I have a great respect for those whose opinions are stated in that document, though they thus state what they believe would be the effect of this Bill—At the present moment there is a Bill before the House of Commons which, if it should become law, would completely destroy the existing connection of the University and Colleges with the Church. The effect of this measure would be (1) to transfer the supreme government of the University 1424 in Convocation to a body, the individual members of which will not as such be under any legal obligation to profess any Christian doctrine whatsoever; and (2) to throw open the Fellowships to all persons without regard to religious faith. We cannot contemplate these results without dismay; for as the tutors are selected from among the Fellows of Colleges, we are convinced that the admission to Fellowships of persons not necessarily Christians will imperil the continuance of religious education in Oxford, and tend to the establishment of a purely secular system. This, we are persuaded, would be repugnant to the deep convictions of the mass of the English people, whether Churchmen or Nonconformists. It is our firm belief that the only method of securing definite Christian education on truly liberal and comprehensive principles is to maintain the connection of the University and the Colleges with the National Church.Now, let us consider, in the first place, what is the real substance and meaning of the statement, that the effect of this measure would be to transfer the supreme government of the University in Convocation to a body, the individual members of which will not, as such, be under any legal obligation to profess any Christian doctrine whatsoever. What is the real meaning of that? That you will not enforce a test on them. That is what it means. It does not mean that you will have in Convocation such a number of persons not believing in Christianity as will be likely to exercise a material influence on the government of the University. If it does mean that, I am entirely unable to see any ground for such an opinion. As long as Christianity is the general belief of the nation, it may surely be expected to have its adequate representation in the University even without tests. It must be remembered that at present, if there be in the University so large a number of unbelievers as would subvert and un-Christianize its character, there is no security in tests against that. There is no security against persons becoming unbelievers. You may at the time a person takes the degree of Master of Arts impose a certain test; but you do not re-administer that test as often as he goes into Convocation. If persons are unbelievers, and set at nought the whole spirit of the institution to which they belong—if they care nothing for moral character—such persons would probably be willing to take the test. At all events, if they took it formerly on an occasion when it was necessary for them to do so, that would give you no security that they would not afterwards depart from the obligation which the test implies. 1425 There is, then, no substantial security afforded by the test that the members of Convocation must really be persons who will uphold Christian doctrine. If the general Christian character of the place can be maintained, that is your security. The test would be nothing without it. I come now to deal with the Bill as it affects the teaching of the University. It affects the University in two ways. It provides first that no test shall be applied as a condition of a lay degree. I have dealt with that; but next it says in the 4th clause—From and after the passing of this Act no person shall be required, as a qualification for or as a condition of holding any public professor-ship or other academical office or place of emolument which is or may be tenable by a layman, or as a condition of teaching, within the said Universities or either of them, to subscribe any article or formulary of faith, or to make any declaration, or take any oath respecting his religious belief or profession, or to conform to any religious observance, anything in any Act of Parliament, instrument of foundation or endowment, or statute, of the said Universities or either of them to the contrary notwithstanding.Now, I ask the House in examining the question what the effect of that clause would be, to remember that there is nothing in this Bill repealing or purporting to repeal any of the statutes of the University. And. it is important the House should know what the effect of those statutes is. As to the University Professors—of whom there are thirty-six—six being Professors of Divinity, or ex officio Canons of Christ Church—the University statutes forbid any Professor or Lecturer to teach, directly or indirectly, or dogmatically to assert, anything which is in any way opposed to the Catholic faith, or good morals; and enjoin them all—and in an especial manner all Professors or Lecturers in philosophy—to use all opportunities of recommending sound religion to their pupils and discouraging all anti-Christian opinions. The Vice Chancellor has a general power of punishing all offenders against the statutes of the University. Many of the Professors are removable by academical authority for any breach of duty; and others by authorities external to the University. Therefore I think it is clear that, as to Professors and Lecturers, without breach of the statutes of the University, which this Bill will leave unaltered, they could not teach anything against the religion of Christianity, or against the doctrine of the Church of England. I now come to 1426 the Colleges. The address went on to suggest that the Bill would "throw open the Fellowships to all persons without regard to religious faith." It proceeded thus—We cannot contemplate these results without dismay; for as the tutors are selected from among the Fellows of Colleges, we are convinced that admissions to Fellowships of persons not necessarily Churchmen will imperil the continuance of religious education in Oxford, and tend to the establishment of a purely secular system.But let us see whether by the Bill this is so. By the Bill the Colleges are entirely saved from all interference with their present constitution. All the Bill does is to remove tests imposed by Act of Parliament, which are external and foreign to the constitution and statutes of the Colleges. That is a different thing from what is represented in the address; because the statutes of the Colleges and of the University contain the clearest and strongest provisions against any consequences of such a character as those apprehended in the address. I have not examined the statutes of the Colleges of Cambridge; but in all the statutes made for the Colleges of Oxford by the Commissioners under the Act of 1854, or by the Colleges themselves, it is provided, that those persons are to be chosen to Headships and Fellowships who are most fit to hold those offices in the College, as a place of religion, learning, and education. It would be impossible for men, not wilfully disregarding the moral obligation imposed upon them by those statutes to elect persons known to hold irreligious opinions. Daily service in the College chapels, with regulations for the attendance of the members of the College generally, are provided for; a certain proportion of the Fellows are required to be in Holy Orders; and contumacious non-conformity to the Liturgy of the Church of England is, in twelve Colleges, made a ground of deprivation; while in the other seven there are equivalent, or still stronger provisions, requiring adherence not only to the Liturgy, but to the doctrine of the Church. As to the College tutors, the statutes of the University require all scholars in Colleges to have tutors till they graduate; and they forbid any one to be a tutor who is not—among other things—religione secundum doctrinam et ritum Eeclesiæ Anglicanæ sincerus. Nor is the judgment on this question left solely on the College authorities; the Vice Chancellor is 1427 to decide upon it, in case of any controversy; and the Vice Chancellor may stop the exercise of his office by any tutor who is proved before him not to have this qualification. All tutors are also enjoined to be diligent in instructing all their pupils—Dissenters excepted—in the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England, under pain of censure and punishment by the Vice Chancellor. There are similar provisions as to the Halls. The House will see, therefore, that this Bill is, a measure, removing certain external Parliamentary enactments, but not taking away the existing securities contained in the statutes of the University and of the Colleges for the maintenance of religion within those institutions. I cannot be interpreting the Bill wrongly in supposing that it is not intended to interfere with these things. My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General last year interpreted it as I interpret it now. He then referred to these statutes in the following terms:—All, then, that we ask to be done with the Colleges is that the State should remove restrictions on their freedom of action which the State itself imposed; all things else regarding them will remain as they are now. 'Their statutes, old and new, will remain unaltered.'"—[3 Hansard, cxcii. 212.]And then he went on, in rather stronger language than I should have ventured to use, to say that—Every single Fellow is hound by statute and by oath to elect the man whom he believes, after examination, to be most fit to be elected a Fellow of the College, as a place of religion and learning; you must have a majority of the Fellows scoundrels, or else men who have become infidels since their own election, before this measure could even aid in the election of any but a man at least honestly believed by the electors to be a moral and religious person."—[Ibid., 217.]That is stronger language than I should have ventured to use in this House, but nothing could more emphatically prove what is the avowed intention and purpose of the hon. and learned Solicitor General in bringing in the Bill. He does not in any way propose to interfere with the character of the Colleges or the Universities as places of religion, or by this Bill to authorize anything to be done inconsistent with their present statutes. As I understand the Bill, it leads to nothing but the abolition of a certain Parliamentary subscription test—it leaves the statutes of the Colleges and of the Universities unimpaired, while it takes away 1428 a certain subscription test which on certain formal occasions is now required to be administered. Now, what is the test? I believe it is only a subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
In the Colleges it may be so; but surely, if you are to look to laws and not to spirit in such matters, the laws I have referred to, the constitution, the statutes of the Colleges and Universities, with the powers of government which enable the authorities of the Colleges and of the Universities to enforce those laws, are infinitely better and more safe to trust to than the effect of some past test taken at some past time, and which, when once taken, is a net from which afterwards there is full opportunity to escape. There is no possibility of escape from the permanent laws of the Colleges and Universities; and, although it may be, that, in the exercise of, perhaps, a very sound discretion, there is no disposition on the part of the authorities of the Colleges and Universities to enforce these laws in an inquisitorial way, or to press them to an extreme and tyrannical extent, they bear a moral witness to the character of the institutions, and tend to the moral regulation of the conduct of those who come into them, and they morally condemn any members of the Colleges and Universities who are notoriously unfaithful to those obligations. No doubt, last year something was said—I hope it is not true—there are some things of which it is bliss to be ignorant, and in this case I partake of that bliss, for I am entirely without personal knowledge that such is the fact—but allusion was made in the debates of last year to some persons in the Universities who enjoy the benefits of some of the Fellowships, who were supposed to hold the opinions of M. Comte, or to deny the immortality of the soul. I am desirous to disbelieve that such is the fact, more especially as I have no evidence in support of it. But, assuming it to be true, of what possible use can your test be when it does not exclude persons holding those opinions from Fellowships? The true defences against such opinions are—first, the moral sense of the community; and next, the permanent laws of the com- 1429 munity. If these are insufficient for the safety of the Colleges and Universities, what additional protection can you hope to obtain from the dead test which you made a man take some years ago when he became a Master of Arts, or upon some other formal occasion? It cannot be relied upon as a moral obligation, because nothing can surpass the moral obligation of the permanent regulations of the Colleges and Universities which form the basis of the agreement which a man has entered into with the society of which he is a member, and which is to the effect that he will observe their laws and will conform to their spirit. Therefore, I say, you may safely throw aside these tests as being of no value, for they leave behind them all that which is of value—namely, the spirit of the society, the positive laws of the Colleges and Universities, and the sanction which accompanies those laws. It is to these we must look. Now, it is very remarkable to observe in what manner some excellent persons regard this subject, who feel, as I myself do, that the Universities, if they ceased to be places of religious teaching, would be as salt that had lost its savour. They are unwilling to place confidence in anyone who will not give them the assurance that the religious character of the Universities is to be preserved. And yet, some of the most eminent and excellent of the leading men of the University of Oxford, of this way of thinking, have proposed to abandon some of the Colleges to all sorts of religious denominations—some, even, holding tenets very remote from those of the Church of England—if they may only permitted to keep others for the Church of England. But I want to keep them all for the Church of England, in the sense in which that Church has a legitimate right to and interest in them. I want the prevailing influence to remain, but to be reconciled with the liberal admission of Dissenters. When I am told that the eminent persons to whom I have alluded are willing to give up certain Colleges to those whom they regard as their irreconcilable opponents, I am reminded of the following lines in Cowper's Needless Alarm:—Friends ! we have lived too long. I never heardSounds such as these, so worthy to be feared.I hold it, therefore, wisest and most fit That, life to save, we leap into the pit.1430 I think that the moral, also, is not inapplicable to their case—Beware of desperate stops. The darkest day, Live till to-morrow, will have passed away.Now, I may take the liberty of stating to the House my own view of what may and should be done upon this subject. I am bound to state that I think the apprehensions of which I have spoken ought not to be met without great respect and sympathy, at least by those who so thoroughly sympathize—as I do for one—with the principles entertained by those to whom I have referred; and I think that when we look at the Bill it is deficient in the full expression upon the face of it of the intention which, I am sure, its authors do entertain, to preserve intact the general authority and influence of religious teaching in the Universities. I shall, therefore, with the permission of the House, endeavour to explain the Amendments of the Bill which I should propose to effect. In the first place I think it would be just as well to introduce into the Preamble of the Bill language which will make clear on the face of it our intention to adhere to that view of the Universities which was expressed in the former Act. Therefore, I propose to amend the Preamble in the following manner:—In line 2, after 'Cambridge,' add, 'as places of religion and learning.' Line 4, after 'divers,' add 'unnecessary.' Line 8, after 'removed,' add 'under proper safeguards for the maintenance of religious instruction, worship, and discipline in the said Universities and the Colleges within the same.'In Clause 3, lines 22, 23, I propose to omit the words "or any of the Colleges or Halls thereof respectively." I also propose to insert two further clauses, one of which is as follows:—Nothing in this Act shall be deemed or construed to interfere with or alter, any further or otherwise than is hereby expressly enacted, the system of religious instruction, worship, and discipline which now is, or hereafter may be, lawfully established in the said Universities respectively, or in any of the Colleges within the same, or the statutes and ordinances of the said Universities and Colleges respectively relating thereto, or the power of any persons exercising authority in the said Universities and Colleges respectively to maintain and uphold such system of instruction, worship, and discipline, according to such statutes and ordinances.The other clause which I intend to propose is one which I think the House will accept when they are told that it is merely a simplification and abridgment of one already in force with regard to the lay Professorships in the Scotch Universities. 1431 In 1853 the old test, required from lay Professors in the Scotch Universities, was abolished by Act of Parliament, and instead of it, the lay Professors in them were called upon to make a declaration to this effect—Every person hereafter to be elected, presented, or provided to any such office [of Professor, Regent, Master, or other office in any of the Universities or Colleges in Scotland, such office not being that of a Principal or Chair of Theology] shall make and subscribe, in presence of the Senatus Academicus of such University or College, the declaration following:—'I, A. B., do solemnly and sincerely, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare that, as Professor of—and in the discharge of the said office, I will never endeavour, directly or indirectly, to teach or inculcate any opinions opposed to the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, or to the Westminster Confession of Faith, as ratified by law in the year 1690, and that I will not exercise the functions of the said office to the prejudice or subversion of the Church of Scotland as by law established, or the doctrines and privileges thereof.'I think it unnecessary to introduce the provision as to the subversion of the Church, for I do not see what power to subvert the Established Church can be possessed, through their connection with the University, by the persons from whom the declaration will be required. But I do conceive that the general principle of the declaration is one which may properly be followed, and that the House will think it only reasonable that what is required from lay Professors in the Scotch Universities should be equally required in Oxford and in Cambridge, more particularly as they will, in effect, only promise to obey the statutes of the University. Upon this subject, therefore, I propose to introduce the following clause into the Bill:—Every person hereafter to be elected or appointed to any Professorship in the said Universities, or either of them, or to the office of Tutor or Lecturer in any College within the same, shall, before he shall be capable of entering upon or discharging the duties of his office, or of receiving any emoluments thereof, make and subscribe before the Vice Chancellor of the University, or before the head or chief governor of the College for the time being (as the case may be), the declaration following:—'I, A. B., do solemnly and sincerely declare that as Professor of [or Lecturer in, or Tutor of, as the case may be] and in the discharge of the said office, I will never endeavour, directly or indirectly, to teach or inculcate any opinion opposed to the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures:'So far the declaration I propose is in the very words of the Scotch declaration; it then goes on to add— 1432Or to the doctrine or discipline of the Church of England as by law established,being an abbreviated form, but in substance the same. I cannot help thinking that if the House agree to take what I have just read, with the other Amendments which I have ventured to suggest, they will, while leaving the main objects of the Bill absolutely untouched, sufficiently prove that it is not the intention of Parliament to subvert the religious system and discipline of the Church of England in the Universities; but that it is the intention of Parliament to reconcile it with liberality in the administration of that system. I do not propose anything, which could operate as an exclusive test, unless it could be seriouly supposed that the Professor intended to violate the statutes of the University, and to abuse the opportunities of his office in a way which no man in this House would attempt to justify. I do not propose to call upon him for any declaration of personal opinion or belief. I only ask for precisely the same security which already is required in the case of the Established Church of Scotland. I confess I can hardly see how such a proposition can be reasonably objected to. The House will perhaps permit me to conclude by expressing my adoption—with the exception of a single expression, which I think ambiguous, and which might therefore be misunderstood—of a passage in a book, which was quoted or referred to by the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford on Wednesday last. The passage is one proceeding from a venerable man, whose authority I am sure will be none the less in this House, and none the less with my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General, because the author, having served his country eminently for many years in high judicial position, and having acquired with all who know him a reputation for wisdom and personal virtue of the highest degree, has also conferred upon the country the benefit of giving to it such a successor to his name and reputation as my hon. and learned Friend. The advice which that excellent man, full of years and full of wisdom, has given as the result of his mature consideration—a result not arrived at without difficulty or without reluctance—is this. I have already said I shall omit a few words, and hereafter I shall give my reason for omitting them. He 1433 is addressing himself to those interested in the Universities, and wishing to maintain in them the system of religions education and instruction—Recognize an inevitable necessity, not the less inevitable because you may struggle against it with partial success once and again; make a virtue of the necessity; seek to guard your concession with all such conditions as may, in your opinion, make it most salutary for the future"—and that shall he my apology for seeking what I propose to do by my Amendments now—but remembering that England is no longer what she was when our Colleges were founded; that her population is not more increased in numbers than in wealth, and in at least a certain and improvable kind of education and refinement, in refined aspirations, to be guided rather than checked; and that the desire for academical training it is almost unnatural for the Universities to oppose; that, consequently, those who now besiege your citadel have, at the very least, a plausible ground of right; that their claim, if it be indeed rightful, should and can only be satisfied by full and frank concession—concession worthy of yourselves; that it is far better that those who press on you should enter by the gates than through a breach; and that it is far more Christian like, and therefore far more politic, to admit them as brothers than as conquerors.The only words which I omitted were words which I observe were repeated by my hon. and learned Friend in his speech—"It is a case in which you give nothing if you give less than all." These are the words which I say might be misunderstood; they might be taken to mean that the man who desired to keep his own share of the common good gave nothing if he did not give up his own share of everything that made it valuable to him. I do not think that was the sense in which the excellent man whose words I have quoted used these words; that is not the sense in which I would myself accept them; but, with that sole qualification, I am able myself, and I should be glad, if I were able, to persuade others, to act unreservedly in the spirit of this advice.
MR. G. O. MORGAN
said, he had listened with the deepest attention to every word which had fallen from so distinguished an authority as the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer). And if he ventured in any way to criticize so masterly a speech, it was because he believed the supporters of the measure were entitled to base their defence of it upon much broader grounds. The compromise which the hon. and learned Gentleman wished 1434 to effect and the modifications which he desired to introduce into the Bill were such as he (Mr. Morgan) should view with regret. They amounted practically to the substitution of one test for another, and he believed that all these tests, restrictions, and disabilities were either essentially useless or essentially mischievous. They either excluded nobody, in which case they were not worth the paper they were written on, or they tended to narrow the area of selection and to diminish the number of candidates for Fellowships and tutors, and by diminishing the competition they necessarily tended to lower the standard of merit among the candidates. The principle involved in this Bill was one of the most important as well as one of the most clearly and strongly defined that ever was presented to the House; for he took it to be nothing more or less than—were they to go on restricting these great Universities, with their magnificent endowments, their unrivalled educational machinery, and their worldwide prestige, to the position of mere nurseries for the training of clergymen of the Church of England, or were they to regard them as national institutions administering public trusts for public, purposes? If the narrower view, which regarded these Universities merely as theological Colleges were adopted, the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Mowbray) undoubtedly had made out a fair case against the Bill, But could any unprejudiced man logically defend a system which excluded from all participation in the government of the Universities, and from all power of competing for any of the prizes or privileges that were worth competing for, one-half, and that not the least intelligent half of the population of the State. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman opposite was the old argument against secularization of Church property, which fell so flat on the country last year. According to his view, the property of the Colleges was impressed with certain trusts and must continue subject to them, and the State had no more right to wrest this property from the Church of England than to interfere with any man's private estate. A more fallacious argument never was addressed to the House. If the right of the State were excluded, and regard wore had entirely to the intentions of the founders, the Church that 1435 would be entitled to this monopoly of endowments in the country would not be the Church of England but the Church of Rome. [Cries of "Oh !" and "No !"] The right hon. Gentleman had only put his finger on one single College out of the nineteen at Oxford to which that principle would not apply. ["Cambridge?"] Well, there were only three out of seventeen. The pious founders enjoined upon the holders of the Fellowships the duty of singing mass for the repose of their souls, and also enjoined strict rules of celibacy. By way of carrying out their intentions Roman Catholics now-a-days were shut out from the benefits of the Colleges, which were at the same time freely open to persons professing the opinions of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) and his hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley). The able argument of the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) that endowments were left to the Church of Rome as the national Church and passed to the Church of England when it became the national Church, was altogether inconsistent with the argument of his Colleague, that those endowments were private property and inalienable as such. The steps taken, in 1854, of throwing open Scholarships and Exhibitions in Oxford and Cambridge to Dissenters were either too little or too much. He would ask, was it really meant by this system of checks to keep the wolf out of the fold? But nothing could be more mischievous than a system of checks which were no checks at all. Now, he would like very much to know how many men trembling on the brink of Popery had subscribed to those tests; how many free-thinkers, how many men to whom religion was a mere sham and a name? Why, he himself knew an old Fellow of a College who used to boast that he would like to see the oath he would not take in order to keep his Fellowship. They admitted such men and excluded conscientious Dissenters. It was the old story—Dat veniam corvis, vexat censura columbas.Then it was said the Dissenters had got Colleges of their own, and this was only a sentimental grievance. He was not so much afraid now of this taunt of a sentimental grievance as he would have been twelve months ago. The Irish Church was then said to be a sentimen- 1436 tal grievance, but it convulsed the country and it upset the Government. But this he would say, that if there was one question more than another upon which the Dissenters of this country had thoroughly made up their minds, it was this question of opening the Universities. The practical view taken by the constituencies of Wales and Scotland proved that. Hon. Gentlemen opposite might say, if they liked, that the number of Dissenters who would enter the Universities, in any case, was small, and, therefore, the grievance could not be very great. But they had no right to argue from the number of Dissenters who went to the Universities now, when they took away the attractions which would naturally draw them, to the number that would attend if the Universities were open. They had made the Dissenters a sort of proselytes of the outer gate, but when they came to the inner gate within which the good things were, then they shut it in their face and kept them out in the cold. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Mowbray) had said in his speech on Wednesday last that, as the Bill had only been printed on Thursday, the University of Oxford had not time to petition the House against the measure, but that was no argument against the Bill. If they had to wait in all cases to reform corporate bodies until those bodies invited reformation, they would have to wait for a very long time. If a Bill was brought forward to reform the Corporation of London, should they take the opinion of the Lord Mayor and Aldermen upon it? The Convocation at Oxford and the Senate at Cambridge were composed of highly respectable persons, but they did not represent the public opinion of the Universities. If the House wanted to find out the real feeling of the Universities upon this subject they must go to the Universities themselves, and to the gentlemen who were engaged there in the laborious work of tuition. These were the men who were the brain of the Universities, and they were ably represented in that House by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) and the hon. and learned Member for the city of Oxford (Mr. Vernon Harcourt). If the House went to them it would find that there was not only a majority, but a growing majority in favour of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had said— 1437 "Pass this Bill and you will destroy the religious character of the Universities." That would be a grievous penalty indeed, and he, for one, would not he prepared to bear the blame of it. But he must add his voice to the protest of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General that this Bill would have no such effect. He protested against the assumption which underlay every sentence of the right hon. Gentleman, that men could be made religious or irreligious by Act of Parliament. Then it was said—"If you pass this Bill, will the religious parents of England send their sons to the Universities?" But did the right hon. Gentleman forget that the persons to be admitted by this Bill would be drawn from the great body of Christian Dissenters of England, than whom there were no men more anxious about the religious education of their children? He defied the right hon. Gentleman to say that the standard of religious education was lower in Wales or Scotland than it was in the most orthodox county in England. Then an argument was founded upon the names of the Colleges; but surely it might as well, be argued that Ave Maria Lane and Paternoster Row must belong to the Church. It was said that they would have no security that the religious worship of the College chapels would be maintained. But the Bill provided for that. He could no more see how the presence of Dissenters in the University would be incompatible with the daily performance of worship in the chapels than the presence of Dissenters in a parish was incompatible with the due celebration of worship in the parish church. If ever there was a time when the Church of England could be said to be on her trial it was now, and was this the time to come down to that House and proclaim to the country that the position of the Church of England in the Universities was so insecure that she could not hold her own unless she were hemmed round by these absurd and obsolete safeguards? Such a defence as that was doing the Church of England more injury than the attacks of her most uncompromising enemies. If the Church of England would only trust a little more to the purity and simplicity of her doctrine than to these external sources of strength, he believed she would gain ten times more than by this miserable system of ecclesiastical ex- 1438 clusion. He looked upon this measure as a great act of justice, and believing that it was for the true interest of the nation, and that the cause of religion would gain rather than suffer by it, he should give it his hearty support.
§ MR. LYON PLAYFAIR
Sir, although as a new Member, I have much hesitation in taking part in a debate of such importance, I am compelled to do so by the keen interest which the Scotch Universities have in the question. This interest is not merely abstract, but is, as I shall hope to show, immediate and practical, being alluded to in the second clause of the Bill before the House. It is now fifteen years since Parliament abolished all religious tests among the Lay Faculties of the Northern Universities, and the experience which they have thus gained ought to be some guide to us now, either by confirming the apprehensions or removing the fears of those who doubt the wisdom of the proposed measure. From the time of the Reformation to 1853, the Professors of the Scotch Universities were subject to severe tests, and for a portion of that period to the vigilant visitation of the national Church; and by an Act of 1585 our graduates were included. The tests were perplexing in their variety; and although usually Presbyterian, yet at one time they were as strictly Episcopalian as those now in use at Oxford and Cambridge. Ultimately, in 1707, the Act of Security enjoined upon all Professors, who were then the sole academic governors of the Universities, the signature of the Westminster Confession of Faith "as the confession of their faith." These words were too solemn and significant to be lightly treated, but their application led to so many inconveniences that one or two Universities—notably that of Edinburgh—declined to enforce the Act, while the others which obeyed the law were in constant trouble in consequence of it. In 1853 my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate introduced an Act for the total abolition of tests in the Lay Faculties of the Scottish Universities. The noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) moved the second reading of this Act, and was met with strong opposition of a like character, and, in like terms, to that used on the present occasion. The then Member for the University of Oxford (Sir Robert H. Inglis) urged that 1439 the severance of the lay faculties from the Church of Scotland would be injurious to the highest interests of that Church. He stated that the direct consequence of admitting Dissenters among the governing bodies of the Universities would be to damage the theological teaching of the ministers of the Church who were then, as they are now, educated within the Universities. He even feared that, if the measure passed, the Universities themselves would be soon torn from the bonds which united them to our common Christianity. The hon. Baronet predicted that, if the Act of Security were tampered with, the union of the two countries would be endangered, although it had been ratified by the solemn Oath of the Queen. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) also warned the House that they were enacting a measure for filling the chairs of our Scottish Universities with infidels and Papists. Scotland was, therefore, fully warned that disasters would follow the adoption of the Act—the picture of that "terrible future," as the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Mowbray) has now called it, being painted with as dark a background, and with as gloomy colours, as we have seen used on the present occasion. But what have been the actual results of our experience? Half an ordinary generation and a whole professorial one have passed since 1853, and not a single infidel nor one Roman Catholic occupies a chair amongst us. Dissenters in abundance have professorial seats, and this may strengthen the fears of the hon. Gentleman opposite. Not a few of these have come from Oxford and Cambridge, and are much valued by us, but these signers of the Thirty-Nine Articles, and the three Articles of the 36th Canon, have never attacked the Church as established by law in Scotland. Free Churchmen and United Presbyterians, I am glad to say, also occupy our chairs; but, nevertheless, the Church of Scotland, through the Theological Faculties, continues to train its future ministers with the most perfect confidence. The graduates have now received a large share in the government of the University. They are associated into a General Council, or, as it would be termed in Oxford, a Convocation, with a power, which the latter does not possess, of initiating reforms. 1440 The majority of this Council, I believe, consists of Dissenters, when you include Episcopalians under that category, and yet they have never, by a single act in their academical capacity, tried to loosen the ties which bind the Theological Faculties to the Church. Our ministers are trained by a three-years' curriculum, and then may take theological degrees, which, incredible though it may appear to hon. Gentlemen opposite, are not cumbered by tests of any kind. Though Dissenters can and do take these degrees in divinity, I have never heard of an instance in which they use their academical vantage ground to assail the Church of Scotland. The fact is, that our Theological Faculties act in the most perfect harmony with the Lay Faculties; and, in my ten years' residence in Edinburgh, I have never met a single minister of the Church of Scotland, who has not cordially approved of the abolition of the tests by the Act of 1853. Then, as religion has not suffered by the abolition of tests, we may be assured that the temporal interests of our Universities have actually been benefited by the change. For ten years before the Act of 1853 the Scottish Universities were losing their hold on the affections of the people; for the Free Church had spread Dissent over the land, and one-half the nation was not in accord with the national Church. Steps were taken to raise Colleges for the purpose of competing with the ancient Universities, which for centuries had been closely bound up with the national life. But since tests have been abolished, complete sympathy has been established between the Universities and the people. The proof of this is, that both students and graduates have increased. In the University of Edinburgh, with which I am best acquainted, if we take the averages of ten years before the Act and of ten years subsequent to it, the increase of students is 12 per cent, and that of graduates is 170 per cent. This gratifying increase of academic activity, as shown by graduation, is, however, partly accountable to other reforms which followed in the train of the first. Surely, Sir, I was right in stating that the Scotch experience is worthy of your attention, It is true that I have been obliged to confine our religious experience to our Theological Faculties, because our northern Univer- 1441 sities have no religious teaching in the Lay Faculties. We may be wrong in this, though I do not think we are. It is true that there is neither denominational teaching in our primary schools. nor a mixture of religion with secular instruction in our Universities, yet no one will accuse Scotland of being an irreligious nation. At the same time, the supporters of the Bill now before the House—although they think that the trumpet-note of alarm that religion is in danger has been sounded too loudly—do not wish to interfere with the established system of combining secular with religious teaching in Oxford and Cambridge. All that I contend for is this—that if infidelity, if irreligion, if hostility to the Church be necessary consequences of the abolition of tests, then they were more likely to crop up in rank luxuriance under our free Scottish system than they will under the closer collegiate system of the English Universities. That they have not done so proves that the fears of hon. Gentlemen opposite are altogether illusory. The right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Mowbray) denied that Oxford and Cambridge Universities are national institutions, and described them as special institutions held in trust for a particular denomination. This argument we on this side of the House are not likely to admit; but I agree with the right hon. Gentleman in the first part of his statement, that they cannot claim to be truly national institutions, when, as a fact, they limit their privileges to from one-third to one-half of England and exclude Scotland and Ireland. I claim for Scotland the right to participate in all the educational advantages of the great English Universities. We freely recognize in them a finer culture and a more extended scholarship than we are able to offer in our own Universities. The love for the English Universities, which induces so many Scottish students to attend them, existed in the breasts of my countrymen long before Oxford and Cambridge had loaves and fishes, in the form of endowments, to tempt us over the Border. It requires little knowledge of the early history of Oxford to know that she was divided into two nations—one of northern men, the other of southern men. They were not unequal, either in number or in power, and fought against each other many 1442 fierce intellectual conflicts of Realists and Nominalists, and side by side with each other many fierce physical battles of Gown against Town. These memories cling to us yet, and we still send our students, by the aid of scholarships, to obtain the high culture of the English Universities. The result has been beneficial to the whole nation. By the channel of communication which these scholarships keep open, you have received from us such men as the right rev. Prelate at the head of the English Church. We ask then, as a part of a common kingdom, that our Scottish Presbyterian students should enter the Universities—which rich endowments have raised to so high a position in learning and scholarship—upon the same footing as Episcopalian students. I hear an hon. Member say that they are free to enter. That is true, but they are only free to win honours shorn of all that renders them valuable; for, surely academic degrees divested of academic privileges are singularly barren. If you throw open the gates of an orchard to the boys of a mixed school, and tell them that all are free to enter, it would be a mockery, when they did enter, to rule that only the Episcopalian boys should climb the trees and pluck the fruits, while the Dissenting boys must keep to the dead level of the walks. Would you be surprised if the generous nature of boys revolted against the partiality, and if they viewed it both as an insult and as an injury. But this is practically what is done to the youth of the nation who enter the portals of the great English Universities. It does not mend the matter to say that tests have now worn down to such mere formality, that they are readily accepted by Dissenters, and especially by Presbyterians. These tests deter men of keen conscience and quick susceptibilities from accepting Fellowships, though they readily admit those of lax religious faith; but this, Sir, is their condemnation. The Solicitor General referred to the religious persuasion of the Senior Wrangler of the present year as a barrier to his obtaining the fruition of his labours; but this is no isolated case. I know a man who was Second Wrangler in his year, and who has since honoured the University which trained him by advancing pure mathematical science more than any man in this country. His name is as well 1443 known and honoured in Continental States as it is here; but this man, I believe, never even obtained his degree, certainly not his Fellowship. If the endowment of a Fellowship be worth anything, here was the occasion for its application as a means for giving learned leisure to a man whose genius produced fruits of no marketable value. But my friend was a Jew, like the Senior Wrangler of this year, and so Cambridge rejected him, and he had to win bread for himself as an actuary in an insurance office. It is true that I could cite cases of an opposite kind, in which Presbyterians, though strongly attached to their own forms of worship, yet, finding little repugnant to their doctrines in the English Church, have signed the Articles and conformed to its services in order to enjoy the Fellowships, but only till they had an opportunity of returning to their first love. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen laugh, but surely tests taken in such a loose fashion cannot benefit the Church which requires them, and may sear the consciences of those who take them. The temptation to do so is great—for infidelity after signature is not attended by penalty. In conclusion, let me express the hope that the effects of this measure will be as beneficial to the English Universities as a like measure has been to the northern Universities. Notwithstanding the splendid histories of Oxford and Cambridge, and their present educational glories, there must be a feeling of regret on the part of their friends that they are so scantily attended by students. In Scotland we have one University student for every 900 of the population; in England, including Durham, and allowing 1,000 matriculated students for London University, there is only one student to 4,400 of the population. No leading State, except Russia, has such scanty numbers. The conclusion is obvious that the English Universities are not now in accord with the mind of the English people. It was not so in past periods of their history. At one time Oxford alone had a much larger proportion of students to the population than Scotland has now; and even after the Reformation she had three times as many as at present. Its educational revenues in those prosperous times were but moderate. Less than one year of Oxford's revenues would now buy up the whole capital of the University of Edin- 1444 burgh and all the salaries of its Professors capitalized at twenty years purchase; and yet, with all these gigantic resources, Oxford possesses only 200 more students than the poor northern University. What can be the reason for this small diffusion of her educational powers? It is not owing to any weakness in her teachers, for they are of the highest eminence and scholarship; it cannot be due to a restricted curriculum, for that is now extended and liberal; it certainly does not result from stinginess in money rewards, for they lavish these with a prodigal hand. Indeed, we are told by the Rev. Mark Pattison, the Rector of Lincoln College, in his excellent work on academical organization, that one out of three students at Oxford are paid for attendance in the form of scholarships. Yet, with all these academic inducements and bounties, the students only slowly increase, and merely in proportion as the bounties are augmented. I believe that there is more than one cause for this want of sympathy between the Universities and the people, but the main cause certainly is that they have raised a denominational barrier between themselves and half the nation. This Bill does not propose to knock down this barrier, but it makes many breaches in it, through which numerous students will pass. Burke has said—The citizens of a State are a partnership; a partnership in all science, in all art, in every virtue, in all perfection.It would be well for the English Universities if they recognized fully the truth of these noble words, and if they gave to all citizens alike, and without reserve, the freest partnership in those treasures of learning and of virtue which they are so well calculated to impart, and which the nation has entrusted to their keeping.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
thought the argument which the hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh opposite (Mr. Playfair) had just addressed to the House was most peculiar, notwithstanding the eloquence in which it was clothed. The hon. Gentleman, for example, omitted to allude to the fact, that the appointment of Heads of Houses at Oxford or Cambridge were not made or held on the same terms as the appointment of Professors in the Scotch Universities. The hon. Member had alluded to expressions used by the late Sir Robert Inglis 1445 and himself in 1853, when the tests for admission to the Professorships of the Scotch Universities were about to be abolished, and when he had asserted that these Professorships might be held thenceforth by infidels or Roman Catholics. He denied that such had been the result; but was the hon. Member prepared to say that no person who disbelieved the great truths of Christianity held a Professorship in any of the Scotch Universities? The hon. Member shrank from such an assertion; indeed, if he had not, it was evident the tests were abolished; that he had no criterion by means of which he could dispute the opposite of his inference. All this part of the hon. Member's argument rested on mere assumption. While paying the highest tribute to the superior culture of the English Universities the hon. Member expected the House to accept his dictum, that none of the Professors at any of the Universities in Scotland disputed the great truths of Christianity, or had a leaning towards the Church of Rome. And how did the hon. Member support his assertion? What was his illustration? One of the hon. Gentleman's main objections to the system in force at Oxford and Cambridge was that it had excluded a gentleman who was of the Jewish persuasion, and, consequently, not a Christian. The hon. Gentleman had failed to give any valid assurance that the anticipations which he had formed in 1853 had not been realized, or that they might not be realized. The hon. Member for Denbighshire (Mr. G. O. Morgan) had been kind enough to declare that his (Mr. Newdegate's) religious opinions were identical with those held by the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley). Now, he felt bound in justice to the hon. Member for Peterborough to remind the House of the fact that the hon. Gentleman had repeatedly declared, that there was no such identity, although it sometimes happened that the hon. Gentleman's views coincided with his own on subjects relating to the effects of the Roman Catholic religion. With regard to his own opinions, they were Catholic in the sense of the Church of England, and therefore strongly Protestant—as strongly Protestant as those of any Italian. Such were his opinions, but they were not shaped by the hon. Member for Peterborough, as that hon. Gentleman had expressly stated more 1446 thanonce. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) had asked the House not to insist upon retaining the existing tests, because he asserted that the law would be sufficient without them. It appeared to him that our modern progress was very re-actionary, and he would mention a striking instance, which proved the truth of this assertion. Formerly the law enacted that no one except a Protestant should occupy the Throne of these realms, but Parliament found this security so insufficient, that forcible and emphatic declarations were enacted and were by law required to be made, and had been made by every Sovereign since the days of James II. The tendency of the present day, however, seemed to go back to the practice of the period when there was no such test. The hon. Member for Denbighshire had declared that the Universities were not national, meaning probably that they were not cosmopolitan. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge were no less national than the Church of England, and he denied that the Church of England was not a national institution simply because Dissenters existed. Indeed, if he were to hold the opposite doctrine he should be adopting the intolerance of the Church of Rome, whereas he maintained that the tolerance of the Church of England and the open existence of Dissent were tests of her nationality. The hon. Member's statement, however, if true, which it was not, afforded no argument for sweeping away the securities by which the law had hitherto limited the teaching of the Universities to the doctrines of the Church of England. If any charge of intellectual or literary deficiency could be substantiated against Oxford and Cambridge, the promoters of the present Bill would be able to make out a case; but, in point of fact, their excellence in these respects was the cause of envy, and it was to gratify that envy the House was asked to abolish the limits within which the Universities had attained so high a degree of excellence. He (Mr. Newdegate) believed that if the constituencies of the kingdom had been fairly informed on this subject the majority would be found to be adverse to the Bill. With reference to the Amendment intended by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond, he observed that they afforded evidence of his conscious- 1447 ness of the necessity for some test or criterion of the religious opinions held by the Heads of the Colleges; but, inasmuch as his Amendment would require the test of each Head of a College alone, he would thereby disassociate the Head of the House from the Fellows of the College, and would destroy the constitution of the Colleges. And the hon. Gentleman concluded by an exhortation to Members on the Opposition side of the House to yield their opinions, and to acquiesce in that which they disapproved. That doctrine, if accepted generally must prove fatal to all Parliamentary government which depends upon the honest expression of opinion in that House; because it would destroy all sense of personal responsibility, not merely the responsibility of the Administration of the day, but all sense of personal responsibility on the part of each Member of this House to those who had returned him as their representative on the faith of his fairly expressing their opinions. He had been returned to that House to oppose this measure, and it was a duty in which he would not fail.
§ MR. W. FOWLER
said, I shall not detain the House, but I desire to say a few words on this very important question. I am glad that the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Mowbray) has admitted that the Universities are "national" institutions. This clears the ground; but he goes on to say that, being such, they are "invested with a distinct trust, connecting education with a definite form of religious teaching." It is in the first place to be observed that the "form" now used is not that originally intended. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may talk as they please about being "Catholics," but I maintain that it is the glory of the Church of England that she is a Protestant institution. Moreover, I say that the venerable men who founded the Colleges at Oxford and Cambridge would not have approved the form of religion now taught there. At the Reformation the mind of the nation changed, and the consequent change in the Universities was "inevitable," as the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General has justly remarked. And yet we are often told that these tests, as now established, cannot, under any circumstances, be altered. Now I desire to consider this question from a point of view somewhat different from that which 1448 has been sometimes taken. The law which creates these tests was a natural law in former times, when intolerance was the rule of the State. We then had one predominant religion, starving out, if possible, all other religions. The law, in short, adopted one religion as true and declared all others to be false. All such intolerant laws, of which the present law is a remnant, said, in short—"We have the truth, and we will force you directly or indirectly to take our view of the truth." This is entirely contrary to the spirit of Christianity, which says—"I have the truth, and I will, if I can, persuade you to accept it." The times are past when torture or imprisonment for religious belief are possible; but such a law as that we are discussing amounts, in fact, to an indirect persecution—["No, no !"]—I say "yes;" Hon. Gentlemen may say "no" as long as they like: the fact remains. Hon. Gentlemen opposite say there is no grievance; but I say there is a grievance. The first thing I did on coming down to the House tonight was to present a petition from a gentleman who was Senior Wrangler and First Smith's Prizeman in 1861, and who has ever since resided in Cambridge; but who, because he is a Dissenter, has not had his Fellowship, nor been admitted to his proper position in the Senate of the University. The truth is that the Dissenters go to the University as an inferior caste, and are like goods marked "dangerous." I am sometimes disposed to think that you had better never have removed your old restrictions than attempt to remain in your present illogical position. But then we are perpetually met with what the Solicitor General calls the non possumus argument. We are told that we must look to the will of the founder and abide by it. Now, in the first place, speaking generally, I think we allow men to speak too long after they are dead. But, in the next place, you do not respect the will of the founder. Only lately, the noble Lord the Member for Calne (Lord Fitzmaurice) told me of a case where a Roman Catholic who had distinguished himself as a graduate was refused a Fellowship in his College which had been founded by his own ancestor. There was no respect here to the "will of the founder." But then, it is said, even if you do not have the same religious teaching as that indicated by the founder, 1449 you must have some religious teaching. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) has shown that, even if the Bill pass, you will still have religious teaching. But I would ask, if you are so fearful of scepticism and so jealous as to your religious teaching, how is it that you do not keep out this scepticism with your present machinery? I confess I do not think that any harm would be done by the addition to your numbers of a few distinguished men who do not conform to the Church of England. They are certainly far better than men who profess to conform and do not in heart believe what they say when they accept these tests. Hon. Gentlemen are fighting with the creations of their own imagination when they say that, because a few Dissenters are added to the Senate, the whole teaching and government of the Universities will be changed. There is a great inconsistency in the whole matter. You allow the Parsee and the Dissenter and the Church of England man to mingle together as students at the age when they are peculiarly susceptible to impressions from men of their own age, and when, therefore, these heretical people are most dangerous, and you express no fears; but when they are grown up and have attained to distinction, you are afraid of them and exclude them. And now I want to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite what is this religious training which is, as we are told, of such great importance to the nation. I cannot describe it from my own experience, as I was not educated in either of the old Universities; but I will describe it in the words of one of the most distinguished graduates that the University of Oxford has produced in our days. He says—For years—I had almost said centuries—the prevailing temper of the governors of Oxford has been steadily set againt religious earnestness, from whatever quarter it may come.And again—I do say that to speak of the Oxford system having been founded on religious influences or guided by personal religious teaching in any sense which could be interfered with by the presence of Nonconformists in Convocation is really to fly in the face of the plainest facts, and to take refuge in the merest theory and imaginative dreaming.These are the words of Her Majesty's Solicitor General. Something has been said about the College chapels, but I deny that mere going to College chapel 1450 is religious training. Moreover, whatever good there is in it is expressly retained in the Bill. But after all, says the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite—if you get this Bill, something else will follow. So it may if the Bill works well, but not otherwise. There is nothing to force Parliament on, if this legislation proves injurious. I am satisfied, Sir, that there is no danger in this Bill. You will not find Dissenters more sceptical than Members of the Church of England; and, more than this, I am sure that the young men who come from the families of Dissenters will be found to have had just as careful a training as those who have been brought up in the Church; and even if Dissenters should hereafter have more power in the Universities, the hon. and learned gentleman may still use the old motto, Dominus illuminatio mea, without fear. Before I conclude. I wish to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) last year, in which he made some strong remarks as to the dangers of "free thought." I think, Sir, we ought not to give way to these fears. It is an age of inquiry, and the University ought not to shrink from it. We cannot stop the progress of men's minds, especially when we have a free Press. It is the old story about hedging in the cuckoo. Men will think; and thought will be free within as well as without the Universities. Good men are too timid, and act as if they had no confidence in the faith they profess. If they believe in their religion, they believe that it will prevail. I will only add that I do not think the declaration proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond can be accepted. I have heard his speech with much pleasure and admiration, but I do not like his proposal. I ask the House to pass the Bill, and thus to break off another link from the chain which connects us with the times of intolerance and persecution, on which we look back with no kindly feelings.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Beresford Hope.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 75; Noes 251: Majority 176.
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."1451
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
, who rose amid cries of "Order," said, that the question was one which peculiarly affected his constituency (Cambridge University), and it had assumed a new complexion since the speech of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer). ["Order, order !"]
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
The Motion for adjournment having been defeated, I was rising to speak upon the Main Question.
said, he rose to Order. He apprehended that having merely seconded the Motion by a gesture he was at liberty to address the House on the Main Question.
§ MR. RAIKES moved the adjournment of the House.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Raikes.)
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he thought that the speeches addressed to the House to-night called for an answer from that (the Opposition) side, and they had a right to expect that the House would hear them; but, as he had himself held out expectations to his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) that they would wait to see what course would be taken upon the Amendments of which notice had been given, and as he knew that great numbers of hon. Gentlemen were informed that there would be no division on the second reading, he thought that they were bound to allow the debate how to 1452 be brought to a conclusion. He hoped, therefore, that the Motion for adjournment would not be pressed, and that he should then be allowed to say a few words upon the Main Question.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
asked whether it was not competent for an hon. Member who had spoken upon the Main Question to move the adjournment?
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
Sir, the silence which my hon. and learned Friend (Sir Roundell Palmer) has preserved for so many years upon this question is at last broken, and the House has listened to his remarks with obvious interest. I was not in the House in 1854, and therefore was not able to take any share in those debates in which he took a prominent and, no doubt, very effective part. My hon. and learned Friend tells us that at that time he foresaw the course of events, and rather pointed to my noble Friend who is not now in the House (Lord Stanley) as having been the author of the present measure. I believe that at that time my noble Friend drew a distinct line between the Universities and the Colleges. Even in more recent times, within the last two years, the Solicitor General himself was not prepared to interfere with the Colleges, as he has by the present Bill and the measure of last year. Upon the first occasion when he introduced a Bill on this subject he said distinctly that it would interfere only with the Universities; he kept it entirely apart from the plan of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie). He added, "I have nothing to say upon that Bill," and though I know he was even then in some doubt upon the subject, he took no part in supporting that Bill, and did not even vote upon it. This was what occurred in 1866 and 1867, and it was not till 1868 that the Solicitor General combined the Bill of my right hon. Friend with his own measure. Now, I mention these things, not for the purpose of throwing any discredit upon those whose opinions have so advanced, but I may justly claim for those who took a different view that they prophesied that that course must be taken, and that that little Bill was the precursor of a much larger Bill, just as the present measure is only the precursor of some very much larger one. [Cheers.] 1453 The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) cheers that sentiment. He has always wished that a permissive or quasi permissive Bill should give place to a compulsory Bill, and no doubt in a short time we shall see this Bill followed by measures as strong and as compulsory as those which we predicted when the Bill was introduced in 1866. My hon. and learned Friend has endeavoured to lead the House to the conclusion that this Bill will practically effect nothing in the Universities, that it will leave things exactly where they are, that we need not be in the least afraid of it, and that though there were logical sequences to the Bill of 1854, there are none to this Bill. Now, is that the case? Are there no such logical sequences to the present measure? What has he told us? Why, that practically the connection of the University with the Church of England will be just what it was before; that the University will be a place for the promotion of religion and learning just in the same sense as before; that nothing will happen on the passing of this Bill, which practically requires the religion of the Church of England from those who are in a professional and tutorial capacity. If we are to judge a measure by the intentions of the introducer of it, as the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) stated, what were the words of the proposer of the present Bill in 1867, when he had not arrived at the conclusion of advocating anything like this measure, for then he did not deal with the Colleges at all, but only with the Universities? The hon. and learned Member for Exeter (the Solicitor General) then said, speaking on the second reading of his Bill—I am ready to admit the Bill is a small one and only deals with one definite point; nor do I expect if it were to pass that any great or important changes would take place in consequence. But, on the other hand, I should not be dealing candidly with the House if I disguised from it that the Bill put forward a very important principle. It will establish the nationality of the University as against the Church of England—it will destroy its exclusive character and change its constitution.That was explicit, and what my hon. and learned Friend says he means. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond has alluded to what took place in 1866, and what was said on that occasion had a soothing effect, it appears, on the 1454 mind of the hon. and learned Member, who, however, if he had perceived the real meaning of those expressions, should have resisted this measure to the death. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government expressed an opinion with regard to the admission of the Dissenters, and I understood my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond to say that a quotation I had made from that speech did not express the right hon. Gentleman's meaning according to the passage which he afterwards read. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government on a recent occasion represented most distinctly the danger of the admission of different creeds into the governing body, specially of the Colleges, and in 1867 he made a speech against the Bill of my hon. and learned Friend, and expressed in strong language the propriety of keeping up the religious character of the Universities, that character being a definite and Church of England one. I admit that there is as much personal religion among Dissenters as among Churchmen, and that many of the Dissenters are men of deep religious feeling, but that renders this question more serious when you bring Dissenters in contact with the Colleges. The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh University (Mr. Playfair) speaks of Oxford as if it were Edinburgh; but the fact is that in Edinburgh the students are spread through the town, while in Oxford there are Colleges, in which, they reside, and if you introduce the element of religious discord into the Colleges you will not be doing that which will conduce to the advantage of those Colleges. At Oxford, there are Colleges with four or five resident tutors, and I assume that if the Bill were to come into operation there would be among them men with too strong religious feelings to allow them to conform to the Church of England. Suppose a Roman Catholic, or a Jew, or an Unitarian to be admitted to a Fellowship in one of these small Colleges. That would alter the relations that existed between the Fellows. The Head might still be of the Church of England, but the conversation, the discipline, everything would be changed. There would no longer be that freedom of intercourse in the discipline, religious as well as other, which existed before. ["Oh !"] The 1455 College would be what it was not before, a body of persons living together, with different religious sentiments. And, in addition, persons without religion at all are to be admitted. I admit that the conduct of some persons who are now admitted on taking the test, in indulging in other places in expressions of infidelity—in the College they are bound by a certain respect to decency to pay what is called homage to religion—is disgraceful to them, but it does not follow that the admission of a person without taking any test at all, is desirable, although he may be a more honest man; for the number of those who so disgrace themselves is not great, and they constitute but rare exceptions. According to the statutes of the Colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, the Fellows, as a governing body, act together as members of the Church of England, carrying on religious instruction in accordance with that profession. In the case of the Endowed Schools, where persons of all creeds are admitted to the benefit of the schools, this House has always refused to admit Dissenters into the governing body of trustees of any Church of England foundation. The hon. Member argued that if the intentions of the founders of these institutions were to be respected, it should be remembered that the founders were Roman Catholics. That argument introduces a wide question, and has an application not only to Colleges and Universities, but to the Church of England itself. It would establish a principle calculated to pull down the Church of England. Now, I hold that there was not an alteration in the position of the Church of England at the time of the Reformation, but only a fair and reasonable change in the character of the Church, which, having thrown off certain errors, still continued to be the national Church, and entitled to the endowments. On the same principle, I hold that the Colleges are entitled to their endowments. I should like to see something done to remedy what some may feel to be a grievance. I wish very much there could be created out of the funds of the Universities—of the Colleges if it may be—Fellowships which may be held as a reward by those who come up, whatever their creed may be, and whom we have admitted to all the benefits of education; and I should be 1456 glad if they could be put in a position which would show that they had won honours at the University; but I object to an admixture in the governing bodies, in the Colleges, and in the University itself, which must necessarily lead to their being eventually secularized. If the time ever comes which you anticipate, when persons of different creeds shall be blended together in the governing bodies, the time must be when respect for conscience among the men composing them will eventually lead to the secularization of those endowments, and to getting rid of all connection between religion and the University as such. That is what we protest against. That is what was foreseen by Sir William Heathcote, in 1866, when he wished to bring this controversy to a satisfactory conclusion. For three years my hon. and learned Friend (Sir Roundell Palmer) has been looking on in silence, and at last he has been compelled to speak. He proposes certain Amendments, and I should be sorry to say offhand what I think of them, but I see plainly enough that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not want to change one test for another, and they would rather prefer that which exists than that which my hon. and learned Friend proposes. At the same time, as my right hon. Friend (Mr. Mowbray) said, there is a strong desire if it be possible to bring this question to a conclusion; it must be a satisfactory conclusion; and, as far as I am concerned, I should be glad to give my assent to anything I could accept without violation of principle; but so far as I can see at present, I do not believe that these clauses, which it will be necessary to consider carefully, would be such that I could assent to them as a settlement without violation of principle. I express myself strongly upon these matters, because I feel strongly. I trust that hon. Members will not be led by the bigotry of latitudinarianism to intolerance to the Church of England, but will permit us to hold, without intolerance, to that which we already possess, and will believe that, in maintaining the right, as I hold, of the Church of England to those endowments for its benefit in the Colleges and in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, I am not seeking to deprive them of privileges to which I do not believe them to be entitled. I am desirous at the same time that they should have 1457 the benefits of a liberal education in the Universities without claiming positions there which, I believe, were never intended for them, and would not be a benefit to them, but would lead to fresh disputes and controversies. With that belief I have always opposed this Bill in its present shape and I always shall.
Sir, it being understood that no division is to be taken at this stage of the Bill, and that there has not been any desire on the part of the Universities, or those who have spoken for them—as I can affirm—to prevent a liberal education being given in the Universities to those who are not members of the Church of England, the only question we have to consider is how we can reconcile education, followed by all honours and rewards, with certain qualifications, such as are required in other institutions called national, for members of the governing body. It is with a view to this reconciliation that I am anxious to see the Amendments of the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer). They have been lucidly explained, but the House ought to see them, and the Universities and Colleges should have an opportunity of considering them, before any definite action is taken. For this reason, while I cannot vote for the second reading—for I cannot take the Bill as it stands—I am willing to wait until we I have seen the Amendments, and, therefore, in case of a division, I shall take the course—unusual for me—of leaving the House, in order to reserve for myself the opportunity of considering the Bill and the Amendments in Committee, and seeing whether a settlement can be arrived at which may be satisfactory to all parties.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
Sir, I will not take up time now by replying to the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. It may be convenient, perhaps, as my hon. and learned Friend has given me an opportunity of seeing his Amendments, that I should state how they strike me and what of them in principle I can accept and what I cannot accept. As I understand the Amendments of my hon. and learned Friend, they may be divided broadly into two parts—first, certain verbal Amendments which he thinks will make the Bill more clear than it is at present, and the insertion of a clause by which the doctrine, 1458 discipline, and public worship of the Church of England, according to the existing ordinances and statutes of the Universities, subject to all future legal changes and all inherent powers of change in the Universities and Colleges, shall, so far as this Act is concerned, be preserved intact. These Amendments will only make more clear the object of the Bill, and, as far as I am concerned, they shall be accepted frankly. By the other Amendment my hon. and learned Friend intends to propose the adoption of what may be called a negative test; and to provide that lay Professors shall undertake as Professors not to teach anything contrary to Holy Scripture or the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England. At whatever risk of misconstruction and of pain to myself in differing from one for whom I have so profound a respect, I must say that no consideration will induce me to accept the latter Amendment. I say that for this other reason—it appears to me to be unnecessary, and it will therefore be purely mischievous. I have never disguised the difficulties surrounding this measure. I should be ashamed of myself if I spoke with anything but the respect and sympathy to which they are entitled of the views and apprehensions as to the security of the future religious teaching of the Universities which, although they appear to mo to be quite unfounded, are entertained sincerely by hon. Gentlemen opposite. I will only ask them to be equally fair with me. I will ask them to admit that there is a considerable amount of evil which needs to be remedied. I ask them to admit that there is a certain amount of wrong and injustice which calls loudly for redress. No measure of this kind can be passed into law without a certain amount of risk in theory and it may be of evil in practice. The question for us as statesmen and lovers of our country is this,—Is the gain we seek worth the price at which we propose to purchase it? Is the state of things which we propose for the future better or not better than the state of things which we know exists? This I conceive to be the true issue in this case. Upon that issue my own judgment is in favour of going forward, and upon that issue with the greatest respect, and yet with perfect confidence, I venture to ask the judgment of the House of Commons.
§ Question, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Wednesday 5th May.