HC Deb 20 March 1872 vol 210 cc327-77

Order for Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, that owing to a variety of circumstances upon which it was not necessary for him to dilate, it had so often fallen to his lot to introduce this subject to the House that he should, on this occasion, be able to restrict his observations to a very narrow compass. He thought the House might be congratulated that at length there was, at least, a prospect of its coming to a definite decision on the subject. On former occasions, a direct issue had been avoided by such well-known artifices as Motions for adjournments, and counts out and talks out; but at last the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Synan) had come forward with a distinct and precise Amendment. No one could misunderstand what he meant, and what would be the effect of his Amendment if it passed. First, he declared that it was the duty of the Government to take this question out of private hands; and second, that, in order to render justice to the inhabitants of Ireland, it would be necessary to establish either sectarian Universities or sectarian Colleges. Therefore, if the Bill were to be rejected, and the Amendment accepted, the question would pass out of the hands of private Members into those of the Government, on the condition that they would have been told that they must settle the question in a distinct and prescribed manner by establishing and endowing either sectarian Universities or sectarian Colleges. There were two ways of introducing equality in University education. By the first—by freeing existing Universities, emoluments, and honours from all religious tests and disabilities, and throwing them open to the people of the whole nation—and that was the principle of his Bill. On the other hand, equality might be said to be obtained by a method the direct reverse of this—by a system of concurrent endowment, by establishing and endowing Universities and Colleges for people of different religious opinions. If the latter policy was to be adopted it would involve one of two things, as far as Irish University education was concerned; it involved either the despoiling of Trinity College, Dublin, and of the University of Dublin, and the distribution of their funds among sectarian Colleges, or it involved the endowment of sectarian Colleges and Universities out of the public funds. Each course would be equally objectionable, and he ventured to predict that the Government which took upon itself the responsibility of recommending either would soon find the predominance of feeling on both sides of the House against them. The object of the Bill was two-fold: first, it abolished completely and at once all religious tests and disabilities; and, in the second place, it reconstituted the government of Trinity College and the University of Dublin, and gradually admitted persons of all religious opinions to share in their government. As regarded the first object, the Bill would be complete and instantaneous in its operation. It was in this respect a far more complete and effective measure than the University Test Act passed for Oxford and Cambridge. In these Universities the majority of Headships, and a considerable portion of the Fellowships, were still restricted to clergymen of the Church of England; and it would still be impossible to appoint a layman as illustrious as Sir Isaac Newton to the Headship of Trinity College, Cambridge; but if this Bill passed, and the Headship of Trinity College, Dublin, became vacant, there would be nothing to prevent a Roman Catholic or a Presbyterian being placed at the head of that College. So far as the abolition of tests was concerned, the measure was free from all the blemishes contained in the English University Acts. With regard to the second object, the University and the College had hitherto been governed by a Board consisting of the Provost and the Senior Fellows; he (Mr. Fawcett) proposed to introduce a representative character into the government of both College and University, and that both should be governed by representatives from the Junior Fellows, from the Professors, and from the Graduates. These would form a body which would have to deal with all educational matters; and the domestic concerns of the College would be left to a Board composed of the Senior Fellows and a certain number of Junior Fellows. It was said that this plan would not admit at once a due proportion of Catholics and of Presbyterians to share in the government of the College: but religious inequality had existed for centuries, and it was impossible immediately to efface the traces of it. When we disestablished the Irish Church we did not at once place Catholics and Presbyterians in a position of perfect equality with regard to religious endowments—we were obliged to leave clergymen and dignitaries in possession of their endowments for the rest of their lives. When we passed the Catholic Emancipation Act, it was not considered an argument against it that it would not at once place a majority of Catholic Judges on the Bench, though it had done so since in Ireland. This Bill would operate in a similar manner; and if, in a quarter of a century, Catholics and Presbyterians could show that they possessed sufficient intellectual merit to win prizes and distinctions, there could be no more reason why they should not obtain in the same proportion in the government of the College and University as Catholics had obtained Irish Judgeships. There were only two ways in which Catholics and Presbyterians could be rapidly introduced into the government of the College and of the University. Either they must introduce the blighting influence of political patronage—and he earnestly implored the House to keep one institution, at least, free from its blighting and baneful influence—the other way was by infringing a principle which ought to be cherished in every University—namely, that men should not gain positions by nomination or by holding religious opinions, but that there should be only one path to honours and emolument—the path of intellectual distinction and merit. No doubt the Protestant Episcopal party now occupied a position of supremacy in the government of the College and of the University; but it was an unworthy insinuation to say that they would take good care to maintain that supremacy, and it was completely falsified by all the past traditions of these academic institutions. Trinity College had always been in the vanguard of liberal progress, and its studentships and professorships had always been given to the best men, independently of their religious opinions, and no man had ever been rejected because he was a Catholic or a Presbyterian. He had been repeatedly asked what course the Government intended to take with regard to this Bill? but he had not the slightest idea—all he could say was that if the Prime Minister carried out a promise he gave at the end of last Session he was bound to support this Bill. The last occasion on which this measure was discussed was on the 4th of August, when the Prime Minister objected to its being read a second time at so late a period of the Session; but he distinctly said that if it had been the beginning of the Session instead of the month of August the duty of the Government would have been clear—they would have had the option either of supporting the Bill, or else bringing forward a measure in lieu of it. This year the Government had not introduced a Bill of their own—this Bill had been introduced at the earliest possible time—and, therefore, he claimed, with some confidence, the support of the Prime Minister and his Colleagues. A rumour had been industriously circulated that the House was to be deprived of the opportunity of expressing its opinion by the expedient of a talk out; but he would not do his opponents the injustice of giving the slightest credence to such a rumour. If, however, they were determined to fall back upon such an unworthy expedient, he would venture to remind them that there was an honourable understanding, never disregarded, that if a measure were introduced early in the Session, and the second reading was the first Order on a Wednesday, the House should not be deprived of the opportunity of expressing its opinion on a measure so introduced. During the fiercest controversies on the Church Rate question, although nothing would have been easier than for three or four Members to talk out the measure, yet the honourable understanding of allowing a division was not, he believed, disregarded on even a single occasion. If this measure were talked out to-day, and if a precedent were furnished for talking out a Bill the second reading of which was the first Order on a Wednesday, so early in the Session, all chance of an independent Member passing a Bill was at an end, although it might be supported by nine-tenths of the Members in the House. It was useless to expect this Bill to be discussed on the second reading on any day except a Wednesday, and the Order Book showed that all the Wednesdays to the end of the Session were now occupied; so that if the debate were not finished to-day there would be no chance of resuming it during the present Session. He hoped, therefore, the Prime Minister would use his influence to prevent the adoption of so bad a precedent as that alluded to. Anxious to give his opponents time to state their objections, he would be brief, and he hoped he should not thereby incur the blame of the Prime Minister, who last year complained of his brevity. He would only say he wished that complaint could be made more frequently in this House. He said then all that was important and necessary, and if he had been too brief on this occasion the House would probably think that he had erred on the right side. In conclusion, he wished to address one remark to his Roman Catholic Friends in the House, and it was this. Considering the opinions he had always held on University reform, he might confidently appeal to them to believe that he would not for a moment associate his name with any proposal which he thought would in the slightest degree infringe the principle of religious equality. Seldom had it happened when a proposal was made to reform any institution that it had been accepted by those who were affected by it with such unanimity as this Bill had been. It had met with the almost unanimous support of the Provost, the Senior and Junior Fellows, and the Professors of the University of Dublin; and the manner in which many of them had sacrificed their own individual opinions, in order consistently and completely to carry out the principle of religious equality, might well justify the belief that if the measure were passed they would carry out its provisions with absolute fidelity. He would earnestly appeal to the House and the Government to assist in passing this Bill. The question was one on which delay was unjust and inexpedient. It should be remembered that there were many, now waiting who had fairly won positions of honour by intellectual merit, but who were deprived of the emoluments to which otherwise they would be justly entitled; and therefore to assist in passing the Bill would be only doing an act of long-deferred justice. The one question raised by the Bill was whether we were to have sectarian or united education. The former would perpetuate religious discord, while the latter would not only tend to make the nation more harmonious, but would also promote the highest interests of learning and culture. Believing this, he confidently left the decision of this question to the British House of Commons.


, in seconding the Motion, said, that, though anxious that this debate should be shortened as far as possible, he wished to be allowed to offer a few observations on behalf of the governing body of the University of Dublin; not only because it was right that the House should be in possession of their views, which he could state clearly, but also because he was prepared to point out the demerits of the various schemes which were in competition with the proposal now before the House. In the first place, he would explain the circumstances in which the governing body of the University of Dublin found themselves when first asked to adopt the course which found its embodiment in the Bill of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett). As the House was, doubtless, aware, Trinity College and the University of Dublin were founded in the year 1591 as a strictly Protestant institution; and for 200 years they maintained that character rigidly. But in 1792 a large concession of Catholic relief was carried in the Irish Parliament, and in the following year the authorities of Trinity College, being then all Protestant clergymen, obtained leave to admit Roman Catholics to their course of study and their degrees. During the 80 years which had since passed Roman Catholics had constantly entered the College, and obtained degrees there, and many of the offices and emoluments of the University had been from time to time offered, accepted, and enjoyed by them. There still remained certain offices—namely, fellowships, foundation scholarships, and some professorships intimately connected with a Protestant establishment—which had not been thrown open to Catholics. Such was the state of the case when the Irish Church Bill was introduced into the House. Trinity College and its representatives—almost all of them members of the disestablished Church—felt it to be their duty to resist the measure—and his right hon. Friend and Colleague (Dr. Ball) bore a distinguishing part in opposition to it. However, the measure was passed; and what then was the position in which the authorities of Trinity College found themselves? Not only had the connection between State aid and a State religion been severed, but also concurrent endowment, which had been suggested and advocated, was seen to be out of the question. Maynooth had been wound up, the endowments of the Protestant Dissenters which partook of an educational character had also been wound up—the policy of destruction was complete. Amid the wreck of religious and educational endowments in Ireland Trinity College alone remained. But they were left in little doubt as to what was to happen. Indeed, there was nothing left to satisfy the requirements of the third branch of the famous "Upas-tree" argument except Trinity College—Trinity College, a branch of the Upas-tree that blights and kills every living thing that comes within its influence! There were in this House graduates of Trinity College of different religious beliefs, of every form of politics, Tory, Whig, Radical, and Home Ruler; but from no graduate of Trinity College, whatever his religion or politics, would they hear one word which was not a word of gratitude and respect to that institution. Such was the state of affairs in Ireland when the governing body of Trinity College had to make up their minds to meet the Prime Minister, backed as he then was by an enthusiastic and entirely obedient majority of 120. If it were true that Trinity College and the University of Dublin was nothing more than a Protestant College and University which Elizabeth had founded and endowed, that their staff and governors were nothing more than so many teachers of Protestant divinity, there would have been nothing for them but to accept their fate, and sink into the position of a small Sectarian College, sending up whatever students might come to them to obtain their degrees from a Central Board. But they remembered that they were something more—that they had a broader basis upon which they might take their stand, other trusts to discharge, other traditions to maintain. They remembered that though Elizabeth had founded them as a strictly Protestant institution, the force of circumstances and their own liberality had made them the National University of Ireland—they knew that for 80 years their College had been thrown open to Roman Catholics—that long before emancipation had given their Catholic fellow-countrymen civil equality they had given them that higher liberty which education could alone confer—that long before Parliament had removed from Roman Catholics restrictions to the Bar they had removed the restrictions which would prevent them from reaching it—and that when their Roman Catholic graduates were called to the Bench they were, through their liberality, ready to step upon it. They had seen that Irishmen of all religions had entered their College—that two generations of Catholics and Protestants had entered as boys and gone out as men, having learned in those years of College life—years of priceless value and incalculable influence on the careers of men—having learnt to know and appreciate each other. At the present time a third generation of Irishmen was growing up around them, to whom they were bound to afford the same civilizing influences, and it was under these circumstances that Trinity College determined to take its stand upon the broad basis of a National University, and to demand that it should be neither wound-up as a merely Protestant institution, nor cut down as the third branch of the Upas tree. He would now turn his attention to the Bill before the House. His hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) had given so fully an outline of the measure that he would himself ask leave to make only a few supplementary remarks, which he was in a position to make from his peculiar acquaintance with the subject. The first point to which he wished to direct the attention of English Members was to warn them that they should be under no misapprehension as to the immediate effect which would be produced by this measure. The fellowships in Trinity College were on a somewhat different footing from those in the Colleges of the English Universities. There were no sinecure fellowships in Trinity College. As soon as a candidate obtained his fellowship, which he did by strictly competitive examination, and not at all as a matter of favour, he became a teaching Fellow, and soon after a tutor Fellow. As soon, therefore, as a Roman Catholic or Presbyterian should obtain a fellowship by fair competition to the extent which had been mentioned he would enter into the teaching and government of the place. There were at present two fellowships vacant, and there were two students, of whom, though it could not be said that they would certainly obtain these fellowships, yet it might be safely said that from previous distinction they were likely to win them. The one was a Protestant Dissenter, the other a Roman Catholic. Now, there was a general impression abroad that this Bill was intended to drive religion out of Trinity College. So far as the governing body was concerned nothing could be further from their intention. There were no provisions whatever in the Bill which at all affected the internal discipline of the College. That was managed to some extent by Royal statutes, but mainly by regulations of the governing body; and the promoters of the Bill had purposely reserved any change in that respect until it should be necessary to make it, in the first place because an Act of Parliament would not be required for the purpose, and, secondly, because they were anxious to have the advice and assistance of the new members who might be introduced into their body before coming to any definite conclusion on the question. They hoped to have the advice in this matter of Roman Catholic gentlemen who had themselves been graduates of the place. They could not, perhaps, expect the State to aid or subsidize them in carrying out their arrangements. On this point he might call attention to the fact that Trinity College, Dublin, was differently placed from Oxford and Cambridge; it was much more like the Scotch Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. The House would recollect how a few evenings ago the Scotch Members rose one after another to assure them that there was no more religious people than the Scotch. But was there any trace of State-aided religious teaching about the Scotch Universities? Nothing of the kind. These institutions were situated in great cities, and there were places of worship in every direction around them, and they were at perfect liberty to use any of them they might select. In like manner within bowshot of Trinity College there were places of worship for students, no matter to what religious denomination they belonged. In Trinity College there were about 1,100 students on the average every year, of whom some 500 did not reside within the walls of the College or within the city of Dublin, but obtained their degrees by passing periodical examinations. The number of students who resided in the city, but not within the College, was about 400. It was only with respect to the remaining 200 who lived within the walls of the College that any difficulty could arise. And if the disestablished Church of Ireland undertook to provide religious offices for its children in the poorest parts of the South and West of Ireland, they who lived in the centre of the wealth of the city of Dublin, where churches abounded, would not fail to do what was necessary. And now as to the Roman Catholics who might reside within the walls of the College. What had Dr. Doyle, the celebrated "J. K. L.," said when examined before the Committee of the House of Lords in 1825? He was asked if Roman Catholics and Protestants were educated together in Trinity College whether they must not have separate professors of their own faith to instruct their young men. Bishop Doyle's reply was that the present mode of teaching need not interfere with the religious education of the students, as those Roman Catholics who entered the College could lodge in the town, and receive religious instruction where they pleased, and even those who resided within might not be obliged to attend prayers with the others; on Sundays they could resort to their own places of worship, and on week days they could pray in their own chambers. And here he might remark that at one time there were as many as 100 Catholics attending Trinity College. He came now to the second part of the Bill, which dealt with the governing body as at present constituted. In addition to what had been already said by the hon. Member for Brighton, he might observe that on the last occasion when a similar Bill was before the House an objection was taken to the effect that, though ample provision was apparently made for Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters to get into the governing body, as a matter of fact there was only one Roman Catholic who had any immediate chance of becoming a member of the Senate. That objection, however, no longer existed. Since then the Board of Trinity College had passed a resolution to this effect—that it would at once place upon the Senate a considerable number of the most distinguished Roman Catholics—Chief Judges, and other eminent men belonging to the different professions. And here he would state a singular fact, which would be interesting to the House—namely, that, in proportion to their numbers, Roman Catholics had been peculiarly distinguished in Trinity College. The Board had adopted the plan of admitting to the Senate, without payment of fees, all who had obtained first gold medals; in other words, all who had obtained a rank corresponding to that of Senior Wranglers at Cambridge; and it was a remarkable circumstance that in proportion to their numbers, the Roman Catholics who had attended the College had particularly distinguished themselves. If there was a desire to modify the governing body by introducing into it Catholic laymen, he did not know how it could be done better than by the plan thus devised. He would now refer for a few moments to the rival schemes which had been from time to time suggested as a solution of this question. The first of these, which was most popular with the representatives of Irish constituencies, was the endowment of a Roman Catholic University or College. He was not going to waste time by discussing that scheme, because the Prime Minister, if he had been truly reported in the newspapers, had expressed a decided opinion against any such proposal. A letter had been forwarded, not in reply to any communication from Trinity College, but to some Protestant gentlemen living within 12 miles of London, on this subject—and if he should be fortunate enough to meet any one of them he should take him warmly by the hand, because they had succeeded in getting from the Prime Minister a distinct declaration that it was not the intention of the Government to endow either a Roman Catholic University or a Roman Catholic College. Such a scheme was entirely out of the question. The next scheme was that a Catholic University should be chartered, but not endowed. If there was any such intention on the part of the Government, he had to say that it would not in the smallest degree conflict with the proposal before the House. It did not affect the question of the propriety or impropriety of reading the Bill a second time. The only other rival scheme that remained to be noticed was the proposal that a Central Examining Board should be established. This proposal was put on the ground that all teaching—at least as far as Ireland was concerned—was to be regarded as a trade, to which the State could give no aid, while such aid could be given by the endowments of a Central Board. To that proposal he and his friends should give their most determined opposition. On that subject he would make two observations, the first of which was this—that the effects of the combined examination, as contrasted with the combined education of the Catholics and Protestants of Ireland, would be exactly the reverse the one of the other. If Roman Catholics and Protestants were kept separated from one another during their training in sectarian institutions—which had their raison d'être in this, that there was something of which they should be mutually suspicious, and were then, as it were, "let at one another"—how could the result of the examinations be received otherwise than with suspicion? One of the most admirable results of the examinations in Trinity College was that the competition was of the most generous and chivalrous character. The other observation which he had to make on the proposal was this—he objected to it because it implied Government nomination. The ingenuity of man could not devise a way by which it should not commence with Government nomination, and once commenced it was sure to continue. The Queen's Colleges began with Government nomination, on an understanding that it should not be maintained; but they had never since shaken themselves free of it, and he believed they never would. That was their weak point. He had seen that it was said the other day that Ireland had been always governed by aristocracies, democracies, or mobocracies; but he would say that if this plan of a Central Examining Board was adopted the Government of Ireland for the future would be one huge job-ocracy. The magistracy had been jobbed, the Judicial Bench had been jobbed, the Church had been jobbed; but there was one thing which had not been jobbed, and that was Trinity College. Under the shadow of that institution freedom and independence had been united with order and harmony—there almost alone had loyalty and patriotism found a common home. So far as the University of London was the model—or supposed to be the model—University, the governing body of the University of Dublin had no objection to it in regard to the functions it now fulfilled as an institution collateral to the greater Universities of the land; but they submitted that the same advantages were afforded in Ireland, where the London University sent its Examining Boards to the very doors of every College; besides the further advantage arising from the non-residential system offered by Trinity College, under which 500 students, who never attended a lecture, or had any part in what might be called the united training, were educated every year. He passed now to the main objection to the proposal—and if he should give offence to any hon. Gentleman in what he had to say he should do so with extreme regret; but the difficulty must be fairly met. It had been said that the people of Ireland, represented by their Archbishops and Bishops, had pronounced against the mixed system of Trinity College, and that with few exceptions they were supported by the Roman Catholic laity. The first observation he had to make on that point was that they must not speak of the Irish people when dealing with this question in exactly the same sense as when speaking of the questions of the Irish Church or the land which affected all classes. For what was the proportion of Roman Catholics and Protestants respectively affected by the proposal with regard to University education? According to the Census of 1861 it appeared that in all the classical schools of Ireland there were in that year 5,224 Protestants and 5,118 Catholics, leaving a small balance in favour of the former. That must be taken as representing the very class from which University students were taken; and, as a matter of fact, only 24 per cent of the sons of Protestants proceeded from these schools to the University. And the reason was obvious—that of those who sent their sons to the intermediate schools there were many whom, from their position in life, it did not suit to give their sons an University education. As they ascended the social scale in Ireland they found the proportion becoming more and more in favour of the Protestants. In the learned professions the proportion was about one-third, or, at all events, something less than half of Roman Catholics as compared with Protestants. In the magistracy the discrepancy was still greater. It was said that this discrepancy was disappearing: but whether it were so or not, nothing was more dangerous than to have a hard-and-fast line drawn across the country, separating the higher classes from the lower, and he trusted that it would be gradually effaced. In theory every individual in the State was a possible candidate for University education; but in practice that was obviously absurd. And coming now to the class of Roman Catholics really interested in this question, was it absolutely true to say that they were conscientiously opposed to the system of mixed education in the same way and for the same reasons that it had been denounced by the Roman Catholic hierarchy? Now, several great meetings had been lately held in Ireland on this subject, and at one in a provincial town the three principal persons present not directly connected with religion or politics were a Deputy Lieutenant and two shopkeepers, very respectable and wealthy men. Well, the Deputy Lieutenant at the very time that the Bishop denounced the education given at Trinity College had a son there, and the two shopkeepers had their sons at the Queen's Colleges. It might be said that they sent their sons to these places because there was no other place to which they could send them. But that was not the fact. There were other facilities. Not only would Trinity College give degrees without the necessity of religious education, but so would the London University. The views therefore expressed by Roman Catholic gentlemen on this subject must be taken with some qualification. He wished now to call attention to another matter in connection with the history of this matter and the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The opposition now so strongly put forward to the system of mixed education was of modern origin. He could refer the House to a Petition which was presented to the Irish Parliament in 1795 by the great Henry Grattan on the part of Roman Catholic laymen in favour of mixed education, and against the proposal that Protestants should be excluded from the College of Maynooth, then about to be founded, and the Petitioners argued that the united education which was given only in Trinity College was that which alone could promote harmony among the various religious bodies in Ireland, and contribute to the welfare of the country. He had referred already to the evidence given by Bishop Doyle before the Committee of the House of Lords in 1825. But it was not only Dr. Doyle; many others also gave testimony to the same effect, and among them the great O'Connell. Speaking of the distinction between a fellow-commoner and a pensioner, O'Connell said—"I made my son a fellow-commoner because I wished to keep him as long as I could in Trinity College, Dublin." That was the institution to which O'Connell sent his sons and grandsons to be educated. The authority of Dr. Murray, the late Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, was also given in favour of mixed education. No—this was a modern development of that policy which had already been displayed in other parts of the world. It had been attempted before now to diplomatize with Archbishops and Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church on this subject. The attempt had been made by Sir George Grey on the part of a Liberal, by Lord Mayo on the part of a Conservative Government, and both had failed. Had anything happened since to lead them to suppose that the demands then put forward, by the Roman Catholic hierarchy were less absolute, less dictatorial, less unbending, than they were then? No one who had studied recent Pastorals or other statements emanating from the Roman Catholic hierarchy would come to that conclusion. In 1870 the First Minister, alluding to Sir George Grey's declaration to the Roman Catholic hierarchy, that the principle of united education was a sound one, said— It is almost impossible for us to feel a disposition to depart from it. Events have occurred and are occurring, not in this country, but in a great religious centre of Europe—events of such a character that it is impossible for an English statesman to feel himself in nearer proximity to the opinions of the Roman Catholic hierarchy than the position in which he then stood four years ago."—[3 Hansard, cc. 1123.] Since then events had occurred in other European centres which had induced, at all events, a Prussian statesman to take a very decided course on this question. But the conduct of the Roman Catholic hierarchy had not been consistent on this subject. There was formerly a time when they did not oppose mixed education, but were its earnest supporters. Unfortunately those times had passed away, and an opposite spirit had developed itself among the Roman Catholic hierarchy all over Europe. Were we bound to believe that this spirit would continue, and that there might not be a return to those more healthy and more constitutional principles upon which the predecessors of the present Roman Catholic Bishops and Archbishops in Ireland had acted? There was no reason to despair of such a return. Without wishing to say anything offensive of the modern policy of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, he believed that that policy could not continue to prevail in the face of modern enlightenment all over Europe. Its destinies might be described as King Henry described his falling fortunes— This battle fares like to the morning's war, When dying clouds contend with growing light. The University question was of peculiar interest, because in dealing with it they were dealing not only with the Ireland of the present, but of the future; they were making arrangements which would influence the minds not only of the present, but of future generations. Great as was the interest of this question as a question of to-day, its bearing hereafter was of still more vital importance. Thanking the House for the patient hearing it had given him, he now committed to the care of this Imperial Assembly the interests of the measure. The University of Dublin claimed to be a noble teaching institution, venerable from its antiquity, but yet in the full vigour of its prime; an old institution, but still thoroughly effective for all purposes of modern education. It claimed the assistance of Parliament in the work of reforming itself from within, thus avoiding violent revolution coming from without. On these grounds the University based its desire that this Bill should be read a second time. How was it met? With the answer that the Bill would perpetuate the system of mixed University education in Ireland. He would make no further comment upon that argument. The House, he hoped, would show their appreciation of it by reading the Bill a second time, and if they did so the effect would be to launch upon a new career of usefulness this old institution. If, however, the House of Commons should reject the Bill every Irishman would think that this Imperial Assembly had set their seal to the hard and cruel creed, by whom framed he cared not, which would separate Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics from their cradles, and would keep them separated from their cradles to their graves.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Fawcett.)


Sir, my first duty is to thank my hon. Friend who has given Notice of the Amendment (Mr. Synan) for having permitted me to take precedence of him in the debate. I avail myself without scruple of that permission, because the position of the Government is entirely distinct from that of my hon. Friend, and therefore it would be convenient for me to state what our position is before the discussion has arisen which he proposes to invite. To one remark of the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Plunket) I will advert, for, though it has but little connection with the main subject, I think it calls for notice from me. He has complained that I made known the intentions of the Government not to propose the foundation of a Roman Catholic or any other denominational College or University in Ireland. [Mr. PLUNKET: An endowment.] Of course I mean an endowment, not to Trinity College, but to a body of English Dissenters. I never heard a more singular statement. Why was I to state to Trinity College the intentions of the Government with respect to the foundation of a Roman Catholic College or University in Ireland? Trinity College never asked me; and, that being so, it would have been a strange act of impertinence on my part to communicate with them on the subject. But the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes it to be understood that something new was stated to these gentlemen. Now, the hon. and learned Gentleman was no doubt present at the debate last year on the Bill of my hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett), and he must have heard from me upon that occasion statements quite as broad and explicit as those in the letter to which he refers, as well as more detailed. There was in that letter nothing new whatever—the announcement contained in it was a simple act of courtesy due to a body of gentlemen who communicated with me on the subject. I decline the apparent claim of the hon. and learned Gentleman that no communication on this subject should be made except to Trinity College. My hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) has referred to well-known artifices which he thinks have been used with reference to this Bill. He did not point merely to the Government; but the remark has been very generally made, and I must advert to it because I think that up to the present time it is wholly unjust, whether applied to the Government or to anybody else. Last year my hon. Friend introduced his Bill without any detailed explanation of the clauses which relate to the reconstitution of the College and University of Dublin. Now, I ventured to point out to him that, quite apart from the broad political and religious questions involved in any measure dealing with that institution, he submitted to the House an academical question which was one not only of great importance but of great complication, and that it was absolutely impossible, apart from any religious question, that such a subject could be dealt with except after minute examination:—and I must say that that examination would have been rendered much more easy if the views of the framers of that portion of the Bill had been stated in the usual manner to the House. I remember very well the introduction of an analogous measure by Lord Russell in 1854 with reference to the University of Oxford. Those who recollect the career of Lord Russell in this House will, I think, give him the praise that, among all the leading statesmen of the day, he was the most succinct of speakers and wasted the fewest words; but it took Lord Russell two hours, without any reference to political or religious controversies, to explain on its first introduction the Bill for the reform of the University of Oxford; whereas my hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett) disposed, and has again disposed, in a very few minutes of a corresponding subject. That is not the way to insure brevity of debate. Fulness of explanation in introducing Bills is the true way to throw light upon a subject and induce Members to entertain them in such a way as will involve the smallest consumption of time. However, I do not know that it is necessary to pursue this matter further, because I do not feel under an obligation to enter into a detailed examination of the Bill—partly, I own, because I am to a certain extent alarmed by the threats which my hon. Friend holds over the heads of all those who make any lengthened speeches on this subject—including, I suppose, the seconder of the Motion, whose speech, I am sure, none of us would have wished to abridge—yet not simply on account of my fear of my hon. Friend's denunciations, but likewise because the nature of the argument does not require any detailed examination from me, at least on the present occasion. My hon. Friend adverted to the Amendment now on the Notice Book of the House, treating it as one involving concurrent endowment. Now, I do not think this criticism justified by the Amendment as it stands. The Amendment says— That no measure of University education in Ireland can be satisfactory, just, or permanent which does not afford to all Her Majesty's subjects in that Country the right of attaining University degrees without the violation of their conscientious opinions. Whether it is the intention of my hon. Friend (Mr. Synan) so to explain his Amendment as to make it bear upon concurrent endowment I really do not know. My hon. Friend, in putting this Amendment upon the Paper, has exercised his own discretion, without any communication beforehand with the Government; but I should not be prevented from supporting that Amendment, if it were otherwise desirable that it should receive our support, by finding that it pledged the House to concurrent endowment. What I understand it to mean is that the Bill withholds the right of attaining University degrees in Ireland—at least, it does not supply the right—without violating the conscientious opinions of that proportion of Her Majesty's subjects who are unwilling to accept an education apart from the teaching of the religion they profess. That is a fair construction of the Amendment—which, however, as it now stands, will not receive the support of the Government. Though I do not propose to examine the Bill at great length, it is necessary, after what has been said, to make some reference to the clauses which provide for the reconstitution or reform of the University of Dublin. As I have said, this is not only a large political, but it is a large religious and a large academical question; and its political, religious, and academical character, each having a separate bearing upon these clauses, tend somewhat to complicate the subject. The principle of these clauses is, however, a very simple one. It is to constitute an absolute power of self-government within the University of Dublin. The present position of the University is left as it is, subject to a gradual modification. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Plunket) tells us that the composition of the Senate has been already modified by a decree or instrument introducing certain Roman Catholic members. I ask by whose authority has that been done? It has been done by the authority of the University, composed as it now is; and the same authority which did can undo. The claim is that we shall give over into the hands of the actual governors of the University of Dublin, subject to the conditions of this Act, an absolute power of self-government. Is that a fair claim? Is that a claim in harmony and in analogy with what we have done for the English Universities? My hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett) says—and says truly—that the test clause of this Bill is larger than anything we have enacted with respect to the Universities of England. It is larger. But what have we enacted with regard to the general constitution of the Universities and Colleges of England? Why, that they cannot alter a statute or an ordinance without coming to Her Majesty, and without being liable, before that statute can take effect, both to the interference of the Crown and to the interference of Parliament. Why is it, then, that my hon. Friend, without one word of argument, has claimed our assent to the whole principle of a Bill which proposes to deal with the University of Dublin, in a country where there is no Established or National Church, upon the principle of giving to its present governors, reared in the bosom of that Church, the absolute powers which we have withheld from the Universities of England? My hon. Friend says that the University of Dublin has ever been in the van of Liberal progress. Well, it is very painful to me to seem to carp at any commendations bestowed on the University of Dublin, because I freely grant, and gladly assert and contend that, as a portion of the dominant party in Ireland, the University of Dublin has ever been in the van of Liberal progress. But it is not true, and could not be true, that the University of Dublin has ever been in the van of Liberal progress so far as regards the condition of Ireland, considered as a nation and as a whole. I have here a Petition, presented in July, 1868, from the Provost, Fellows, and Scholars of the University of Dublin, representing that the University has existed under its present constitution for nearly 300 years, and protesting against the introduction of organic changes in its constitution. At the same time another Petition was presented from a portion of the graduates in the same sense, but stating more distinctly that the University of Dublin had been founded in Ireland for the purpose of promoting education in that country, based upon the principles of the Protestant religion. It is true that the University of Dublin recognizes the great change which has been made in the bearings of this question by the abolition of the Church Establishment in Ireland, and it has now adopted language altogether different. But I must say I was a little surprised at the severe tone of the hon. and learned Gentleman in alluding to what he called modern developments in the views and demands of the Roman Catholic hierarchy; because, among these developments, there is hardly any so modern as that which he himself now represents, when, no doubt for good reasons, he asked the House to take a course which, three or four years ago, the University of Dublin entirely objected to. In my opinion, with reference to this question, modern developments are of very secondary importance. We may approve these developments in some points; we may reject them in others; but the business of Parliament is to regard them as facts, and examine the probability of their permanence rather than to criticize the motives and circumstances out of which they may possibly have risen. My hon. Friend says he proposes gradually to admit into the University of Dublin persons of all religious opinions. As far as this Bill is concerned, he proposes to admit them very gradually indeed. My hon. Friend reminds us that there was not a Roman Catholic Judge on the Bench in 1829; and what, he says, would have been thought of a provision that a large number of Roman Catholics should be at once placed upon the Bench? You made, he says, no such provision, trusting to the influence of time, and the consequence is that now there is a majority of Roman Catholic Judges upon the Bench in Ireland. Yes; but, in the first place, I think that the constitution which is to govern this University ought to be materially altered as to personal composition in less than 43 years from the date at which we speak. Above all, I wish to ask my hon. Friend what he thinks would have been the composition of the Irish Judicial Bench at this time if the filling of vacancies on that Bench had been intrusted, not to the impartial authority of the Crown, but to the Protestant Judges who were already on the Bench? That is the true parallel between the illustration of my hon. Friend and the Bill now before the House. He says that when we abolished the Irish Church Establishment we did not interfere with the emoluments of the clergy then living. Undoubtedly not. But though we did not interfere with their emoluments, we interfered with their powers. My hon. Friend, however, proposes, as I understand his Bill, not only not to interfere with these powers, but absolutely to enlarge them, by dealing with the University of Dublin upon a principle totally different from that which Parliament has asserted in the case of the English Universities, and excluding from its future government all possibility of State interference and control. The hon. and learned Gentleman, using the gifts of eloquence which no man is more capable of employing with effect, appeals to the House with a kind of holy horror against any sort of interference with this University. But why is the University of Dublin to be more sacred in its government as against State interference and control than the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge? And, having before him the Oxford and Cambridge Acts, which subject the whole proceedings of our English Universities and Colleges to State interference and control, though leaving the initiative to the Universities themselves, why has my hon. Friend completely subverted that important principle and asserted an absolute right of internal self-government in the University of Dublin, to be exercised by those who now form the governing and teaching body of that University, subject to a gradual modification of its personal composition? The word "gradual" is a very safe word. It has many degrees. I remember an application of the word by the late Dr. Whewell in his Bridgewater Treatise, where he says, alluding to the solar system, that in the opinion of some astronomers there are slight deviations of the planets from their orbits, and that these deviations may possibly increase and accumulate so that the solar system may, after all, contain within itself the elements of its own destruction; but then it is a gradual process. And by the same sort of gradual process it appears to me that my hon. Friend proposes to modify the constitution of the University of Dublin. I have now said nearly as much as it is necessary for me to say in opposition to the University clauses of the Bill. I do not pretend to discuss them fully; I cannot discuss them fully, without entering into much detail. My hon. Friend, judiciously mingling entreaty with menace, has exerted himself to prevent the prolongation of the debates. What is the power of the Government in preventing the prolongation of debates when Members are disposed to prolong them my hon. Friend can himself judge when he recollects the debates on the Army Purchase Bill of last year. But I have not, I hope, yet trespassed too long upon the House, and I will meet my hon. Friend by being as brief as possible in what remains to be said. Having tried to make intelligible my objections to the establishment, by authority of Parliament, of a new constitution for the University of Dublin entirely peculiar and novel, extravagant in the demands it makes on the part of the University, inadequate, bare, bald, and naked in the provision it makes for the actual government of the University—having expressed in the broadest terms my objections to the clauses for the re-constitution of the University—I will only wind up by saying that they are totally inadequate as a settlement of the great University question in Ireland. We have entertained and continue to entertain that belief, we are pledged to the belief, that it is an extreme hardship on that portion of the Irish population who do not choose to accept an education apart from religion that they should have no University open to them in Ireland at which they may obtain degrees; and we hold that this, call it what you like and disguise it as you may, is the infliction of civil penalties on account of religious opinions. The hon. and learned Gentleman has stated that the University of Dublin has a system of non-residence, by means of which it would be possible for undergraduates to avoid the mixed education to which, he said regretfully—and no wonder at his regret—many persons object. Does the hon. and learned Gentleman point to this system of non-residence as one of the merits and ornaments of the University of Dublin—one of the securities for religious liberty provided by it—or as indicating a constitution so elastic that it would supply the whole need of those Roman Catholics and Protestants who are determined not to accept an education unless in connection with their own religion? No! He says—and I entirely agree with him—that this system of non-resident education is the weak, the infirm, the objectionable part of the system of the University of Dublin; and in so saying he marks it out of course, not for future development, but for future contraction and extinction. Therefore, in offering this Bill as a settlement of the University question in Ireland—and it is in that view that my hon. Friend brings it before us—Parliament is asked to affirm that that portion of the Irish people which does not choose to accept education apart from religion shall, on account of that opinion, be debarred from obtaining an Irish University degree. It is no answer to this proposition to point to the University of London, and say to Irishmen what you do not venture to say to Scotchmen. We are pledged to adopt with regard to University education a fair principle as between the three Kingdoms, and were we to pass this Bill in its entirety as a settlement of the University question for Ireland, such a Bill would be a clear violation of that principle. These are my objections to the University, or rather, to the reconstruction clauses of the Bill of my hon. Friend. Much more satisfactory to me will be my reference to the test clauses. Of these test clauses I have always spoken in very different terms when my hon. Friend introduced the subject in 1870 and 1871. I state now, as I have always stated, that, as to these clauses, we have nothing to do but to accept them. The time of passing them into law may have been a question. Had it been in my power to offer to the House during the present Session what we should have thought a satisfactory measure on the whole subject of the University, I should, as my hon. Friend anticipates, have been prepared to say—"Take the measure of the Government, and do not accept the Bill that has been presented to you." But I feel that it would be most unfair on my part again to hold the language which I held in 1870 and 1871. In 1870 I contended on the part of the Government that in the midst of the great controversy and labour of the Land Bill, it was not possible for us to deal, and it was not equitable to expect that we should deal, with the University question. In 1871 we found ourselves, from different causes, in a similar predicament; but my hon. Friend is right in saying that it was owing to the time at which his measure was introduced, or rather debated, that we were led to conclude we ought not to support the second reading. He has now given us every advantage of time; and, though I am very sorry that the partial criticism to which his Bill was subjected last year has not resulted in a reconstruction and extension of the University clauses, yet I will not, on account of the objections which we entertain to those clauses, affect to undervalue or refrain from supporting the test clauses of the Bill. These clauses, therefore, we propose to support and desire to be passed. To the other clauses it will not be in our power to assent; but we regard the test clauses as a substantial, weighty, and beneficial piece of legislation, and it will therefore be our duty to vote with my hon. Friend upon the second reading of the Bill. On that ground, and not because I construe the Amendment in the sense in which he has construed it, I am unable to support the Amendment, believing that the claim on us to adopt as much of the Bill as we admit is not open to essential objection is a fair claim. I do not know that I need say anything more. As I have said, I cannot presume to interfere with the discussion of a measure of this kind which I know, from former experience of University discussions, to be one of difficulty as well as of importance. But my hon. Friend will probably think I do all I can in support of his doctrine, that the business ought to be expedited by following, to the best of my ability, the example he has set us, restricting my observations to the limits of real necessity, and reserving to a future occasion—whether, upon the Speaker leaving the Chair or in Committee—the further statement of the objections which the Government continue to feel to the University clauses. I hope it will not be supposed that we are giving a reluctant assent to the test clauses under the pressure of conscious necessity. On the contrary, I am setting forth a real desire entertained by us to come to a practical result, as far as such a result is attainable; and I venture to point out to my hon. Friend that if his object is the same it will be most effectually promoted if he consents to limit legislation for the present to the test clauses, leaving the University clauses to be hereafter dealt with in a more comprehensive manner, and upon principles more analogous to those which have governed the Legislature in the provisions they have made for the construction and management of the English Universities and Colleges. On the grounds I have stated, I shall support the second reading of the Bill and vote against the Amendment.


, in moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice, said, that the speech of the Prime Minister which they had just heard had occasioned him some embarrassment, because, as it seemed to him, its tone and argument led to only one conclusion—namely, that the Government ought to object to the second reading of a measure to the most important part of which they entertained a decided objection. If the Bill had been merely one for the abolition of tests, neither he nor any other Irish Member would object to it; but he objected to the Bill because he considered that the abolition of tests, the reconstruction of the Dublin University, and the settlement of the whole University question in Ireland, were but parts of one great subject which should be settled together. He should, therefore, feel it to be his duty to persevere with his Amendment. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) need not be afraid that he should treat this question in a sectarian spirit, for he intended to confine himself to the educational and political bearings of it. He, for one, opposed the Bill because it was defective and vicious—because it struck at the freedom of University education in Ireland; and because, instead of being a settlement of the question, it would but produce an aggravation of the present state of things. It had been said that in this question the whole Irish people were not really concerned, but only a small portion of them, and that it concerned, in point of fact, as many Episcopalians and Presbyterians as Roman Catholics. But why was that so, except for this reason—that the Episcopalians had for so many years enjoyed, and did still enjoy, a monopoly of the endowed schools. If those schools had been open to all, no one could doubt but that the number of Roman Catholic students for the Universities would be equal, in proportion to the population, to that of the Protestants. It was, he thought, somewhat strange that a matter of such importance as this should be left to be dealt with by a private Member in a Bill which was not fit to settle a question relating to a turnpike trust; and that it should be brought on for discussion at a Wednesday morning sitting, when, as the hon. Member for Brighton told them, they were not able to discuss it at any length. As to the statement of the hon. Member about an honourable understanding by which Bills of private Members brought up for second reading on a Wednesday, under circumstances such as the present, were not to be discussed by its opponents, but voted upon at once, he (Mr. Synan), for one, rejected any such limitation on the freedom of Irish Members—he would never be a party to any such understanding at the expense of what he deemed to be the interests of his country. He did not complain that the hon. Gentleman should have brought the subject forward, although he had pursued it with a persistency which by some might be called obstinacy. What he did complain of was that a man of ability, and with pretensions to statesmanship, should have been so pre-occupied with his own views as to make no allowance for the sentiments and feelings of a people. His hon. Friend had, he supposed, been led away by the zeal which animated men when they found they had made converts—imagining, no doubt, that he had made a convert of Trinity College to the principle of secular education. In that respect, however, he suspected the hon. Gentleman would find he was mistaken. Trinity College saw that the Established Church had been abolished, and naturally felt that it might soon come to its own turn; it was therefore not unwilling to enter into the conditions proposed by the hon. Gentleman, and resolved to re-arrange its House before it was swept away. The contract made was, in fact, that contract of necessity which had been described by Pitt as the argument of tyrants and the creed of slaves. The Bill would in reality give Trinity College a new lease of the monopoly of University education in Ireland, which might last for 1,000 years before anything like equality was established. The real question to be asked in regard to this measure was—was it a reform of Trinity College itself—was it a reform of University education in Ireland? It was necessary to discuss these two questions separately, and until they were settled, it was useless to consider the abolition of tests. But the Bill was a sham and a mockery. If the hon. Gentleman had been disposed to introduce a proper measure to effect University reform with regard to that College, the very first step he should have taken was to separate the College from the University. The truth was the University of Dublin had no independent existence. It was a mere abstract idea; it conferred degrees and nothing else. If the University had been independent of the College it was quite plain it could not have been supported without using some of the endowments. It was, however, the interest of Trinity College not to divide its endowments with the University, and no attempt to separate the two had been successful. Why were they not placed on the footing of the English Colleges? If his hon. Friend had taken that course with regard to them, he ventured to say Trinity College would never have accepted his proposal with respect to the secular system. It was because Trinity College knew that, while in theory it agreed to the secular, it would in practice carry out the denominational system, that it had given its assent to the Bill. Now, before he proceeded to deal with the provisions of the measure, he wished to say a few words as to the constitution of Trinity College. It was a Corporation, a College, and an University. It was a Corporation for Parliamentary purposes, and it had done wisely in sending two of the most distinguished men in Ireland to represent it in that House. It was a College, and enjoyed endowments. It was not only a teaching College, but actually decided on the results of its own teaching. As an University it conferred degrees, which did not cost the College a single shilling. But he would put the University out of the question—because the Bill did not propose to deal with it; and what, he would ask, was the College? It was composed, in the first place, of a Senate, which under the Bill was to be called a Council; but what virtue there was in the new name he did not know. The proposed change, in reality, amounted to nothing more than a change of name, and how could such a proposal, brought forward though it was by the most radical Reformer of the day, be regarded, he should like to know, as a reform of the University system in Ireland? It was simply the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee. He now came to that which was the true government of Trinity College, and which was called a Board. It was composed of the Senior Fellows, and such of the Junior Fellows as were deemed necessary for the purpose of coming to a decision in the absence of the former. Well, that being so, the wonderful reform proposed by the hon. Gentleman was that the Board was to be composed of the Senior Fellows and five Junior Fellows, and was to be called the Hebdomadal Board with exactly the same power as the old Board—the power of spending £70,000 a-year. Would not the change give us, he should like to know, after all, the old Board under a new name? Instead of a Phœnix, as hon. Members had been at first led to expect, the Bill would simply result in producing a two-headed nightingale—the one head being the Council, and the other the Hebdomadal Board. His hon. Friend went on to speak of the "adequate influence" which his measure would secure to Roman Catholics and Dissenters, and the "reasonable time" in which such a result would be secured; but he had given no definition of those terms. Was the "adequate influence" to be decided in accordance with the proportions existing between the different religious persuasions? The Bill left that matter to the doctrine of chances. What was the proportion of Catholic to Protestant students attending Trinity College? It was, in 1868, 68 to 1,020, or 1 in 15. It would then take 15 years before one Catholic would be elected a Fellow. Were they legislating in practical matters, or were they following wild theories and groundless speculations, in ignorance of the state of things which existed in the country for which they were legislating? He had no respect for theories. He shared the convictions of the Irish people. The time was past when they could either stretch or cripple the Irish people on a Procrustes' bed of torture like this Bill. The question must be decided according to the views of the Irish people. It was said if this Bill were passed Catholics would be found to flock into Trinity College. Now, he defied his hon. Friend to show any grounds whatever for that opinion. The Queen's Colleges had been in operation for 25 years—did they require more than one generation to vouch for their opinion or theory? What was the fact with regard to the number of Catholics who had entered the Queen's Colleges? There was one of the Queen's Colleges in Cork, another in Galway, and another in Belfast. Two of them were in the centres of the most Catholic parts of Ireland, the other was in the centre of the most Protestant part, but still the Catholic population there was 54 per cent. What was the proportion of Catholics to Protestants in Cork? They were as 18 to 1. In Galway the proportion was 20 to 1. And what was the number of Catholics in the Faculty of Arts of the three Queen's Colleges? According to the last Return, made in the year 1868, there were just 37 Catholics out of 762 students. How many of the 37 were in the enjoyment of rewards? Just 24. Was the standard of education at these institutions kept so high as to exclude students? No; it had been levelled, and reduced to the capacity of the lowest intellect—it had been so low that the College of Surgeons at Dublin had been obliged to lower their standard of entrance examination. Was this any proof that Catholic students would enter if they converted Trinity College into another monster Queen's College? This was really a proposal made by persons who knew nothing whatever about the country for which they were legislating, for the purpose of maintaining in its present hands for another two or three generations the monopoly of University education in Ireland. He hoped he had satisfied the House as well as he had satisfied himself, that this reform of Trinity College, Dublin, was a sham. It was no reform at all. He was therefore surprised that, under the circumstances, the Government should consent to accept the second reading of the Bill without knowing what they were to get in Committee. Why should it go into Committee? It was admitted that the Bill would not settle the question. It did not even offer a proper basis for its settlement. Were they, then, going into Committee to affirm the 1st clause and strike out all the remaining clauses of the Bill? The first part of his Resolution should, he thought, have been accepted by the Government. In fact, they ought to have taken the responsibility on themselves of settling the question. Trinity College itself ought not to go on with this Bill. The right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Dr. Ball) in 1869 said they could not consider the case of the University of Dublin, or of Trinity College, without considering the position of the other Colleges of Ireland—they must consider, if they entered on the question at all, the whole system of collegiate education in Ireland. Did the right hon. and learned Gentleman communicate with his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton as to the terms of his Bill? Did he see the Bill before it was moved in the House? Did he not say—"You must remodel the whole University and collegiate system if you change that system at all?" But the junior Member for the University saw that their time was coming, and in order to save them his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton brought in this little Bill. He read a passage from a pamphlet written by Dr. Lloyd, the distinguished Provost of Trinity College, to show that the secularization of Trinity College would satisfy no party in Ireland, and would lead to the removal of the Protestants of wealth and station to the English Universities, and the consequent degradation of the University of Dublin. Was Dr. Lloyd a supporter of this Bill? And why? Because he knew it was a sham. To show the necessity for such a measure of University reform as he had indicated in his Resolution, he stated that of the numbers passing through collegiate institutions in Ireland, 1,413 could not get degrees. He quoted the Declaration of the Catholic laity in Ireland demanding such a change in the system of collegiate and University education in that country as would place their sons on a footing of equality with their fellow-countrymen in regard to honours, emolument, University education, government, and representation. That demand was founded in justice. Nobody, unless for party purposes, could deny it. What was the remedy? It was one of three things—they must have denominational Universities—and he was not in favour of them; or, secondly, they must have secular Universities—and he was still less favourable to them; or, thirdly, they must have what he called freedom of education—what his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton might call, if he liked, one University with affiliated Colleges. He did not propose a scheme—this question should be left in the hands of the Government. They had no right to throw the responsibility of dealing with it on others. Their conduct upon this question appeared to be halting between two courses of proceeding; perhaps it might lead to falling between two stools. If he were a Member of the Government—which he was not likely to be—he should have the courage to act on his own opinions, and would not consent to read a second time a Bill which did not carry out his principles; and if he could not accept the scheme of reconstruction he would vote frankly against the Bill. They had spent £1,000,000 and £30,000 a-year on the Queen's Colleges in Ireland, which were doing nothing for the money. They were not teaching the middle classes in Ireland. Was Ireland to be treated as if she had no free institutions and no free opinion? In 1793 the Act of George III. provided that Catholics might be Fellows of any College to be erected by the side of Trinity College, to be affiliated to the University of Dublin, for Catholics and Dissenters; but, while they now heard so much of the liberality of Trinity College, that Act was not complied with; and why? Trinity College, in 1794, applied for a Royal Letter to enable it to give degrees to Catholics and Dissenters. This rendered the application of the Act, in the opinion of the Irish Government—and of course also of the English Government—unnecessary, and Trinity College thus preserved to itself the endowments and fees that would have been shared by the other College from 1793 till the present time. There were three conditions of University education for Ireland—it must not exclude religion, it must create equality, and it must secure a high standard for degrees. The present Bill violated all these conditions. Now, what had the Irish people done for themselves? They had raised by voluntary subscriptions an endowment of £120,000, and an annual income of £8,000 a-year for the foundation of a Roman Catholic University, in which they hoped the youth of their persuasion would receive their education. But for party purposes the question of University education in Ireland had been made a shuttlecock between both sides of the House. When the late Government proposed some years back to grant a charter to this University, the Opposition made so much resistance that the scheme had to be abandoned; and when the present Government proposed to grant a supplementary charter, they became frightened, and ran away from the question. On the present occasion another appeal was made to hon. Members to support this Bill for party purposes; but he hoped the House would not respond to the appeal and offer so great an injustice to the Irish people. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.


said, he rose to second the Resolution which had been proposed, mainly with the view of eliciting from the Government an expression of opinion on the subject of higher education in Ireland. It seemed to him that it would be very discreditable if hon. Members endeavoured to defeat the Bill of the hon. Member for Brighton by speaking against time—he did not mean to apply that remark to his hon. Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Synan), because he thought his hon. Friend was perfectly justified in going into this question in detail—for although discussion on Wednesday was limited by the clock, hon. Members should bear in mind that this was a question which must be discussed, and as the Mover and Seconder of the Motion had not entered into explanatory details which were necessary, they were themselves to blame if the discussion were protracted. It was idle to conceal from the House that this Bill was intended to do a great deal more than abolish tests in Trinity College, Dublin; but it would be a great mistake to suppose that it would have any effect as a settlement of the question of University education in Ireland. It would not do away with the disadvantages and disabilities of which the Catholics of Ireland complained, and there would still be large numbers of the youth of Ireland excluded from the advantages of University education on account of their conscientious convictions. It had often been said that the Catholic hierarchy and the intelligent portion of the Catholic laity of Ireland did not coincide in opinion on the question of education. But that had not been proved. Had there been a demonstration on the part of Catholic laymen in Ireland in favour of a secular system of education? Not only the Catholic Bishops and priests, but Catholic laymen in every part of Ireland had declared themselves to be in favour of denominationalism as against secularism. It was often said there was a large number of the Irish Catholic laity who held a different opinion; but how had that opinion been expressed? If it was true that any considerable portion of the Catholic laity in Ireland were opposed to the views of the Irish Catholic hierarchy, that opposition would have manifested itself in some shape or other. But, he asked, how had it shown itself? Even admitting that there were Catholics in Ireland who would send their children to Trinity College, Dublin—and no doubt there were a few—that was no reason for attempting to settle the question of University education, in which the Catholics of Ireland took so much interest, by a measure of this kind. The vast majority of the Catholic laity in Ireland would suffer penalties rather than allow their children to go to an institution where they feared their religious faith might be imperilled, and many believed that that faith would be as much imperilled in a secular as in a Protestant institution. If this Bill should pass, the demand of the Catholics of Ireland that the University education question should be satisfactorily settled would continue and increase, and that demand could not always be resisted. Opinion in Ireland on that subject had been expressed most forcibly over and over again. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Plunket) objected most strongly to the system of having one central University, by which all education in Ireland should be brought to one level by the test of examination. In that objection he (the O'Conor Don) fully concurred. But such a system would be the result of passing this Bill. Before he sat down he wished to say a word with regard to the conduct of the Government in this matter. He certainly must object to the course that had been pursued by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Gentleman last Session dissected the Bill of the hon. Member for Brighton more ably than any other Member of the House was capable of doing. He showed that the Bill was most imperfect in every respect; that under it equality would not be established, and that it could not in any way be regarded as a settlement of the Irish University education question. He did not to-day go into such great detail with regard to it; but he (the O'Conor Don) imagined that his opinion was not altered one whit since last Session with respect to the Bill. Last Session the right hon. Gentleman objected to the second reading of the Bill because it could not be passed into law and would be merely the affirmation of a general principle, and because he did not believe it desirable to affirm an abstract principle upon this subject without seeing his way to dealing with the whole subject of Irish University education. To-day the right hon. Gentleman said he would not oppose the second reading of the Bill in order to procure the passing of the test clauses; but he reserved to himself the right of proposing Amendments on going into Committee or in Committee. Was that the way to deal with a great question like this? Was it a right thing to pick out one clause in a Bill, and to say that in supporting the second reading he was affirming no more than the principle contained in that clause? The Government were bound to deal with the whole question. He believed the right hon. Gentleman was most anxious to deal with it—not now, but perhaps at a more favourable opportunity. The Government ought to take up the Bill of the hon. Member for Brighton, and to make it a complete one, or to bring forward another, and thus place their own proposals before the country. He thought the people of Ireland had a right to call for that. Last year they did not call upon the Government to go on with the question of Irish University education, because they believed that, considering the exertions of the previous Session, it would not be fair to do so; but they could not allow that question to be indefinitely postponed. He trusted his hon. Friend (Mr. Synan) would press his Amendment to a division, notwithstanding the certainty that in consequence of the action of the Government he must be beaten. Although the Tory Members were opposed to the principle of a secular education in England and Scotland, yet he was afraid that on the question of Catholic education in Ireland they would vote with the hon. Member for Brighton. He believed the Government gave a very unwilling consent to the second reading of this imperfect Bill. There was a feeling, and a growing feeling, in Ireland that in the Imperial Parliament Irish opinions were not properly attended to, and that feeling would be greatly intensified if the House refused to agree to the almost unanimous opinion of the representatives of Catholic constituencies on this question. If this Bill were passed, the people of Ireland would begin to say that the Church Act was passed in order to please, not them, but the Nonconformists of Great Britain, and that the Land Bill was the indirect consequence of certain acts to which he would not more particularly refer. This, he maintained, would be a very bad lesson to give to the Irish people, and yet it was the lesson they would learn if the present Bill were passed.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, though desirous of dealing with the subject of University Education in Ireland, is of opinion that any measure relating to that question should be established upon a secure and permanent basis, and for that purpose should be brought in upon the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government, and that no measure of University Education in Ireland can be satisfactory, just, or permanent which does not afford to all Her Majesty's subjects in that Country the right of attaining University degrees without the violation of their conscientious opinions,"—(Mr. Synan,) —instead thereof.

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


I trust my hon. Friends who have taken part in this discussion will not think it disrespectful on my part if I decline to follow them in an examination of the Bill, or of the various other matters to which they have alluded. I regard a discussion of that kind as having been now, by the conduct of the Government, virtually relegated to the Committee. The second reading of this Bill has been conceded by Her Majesty's Government—[Mr. SYNAN: But not by us]—certainly not by you; but as it has been conceded by Her Majesty's Government, I think it will be unnecessary for me to occupy the time of the House with remarks on what appears to be a foregone conclusion. I have risen for the purpose of making some observations on the conduct of the Government. That conduct, I assert, can be satisfactory neither to this House, nor to the Irish Liberal Members, nor to the people of Ireland. I say that the speech of the Prime Minister shows either ignorance of the gravity of this question or incapacity to grapple with it. What is the state of this question in Ireland? The Roman Catholic Bishops and the Roman Catholic clergy have roused the people on this question. They have made it the battle-cry upon the hustings, and in almost every parish in the South of Ireland meetings have been held to affirm certain principles for the settlement of the question of University education in Ireland. Those principles are by no means new. They are contained in printed documents furnished to that distinguished statesman, the late Governor General of India, when he, as Chief Secretary for Ireland, endeavoured to meet this question on principles of a generous and expansive character. The Roman Catholic Prelates then stated that they demanded the power of dismissing teachers, control over the studies—in short, absolute control over the institutions in which lay Roman Catholics were to be educated. They still adhere to those demands, and there is scarcely a parish in the South of Ireland where they have not obtained a vote in favour of them. They have done more than this. At the meeting held in Dublin, which was so largely attended, Cardinal Cullen made a plain statement of his own views, and he made also a plain and candid statement in regard to his own relations with Her Majesty's Government. I am wrong, however, in using the word Government, for there is a singular practice in Ireland of drawing a distinction between the Prime Minister and the Government. Thus, while one priest described the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) as the descendant of a robber who hanged a Catholic Bishop, the same priest drew a distinction between him and the eminent statesman who is now Prime Minister. Cardinal Cullen stated at the Dublin meeting that the Prime Minister had made on the question of education in Ireland promises from which he could not recede without a breach of faith. What is the state of feeling on the other side? The Presbyterians, to a man, are opposed to the views of the Roman Catholics with regard to education. In their Synod, they have passed a resolution directly against the principle of a separate College or University for the Roman Catholics and in favour of united education. So complete, indeed, is the unanimity of the Presbyterians on the subject of united education that Cardinal Cullen, at the meeting in Dublin, drew a distinction between them and the members of the disestablished Church of Ireland. His Eminence selected the whole body of the Presbyterians of Ireland as a subject of comment, and attacked their race as having been sent over from Scotland by James I., adding that they were by no means the best sample of the people of Scotland. Now, I ask the House calmly to consider whether the peace, the prosperity, the welfare, and the happiness of the country can be promoted by allowing such an agitation to be carried on by two distinct creeds and races, with the same antagonism and perseverance on either side. Who are responsible for such a state of affairs in Ireland? I will not charge the Government; but, on the contrary, I say the Prime Minister is alone responsible for it. I candidly admit that the speech of the noble Marquess was adequate to the position he holds; but this partition of the country on the question of education was due solely to the Prime Minister's speeches in Lancashire, his evasion of the question on former occasions, and the dark hints which he gave—such that each side may snatch something favourable to his own views—to this alone is due the condition of the country on this question. I will condemn him out of his own mouth. Immediately after the Church Act was passed, the Board of the University of Dublin passed a resolution in reference to this subject in consequence of a Resolution having been introduced into this House by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) affirming the principle of united education. I then stated in this House that you could not open the question without settling it. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government entirely approved of that statement. The next year the hon. Member for Brighton—who when he takes up a question pursues it with considerable tenacity—finding that nothing had been done, again brought the matter forward; and how was it dealt with on this occasion by the Prime Minister? This was on the 1st of April, 1870, when the right hon. Gentleman said— It is impossible for any Government which respects itself, or which understands its duties, if it be intrusted by the House with its confidence, to surrender the initiative in those questions which have been committed to its care."—[3 Hansard, cc. 1129.] The hon. Member for Brighton confined himself entirely to a Resolution on religious tests; but he was told by the Prime Minister—"Sir, you are a private Member; this is an affair of the Government; we have the entire confidence of the House and an overwhelming majority; what an intrusive person you are to venture to affirm the principle of united education." Two years have passed since the Prime Minister made that declaration, and yet he has made no announcement of the policy of the Government. There are two voices in the Government—one esoteric and the other exoteric. The esoteric is intended for the Houses of Parliament and the English public, and is announced by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) and the Chancellor of the Exchequer; the exoteric is sent through the right hon. Gentleman who presides over the telegraphs, and who conveys an occasional shock to the Prime Minister and to Parliament. The allegation made by Cardinal Cullen at the Dublin meeting was repeated at the consecration of his secretary, Bishop Conroy—a gentleman with whom I am personally acquainted, and whose word may be relied on with the most implicit confidence. At this conversation it was said there would be a breach of faith if the question of Irish education were not settled in a particular way. I am myself of opinion that questions of this magnitude ought not to be taken up by private Members, and one of my reasons for giving my support to this Bill is that I desire to terminate this policy of duplicity. We should have a voice clear and certain one way or the other. Cardinal Cullen and the Roman Catholic clergy come forward and candidly state their opinions—if you agree with them come forward and announce it—if you do not agree with them why do you not declare the fact boldly? I do not like to say it, and yet I cannot resist the conviction, that on the part of the Government there is a belief that they are not bound to feel much terror of the Irish Members. There has been but one announcement on authority on this subject. It was made by a man of great intellectual powers, who is clear in his conceptions, determined in his will, and who never palters with the subject with which he has to deal—I mean the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I may add that no Member of the Government is better able than he to deliver an opinion on education with authority and weight, because he is a man of great attainments, and in the earlier part of his life he was engaged in the business of education. Well, at Halifax the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave a most elaborate programme of direct policy on this subject. What was that policy? Not a single word, I should mention, was said on that occasion about Ireland; but the subject of University education was treated by the right hon. Gentleman as a whole. The right hon. Gentleman said Universities ought to be Examining Boards, but that a teaching University was an anomaly; that Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, the four Scotch and the two Irish Universities were to be swallowed up, and he added—"The fewer we have of those Examining Boards the better for the country." The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to announce what was the second branch of the great policy of the Government. It was to the following effect:— Teaching is a trade. Those who follow a trade must support themselves by it. State endowments for teaching are totally anomalous and inexcusable. They may be applied to the payment of examiners, but never to the payment of teachers, who must live by their trade. According to this elevating and ennobling doctrine, all the endowments dedicated to the reward of learning and genius, which had made the University of Dublin famous on the Continent of Europe, are to be swept away, a miserable compensation of life interests being substituted for them. This is the grand scheme which the Government shrank from enunciating in the House of Commons, so they sent the Chancellor of the Exchequer to expound it to the carpet manufacturers of Halifax. To such a system I shall give my determined and constant opposition; and if I wanted any other ground for supporting this Bill, I should support it because it is a protest against that system. The Bill recognizes and preserves the independence and autonomy of at least one educational institution in the country, and it raises a permanent barrier against the application to Ireland of a scheme which would end in the degradation of that country.


said, he would not detain the House long; but he was unwilling to give a vote in opposition to the Bill and in support of the Amendment without stating his reasons, especially as he was the only Member of the House who had ever held a position in the teaching department of the University of Dublin. He agreed with almost every word which had fallen from his right hon. and learned Friend who had just sat down, and for that very reason claimed his vote for the Amendment—because the Bill would tend to bring on those calamities which his right hon. and learned Friend had described, and against which he (Mr. Butt) protested as strongly as his right hon. and learned Friend himself. It was impossible to have a partial settlement of this question, and he asked hon. Gentlemen opposite, and all who desired to obtain a national University for Ireland and to maintain the prestige of the existing University, to notice the position they would be placed in if the present Bill were passed. They had been told that this was not a final settlement; but he believed hon. Gentlemen had been discussing the Bill under some mistake as to its effect. It did not go a single step in the direction of secularizing the education given in the University of Dublin—it left the religious and Protestant education exactly as it was at present; the only change being that an extension would be made of the system adopted 80 years ago of admitting students in whose behalf the requirements of religious education were waived. That system it was proposed to extend to Fellows; but not a single Protestant statute of the College was altered by this Bill. In fact, the Bill merely substituted for a Board consisting of the seven Senior Fellows a new Board to be elected by different persons. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister fell into a great error if he supposed that the regulations proposed in the Bill would give the University one particle of power which it did not possess at present. The University of Dublin at present possessed no legislative powers, and, moreover, it was open to the Crown by a Queen's Letter to change any statute, or to alter the whole constitution of the University; so that, in fact, this Bill did nothing which might not be done by a Queen's Letter to-morrow. If the Bill were passed, and the sanction of the House given to a certain alteration in the constitution of the University, and yet the whole question be left unsettled, there might, perhaps, be a Royal Warrant behind, of which no one could tell the purport; and he therefore entreated the friends of the University to pause before they placed the College in that position. He believed that every Member of the House would agree with him that it was impossible to settle the question of University education in Ireland unless provision were made for the Catholic population in accordance with their wants, their wishes, and he might even say, their prejudices. A Bill might be passed through Parliament, but the question would be brought forward again and again; and it could never be settled on the principles of true liberality and toleration unless the Catholics were afforded an opportunity of acquiring University education on their own terms and in the way they themselves desired. As for the influence of the hierarchy, that was a matter for the Catholic laity themselves to settle. If they were willing to submit to the judgment of their prelates and priests, he could not help it:—though he did not think they did so to the extent generally supposed. He did not believe they ruled public opinion so much as many hon. Members supposed. Still it was for the Catholics themselves to say what kind of University education they wanted, and it was the duty of hon. Members to grant it if this could be done without inconsistency to their own principles. His right hon. and learned Friend (Dr. Ball) desired to maintain University institutions in Ireland; but did not the whole history of that country show that it was impossible to maintain institutions from which the great mass of the people were excluded? It was the exclusion of the Catholic people from Parliament which caused Ireland to lose her native Parliament; and it was the exclusion of the Catholic people from the corporations which had stripped Ireland almost entirely of corporate institutions, and of political power within the corporations. Again, the refusal to share its endowments with the Catholic priesthood led ultimately to the disestablishment of the Irish Church, and in like manner he felt convinced of the impossibility of maintaining University institutions in Ireland unless they were shared with the Catholic people. The Catholic gentry were far more anxious for University education than was generally thought in England, and they availed themselves to a great extent of the advantages offered by the relaxation of religious tests in Dublin University. Perhaps he might cause surprise when he stated that in that House there were 20 graduates of Dublin University, 10 of whom were Roman Catholics and 10 Protestants. It might, perhaps, be said this fact showed that the Catholic gentry were satisfied with the existing state of affairs. But this was far from being the case. He had that very day seen some of the Catholic Members who had graduated at Trinity College, and they said—"We are not content with the education which Trinity College gives us, and we desire to have an institution in which the teaching of the Catholic Church shall be associated with the secular teaching." What right had Parliament to refuse them this? It would be tyranny in him as a Protestant to say—"I differ from you, and I will force you to have either secular education or education in a Protestant establishment." Was his right hon. and learned Friend ready to go to the full extent in admitting persons of all creeds on equal terms into Trinity College? If a vacancy occurred in the Provostship, would he be content to see the Government exercise their power—as they might do if any telegraphic pressure were put upon them—of appointing a Roman Catholic to the office? And suppose that if a Roman Catholic chapel were established in Trinity College, Dublin, and its Provost were a man whose appointment might be attributed to the influence of Cardinal Cullen, and if the Catholic Fellows went in state to the chapel, while the Protestant Fellows went away to some other place of worship, how many Protestants in Ireland would consent to send their children to the College? Everybody acquainted with the country must know that anything like a real establishment of equality between the Catholics and the Protestants in Trinity College would lead to the withdrawal from that institution of the sons of the greater portion of the Protestant gentry. Then, indeed, the Government would have a pretence for reducing the University to a mere school, or making it something like a Civil Service Commission examining for degrees. He denounced the plan of a mere examining University as strongly as his hon. and learned Friend had done; indeed, he could not understand the meaning of an Examining University which was not a teaching body—an University was a collection of teaching Colleges, and the Professors were not officials of the College but of the University. In 1793, the Irish Parliament passed a measure enabling Trinity College to give degrees to Catholic students, and to dispense with the statute which required graduates to take an oath against transubstantiation. The same Act of 1793 also said that if ever a new College were established in the University of Dublin it ought to be freely open to Roman Catholics. Why should not the House of Commons adopt the wise and liberal policy of the Irish Protestant Parliament and do what they would have done but for the Union? Why could they not establish a Roman Catholic College in connection with the University of Dublin? The alternative might be adopted of giving a Royal Charter to a separate Catholic University; but he would prefer the College for the sake of the Roman Catholics themselves, because the degrees granted by the University of Dublin had a prestige which a Catholic University could not get for a long time. He should like to see a new College erected within the old walls, so that the distinction between Roman Catholics and Protestants might be as far as possible obliterated; and he might add that there was a spot near the playground which might be made the site of such a Catholic College. The noble library might be used by the members of both establishments, and some of the professorships might be common to them both. There was no reason, as far as he could see, why Greek and mathematics could not be taught without endangering the faith or morals of the students—in fact, the Professors of Greek, or astronomy, or mathematics, would find some difficulty in introducing religious topics into their lectures. In subjects affecting the susceptibilities of religious belief each College might have its own Professors. Each College might have its own system of education and perfect control over its own members, while the Queen's University might be left for those who desired to have a purely secular education. If, however, it were found impracticable to carry out the plan he had suggested, a charter ought to be given to a separate Catholic University. If hon. Members sincerely wished to settle this question, not according to their own prejudices, theories, or even convictions, but with a determination to give to the Irish Catholic people the education they themselves desired, what possible objection could be urged against either of the proposals he had made. It was because he believed that any proposal to leave Trinity College as an instrument of Protestantism denounced by the Roman Catholic Church would perpetuate the contention between the different races and creeds in Ireland, that he deprecated the passing of this Bill. He would ask the friends of the College whether they were wise in unmooring the ship during the storm, after having excited the hostility of the Roman Catholics against them? The true interest of the friends of Trinity College was to come forward and say to the Roman Catholics, "Leave us Trinity College a Protestant institution, with its old prestige, which we are willing to share with you, and if it be not in the form you think desirable, let us both Protestants and Catholics unite in getting for Ireland a system of real University Education." He saw no other way but this of maintaining University education in Ireland. The question must be determined irrespectively of party feeling and prejudice if hon. Members did not wish to lose for Ireland the benefit of University institutions; and that University of which Irishmen of every creed were proud must fall unless it shared everything it had with the mass of the population.


said, it seemed that the Prime Minister, having followed the advice of the junior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), had now been bitterly attacked by its senior Member (Dr. Ball) for following that very advice; but he thought the right hon. Gentleman would find that by following the course he had commenced the Prime Minister would alienate those who would be friendly to him if he could settle the educational question upon a proper basis, without gaining any support from those who wished to confine the advantages of the University to a few. It seemed that the Catholics were to be permitted to derive no benefit from the re-organization of the University under this Bill. One of the gifts which it was said the Bill would confer upon the Catholics was that they should be represented on the Councils to which the government of Trinity College was to be intrusted. But he ventured to say that it would be at least half a century before the Catholics could possibly be represented on those Councils except by an insignificant minority, by reason of the fact that the elective bodies, the members of which would be but slowly replaced, were at the present moment Protestant, with very few exceptions. It was true that the Protestants might, and he thought they would, elect some Catholics to the Council; but members so elected would be for all practical purposes powerless, and would be in a ridiculous minority. He desired only to see the management of the University intrusted to a body which should fairly represent the varied interests of all the students who were members. The hon. Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), and other hon. Members who had supported the Bill, contended that their main object was to do good to the Catholics. This pretension reminded him of the young lady in the new comedy of Forgiven who says—"What a nice thing it is to do good to our neighbours when we get all the benefit ourselves." The benefit of the Bill as framed would be divided between the Episcopalians and Presbyterians, who therefore supported the measure. The Episcopalians had the great advantage of drawing up the Bill, and to them would fall the greater share of the spoil; but the Catholics would get nothing at all. It had been said that Catholics could be very religious in Trinity College under the old system; but he failed to see this in face of the fact that attention to religious duties or religious training was not enforced, and that the whole teaching of the College, as far as Catholics were concerned, was confined to secular and scientific teaching. There were different opinions even among Catholics as to the best remedy for the state of things of which they all complained. His view was that a part of the endowments of Trinity College, or a substantial sum derived from other sources, ought to be devoted to the endowment of a Catholic University, to which should be granted a charter conferring upon the Governing Body the power to confer degrees. Four millions of Catholics in Ireland were unanimous in favour of denominational University education, and it ought not to be denied to them simply because it was opposed by the Presbyterians, who had secured for their own purposes the Queen's College at Belfast; and the Episcopalians, who simply wished to keep in their own hands the control of the revenues of Trinity College. But the Irish people trusted the House would not surrender the rights of 4,000,000 of Catholics to the comparatively small number of Protestants.


said, the Bill of the hon. Member for Brighton, if passed into law, would not solve the problem of University education in Ireland. The Catholics claimed equality, and this Bill consecrated inequality; the utmost extent to which it went was to admit Catholics to compete for certain distinctions of which the Protestant minority had enjoyed the monopoly for nearly 300 years—and that, moreover, on the condition that they should accept as their teachers and guides men whose lives had been devoted to the maintenance of Protestant ascendancy, political, social, and religious, in Ireland. The Bill provided that the Board should transfer its powers to a Council, and that the Provost and Senior Fellows should be transformed into an Hebdomadal Board; but the new Council would be composed of the same materials as the old Board, and the more euphonious title would alone mark a distinction between the new Hebdomadal Board and the old body of Provost and Senior Fellows. "The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hand is the hand of Esau." The Bill, therefore, did not establish equality, nor anything approaching to equality; on the contrary, it went to degrade the Catholics by seeming to identify their interests with those of an inimical institution. Catholics felt bound to reject the Queen's Colleges as being founded on the mixed system; but the proposed arrangement would render Trinity College ten times more objectionable than any Queen's College, because it would be mixed education controlled and directed by an avowedly unchristianized Council and Hebdomadal Board. Large powers of exercising its liberal dispositions were conferred on Trinity College by the Act of the Irish Parliament of 1793; but how those powers were availed of to induce Catholic students to enter, and to insure them fair play within its walls, was a matter of notoriety. Was there not too much reason to apprehend that similar results would follow this change, and that a generation hence it could be said of the new Council and Hebdomadal Board— Mutato nomine de te Fabula narratur. The Preamble described Trinity College and Dublin University as "places of religion," and forthwith the Bill proceeded to enact that they should cease to be places of religion. Clause 3 ran thus:— From and after the passing of this Act no person shall be required upon exercising, or to enable him to exercise any of the rights and privileges which may heretofore have been, or may hereafter be, exercised by graduates in the said University, or upon taking or holding, or to enable him to take or hold, any office in the said university or college as aforesaid, or upon teaching, or to enable him to teach, within the said university or college, to subscribe to 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 form of public worship, or to do any act in connection with any form of public worship, or to belong to any specific church, sect, or denomination. That clause admitted of but one interpretation—it was a declaration of unbelief. Trinity College would either continue to be a place of religion, or it would become a place of irreligion; the abode of Christianity, or the nursery of infidelity. He (Mr. Smyth) should be sorry to doubt what the decision of this House would be, but he could declare with confidence the determination of a Christian people. They would have no connection with a Godless institution, nor would their young men be enticed to stray into groves of learning, however luxuriant the foliage, however pleasant the paths, where the lamp of religion, kept perpetually trimmed, did not hang from every tree. Ireland, in such a cause as this, had no need of the examples of a Lacordaire and a Montalembert; neither had she occasion to apply to any assembly in Europe for a system of education; her own history for 1,400 years attested the intense love of the Irish people for learning, and attested also that they achieved in the past such a measure of success as to justify them now in having implicit confidence in their own methods. St. Patrick, on his arrival in Ireland, found there a body of men devoted to learning, although Pagan, like that of Greece and Rome. When the Northmen came, Ireland had already won the title of "School of the West." Throughout the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. she not only contrived to maintain great schools at home, but assisted in founding upon the Continent numerous schools and colleges. A nation—for in this matter of education she had acted a nation's part—that could point to such achievements, naturally felt wounded at any attempt to treat her as an unlettered colony, without culture or literary antecedents, by prescribing for her a system of education abhorrent to her feelings and at variance with all her traditions. There were questions that admitted of compromise, but on this question of education there could be none. Ireland demanded, as of right, that, subject to such supervision as the State was entitled to claim, she should be permitted herself to decide upon the system that suited her best. The noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord John Manners) recognized that right when in 1845 he opposed the Queen's Colleges Bill, and declared that it would be "a curse and not a boon to Ireland." Earl Russell recognized that right when, on the same occasion, he expressed his regret that the Catholic Bishops had not been consulted, and urged that— Unless the Government could allay the apprehensions of the Catholic hierarchy, the very best which it could hope for its measure was that it would be null, whilst my fear is that it will be noxious."—[3 Hansard, lxxx. 1210.] Various plans had been suggested for the settlement of this question—among others, the establishment of an Examining Board, or, as he presumed it meant, an University open to all comers. Such a body already existed in the London University. An University should be in reality a seat of learning, or rather, in the words of the Preamble—"a place of religion and learning," furnished with the means and appliances necessary to promote the acquisition of all knowledge, and be the chief centre of intellectual life and action. It was not required merely to test learning, much less to be a factory for impressing degrees, and the goal of "cram." The University of Chicago set the example of abolishing degrees altogether, and he was told that upon the Continent, and in this country, scholars were beginning to inquire whether the the usurped power of conferring degrees did not constitute a danger to learning. Trinity College, it should be remembered, was established to be Mater Universitatïs, but it had never fulfilled in that respect the object of its foundation—it had never rendered itself an University accessible to other Colleges. The Minister, anxious to approach this great question in a spirit of justice and equality, would find in the statute book abundant precedents to support him. The 35 Geo. III., c. 21 of the Irish Parliament, was a precedent. The 14 & 15 Charles II., c. 2, was also a precedent. The latter Act provided that the Lord Lieutenant or other Chief Governor of Ireland, by and with the consent of the Privy Council, should have full power and authority to erect another College, to be of Dublin University, to be called by the name of King's College, and to be endowed out of the Crown lands. It did not admit of doubt that had it not been for the Union intrigues even the exclusively Protestant Parliament of Ireland would before 1800 have given educational freedom to the Irish people. It was not, therefore, without a sense of humiliation, he protested before an English reformed Parliament, in the 72nd year of the legislative connection, against an illusory scheme that outraged the conscience, and ignored the traditions of a moral, an intellectual, and a Christian people.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(The O'Donoghue.)

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 24; Noes 281: Majority 257.

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

Debate arising; and it being after a quarter before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.