HC Deb 12 June 1874 vol 219 cc1526-60

, in rising to call attention to the legal disabilities which have prevented matriculated and registered students of medicine in the University of Edinburgh from completing their education and proceeding to graduation, on account of such students being women; and to move— That it is expedient that legal powers should be given to the Universities of Scotland to make such regulations as they may think fit for the admission and complete education of female students. said, it had always been an honoured tradition in that House to give a patient hearing to grievances caused by defects in the law, and this would not be refused when the victims were weak, and had no voice in the election of Members, and when the law complained of could easily be amended. The great and rapid strides of education in recent years had not been limited by locality, class, or sex. Although girls were shut out from all public establishments for education they had access to middle-class schools in which an increased power of teaching and advanced methods placed them almost on a level with the middle schools for boys. But these praiseworthy and useful efforts must be crippled and incomplete until they were capped and crowned by something equivalent to the University education of young men. Prejudices against education were slow to defeat. For many long years the fear that improved education would raise discontent amongst the lower classes, and lead to disaffection against the existing organization of society, had impeded the benevolent efforts of the clergy to improve their schools; and a similar prejudice still thwarted the advancement of female education, under the apprehension that higher scholastic training might tempt them to break through the bounds which nature and the ordinances of society had placed around their sex. But experience had already proved the futility of such fears. Systematic and sound mental culture tended to wisdom, not to folly. It was only a superficial smattering that misled the judgment. The chief nations of Europe were in advance of Great Britain in the higher education of women. In the University of Paris 10 female students were to be found at that moment, and Englishwomen went there for medical degrees. Women might take degrees at the Universities of Lyons and Montpellier, at all the Universities of Italy, at Vienna, and Leipzig. At St. Petersburg 250 young women were receiving medical education; some had gone from Russia to the University of Zurich, from whence they were recalled for political reasons, as Zurich was the resort of refugee Poles. The Universities which had taken the lead in this important matter were the University of London, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Edinburgh. Several years had elapsed since Professors of King's College, London, took the lead in establishing a special College for young women, called Queen's College. That experience, such as it was, had been satisfactory. At the present moment there were in the University College of London, a considerable number of Professors who were endeavouring to extend the benefit of higher and better education to young women. During the past year, in University College, there were about 300 ladies who attended these separate classes, and about 150 who attended the mixed classes of the Professors. London University itself had given certificates of efficiency to these ladies, which were intended to be equivalent to the degrees which were conferred upon the males; and recently a majority of the convocation were of opinion that it was not enough that females should receive certificates of efficiency, but that the time had arrived when the female students in the University should receive degrees. Though the numbers were not great who voted on either side, yet there was reason to suppose that the majority of those who voted on that occasion really represented the majority of the whole body of the graduates, for not long ago there was a memorial signed by 500 of the graduates of London University College, declaring that the time had come when degrees ought to be given to women. At Cambridge many of the Professors had taken a very leading part in trying to extend higher education to women in connection with the teaching of that University. The Cambridge local examinations extended to ninety female students, who were studying in separate classes. Out of the public lectures there were 22 which were open to young women to attend. At Girton College at Cambridge, distinctly founded for the exclusive education of young women over the age of 18, a system was carried on of discipline and systematic teaching which was framed on the same model as the older Colleges for men, and the result of the teaching there showed, if any one had had any doubt of it before, that the female mind was quite as capable of profiting by the instruction imparted at the University as the other sex. At a late examination, two of the lady students, who were examined for the Cambridge Classical Tripos, were declared to have acquitted themselves in a manner equal to the male candidates who obtained honours. Another, who was examined in the papers set for the Mathematical Tripos obtained such a number of marks as would have placed a male candidate amongst the senior optimes. The female students of Merton Hall attended the general lectures of the University, and the results showed that young women had the capacity and industry to profit by the complete course of University teaching. In Edinburgh, during the last six years, classes of ladies had been taught by Professors in nearly the same methods as the men. In the University of Edinburgh, in the year 1869, some young women presented, themselves with the desire of becoming students of medicine, and they were received with a degree of cordial encouragement which was highly creditable to the leaders of opinion then in authority in that University. All the authorities welcomed them. They were admitted after deliberation, and by all the authorities of the University. The Medical Faculty, to whom the application of these ladies was addressed, after mature deliberation, passed a resolution in favour of admitting them as students of medicine. They forwarded that resolution to the Senatus, who, after discussion, also agreed to further the objects those ladies had in view. Then the University Court took the matter into serious consideration. They appointed a Committee consisting of persons of high standing, who had to consider the legal features of the case, and upon that Committee was the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate who now adorned this House, and who proposed a resolution in which was recorded in these terms— That under the power given by the Universities Act for making internal improvements, it was the opinion of the University Court such regulations could he made as were necessary for the admission of these ladies as students. The University Council also concurred. The sanction of the Chancellor was given, and that was not merely the sanction of the Chancellor of the University, but of the highest legal authority in Scotland. It had also the sanction of the Lord Rector of the day, Lord Moncreiff, and by the unanimous act and consent of the University those regulations were made. They were clear, and provided that women should be admitted as students of medicine; that they were to be taught in separate classes, and one of the regulations was this— All women who attended such classes should he subject to all the regulations as there were, or would he at any future time, in force in the University as to the matriculation of students, their attendance in classes, examinations, or otherwise. All went on well for two years. The ladies attended the teaching of the lecturers of the School of Medicine, whose opinion was shown by a memorial signed by all of them in favour of admitting women to graduation. No objection had been raised as to want of proficiency on the part of these ladies, or as to their conduct as students in the University. They were matriculated and recognized as students, and registered as students of medicine by the general Medical Council, and all went well for some time, but after they had passed through half of their course, a change came over the mind of the authorities of the University, or probably it was not so much a change of opinion in individuals as that those who had been in the minority previously had become the majority. But whatever might have been the reason, a cold shoulder was now shown to these ardent students of learning, and when they had got half-way through their course of studies, they were told that the Professors of Medicine, in the Medical Faculty who were to have taught them, were unable, for various reasons, to give them separate classes. That difficulty, however, was not an insurmountable one. It might have been got over in two ways; either substitutes might have been found or assistant Professors engaged in lieu of those who were unable to give separate classes. The ladies and their friends were prepared to guarantee whatever funds or fees might be necessary, and considering the small number of female students, some amount of guarantee might have been necessary. Or another course might have been adopted. The University Court had the legal power, if it chose, of relaxing the restriction which required the lectures to be given in the University, and might, as an exception or temporary arrangement, have allowed extra academical lectures to count in lieu of the usual academical lectures. If there had been a desire to get over the difficulty, that difficulty did not seem a very formidable one; but, on the contrary, indications appeared in the Senatus that objections would be raised to the graduation. The University Court did nothing to relieve the difficulty, and the only course which remained for these female students, was to take legal proceedings, in order to get their position established, and to obtain those rights which they claimed, and which were generally considered to have been granted. The suit was decided by the Lord Ordinary in their favour, and it appeared by the judgment that the University was bound to act upon that, which had been understood to be an agreement between itself and the students, and proceed to complete the course of their education. But, on appeal, that judgment was reversed. It was reversed by a small majority, and he might observe that in the minority were the Judges of the highest standing. The judgment went to the effect that the University Court, in passing those resolutions which enabled female students to commence their career in the University, had gone beyond its powers. Therefore matters came to a dead-lock. The interpretation put upon the statute by which powers were given to the Scotch Universities was the point upon which the question of illegality turned, and it appeared by the judgment that the University Court could no longer include among the "internal improvements" the admission of women as well as men, although the Act did not contain any distinct enactment upon the subject—the inference was drawn from other circumstances that the statute should be read in that way. Now, when that Act was passed, no question was raised in the House as to whether women would be admitted as well as men to the benefits of the University. Such an idea was not then brought before the public. No one foresaw at that time that women would desire, or would present themselves to receive the education of the University. Consequently, in passing that Act, there was no deliberate intention to exclude women. On the contrary, there was every reason to suppose that if the promoters of that Act had been called upon to decide whether women should receive the benefits of this education as well as men, there could be little doubt from the character of those who promoted the Bill, and the view which on similar questions had been taken by Parliament, that it would have been made clear in the Act, that the ordinary interpretation clauses which regulated the statute at the present day would have been adopted, and the words used in the masculine gender would have included the feminine. The practice in legislation was against making an invidious exception against women. They desired that law should be as equal as possible, and he was confident that that House would not have deliberately said that the great advantage of University education should be enjoyed exclusively by one sex; that the whole of the benefits of the Universities should be enjoyed by men. Still, whatever, might be the opinion of the people who passed that Act, he ventured to think that that House, if the subject had been brought formally before it—and he was very sorry that circumstances had prevented his Bill from reaching that stage at which the House could have decided—the decision of the House would not be that the exclusive principle was the best, but that so far as principle was concerned they should throw open as widely as possible these educational institutions to women. Certainly the case of hardship to these young women he had mentioned was very great. Lord Moncreiff, as one the Lords of Session, had stated that the regulations which were passed for the admission of women students did imply that they were also to receive graduations; and that was not merely the opinion of a great legal authority, but of one who was a party to the framing of the regulations, being in the University Court at the time in the position of Lord Rector. He stated, that in his opinion, these regulations had no object and no meaning as regarded these women who intended to follow medicine as a profession, than to enable them to qualify for graduation. On the face of these regulations these ladies had entered on the course of study prescribed, and had incurred the expense of going through a considerable portion of the curriculum, and to deny them the degree which was essential to their entering into the profession was in his opinion entirely unjust and unwarrantable. He really was surprised that those who represented the University, or who had petitioned in its name, should have found so much objection to the Bill which he had laid upon the Table of the House to give to the University the power which the decision of the Court of Session took from them. The Petition which was presented by the Senatus of the University of Edinburgh showed certainly a good deal of difficulty in finding reasons for objecting to such an alteration or amendment of the law. Most corporations, as well as individuals, were not averse to having additional power given them, particularly powers which they previously believed they had, and which they had proceeded to exercise. Persons who were conscious of rectitude of intention, and a desire to do good, were anxious to have as much authority given to them as they thought they could turn to a useful account; but the Senatus of the University of Edinburgh objected to an increase of their powers. They stated that the course they would pursue would incur odium and revive acrimony. They had more reason to fear the cogency of the arguments they would have to meet, and the prospect that responsibility might convert the minority into a majority. It had never been proposed in the slightest degree to interfere with the discretion which the University authorities ought to have. It was not proposed to control them in the slightest degree. It was not proposed to coerce them in any form or shape whatever. They simply proposed to give them that legal power which they themselves had believed they possessed. It was only proposed to give them the power of making such arrangements and such regulations as they might wish to make; and he certainly was surprised to find that they did not accept that power, which would have been more dignified in them, and more in accordance with the high position they held and had accepted voluntarily. And he should have thought that to high-minded men it would have been a relief to feel that the Legislature would take them out of the false position of having inflicted an injustice on women actuated by the honourable ambition of earning their livelihood by a useful profession, and would relieve them from the charge of breaking faith with those students who had entered their College on the understanding that they were to be allowed to complete their education and become eligible for degrees. Further than that, even if the authorities of the University of Edinburgh did not choose and did not intend to make use of it, still that was no reason why they should endeavour to prevent other Universities from obtaining these powers—Universities which might be more willing to use them. He saw by the Petitions signed by the majority of the Professors of St. Andrews that they on behalf of the University desired that such a legal power should be given. They must feel that whatever the difficulties were which had interfered with the development of this scheme in Edinburgh, those difficulties did not exist in St. Andrews. The arrangement would not be difficult by which a more complete teaching in the Medical Faculty could be established in St. Andrews; and that would most appropriately become a place where such women as wished to pursue their studies with a view to entering the profession could do so without objection. He thought it likely in the present state of opinion that such a law would not be used in Edinburgh immediately. The objection, it appeared, was very strong in the medical profession in Edinburgh against the possibility of competition from female doctors. It was not universal, because he observed in a Petition presented to the House of Lords by medical Professors of the University, 12 had signed in favour of admitting women to receiving degrees, and one of them was a Professor, well known for the high position which he held. He also saw that lecturers in the School of Medicine to the number of eight had signed a memorial in favour of that being conceded to ladies, and those gentlemen had much authority and weight on the subject, because they were the persons who had themselves taught the ladies during the two previous years. What he desired had been simply this—an affirmation of the principle that it was legal for a University, if it pleased, to give degrees to women. He did not want to enter into any of the details which might be left to the Universities. He saw by a Notice on the Paper that it was thought desirable that some inquiry should precede the making of that legal enactment. Now, he thought that though inquiries might be very useful, they ought to come after the principle had been determined and not before it, because the inquiry would be chiefly useful in regulating the details of study. The inquiry, for instance, would settle the arrangements of classes and the question of the age at which ladies should be admitted. Probably the age at which they should commence those studies which might tax their strength and strain their faculties should be later than in the case of men, and it might be found that 20 should be the minimum at which they should be admitted. Still, in whatever direction these inquiries should go, the regulations ought to be made in the Universities themselves, and should be influenced by circumstances and by the views of those Universities, and not be subject to the opinion of a general Commission. No doubt, it would be well if it were possible that every regulation on the subject should not confine itself to one University, but should be more general. The Parliament which gave the University the power of making "improvements" should declare what was meant by the term, and whether it did or did not extend to the admission of female students. They had gone upon the principle in later charters, certainly in later statutes, of saying that there should be no exclusion; that all classes and all denominations should be free to avail themselves of the advantages of the University; and it was then for Parliament to declare whether it would make an exclusion of one particular class, and that particular class—women. There might be some difficulties in the course he advocated, but these difficulties might easily be surmounted. They had not prevented many foreign Universities from admitting students of the female sex, and giving degrees to women as well as to men. The question of higher education for women had many ramifications, and so far as any matter relating to education was of national concern, it certainly might be said to have that national effect. It must indeed affect the industry of the country. It appeared from the Returns of the Registrar General that there were 3,000,000 of women earning their bread by manual labour of different sorts. There must be a very much larger number of women of the middle classes who were also obliged to labour for their living, and a much larger number would be able to find profitable industrial employment, if their education were not so deficient.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present:


resumed: In America and in Germany book-keeping and accounts were largely allotted to women. The wives and daughters of the tradesmen discharged those duties satisfactorily; but in this country, their deficiency of knowledge of arithmetic was a great bar to the employment of women in that capacity. A large number of women were driven to seek employment as governesses, with culture and acquirements of a very superficial character. There was one profession which women were now endeavouring to learn, and it was that profession for which they were by nature most peculiarly suited. A woman was in her best position by the side of the sick bed or in the hospital, and those whom nature had prepared to be nurses, art could easily make into doctors. A Petition had been presented to that House signed by above 16,000 women, declaring that they desired the opportunity of consulting good medical advisers or properly qualified persons of their own sex, and that they thought it a hardship that the laws of this country should lead to regulations that prevented any woman adopting medicine as a profession. He knew that there was a considerable objection to this in the medical profession as represented in the Universities; but he had observed that in cases of alterations or innovations proposed to be made in professions, whether military, naval, or legal, the public could not submit to professional opinion. The members of a profession were often unable to consider without bias innovations relating to themselves; and much as he respected the medical profession, he would still say that Parliament ought not to give undue attention to objections which they might raise in matters relating particularly to their own profession. Let them rather look to the needs and desire of the public at large, and they would see that female medical practitioners in London and Birmingham had met the wants of numerous patients. He had no doubt that each University was amply able to make such regulations as they might think advisable to prevent any abuse or any disadvantage accruing to it. He would not interfere with those domains which properly belonged to the Universities. They were there to declare that in those Universities in the North of this Island where a statute had passed giving authority to regulate the admission of students, there should be no exclusion, but that all of whatever sex might be admitted according to such regulations as the University might make. The laws of nature had established essential and eternal differences between man and woman, differences not to be obliterated by similarity of instruction, but had not made women unfit or unwilling to take a share with men in higher education. There was no division corresponding to that of sex in the range of human knowledge, which, whether acquired by man or woman, must consist of the same facts, the same laws of nature, the same science, and the same literature. There was no natural law, and there ought to be no human law, to banish women from the paradise of knowledge or from the cultivated exercise of their mental faculties. It must be a national loss if women were prevented from bringing their quota of mental activity to the general store of national wealth, and there could be no sound policy, from a national point of view, in discouraging the desire for education on the part of women; or in preventing that spirit of mental activity which was beginning to be manifested. He did hope, therefore, that the Government might take this matter into their consideration. It was a matter which it behoved the Government to undertake. They perceived the great hardship inflicted, he might say, the great scandal perpetrated, in connection with the University of Edinburgh. He meant that the University, believing that it had legal powers, had invited into its halls students whom it had afterwards to reject because it discovered that it had not the powers which it believed it had. There ought to be a University in which degrees could be given to women, and by which they could be admitted into the medical profession. There were 19 different avenues to the medical profession, and yet every one of them was closed against women. A large portion of the public were really desirous that properly qualified women should be able to practise medicine, and yet, if women desired at present to obtain degrees, they must go across the Channel to France, or to America, anywhere rather than to their own land, because England was the only one of the chief countries in Europe where it was impossible for them to obtain these degrees. If they might take the estimation in which women were held; if they might take the position of women as a test of the civilization of a country, then he was sorry to say that England did not stand high in that respect in comparison with other countries, and he hoped the day was not distant when that reproach might be removed from our country, and this grievance which he had attempted to explain might be redressed. [The right hon. Gentleman was precluded by the forms of the House from moving his Resolution.]


said, he had given Notice to move, as an Amendment, to leave out from the word "experience" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words— That no such change should he made in the constitution and practice of the Universities of Scotland as would be involved in the admission and education of female students therein, until after further inquiry. He understood that by the forms of the House he could not move the Amendment; but he would say that if any change were to be made in the system now existing in the University of Edinburgh, that change ought to extend to all the Universities of the United Kingdom. He did not think it fair to the Universities of Scotland, that the experiment of admitting women to graduate in their Universities should be restricted to them. The Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman was nothing more nor less than an attack on the Edinburgh University. Legal disabilities always existed in that University against the admission of women, and these disabilities had existed in the Universities of Scotland ever since their foundation.


said, the hon. Gentleman who spoke last said that the Motion of the right hon. Member for South Hants was an attack on the University of Edinburgh. If it had been considered so, it struck him it was because that University deserved to be attacked for the very scandalous manner in which it had behaved to the female medical students. It admitted them and allowed them to spend their time and money, and then, because it had changed its mind, prevented their availing themselves of the status which it had allowed them to acquire at much expenditure of trouble and labour, and obliged them to seek redress in a Court of Law. He contended it was most unfair for the University to allow these ladies to spend their time and money in a vain attempt to become medical practitioners, and then, after getting rid of them on the ground that their admission had from the first been illegal, to object to permissive powers being granted to themselves which would enable them, if they chose, to remedy the wrong that had been done. It seemed to him that there was one point connected with this matter which it was very desirable to draw attention to. The State had granted to a certain number of bodies throughout the country the monopoly of conferring degrees, which carried with them the civil right of practising medicine. In granting that monopoly to those bodies, it had taken care that all that those bodies should be entitled to demand was, that applicants for degrees should undergo a certain prescribed course of study, and that they should pass certain examinations intended to test their knowledge of their profession. It had taken care that the holding of heterodox opinions in medicine should be no bar to the acquisition of degrees which conferred the right to practise medicine; that the homeopath or the hydropath should equally with the allopath be entitled to degrees. The law presented no disqualification against women becoming medical practitioners, or being placed on the medical registers, and in that manner they became legally qualified medical practitioners. Under these circumstances, he thought that not only had the State the right to say that it was desirable the Universities should be in a position to grant these degrees if they chose to do so, but it had a right to say that if they did not grant such degrees to every person not incapacitated by law, including women, they should as licensed bodies suffer the same penalties they would incur if they endeavoured to exclude persons from exercising their civil right of practising medicine in consequence of their holding what might be considered heretical. opinions. But the Resolution before the House did not go so far as that. It simply said that as the University of Edinburgh had encouraged these ladies to enter into its doors as students of medicine, it was expedient that legal powers should be given to the Universities of Scotland to make such regulations as they thought fit for the admission and complete education of female students. Having admitted them, the University of Edinburgh was bound to carry out its obligations, and if it did not care to do so, if it chose to incur the odium of refusing to avail itself of the power proposed to be conferred by the right hon. Gentleman, why then its character would be so much the worse. But beyond that there was nothing. He had read the Petitions alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman carefully, and more miserable specimens of the want of all reasoning he never met with. The Petition of the Senatus Academicus of the University of Edinburgh was signed by 12 out of 30 Professors at a time when only 4 out of the 18 or 20 Professors known to be in favour of the Bill were not present. It was urged that the provisions of the Bill were vague and general, and that they failed to take into account the legal difficulties likely to arise. He asked why this consideration had not been taken into account when ladies had been allowed to spend their time and money in the attempt to fit themselves for the duties of medical practitioners, and why the University objected to obtain permissive powers when the battle had been half fought? He objected to the proposition for a Royal Commission, simply because a number of ladies had already gone into preliminary training, and their course of studies had been brought to a dead-lock. The time which would be absorbed in the inquiries of the Commission would to these ladies be a further loss and injury. He denied that the medical profession was averse to the admission of female practitioners. The Petitions which were brought forward against the Bill were to his mind the most convincing arguments in its favour. Why, he asked, should anyone petition against a permissive power if it was not likely that that permissive power would be used? He believed that the University of St. Andrews was not unwilling, if permissive power were conferred on it, to grant degress to women. He believed that the opposition to the Motion was not an opposition arising from any apprehended evil results to Edinburgh University or Glasgow University, but from a jealousy lest any other University should avail itself of powers which these sister Universities did not like. He saw a Petition from the Principal of Glasgow University against the Bill. That Petition was signed by the Principal in the name of the University; but the Principal's name was appended to a Petition in favour of the Bill, which had been sent in his non-official capacity. On the back of the Bill he found the name of the hon. Member for Dumbarton, the Dean of Faculties of Glasgow University; and the mover of the resolution at the University Court, which was one of the preliminary steps for the admission of ladies into the Edinburgh University, was none other than the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate of Scotland. It could not be said that those ladies went into the matter without every encouragement. But it had been objected that the Resolution should not have been made to apply to Scotch Universities alone, and that it was an attempt at the expression of an exceptional opinion with regard to them. Surely the University of Edinburgh had assumed an exceptional position which justified the Resolution. There had been no similar step taken in England or in Ireland; but there was an injustice to be remedied in Scotland, and, therefore, it was proper that that injustice should be remedied.


If the House looks carefully at the terms of the Motion of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Cowper-Temple), it will be clear that he begins with a particular grievance experienced by a few ladies who desired to graduate in medicine at the University of Edinburgh, and that he concludes by a general affirmation of the House that legal powers should be given to the Universities of Scotland to educate and graduate all women, not in Medicine only, but in all the faculties—Arts, Law, Divinity, and Medicine. I only desire at present that the House should fully understand the issue upon which they are called to vote. They are not asked by this Resolution merely to affirm that a general University education is desirable for women, but that the Universities of Scotland be empowered to train them for all the learned professions. That is a large issue to raise upon a particular grievance, but that is the object of my right hon. Friend. When he first showed me the draft of a Bill which he proposed to introduce on the subject, it was applicable to all the Universities in the United Kingdom, and contained that broad claim. When I saw the Bill in print, it had become narrowed to the Scotch Universities, which were to be made the corpus vile for the great experiment; but the experiment was to be at the option of a Select Committee of half-a-dozen gentlemen called the University Court, who might or might not subject the whole body of their University to the crucial experiment, while this House, whose object is to legislate, was relieved from its duty, which they would have cast upon a Select University Committee, though not selected for that purpose. I asked my right hon. Friend to give the Universities of Scotland a fortnight to consider this grave proposal before he pressed his Bill, and I see that that reasonable request upon my part is construed into a Machiavellian scheme to defeat the Bill of my right hon. Friend in an un-Parliamentary manner. The Motion now before us asks us to pledge ourselves that legal powers should be given to the Universities of Scotland to open up all their educational resources to female students. Why limit the powers to the Universities of Scotland? If it be right that we should give legal powers to them, it is equally right that such powers should also be given to the Universities of England and Ireland. The constituted authorities of the Scotch Universities have not petitioned you to grant them these privileges. Neither the University Court, the Senatus Academicus, nor the General Council—the three constituted bodies—has asked us to give further powers for that purpose. It is true that eight out of the 14 Professors of St. Andrews have petitioned in favour of the Resolution; but they, in the whole body of the University Council, are only eight out of 1,200 members. In Edinburgh, 12 out of the 35 Professors have petitioned; but the body of its members of Council is upwards of 3,600. As Professors, their evidence is valuable, as an indication that they are prepared to teach; but beyond that, their voices in favour of or against the proposal are no greater or less than those of an equal number of the members of the University. The opinion of that large body, so far as I am aware, has never found expression. Suppose you pass the Resolution, what would be the result? You must be prepared to follow it up by a humble Address to Her Majesty, praying that new charters be given to the four Universities. They cannot admit women to the full privileges of the Universities, under the present charters, and you are not accustomed by statute to over-ride the fundamental constitution of Universities; but even if you did so, you would not be one step nearer the attainment of the end. The Scotch Universities are poor, and have not the means at their disposal of trying large experiments. Let us confine our attention at present to the first part of my right hon. Friend's Resolution—the case of female medical students. In Scotland, as elsewhere in the country, there is a strong repugnance to mixed classes of male and female medical students. It is thought that such subjects as anatomy, physiology, and midwifery cannot well be taught to mixed classes of young men and young women. Therefore, by common consent, the classes hitherto attempted have been separate. The whole organization of our Universities up to this moment has been for male students, and all their resources are adapted to this purpose. In Edinburgh, for instance, we have a prosperous medical school—much the largest in the Kingdom. We cannot suddenly fit that organization, for female students in separate classes, without a large augmentation of the resources of the University. The present Professors, having classes of 100 and 200 male students, who require full attention, cannot divert a moiety of that to a new class of female students. The result would be, that the educational resources of the Medical Faculty would be rendered unproductive both to the males and females. The advocates of the Resolution know that, and argue that female medical students may be taught by extra academical teachers outside the walls of the University. But although Edinburgh allows a certain number of subjects to be taken at other Universities, and a limited number at recognized medical schools, still the fundamental principle of its constitution is, that the University is a teaching, and not a graduating body. The University cannot delegate all its teaching functions to external teachers, more than it could delegate its graduating functions to non-academical examiners. To show that the University is chiefly frequented for its teaching instead of for its graduation, I may mention that of all its medical students, only 48 per cent graduate, the others being content with lower medical qualifications than the University degrees. Take it in another way. The University allows two of the four years for study, to be taken at courses of lectures outside the walls of the University. Of the 246 graduates of the last three years, only five have availed themselves of this privilege of two years, and seven have taken one year outside. It is clear, then, that to educate women outside the University would not give them academical advantages. To admit that female students should be educated anywhere and then graduate within the University, would be subversive of its constitution; for if you gave this liberty to females, you must extend it to males, and the Edinburgh University teaching system would become the London University graduating system, which would be an entire change in its constitution. And such a system would be particularly injurious to Scotland, where there is no resident collegiate system. Our students when they come up to our Universities from country parishes, are often raw enough as it is, but what they would turn out under a mere graduating system, without collegiate training, I can only speculate. If the House follow up the Resolution by enacting that Scotch Universities may or shall open themselves to female students, it must either subvert their present constitution, or largely augment their educational resources. I am sure it will take the latter and not the former alternative; but it must be prepared to do so. If the experiment were made upon Oxford, Cambridge, or Trinity College, Dublin, we might reasonably expect from their large resources, that they should find funds for the trial of this great experiment in female education. But, when the poverty of the Scotch Universities necessitates that we should and them by a small annual Vote of £18,000, how can we expect, without a large augmentation of that vote, that they, instead of the rich Universities of England and Ireland, should be enabled to try the important experiment of whether the institutions which have been organized for and adapted to men may be made suitable for women. I am desirous, if possible, to avoid the irritating aspect of the question before us. Certain ladies were grievously disappointed because, having by uncommon perseverance succeeded in placing themselves on the matriculation roll of Edinburgh University, they did not succeed in completing their education. From what I have said the reason is obvious. They came in as an experiment, and that experiment failed. They ascertained two facts, with great hardship to themselves—first that the educational resources of the University were inadequate to educate female students, and second that the legal powers of the University were insufficient to crown that education by graduation, if the resources had been sufficient. The hardship to the ladies who made the experiment was great; but its failure cannot justify legislation for this particular case, without full consideration of its relations to the general questions involved in it. The Resolution will not help on the desired reform by a single step, unless the House is prepared to follow it up much further, by adapting all the Universities of the Kingdom, both as to their constitution and resources, for this great development of their educational functions. I do not think that Government could take up a higher or a nobler work than that of opening up our schools and Universities to women. But when they engage in this work, it must not be approached in the spirit of the Resolution. They must make ample provisions for the work being performed; for it is clear that institutions limited to one half of the human race, cannot adapt themselves to the other half without much preparation and organization. It may be that the Universities, which by long experience have been adapted to men, may not in their present form be fitted for women. There is, at least, sufficient doubt on the subject to make us cautious in legislation. So far as American experience of mixed Colleges has gone, it appears, on the ground of intellectual teaching and morality, that the fitness of both sexes is the same—but on the ground of health, it is still doubtful whether women can bear the strain of University studies. This subject is being fully discussed at present by American medical men, and is exciting keen interest in this country. I do not attach much force to the objection, because I think it could be obviated by a postponement of the age at which female students might be matriculated. But I do not think it improbable that a different course of studies ought to be followed for male and female students. We ought to give the women of this country a higher and nobler education, instead of the narrow and trivial education which they now receive. But if our Universities were thrown open tomorrow to women, are there half-a-dozen in any University town who by their school training could follow the course snecessary for one of our degrees? The degrees in Arts, Law, Divinity, or for Doctor of Medicine, all involve a knowledge of Greek. I know of only two small schools in which that is given as a subject of female education. That which I have given as an illustration in regard to Greek holds also, in a less degree, as to other fundamental studies, such as Latin and mathematics. Therefore you must make female degrees lower than male degrees—that is, you must fundamentally change the educational requirements of graduation, or you must revolutionize the preparatory schools of the country in regard to female education. The latter course is devoutly to be wished; but it will not be attained by the Resolution. Whenever the Legislature undertakes to discuss this question with a serious intention of action, I will range myself on the side of those who desire to open up our schools and colleges to women on conditions suitable to the sex. But I cannot support the Resolution, because, were it passed, it would disturb everything and settle nothing, and because, in the present condition of our Universities, new hopes would be raised which could only result in fresh and bitter disappointments.


believed he was only following recent precedent in rising immediately after his right hon. Friend to state why he took a somewhat different view from him on the subject before the House. His right hon. Friend who on the present occasion, at least, was rather illogical in his conclusions, contended that the adoption of the Resolution would be of no avail, unless the House were prepared to extend to the Universities of Scotland, or some one of them, the means necessary to carry it into effect. His answer to that statement was to entreat the House and the Government to take the earliest opportunity of dealing generously and liberally with the question of the education of women. There were two questions involved in this subject which the House might fairly consider and decide—a question of public policy, and a question of private grievance. There was a question of principle involved, as to whether women ought to have the desired facilities for obtaining a, University education, and that was obviously a matter for the consideration and decision of Parliament. Then, there was the question whether, in their conditions and circumstances, the Universities could offer those facilities to women who might apply for them, and that was clearly a matter for the consideration and decision of the local authorities. He entirely concurred with the opinion expressed, that great difficulties existed; but they were of a character which the authorities of the Universities might themselves remove. What was the history of the movement? In 1869 a number of ladies applied to the University of Edinburgh for medical matriculation and their application was promptly acceded to by the University authorities. Difficulties, however, subsequently arose, and the authorities took shelter in the meshes of the law. The ladies applied to the Law Courts and the Judges by a bare majority decided that the University had not power to receive lady students. The University should then have applied to Parliament to amend the law; but instead of that, when a Bill was introduced by his right hon. Friend, the first Petition against it came from the University of Edinburgh. It had been said that the question of the education of women in the Universities should be relegated to the local authorities, and was not worthy the consideration of Parliament. He was entirely opposed to that opinion. The mode in which the education should be given was a minor one, and one to be decided by the local authorities, and the question whether facilities ought to be afforded to women ought not to be left to them; but the House would not err in enabling the Scotch Universities to carry out what the Edinburgh University proposed to do, and if it was retarded for the want of additional funds, he had no hesitation in saying that no expenditure of public money could be more useful or creditable to the Government than voting, for the first time in its history, the means for opening University education and the medical career to its female population. The House having decided to supply the means for affording additional facilities for the education of women, the question as to the fitness of the Universities to supply it, might very safely be left to the Universities to work out. An hon. Baronet on the opposite benches (Sir Wyndham Anstruther) had recommended the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the general question of the disabilities of women with respect to education, but for his own part he trusted that neither the House nor the Government would lend itself to such a proposal. Royal Commissions were too often the refuge of the destitute in opinion. The question whether women ought to have those educational advantages afforded them was one for discussion in that House and for the decision of Parliament. Hon. Members did not want any Commission at all to tell them how to vote on that question of principle. If it was decided in their favour, there was at least one University in Scotland which would give women the advantages of a good, general, higher education, and especially a medical education. The House had to consider not only as to what was right in principle, but also as to what was fitting in point of time and the demands of public opinion. He thought that the numerous Petitions which had been presented, and the general movement out-of-doors on the subject, showed that a demand had arisen for the admission of women into the Universities, which, sooner or later—and the sooner the better—they would be obliged to concede. The success of the Cambridge University examinations, and the large proportion of female students who presented themselves and who were successful, was an encouragement to extend the system, and to give women the advantage of a liberal education. Why should that not be done in the Universities which was the rule in all out-door lectures on scientific or other subjects where men and women assembled together? During the' last seven years the tickets for ladies attending the classes of the Edinburgh Ladies' Educational Association had varied from 277 to 313, and the classes for ladies in addition to the mixed classes were also largely attended. In face of such facts and in face of the demand on the part of the ladies themselves, it behoved Parliament to be very careful in barring the doors against young women who desired to enter into an educated profession, by artificial, unnecessary, and unjustifiable restrictions. There was no restriction placed by the Common Law upon women entering into trade; they were only excluded from the professions; and those who were afraid that there would be an "ugly rush" to the professions if they were thrown open showed very little reliance upon those disqualifications of nature and sex on the part of women on which they professed to found their objections to remove their disabilities. He could conceive of no reason why ladies should be debarred from entering the medical profession. The same qualities which made the best nurses would, by proper education, qualify them specially to act as physicians in all ailments affecting women and children. Apart from the private advantages which would arise to individuals, the public interest would be largely promoted by such a change of our present system, and he heartily supported the Motion of his right hon. Friend.


said, that that question was brought before the House in a particularly inconvenient form. It was not one question, but two distinct questions. On the one hand, it was put as a breach of contract between certain excellent high-spirited ladies and the University of Edinburgh. That was the question raised by the right hon. Member for South Hants (Mr. Cowper-Temple), but all the speakers who succeeded him on the other side of the House, with those fraternal differences natural to the Opposition front Bench, superadded a subject of discussion not upon the Notice Paper—the educational equality, or the reverse of women and men. The right hon. Gentleman who spoke last raised another interesting and important question—the value of Royal Commissions. He said that they were "the refuge of the destitute" for those who had no case and no argument. When he heard a right hon. Gentleman who for five years had been in that Cabinet of all the Talents, which stirred all things in heaven and earth, and which above all things had rejoiced in Royal Commissions, say that Royal Commissions were only "a refuge for the destitute" he was bound to accept that description of them. He (Mr. Beresford Hope) now came to the women. He claimed for himself, and for any other man in the House who was opposed to so-called "women's rights," to be as earnest advocates as any in the world for the solid and more complete education of women as any enthusiast who claimed for them graduation in Medicine, Law, or what not. That demand had nothing to do with the question whether men and women were better or worse than each other. That was a question not upon the Paper, but it had been raised. The answer was another question. "Are the two sexes the same, or are they different?" The right hon. Gentleman must take the whole of the consequences of his argument. It was no more derogatory for women to be excluded from the universities than for young men to be excluded from a finishing academy for young ladies where the drawing might be exquisite, the music sublime, and the dancing ethereal. If women were admitted to the Universities on the same terms as men—that meant Scholarships, Fellowships, Masterships, Professorships—it was impossible to escape from the logic of this sequitur. If there were "sweet girl graduates," there must also be "prudes for proctors." This might possibly do for Edinburgh, but he should be surprised to see Trinity or St. John's ruled by a mistress instead of a Master. [An Hon. MEMBER: Why not?] Why not? The hon. Member who kindly interrupted him had made his argument for him. For his part he would not care if the opposite Bench from which the interruption came were filled with old women, or if the great Liberal party were led by one of those most respectable members of society. The hon. Gentleman's interruption had really brought the matter to a definite issue. There were things beyond the power of Parliaments or even of Motions on going into Committee of Supply, and amongst them were the correlative position and duties of men and women. He protested accordingly against our old Universities being revolutionized in behalf of so doubtful an experiment as that which underlay the Motion of the right hon. Member for South Hants. The local examinations for women, supplemented by the so-called "University Extension," established to its great honour by the University which he had the honour to represent, was an admirable movement well carried out; but its merit consisted in the fact, that the encouragement it gave to female study was so arranged that it lay outside the University itself. A University was not a mere examination hall or lecture room, as the right hon. Member for Halifax seemed to think. If it were, the case would be different. No; a University was a home for students—a school for discipline—an Alma Mater—training youths from point to point, from object to object, and thus leading up to a complete education—the training morally as well as intellectually of each individual. Let those who wanted this sort of training for women found a University for women, conducted by women, devoted to the objects and duties in life which belonged to women. That would be a noble work; but let its founder leave to the men their Universities. The right hon. Member for Halifax said that because women were such admirable nurses he would make them physicians. He (Mr. Beresford Hope) would therefore let them remain nurses. God and nature had fitted them for it. A good nurse needed clear and definite medical principles. It was very well, then, that women should have their medical education, but let its end be the diploma of nurse, and not of surgeon. God sent women to be ministering angels, to smooth the pillow, minister the palliative, whisper words of heavenly comfort to the tossing sufferer. Let that continue woman's work. Leave the physician's function, the scientific lore, the iron wrist and iron will to men. In behalf of woman's genuine dignity he protested against the crude fantastic theories of those who would merely bring down and pervert women into feeble and deteriorated men.


regretted the right hon. Gentleman was prevented by the Forms of the House from putting the Question, for if he had done so, he (Mr. Williams) should have had great pleasure in going into the same Lobby with him, inasmuch as he himself, when studying medicine, had been among the first to advocate the medical education of The hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) wished to confine women to the occupation of nurses. The Resolution did not propose to in any way fetter the action of the Universities; but merely to enable them to make arrangements for giving medical instruction to women, should they desire it, and he could see no reason why the power should not be granted. He believed that a large number of the rank and file of the medical profession looked with intense jealousy to the higher education of women in medicine.


thought, from the speeches of the two preceding speakers, that the real question they had now to consider was, not merely whether the House should press the Scotch Universities to make regulations for the teaching of women, but whether it should go a step further, and make an appeal to the Government to grant the money to enable those Universities to carry out the objects of that Motion. Before hastily adopting that course, they ought to inquire whether the same ends might not be attained by simpler means. There were in existence different licensing bodies, through, whom medical degrees for women might be obtained—a method for trying the proposed experiment which he should prefer to the costly one of equipping the Scotch Universities with all the appliances for educating women. The University of London was different from the Scotch Universities, not being a teaching body, but a body for conferring degrees both in Arts and in Medicine, and having Colleges and schools affiliated to it throughout the country. He would suggest, then, that women who desired to possess medical degrees should pursue their medical studies at some affiliated College, and proceed thence to their degree. If, however, they were willing to meet the difficulty by granting sums of money to the Universities, he, for one, would not stand in the way.


believed the House and the country were much indebted to his right hon. Friend (Mr. Cowper-Temple) for bringing the question forward. The right hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Stansfeld) had accused the University Court at Edinburgh of breach of contract; but, in reality, it could be blamed for nothing more than having mistaken the extent of its powers. A certain number of ladies, who were described as very high-spirited and ardent, desired to enter that University as medical students, and at last by their importunity they almost compelled the Court to receive them. The Court, however, entered into no contract, except to give them such teaching as the University afforded. There was not a word said about graduation. Both those who wished to admit the ladies, and those who wished to keep them out, by a curious coincidence, were entirely silent as to the important point of graduation; but afterwards questions arose which caused the matter to be decided. It was taken before the legal tribunals of the country, and the result was adverse to the ladies. He thought that had the University authorities of the day foreseen what would have happened, they would not have allowed the ladies to enter at all. The only blame that could be attached to them was that they yielded to importunity, and miscalculated the extent of their own powers. To take a recent example in politics; he did not think they could fairly accuse the Members of the late Government who appealed to the country at the last General Election with a breach of contract, because they were unable to carry out all those promises made by them-selves or on their behalf. The immediate question which brought on that discussion was, that a considerable number of ladies desired to enter the medical profession. It had been shown by the success which had attended some ladies who had already entered that profession, that the people appreciated their services, and he was therefore of opinion that it would be the duty of the Government and of Parliament, at the fitting moment, to consider the proper way of facilitating female medical education. But, because a small number of ladies had desired to enter the medical profession, it was hardly reasonable to propose that all the Universities of Scotland should be empowered to grant degrees in other faculties in which the ladies had never asked for them. Of the four Universities upon which it was proposed by the Resolution to confer those powers, he believed that three—speaking through their constituted authorities—had expressed their unwillingness to accept them. The University of St. Andrews, he was told, had manifested some willingness to accept the powers; but, even upon this, some doubt had been cast by his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Edinburgh. However this might be, he must ask the House to look at what had happened in the University of Edinburgh itself, where the trial was made. Of the 12 Professors who formed the Medical Faculty in that University, three only were willing to undertake the duty of teaching the female medical students. Of these three gentlemen, one found that the time which he had been wont to devote to private research was so entirely absorbed by his new duties, that he was obliged to withdraw from them. Another found that the exertion required was so great that his health suffered, and his family compelled him also to withdraw. The third gentleman, more enthusiastic perhaps than his colleagues, continued his duties until his health broke clown so entirely that he was obliged to seek restoration in the South of Europe; and for two sessions his class had been taught by a substitute. Now, the experience of these three learned gentlemen was not such as to induce other Professors to undertake the duties. In fact, they could not have female classes in the Scotch Universities without almost doubling the medical Professorial staff. How was that to be accomplished? It could not be done by the Universities themselves, because they had no resources available for so costly a purpose. It could only be done by the and of Parliament and the Government. He would, therefore, personally urge upon the Government and the Lord Advocate that the question should be taken up, and that by a Royal Commission, by examination, or in such other way as might seem to them more appropriate, they should ascertain the most efficient means of promoting the higher education of women in the Universities of Scotland and generally throughout the Empire.


said, he would like to remove some of the fallacies and erroneous impressions which he found existed in the House. In the first place, the women did not seek for degrees either in Divinity, Law, or Philosophy; and as regarded the remarks made by the right hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh, about the impossibility of getting medical education for a few ladies in that institution, without the expenditure of a large sum of money, and without coming to Parliament for a grant for additional accommodation, he might state that, some time ago, it was found that considerable additional room was required for the medical students, and no sooner were the requirements of the University made known, than £65,000 was subscribed for the additional rooms required, and these would accommodate 50 times the number of ladies that were likely to ask for medical tuition. Another fallacy was that there should be some kind of middle-class schools for bringing up these ladies to a higher standard of general education before they became medical students. No medical student who desired a degree could obtain it without undergoing a preliminary examination in Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Greek, Latin, and other branches of general culture. On these subjects the ladies had been examined and had passed all that was required just as creditably as the young men. The House ought to bear in mind that there was a great difference between the Scotch and the English Universities. In Edinburgh there was no provision for students sleeping or dining, and the building was simply a large collection of class-rooms, where the students went and got instruction from able Professors. There was not even a chapel attached to the University. The discus- sion which had taken place had mainly turned upon imaginary difficulties. The right hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh spoke in favour of the principle of promoting female education in medicine, but in opposition to his beloved principle, he brought forward every possible and imaginary difficulty to prevent its being carried into effect. Reference had been made to the attitude of the University; but the opposition did not come from the University proper—from the thousands of graduates who elected the right hon. Gentleman—but from the 40 or 50 Professors who formed the Senatus. There were four Faculties. Divinity, Law, Medicine, and Philosophy, forming the Senatus. Of the Medical Faculty, there was a considerable majority against the admission of ladies; but of the other three, taken together, there was a large majority in their favour. It was, thus, entirely a medical question. Having been sent to Parliament by 11,400 electors, he had had a good opportunity of ascertaining what the opinions of the inhabitants of Edinburgh were on the matter, and especially as the University, unlike those in England, was a cherished child of the people. The University of Edinburgh was not endowed like the English Universities; it was established, supported, and governed by the people of Edinburgh until the last 18 years, when a new constitution was given to it by Parliament. With respect to "town and gown" jealousies, there were not any, for there was not a "gown" to be seen in the University except those of the Professors. If this were a question to be decided by the intelligent inhabitants of Edinburgh, nine-tenths would vote in its favour; and if it were not for the jealousy of a few of the medical Professors there would be no difficulty in effecting a settlement. If two or three of the Professors would only take a voyage round the world, the whole question would be satisfactorily settled before they returned. It had been said that the question might be settled by the ladies getting Universities for themselves. The Bill introduced would, practically, have accomplished this, by opening up to them the University of St. Andrews, which, with the assistance of other Professors and lecturers of ability, whom that University would have called in, would have accomplished this object. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir William Maxwell) said the Professors who had been instructing the ladies in the University of Edinburgh fell ill. Now, he (Mr. M'Laren) had known one of them, and he had been ill some time before he undertook to instruct the ladies; and he did not hesitate to say that instructing the ladies had no more to do with his illness than looking at the moon through a telescope. The ladies were willing to pay for their education, and where the male students paid only three or four guineas, the ladies were willing to pay, and had paid, ten guineas, so that money was no obstacle. There was no difficulty, in fact, except want of will, and that arose from medical prejudice—at least that was the opinion of the great majority of the people in Edinburgh. It had been correctly stated that the lady students were harshly used. He mentioned that fact to show how they had obtained the sympathy of the public. The ladies in leaving the class-rooms were ungallantly pelted with mud by male students, which led one of them to use strong words respecting one of them—an assistant to a distinguished Professor. He raised an action against the lady for defamation, and it was understood that he was encouraged to do so by other parties. He would not say by whom. But the result was that that assistant's grief was assuaged by one farthing damages. The sequel, however, was singularly distressing. According to the practice of the Scotch Courts, even a farthing damages carried costs, which in this case, including both sides, amounted to £800 or £900. A subscription was at once got up to pay the expenses, which showed that the feeling of the City was in behalf of the ladies. In the second action against the University, the ladies again lost, the expenses being £700 or £800, which were also paid by public subscription. He mentioned these facts to show that the City of Edinburgh had no tolerance or sympathy with the bigotry manifested by a small section of the Professors.


said, he thought the question which had been raised did not merely affect the Scotch Universities, but that it had a much larger bearing than was supposed by many hon. Members. Were the Universities to supply medical men for the use of the public, or were they to exist merely for them selves? He, however, did not think they ought to confine themselves as to how the question might affect medical men. There were three facts, the first of which was, that during the last 30 or 40 years, according to the Census, there had been a steady decrease in the number of medical men in England. A second was, that every effort at the same time had been made, by legislation, induced by medical men and otherwise, to get rid of quacks, and they were as nearly as possible choked out; and the third was, that at the same period, step by step with the decrease of medical men, there had been an increase of the death rate. There was also this other fact, that no man was allowed to die without a doctor to help death to kill him, and if the doctor was not called in, there was a great difficulty in getting the man buried. There was considerable inconvenience in a man being kicked about, and so he took the lesser of two evils. [Laughter.] Well, there seemed, great difficulty in the matter, and if medical schools could not supply well qualified men, why should they not take ladies? If the smaller number of duly-qualified men could keep that ugly customer, Death, away, there would be no occasion for those who were less qualified to come in and fill the gap. But this was not so. They had the fact, as respected the males—that as they decreased the doctors, they increased the death-rate. He did not mean to say that the doctors killed or cured people; they did their best, no doubt, whatever way it might be; but he did not see why others who wished to try to help us should not be allowed to do so. That it would involve inconveniences he could quite understand; but a University existed for the convenience of the public. If there were medical men enough he would not say a word, but with the facts that were staring us in the face, it was well that public attention should be called to the subject. There were too few occupations open to women; and in this and other professions there were not men enough to do the work to be done. Medical men were wanted all over the world, and it was a great mistake, if persons of the other sex could be equally qualified, that they should be denied the opportunity of qualifying themselves.


said, that, as the Member for the two Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen, he wished to say a few words with reference to the Motion before the House. Now, in the first place, the question had been treated by the right hon. Member for Halifax as if it were something different from what was raised by the Motion; because he entered generally into the question of the higher education of females, and advocated the immediate giving of a grant to advance the higher education of women throughout the Kingdom generally. It was unfortunate that this did not occur to the right hon. Gentleman at an earlier period, when he had some connection with the Government, and when, if the views of his Colleagues had agreed with his, they might more probably have arrived at a fruition than now, when he had ceased to be a Member of the Government. But the question really at issue, as raised by the Motion, had reference more immediately to the matter alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman who spoke last—namely, the education of females with a view to their entering the medical profession." He (the Lord Advocate) had no prejudice whatever against the higher education of women. He had not even any prejudice against their education with a view to entering the medical profession. In fact, he was a member of the Governing Body of the Edinburgh University at the time they resolved to allow the ladies to become students. That showed that he had no original prejudice against their being admitted to the profession. The first step that was taken by these ladies—and strange to say they were all English ladies—[Mr. M'LAREN: Not all.] He thought they had all been; but there might be an exception or two, and the hon. Member knew better than he did. "Well, the first application was to admit them to the classes along with male students. The authorities objected to that, and said it was quite inconsistent with their views of conducting such an institution, to permit mixed classes. They were willing, however, that the Professors should give them special education, and three of the Professors undertook to give them private tuition. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, he thought, had been too hard on some of these Professors, seeing that they were anxious that the ladies should receive instruction, and put themselves to some inconvenience to give it to them. Those gentlemen found that they could not teach a class of men and a class of ladies on the same day, and the result was, that the teaching of women had broken down, even on the part of those who were sincerely desirous of seeing them educated. Difficulties arose as to where the female students could get graduation. It should be observed that 48 per cent of the students who attended the College did not graduate in the University, so that it did not at all follow from females being admitted as students, that they would also graduate, though he quite admitted that it was contemplated at the time when they were first received as students that they would do so. It had now been decided by the Courts of Law that graduation could not be obtained. He regretted exceedingly that these ladies had been put to inconvenience, but the question was, whether the remedy proposed by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cowper-Temple) was the right one. The right hon. Gentleman's proposition was in effect, that because there had been a breach of contract on the part of the University of Edinburgh, there should be an interference with the constitution of the three other Universities. He did not see exactly the logic of that proposition; and as the Scotch Universities were teaching Universities, which could not teach female students without a double supply of Professors, the remedy proposed would involve a large expenditure upon separate medical classes, for no member would support mixed classes for medical study. If the University of Edinburgh had been morally wrong, let that University bear the blame. It appeared to him that the proposal that the London University, being an Examining Body, should consider the question of the desirableness of giving degrees to persons who did not require to be taught in classes, and who were able to prove their proficiency, would be a solution of the question. He was glad to observe that a short time ago a resolution for that purpose was passed by the Convocation, and that it now only required the assent of the Senate. There would not be many applications for medical degrees, for ladies would, he supposed, practise mainly in the towns. He was not aware of the material decrease in the number of me- dical men; but he believed the death-rate had been decreasing. He thought it probable that the discussion which had taken place that night would have the effect of placing the ladies referred to in a position in which they would be enabled to obtain access to the medical profession. He did not speak as representing the Government; but he would communicate what had occurred in the debate to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was mainly concerned in the increased expense of separate classes.


said, it was quite true that the Convocation of the London University had passed the resolution to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman had referred. But it was not certain that that resolution would—although he hoped that it might—be confirmed by the Senate. The right hon. Gentleman below him (Mr. Lyon Playfair) had first conceded that the admission of women to degrees was highly desirable, and had then complained of the University of Edinburgh being made a corpus vile for the purpose of this experiment. If he (Sir Francis Goldsmid) had any connection with the University of London, he should think it an honour to have such an experiment made in that institution. He hoped that, at all events, whether in the Scotch University or in the University of London, the great object of admitting women to degrees would before long be attained.