§ SUPPLY—considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
Question [March 28] again proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,777,540, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or to,
wards defraying the Charge for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March 1879, viz.:"—[See page 174.]
§ MR. O'DONNELL
begged to move to reduce the Vote by £2,100, which was down on the list towards the maintenance of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland. He made the proposition for many reasons. He believed that if he advanced no other arguments, the well-known unpopularity of the Queen's College system in Ireland, the well-known fact that that system was rejected by the overwhelming majority of the Irish people—and, practically, was unanimously rejected by that portion of the Irish people that consisted of Roman Catholics, for whose benefit it was especially intended—he should say that that argument alone ought to obtain the support of the House, and induce the House to express its opinion that the cost of the maintenance of these Colleges was one that should disappear from among public burdens. His opposition to the Queen's Colleges was based upon very many grounds. In the first place, the Queen's Colleges were a numerical failure; in the second place, they were an educational failure; in the third place, they were based upon principles radically hostile to revealed religion—and, for these three reasons, their continued maintenance ought not to be forced upon the Irish people. They were a numerical failure, for, year after year, the number of students in Arts attending the Queen's Colleges, with the solitary exception of Queen's College, Belfast, only about corresponded to the number of prizes and emoluments attached to these Colleges. In Belfast, the Queen's College was an exception to a certain extent—that was to say, that there were some 50 or 60 prizes; and, on an average, from 100 to 120, 130, or 140 students in Arts. In Queen's College, Galway, on the other hand, the number of Art students rarely exceeded by more than five or six or a dozen the number of scholarships and exhibitions, and other prizes. But the Queen's College, Belfast, had been practically adopted and practically recognized by the Presbyterian Assembly as in all respects essentially fitted for the secular education of the students for the Presbyterian Ministry. They had the evidence of the Moderator of the Assembly 230 taken before the Commissioners who inquired into the Queen's Colleges, the evidence of the Professors, and the evidence of statistics, to show that Queen's College, Belfast, as regarded its Arts students, was still dependent upon the countenance of the Presbyterian Assembly, and that the bulk of the students in the Arts Faculty consisted of Presbyterian Divinity students; that the Professors in the Arts Faculty were gentlemen whose qualifications for their office had been recognized as deserving of the confidence of the Presbyterian Assembly; that no Catholic Professor had been intruded into the Arts Faculty to the class which the Presbyterian students were required to attend; and that in the entirety of the Arts Faculty, about 120, or, to speak correctly, 119 students, there was not a single Catholic. No one would pretend that a single Catholic student amongst 119 students in Queen's College, Belfast, represented the part which the Catholic population of Ulster ought to occupy and possess in the general education of Ulster. It must be admitted by the most fanatical admirer of these institutions, that in Ulster the comparative success of the Queen's University system was solely due to the fact that Queen's College, Belfast, suited the special requirements of the Presbyterian section of the Ulster population; and that, from the first day of its origin down to the present, the College had never obtained, and never deserved, and never sought to deserve, the certificate of approval from the Catholic religious authorities; but it had obtained a certificate of approval from the Presbyterian religious authorities. In Queen's College, Cork, there were simply as many students from year to year as there were educational emoluments to be disposed of. Altogether, they might take the annual average as about 60 students in each College, except Belfast, where there were about 120; and that was the sum total of the studenthood of Queen's Colleges who were in any particular within the influence of a liberal education. But, besides these Arts students, there was a body of Professional students, and they bore no relation to the Queen's College system in Ireland except that of being technically educated in the neighbourhood of an Arts Faculty. The class-rooms, and training-rooms, 231 and dissecting-rooms of the medical students were simply to a greater or less extent under the same roof with the class-rooms of the Arts students; but beyond that fact, there was practically no other connection with the Queen's College system in Ireland. Now, he would ask the House to remember that when the Queen's Colleges were first established, this question of providing for the Professional education of Irish students by no means occupied the attention of the House; that the House was desirous of establishing a system of general and liberal education for the youth of Ireland, and that they did not consider then, just as on reflection they could not consider now, that establishments for merely Professional training could meet the liberal educational wants of the youth of Ireland. With the permission of the House, he would quote a few extracts from the evidence of Sir Robert Kane, the late President of Queen's College, Cork, before the Queen's Colleges Commission, and it was very important that the House should take note of this fact—that the Queen's Colleges were not established to promote mere Professional training; that they were established to promote a liberal education; and that it was only since their failure to answer the end for which they were established that the number of Professional students had been quoted as an instance of their success, or, rather, for the purpose of palliating, and to a certain extent disguising, their failure. Sir Robert Kane was asked—But the studies, as originally framed, provided for the three Faculties of Arts, Law, and Physic?He replied—I think not. The idea was, in the first instance, to develop the Faculty of Arts on a large scale. Subsequently to this it was proposed that the Faculties of Medicine and Law should be constituted, and I fully concurred in the subsequent arrangements made for those Faculties. The plan for the constitution of these Colleges had been brought up and approved by the Government on the supposition of there being but one Faculty—namely, that of Arts, with Schools of Engineering and Medicine.Of course, when they recollected that the Faculty of Arts was the only proper University Faculty, the only Faculty which gave that general education which ought to be possessed by the Professional 232 student before embarking on his Professional studies, the only education which converted an uncultured man into a cultured man, it was quite apparent that, looking to the want of general culture in Ireland, the House, at the establishment of the Queen's Colleges, could not imagine, and could not have imagined, that the want of general culture could be satisfied by providing the mere training schools of Professional knowledge. Engineering was a highly useful science. Their bridges, their railways, and their public works were necessarily indebted to it. Medicine was a highly useful and noble science; but the doctor, fully accomplished in medical knowledge, skilled in surgery, acquainted with the nature and the treatment of all possible diseases, was not a man who could be described as a man of education, unless, besides his Professional studies, he had made himself acquainted with polite letters, with liberal learning, with history, literature, the science of society, with the experience to be derived from the study of man in the past and in the present, with some fair knowledge of those literatures which were cherished as the best means of cultivating the taste and purifying the judgment—unless, in a word, the medical man was also an educated man, they recognized that, however valuable his services might be to the cause of humanity in his Profession, he could not be quoted as adding to the general sum of public culture. Well, in the Queen's Colleges, differing from so many other Universities, differing from all others worthy of the name—in the Queen's Colleges, from the first day the Professional student entered to the day he left possessed of his medical degree, he was not required to go through any Arts course whatever. He passed the Matriculation examination, he acquired during his first session some smattering of French—enough to enable him to smash out the meaning of those common Latinized words that were in both the English and the French languages, so as to enable him to get at the meaning of medical works written in the French language; but no history, no social science, no Latin or Greek letters, no modern letters, nothing of a general liberal education was ever demanded from, or was ever impressed upon, the Medical student of the Queen's University. In the University of Dublin, 233 up to a late date, and, he believed, up to the present time, although the demoralizing influence of the example of the Queen's University had already gone a great way towards lowering the standard of education in the old University of Trinity College—up to a recent date, at any rate, no student of Trinity College could obtain a degree in the University of Dublin as Bachelor in Medicine without having previously gone through his course in the Faculty of Arts, and, as he was informed by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), that was still the rule. On the contrary, the Doctor in Medicine of the Queen's Colleges could take his degree, and need not produce any other degree whatsoever, either from the Queen's University, or any other University, in attestation of his having passed through an Arts course. The House would at once perceive the vast difference. The medical men of the University of Dublin could be quoted to the credit of the University; because, as a fact, they had passed through the Arts course. The medical men of the Queen's Colleges could not be quoted to the credit of the Queen's University in Ireland, for the very simple reason that they had not passed through any Arts course. Notwithstanding that, year after year, in the elaborate speeches that were delivered at annual vacations at the Colleges, and too often by official Gentlemen in the House, the number of students attending the Queen's Colleges—without any distinction being made between the Arts students and those mere nominal students in the Medical Schools—were all lumped together, and quoted as being glowing evidence of the progress of the Queen's Colleges in the affections of the people of Ireland. It was deplorable that the Queen's University should have been driven to those shifts; it was deplorable that the Queen's University, instead of impressing upon its Professional graduates the obligation of literary culture, should actually have quoted those mere Professional students as instances of the success of the University system of which they were only nominal members. But what was more deplorable still was the persistent manner in which officials in the House allowed their eyes to be blinded to the facts of the case, and quoted year after year these sham instances of University education 234 for the purpose of turning aside and avoiding the just complaints of the people of Ireland. During the 30 years of its existence the Queen's University had only produced 1,000 graduates, which was an average of little more than 30 per annum. Now, were even the Arts graduates really what they ought to be? The Arts course at the Queen's University was of only three years' duration, beginning with the Matriculation examination and ending with the Degree examination; and the character of the education given might be judged of from the nature of the examination imposed upon students entering, and students graduating. Before the Queen's College Commission, one of the witnesses admitted that half the boys at Harrow knew a great deal more than the students who entered the Arts Faculty of the Queen's College, Cork. The Professor of History and English Literature in the Queen's College, Belfast, stated that he could hardly insist upon students being rejected at the English Matriculation examination, however great their deficiency in English might be; and when his attention was called to the fact that a student who proceeded to Medicine would not have his knowledge of English tested in any subsequent year, the witness admitted that a man might go through the whole course of the College and obtain a degree in Medicine without having any competent knowledge of the English language. He added, however, that of course he would not pass a student who came utterly ignorant of the English language—a saving clause, which spoke volumes for the knowledge of the English language and literature which students entering the Queen's University were expected to possess. The Professors of Greek, Latin, Mathematics, and French all made the same confession. The President of the Queen's College, Belfast, roundly stated that students came with nothing that could be called classical knowledge, French knowledge, mathematical knowledge, or any kind of knowledge whatever. Professor Thomson, the Greek Professor at the Queen's College, Galway—previously a schoolmaster at Edinburgh—recently admitted that in becoming a Professor his duties had not altered in the slightest degree, the work of the College so far as Greek was concerned being, in fact, the rudimentary work of schools. Of 235 course, students admitted with that amount of ignorance could not be turned out real graduates, with a three years curriculum. The problem, then, which presented itself to the governing mind of the Queen's University was how to turn these extraordinary students into apparent graduates, and the course upon which they had hit was, in the first instance, to establish 17 varieties of honour degrees, by which students of the most limited capacity were enabled to pass. These students only required, so to speak, one-seventeenth of the general mass of knowledge which it was desirable they should possess. Then, those who chose to pass without honours—and they were the great majority—were allowed to select from some 13 subjects variously marked, of the value of one or two each, so as to reach a total of four. Thus "English Language and Literature" was marked two, Mathematical Science, two; Latin, one; Greek, one; Political Economy, one; and so on. Provided the students selected subjects which totted up to the value of four, he might vary his course to any extent. The Committee would perceive, therefore, what little guarantee for a general uniform system of education was given by these University Colleges. The innumerable permutations and combinations to which he had referred would be largely diminished if there was a high standard for the Matriculation examination—some security that the students entering possessed a certain amount of culture. Leaving out of sight the fact that they could pass for the Degree examination with a sort of piecemeal knowledge, it was plain that, entering the University as they did with the rudiments of Greek and Latin still to learn, and with a mere superficial knowledge of Mathematics, French, English, and so on, they were only sham students, and at the end of three years could only be sham graduates. That a number of distinguished men were to be found amongst the 1,000 graduates which the Queen's University had turned out did not affect the question. It was only to be expected that amongst that number there should be some ambitious spirits who would not be bound down to the strict requirements of their University education. Amongst the graduates of the Queen's University he could quote distinguished members of the Dublin Bar, of the 236 Indian Civil Service, &c.; but it was not by such exceptional instances that the good or evil influence of the University could be tested. It was by the nature of its Matriculation examination and of its Graduate examination—for it was this alone which set the general standard of culture throughout the country. He would now ask the Committee to consider whether the system of intermediate education in Ireland could be real when it had to compete with a University of this kind, which constantly drew off schoolboys and transformed them into collegians, when in reality they were only schoolboys. It was impossible for schoolmasters to keep their schoolboys at school long enough for them to master the elements of education, in presence of the attraction of University scholarships and of a University reputation. To return to the University, he would point out that not only was the examination for the pass degree so unfortunately varied, but the standard in each branch was extremely low. According to the Regulations of 1868, the examination in Greek for the degree of Bachelor of Arts extended to two books of Xenophon, and to the 9th Book of the Iliad of Homer, with prose composition in Greek; the examination in Latin comprised Sallust and the Satires and Epistles of Horace; and the examination in History only extended over English History from the year 1603 to the year 1702. Notwithstanding that its educational requirements were so low, the Queen's University was a failure, numerically speaking, and on that ground, also, he opposed the granting of money for its support out of the public funds. Neither he nor anyone in that House, to his knowledge, was anxious to deprive the Secularists of the benefits of a University education in Ireland; but his indulgence did not extend to the providing of the Secularists with a sham secular education. He claimed for the people of Ireland that the present sham system should not be continually quoted against them as a reason for denying them the benefits of a system of education in conformity with their religious convictions and their educational requirements; and that they should not be called upon to support a system of education that was no less hostile to secular knowledge than to Catholic faith, and even to revealed religion. 237 These Colleges, in a word, were hostile to the communication of sound and thorough learning in any respect whatsoever.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Item of £2,100, for Queen's Colleges, Ireland, be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. O'Donnell.)
also opposed the Item, not merely from a desire to establish religious equality, but also from a conviction that under the present system of education in all its branches—University, intermediate, and primary—the Irish people of every class were left without the means of enlightenment and capacity for progress which they were entitled to enjoy. He believed there was scarcely a single short-coming in the national character which could not be traced to the defective system of education prevailing. Not merely in polite letters, and in their knowledge of Latin and Greek, but in general education, the Irish middle-class of the present day did not stand on a par with the generation that was passing away. Now, he attributed this to some extent to the Queen's Colleges; which not only were ineffective in their own spheres, but had caused the disappearance of good intermediate schools. Finding themselves unpopular, they had done everything in their power to draw away boys from the intermediate schools, and their allurements had been too successful. They had, in fact, killed the intermediate schools. In the town of Galway, a few years ago, there was an excellent intermediate school which sent up good students to Dublin University; but since the establishment of the Queen's College in that town, it had declined and died away. A new and excellent intermediate school did exist under the control of the Jesuits; but it was only by resisting the Queen's College on religious and other grounds that this school maintained its footing. Although the Queen's Colleges were unacceptable to the mass of the people, still, if they performed their duty with dignity and imparted something like an adequate Arts education, they might have done some good—they might have given a tone to the intermediate schools from which their matriculated students came, and established something like competition amongst them. The London University, which maintained a high 238 standard of Matriculation examination, had affiliated to it, he believed, two Roman Catholic Colleges in Ireland, and even in that limited way had done a great deal for intermediate education in Ireland. No doubt there were men sent forth by the Queen's Colleges who ranked very high at the Irish Bar for general culture as well as Professional skill; but in Ireland the general study of literature, &c., seemed always to be associated with the study of the law, and he rather thought it was the Bar which had made these men what they were. Of course the means of obtaining a good University education existed. The Irish people did not complain that it was not possible to get a good education at the Queen's University. What they did complain of, so far as the education there furnished was concerned, was that students could obtain the degree of M.A., ranking in appearance with the degrees of Oxford or Dublin, without being really entitled to it, and that medical men could pass their examination without the knowledge which they ought to possess. The Chief Secretary for Ireland admitted that the University question in Ireland ought to be dealt with, and that the demands of the people of Ireland for a system of education consonant with their religious feelings ought to be considered. Now, if he saw any reason to believe that this admission on the part of the Chief Secretary would be followed up by legislation, he should hesitate to offer opposition of the present kind. But what was the fact? The Chief Secretary had been twice asked this Session when the measure he indicated was to be brought forward, and on each occasion his reply was that that depended upon whether the Grand Jury Bill was proceeded with this Session. Now, did the Government mean to say that if hon. Members from Ireland, in their discretion, chose to object to a certain measure of reform in one direction in Ireland, they were not to be allowed to have a measure of reform in another direction—namely, one dealing with the subject of intermediate education? Such a principle, if they persisted in it, could only be regarded as a principle of punishment and retaliation, and would call for the most active opposition which the Irish Members could bring to bear on other measures in that House. He felt so convinced of the necessity 239 of legislating on this subject in all its branches, that he should avail himself of every Form of the House for the purpose of promoting it; and in that course, he believed, he should be backed up by the Representatives of every popular constituency in Ireland.
§ DR. WARD
regretted that it should be necessary to attack an institution which, with all its faults, had certainly done a great deal of good in Ireland, and which he, for one, looked back upon with gratitude and pleasure. But the action of this and of preceding Governments left hon. Members from Ireland no choice. It was rare that that House had even partially attempted to grapple with the difficulties of education in Ireland, and year after year the people of Ireland had to submit to its incompetence or disinclination to deal with a system which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had described, in introducing his University Bill, as "intolerably bad." Thus, the Irish Representatives were forced to oppose Votes and Estimates which they could not but regret opposing, in order to obtain the consideration of their case. He would not enter into the various questions raised by the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell). There was much in what the hon. Member had said as to the defects of the education given at the Queen's Colleges; but many of those defects were due to the Government having placed the Queen's Colleges in a most anomalous position—as secular institutions in an intensely religious country. If the Queen's Colleges, therefore, had had to resort to questionable means to obtain students, it was the Government and not the Colleges who were to blame. The whole system of education in Ireland—primary, intermediate, and University education—required revision. In England and Scotland the Universities were independent of the State, but in Ireland every department of education was under the Governmental yoke. The Irish people objected to this system almost as much for its official as for its secular character. They did not object to secular education in itself; but they complained that the Roman Catholics, for their part, should have no State recognition, no aid from the public purse, whilst forced to pay for a system they objected to. The Government exercised 240 in Ireland a spirit of intolerance which they dared not show in England or Scotland; and, as long as they persisted in that spirit of intolerance, they must expect opposition on the part of the Irish Representatives in that House. The merits of the various Colleges were beside the question. What he and others insisted upon, and must insist upon continuously until they obtained it, was a system of education for Ireland which should be untrammelled by the Government, and which should allow the Irish people to educate their children in accordance with their religious convictions.
§ MR. PARNELL
regarded it as proved that the Queen's Colleges did not supply the amount of University education of which the people of Ireland stood in need, and that, notwithstanding the efficient instruction given in certain branches, their degrees were far from being what they ought to be. The education that these Colleges supplied, in fact, was of the most imperfect and rudimentary character, and entirely unworthy of the name of University education. It was thought that doses of public money would cure Irish grievances; but this money the Irish people did not want. Part of it was Irish, no doubt; but it was raised for the purpose of providing University education, properly so-called, and this was not supplied. It was not sufficient that the Queen's Colleges should supply good intermediate or primary education. That was a different branch of the subject which the Irish people were entitled to have considered also. These Colleges did not supply the education required of them, and until they did so they ought not to obtain grants out of the public funds.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, he would freely admit that much might be said in favour of the Colleges as Professional training schools, and he would not rest his opinion on the grounds of their deficiency in the Arts degrees, although they were no doubt defective in that respect. He would have protested against the existence of these Colleges even if they had been model Schools of Arts; because they had been formed in defiance of the wishes of the people of Ireland. The name given to them in Ireland spoke whole volumes against them—they were called the 241 "Godless Colleges." The Irish people had taken, very strongly to heart the fact that rather than acknowledge their religion—rather than treat it with the respect to which it was entitled as an ancient Christian faith—the Government had preferred to construct a system of Colleges in which, according to the popular sentiment, which he was not prepared to repudiate or modify, the influence of religion and the existence of the Deity, so far as education was concerned, were ignored. For himself, he based his objection to the Queen's Colleges on the broad ground that they were made suitable for a Pagan and not a Christian people. The primary aim of the Government, in his opinion, ought to have been to satisfy the religious aspirations of the people. This, however, was not done. He did not charge those who had formed the Colleges with any desire to injure Ireland, but he maintained that the boon which they had professed to give had proved to be an evil. That morning he had received a communication from Dublin informing him that a great meeting was shortly to be held under the auspices of very high personages, for the purpose of considering the whole subject. Owing to the form in which it came up, the subject, unfortunately, could not be more than incidentally discussed by hon. Members on the present occasion. He would, therefore, suggest that for the present the Item for the Queen's Colleges should be withdrawn. He did not know what difficulties there might be in the way; he only suggested this course as one which would be peculiarly gratifying to the people of Ireland, as indicating a desire on the part of the Government to consider the subject of these Colleges.
§ MR. A. MOORE
said, he was sorry the Irish Members were compelled to make this resolute stand; but their constituents really felt they laboured under what was no less than a civil disability in regard to education. While the Protestants had Colleges and Endowments, the Catholics had none, although they contributed their share of the Imperial taxation. This Parliament had existed for four years, yet the Government had made no attempt to supply this want, simply because no agreement could be come to as to the bases upon which this education should be employed. They never could be content with anything 242 but a purely denominational education. Granted that they were wrong in this demand, was it wise, just, prudent, or generous, even then, to so retard the progress of a country because they could not agree as to the way in which education was to be given. These Queen's Colleges were nothing but a standing insult to Ireland. Irishmen asked for education based on religious principles; and the very Conservative gentlemen, who educated their sons on these very denominational principles, refused to them the very things they themselves maintained. They asked for education based on religious principles, and they offered to the most religious people in the world pure secularism. This compelled him, and those who agreed with him, to take up a very strong position. Many of them did not wish to be associated with Obstruction, or with wilfully delaying the Business of the House; but their position in this matter was a purely defensive one. They had rights to maintain, and they must maintain them, or they would not be true to their constituents, or no longer worthy of their confidence.
§ MR. LYON PLAYFAIR
said, when the full discussion came on he should be prepared to show that the very thing objected to—the large Professional element in Queen's Colleges—was absolutely necessary for a poor country like Ireland. In Scotland they had found that by associating University culture with Professional training they secured the conditions of education required for a poor country, even although it was richer in mineral resources than Ireland. The Universities originally arose from the wants of Professional classes. Their training therefore should be encouraged, for it was a lamentable mistake to measure the success of the Queen's Colleges by their Faculties of Arts. It would be a better standard to ask how many doctors, engineers, and lawyers, they produced. Hon. Members complained that the Matriculation examination was not sufficiently severe. No Universities in the world had exclusive examinations barring the portals of entrance except Ireland. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge had none, though some of their Colleges had. The Scotch Universities had none. It was true that London University had, for it was not a teaching body, but a mere examining 243 University. Their Matriculation was actually the first step to the degree, like "moderations" in Oxford, or the "previous examination" in Cambridge. The Universities should be freely open to all, for their function was to teach the ignorant, not to shut their portals upon them because they were ignorant. He was sure Irish Members would not desire to destroy Colleges which were ministering to the material prosperity of Ireland.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, he and many hon. Members who were anxious to take part in the debate and to defend the Queen's Colleges from the charges brought against them, did not intend to speak on this occasion, because the Government declared it was most important that they should get a Vote in Supply that night; and, therefore, they would defer their observations till some other of those numerous occasions which they had been assured should be afforded them for debating this question.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
hoped, that, whenever the Government brought on this Vote, they would give full and ample Notice of it, in order that the Irish Members might have full Notice of the debate, and be able to come over for it. He did not believe in the power of convincing the House of Commons on this question. They might have all the argument on their side; but, on this question, they would get very little justice. But a large and determined Irish vote must make an impression both on the House and on the country. As to the two points raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Mr. Lyon Playfair), they had nothing whatsoever to do with this question. He believed it was very largely true that Universities in poor countries must be chiefly Professional; but the objection of the Irish Members to this Vote was entirely a religious one. He had no doubt they would get a very large Irish majority against these Votes, although the Government could count on two Irish official votes—those of the Attorney General and Solicitor General—and could be sure of a certain amount of support from the men who had the best chance of office. No doubt, also, a very large majority of the Irish people were opposed to their money being spent in this way. The system of Queen's Colleges was opposed to the genius and spirit of the people, and the Irish Members 244 were now resolved to make a determined stand against it.
said, that Irish Members were determined to have religious equality in educational rights, whether of levelling up or of levelling down; and the time had come for hon. Gentlemen opposite to make up their minds which it was to be. They must frankly understand that the hour had come to terminate the anomalous state of things which had hitherto existed in Ireland. He would ask English Gentlemen whether Oxford and Cambridge were of value in their country? What would England be if those Universities were closed for 25 years? Let them endeavour to realize the educational starvation the growing generation would have to suffer if their Universities were swept away, and Universities were put in their place as little in sympathy with the English character and feeling as the Queen's Colleges in Ireland were with the Irish. England had put upon them this educational famine. After for centuries proscribing all education, when a great debt was due to the Irish people, which it would take 100 years not merely of religious equality, but of generosity, to compensate for the moral malformation among the people, what had been the course of the English Government? It had been that described by Sidney Smith, when he talked of setting up butchers' shops along high-roads whore the population did not eat meat. They were offered a system which it was known was repugnant to their religious convictions, and were told that they must starve or feed on the dish provided for them. The Irish people loved education, and they were sorry that they were obliged to do violence to their educational desires in order to maintain their religious convictions. He would ask the Statesmen in that House to contemplate the condition of a people who were governed after the fashion of refusing them everything they desired, and of having something else offered them in its place. While England clung tenaciously to the system of religious education, she offered to the Irish—a most religious people—what a Conservative Member of the House had called the Godless system of Queen's Colleges. They were asked by some English journals whether there was a religious 245 multiplication table or rule of three? That was all very puerile. Of course, the exact sciences could be taught by any body, whether he was a heathen or a Christian; but how would that principle act in teaching moral philosophy and history, for example? The study of history was being absolutely shunted in these Colleges in order to keep up the miserable tight-rope balance of being neither a Catholic nor Protestant. How, for instance, could Professors deal with the Inquisition? As a Catholic, he abhorred it; and, if he were a Professor, would tell his students that Catholicism had been disfigured and nearly destroyed by acts done by the State in the name of the Catholic religion. But no Professor in the Queen's Colleges dared teach history like that in a frank and independent manner. He wished the House to admit that enough time had been spent upon an experiment which, he admitted at one time, commended itself to many wise and good men, who were ignorant of the hardships they were imposing on the Irish people. But this was over and done with; for they had determined that the educational future of the Irish people should not be sacrificed to a theory and an experiment which had utterly broken down.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, he recognized the very moderate and reasonable spirit in which this subject had been introduced. He could not follow hon. Members on that occasion into their detailed criticisms of these Colleges; but, whatever the merits or demerits of the system, the responsibility for it had been fully assumed by preceding Parliaments, and that decision had been acquiesced in by hon. Members for Ireland. The hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy) had said that he (Mr. Lowther) had made use of what amounted to a threat in reference to intermediate education and the Grand Jury Bill. Nothing was further from his intention. He merely said that the time at the disposal of the Government was limited, that they felt themselves bound to bring on the Irish Grand Jury Bill, and that, as a general principle, it was unwise to introduce Bills until there was a reasonable prospect of proceeding with them. He never said that, unless the House passed the Grand Jury Bill, the Bill for Intermediate 246 Education would not be introduced. He hoped the House would consider that the effect of the refusal of this money would be to stop these Colleges. Were they prepared for that? The hon. and gallant Member for Gal-way (Major Nolan) said he was, but he doubted whether the Irish people would follow him in that. He did not at all object to these comments on the Vote of Account, for he could assure the Committee that he was very strongly opposed to the system of taking Votes on Account at all. It was only absolute necessity which compelled the Government to take them. The Ministry were not altogether masters of the time; but he would endeavour to give reasonable Notice of the time when the debate would be resumed.
§ MR. COGAN
said, he should vote for the Amendment as a protest against the way in which the Government had dealt with this question of University education in Ireland. Government after Government and Statesman after Statesman had admitted that Irish education required amendment and alteration; but the Representatives of the present Government did not hold out the most distant hope that this Government would attempt to deal with this matter. So long as the educational wants of those who conscientiously objected to a mixed system were, not provided for on equal terms with those who had not such objections—so long there remained civil disabilities imposed on religious and conscientious convictions; and it was unjust to vote money for one and not for the other, thus unfairly handicapping them in the race for educational rewards.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 42; Noes 237: Majority 195.—(Div. List, No. 82.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next;
§ Committee to sit again this day.
§ The House suspended its Sitting at five minutes to Seven of the clock.
§ The House resumed its Sitting at Nine of the clock.