HC Deb 13 March 1879 vol 244 cc852-80

said, he had a Motion on the Paper, but he was precluded by the Forms of the House from pressing it to a Division on the present occasion. He did not, however, regret that very much, as the Government had taught them the value of Divisions in a manner which did not tend to assure them that a Division was always a test of the opinion of the House. The Government had its majority in the neighbourhood, and when it was wanted it would march in and vote. Still he would call the attention of the House to the subject of his Resolution, which was— That the professional instruction on the most important subjects in mixed colleges and universities is necessarily superficial and imperfect when the conditions of mixed education are observed, and injurious and offensive to one or other denomination of students when the professors endeavour to be teachers in more than name. Although continually impaled on one or the other horn of the dilemma set forth in his Resolution, the advocates of mixed colleges continued to assert that those institutions taught pure, uncoloured, and undistorted truth and science in a manner which ought to be perfectly acceptable to every fair-minded person of every religious or irreligious denomination; but he affirmed that in a mixed educational college the teaching of the Professoriate on all the most important subjects was necessarily offensive where the conditions of such education were duly observed. They could do one or other of two things—they could either leave the Professoriate unpledged and free, or they could tie it down by restrictions. If they left it perfectly unpledged and free, if they left the Chairs open to every sort of denomination, and if they left the occupants of those Chairs at perfect liberty to express their views as they chose, of course it would be quite impossible to keep up the pretence of impartiality—the appearance of fairness under the mixed education system at all. In a University conducted under such a system 20 important affairs might arise, and there might be 20 self-important Professors occupying those Chairs, satisfied with their own views, but probably differing from one another. The result would be that in passing from class-room to class-room they might find an aggressive Protestantism, then an aggressive Pantheism, then an aggressive Atheism, then an aggressive Mussulmanism, and then some equally aggressive members of the Oriental branch of the Christian Church. In the colleges which were most skilfully constructed to bear out the appearance of a mixed system the Professoriate was strictly restricted. He referred to the Queen's Colleges and the Queen's University in Ireland, which, no matter what imitations might have sprung up since their establishment—no matter how much their principle might have been borrowed, avowedly or unavowedly, by other institutions—remained the most scientifically constructed system of mixed education which had yet been invented. The University of London had attempted to solve the difficulty by having no Professoriate whatever, and by becoming a purely examining body; but the Queen's Colleges and University in Ireland were not only examining but teaching bodies; and what was the gagging provision which at present existed in regard to them? The Professor of a Chair was asked to sign a declaration to the effect that in lecturing, examining, and discharging the various duties of his office, he should carefully abstain from teaching or advancing any doctrine or making any statement derogatory to the truths of revealed religion or injurious or disrespectful to the religious convictions of any portion of his class or audience; and he also promised that he would not introduce or discuss, in his place and capacity as a Professor, any subject of controversy, political or religious, tending to produce contention or excitement. Let hon. Members imagine the effect of applying a provision of that kind over the whole sphere and area of educational subjects, and let them also imagine the position in which a Professor under the mixed education system might find himself. Suppose that there were within the walls of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland those who represented the various opinions of the Protestant world, the Catholics, the Buddhists, the Hindoos, the Mahommedans, the Oriental Christians, the Pantheists, the Atheists, and all the different sects which, since the coming and after the coming of Christ, had survived to the present day—suppose a Professor rising in his place under such circumstances and proposing to discuss any subject of philosophy or history, and to explain the influences which had been operating in any department of science, literature, or religion—he might at once be met with a remark— "Oh! you are depreciating the Catholic religion;" or, "You are depreciating the Mussulman religion;" and so on. There was not a question on which the veriest mentor might not have a right to shut up the most erudite Professor. The truth of the matter was that the whole theory of mixed education was absurd and impracticable, and that in practice it was simply a farce. He was by no means going to inflict upon the House an encyclopædic survey of human knowledge and research; but there could be no harm in making it manifest that this was a thoroughly practical question. Take, for example, the science of geology. There were schools which asserted that this earth bore evident traces of—indeed, was eloquent with abundant proofs of—the falsehood of the Scriptural narratives. There was also a school of geologists who equally maintained that there was nothing which science had discovered which in reality opposed the conclusions of the Revealed Word as believed by Christians. What must be the position of a Professor in such a case? He must be at the best cautious in expressing or in hinting at his own opinions, and careful not to give what might be thought undue weight to the one side or the other. Again, take the subject of comparative physiology. There were those who believed that the lessons of that science were fatal to the theory of the Divine origin of man; but there were also those who believed that its lessons, rightly understood and accurately appreciated, contained nothing whatever which could hurt the feelings of any Christian. Once more, take the science of chemistry. At first sight that science might appear to be comparatively innocuous, and yet they knew that in the present day distinguished men came forward and informed them that they were convinced that the potentiality of matter was so great as entirely to dispense with the Divine Creator. In these, as in other things, the Professoriate must sacrifice the interests of truth and science to the interests of refraining from injuring the convictions of any portion of a class or audience. It was manifest, however, that even in the fundamental study of the physical sciences they came upon points of differences of the first magnitude—points on which varieties of view were very numerous. Then take the question of history. He defied any Professor whatever, of any talent and experience, to teach history so as to avoid making any statement derogatory to the truths of revealed religion or injurious to the convictions of any portion of a class or audience. In connection with what century, what period of a century, what country, could that be done? Take the era of the Protestant Reformation in England, in Ireland, in Spain, in Italy, and in Germany, and on broad principles he would defy any Professor to deliver a lecture on that subject without saying a great deal which would be certain to be disrespectful to a good section of those whom he addressed.

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


said, though the attempted count-out occurred during his speech, he quite sympathized with the natural indignation of his hon. Friend the Member for Meath (Mr. Parnell). Whenever any question of Irish importance was brought before the House there was emptiness on the benches of the Legislators for Ireland. He was quite aware his hon. Friend was not opposed to his remarks, but properly desired to call attention to the manner in which Ireland was dealt with in Parliament. Neither national nor general history could be treated with any conformity to truth or science by a Professor who was under the pledge to utter no statement which might be disrespectful or injurious to the convictions of any portion of his class. It was equally impossible to deal with any other subject of importance without touching the susceptibilities of somebody. How was philosophy to be taught? How would a Professor who had drawn his philosophy from Oxford, or Cambridge, or Trinity College, Dublin, deal with the great masters of Catholic thought? What could be more calculated to unsettle the fundamental morals and mental principles of a young man than to hear his Professor vainly attempting to turn the corners of the mixed education difficulty, reciting with equal indifference the names of all the systems and sham systems and schools of philosophy and sophistry from the beginning of the Greek down to the last vagary imported from Germany? When a Professor tried to teach philosophy under the mixed system he was driven to this sceptical attitude. The objection to this system applied to every branch of human knowledge, for there was no point which could be taught in anything but a superficial way under the pledge not to hurt the individual susceptibilities of any portion of a class or audience.

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


resumed his speech. He asked how a Professor under the mixed system could discuss the influence of Voltaire on his century, or "the character of the Renaissance?" There would not be a single branch even of literature which must not be the arena of sectarian controversy, and in this country the system must work as an engine of attack against the convictions of Catholics. He entirely repudiated any thought of per- sonal motive. No more honourable men could be found than the Professors of the Queen's Colleges with whom he had to do, and any shortcomings in their lectures or teaching were attributable to the system under which they worked. That system was in this country an assault on Catholic doctrines; but on the Continent it was an assault on Christianity itself; and in no long time the Anglican Church would feel the destroying influence of mixed education, and would disappear before the indifferentism which was both its parent and its off-spring. Ruin had been brought on the Continent to the Churches outside the pale of the Church of Rome, and the same ruin was in store for Anglican Christianity if it destroyed denominationalism out of intolerance for Irish Catholics, and sacrificed their common Christianity before the shrine of plain and naked infidelity.


was sorry that no hon. Member connected with the Universities had risen to remark upon the speech which the House had just heard from the hon. Member for Dungarvan. The reason why he wished to make some remarks was that he considered that if this Resolution could be put to a vote, and were carried, it would be one of the strongest possible votes of censure which the House could pass upon the system of University education which prevailed in Scotland. The system there was that which the hon. Member had described as mixed education, and yet there were none of the evils which he had described attending it. The teaching was not superficial, there was no discontent on the part of the people, and there were no attacks upon the Roman Catholics or any other body of men. Everything went on quietly and there was no complaint whatever. If the effects which the hon. Member had described were inevitably connected with mixed education, it would be found that the people in Scotland would not send their sons to be educated at the Universities; but was that the case? There were, he believed, as nearly as possible 5,000 students attending the Universities of England, and there were as nearly as possible the same number of students attending the Universities of Scotland. The result of these figures was that while England had about one University student to a population of 5,000, Scotland had seven University students to a population of 5,000. Did not that show that the inhabitants of that country were highly satisfied with the system of mixed education? If they took the University of Edinburgh, for example, they would find that there was not even a chapel in it—there were no prayers—there was no kind of interference with the religious opinions of any persons who chose to enter. The hon. Member had dwelt strongly on what he called the gagging system, and he read to the House a declaration that the Professors of the Queen's Colleges were not to do this, that, and the other thing. Well, he could easily understand that, remembering as he did the discussions which took place at the time that the Queen's Colleges were constituted, and that the Government of the day were most anxious to please both parties in Ireland. He doubted whether they had succeeded, but at all events they tried, and those long and tiresome prohibitions that were made to prevent particular tenets from being taught were no doubt well meant, were intended to conciliate all, and make those Colleges beneficial to the whole population of Ireland. It did not appear that they had done so; but most certainly the system had succeeded admirably in the country with which he had the honour to be connected. It might be said—"Well, but Scotland is a Presbyterian country, all the Professors must be Presbyterians, and therefore they teach Presbyterian doctrines." ["Hear, hear!"] He recognized that cheer, but the fact was quite different. There were a number of Episcopalian Professors appointed, and they had just as good a chance of being elected as members of any of the Presbyterian bodies. He could speak on this point from personal knowledge. More than 40 years ago he was a member of the electing body which appointed the Professors in Edinburgh, and he remembered taking a deep interest in promoting the return of a clergyman of the Church of England who was a candidate for the Professorship of Mathematics, because he believed him to be the best qualified of all the candidates. He and those who acted with him were successful in procuring his election, and to this day he remained an honour to the University. He remembered another instance where, at a later period, about 20 years ago, a gentleman, who was a very distinguished Greek scholar, offered himself as a candidate for the Greek Chair. That gentleman was, he admitted, opposed by certain parties on the ground that he was not sufficiently orthodox for the prevailing Presbyterian sentiment. That objection was strongly urged, but it did not prevail; and he was glad to say that the gentleman was appointed, although by the very small majority of his (Mr. M'Laren's) casting vote. He was proud of having been the means of appointing a distinguished Greek scholar, although objected to by some on account of his supposed religious views. He would like to say a word on the departments of that University. There were four departments—namely, the Faculties of Arts, Medicine, Law, and Divinity. The Faculty of Arts consisted of seven branches—Humanity, Greek, Mathematics, Logic and Metaphysics, Moral Philosophy, Natural Philosophy, Rhetoric and English Literature—from which the students made a selection, and when they passed their examination they got their degree of MA. He would put it to anyone why an honest man appointed to be a Professor should interfere with the religious opinion of young men in teaching any of those branches? The gentlemen who were appointed Professors made the single declaration that they should not teach anything contrary to the Westminster Confession. That negative test was the only test. [Ironical cheers.] He had never heard of any dispute arising, or of any Professor being brought up or complained of for transgressing that declaration. Many Members present might never have read the Westminster Confession. It was framed and enacted by Parliament in England, but the Scotch people adopted it; and he believed that there was a great deal in it which many hon. Members who ironically cheered him would concur in if they would only read it. Then, in the Faculty of Medicine there were between 1,100 and 1,200 students. He believed it was the largest medical school in the world. Why should the Professor of any of the branches of medicine or surgery interfere with the opinions of Roman Catholic students? Why, it would be a monstrous perversion of everything that was right and proper. He did not believe it ever was or would be done. What, again, had law to do with religion? As to divinity, with the exception of the Church of Scotland, all the other religious denominations in Scotland had Professors of their own to teach students divinity according to their own views; but they sent them to the University for the purpose of going through the Arts classes. Now, if their Roman Catholic friends who complained of this system would just follow that example—would teach to their heart's content their own views of religion, and let the young men get their general education in the classes of the University which did not trench upon religious subjects at all—he thought they would find that, however theoretically wrong it might be in their estimation, that practically no injustice would be done to them. He had felt it his duty, as one of the Members for Scotland, to say these few words merely as a protest against the sweeping denunciations of the hon. Member for Dungarvan in regard to a system of education in which Scotland delighted.


said he was rather surprised at the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) having suddenly changed the scene from Ireland to Scotland, a country of which the Irish Members were entirely ignorant. He did not, however, at all complain of the hon. Member for Edinburgh, who had, perhaps, added a new interest to the debate by giving them his experience of the system of education in Scotland; but as that hon. Member had abandoned the Irish side of the question, he could not expect the Irish Members to follow him on the Scotch side with the same ability and the same amount of knowledge which he had himself shown. He was informed that the Scotch Colleges, with reference to the question of religious instruction, were not in nearly so bad a condition as the Queen's Colleges in Ireland. He heard that there were chapels in the Scotch Colleges; that there was a large number of clergymen in them; and that those clergymen were of the same religion as the students. He heard also that there were schools of theology in the Scotch Colleges. That was not his idea of irreligious Colleges. If the Government were to give them in Ireland some system of that kind, under which a considerable number of the clergymen belonged to the religion of the majority of the country, and under which Divine worship was celebrated, they would be very much inclined to take the chance for teaching also. In the Colleges of Oxford and Cambridge religious instruction was given. The Belfast College, which was frequented by Presbyterians, was in a condition much like that of the Scotch Colleges, and therefore it could not be an irreligious College. While religious teaching was excluded from Cork and Gal way Colleges, where the population was almost entirely Catholic, a different system prevailed in Scotland and England, where no difficulties were put in the way of Protestants. He considered this was most unfair, and he thought something should be done to place Ireland on a level with the rest of the Kingdom in this matter.


said, that the terms of this Motion were of the very widest possible description. It contained the clear and unqualified statement— That the Professorial instruction on the most important subjects in mixed colleges and Universities is necessarily superficial and imperfect when the conditions of mixed education are observed, and injurious and offensive to one or other denomination of students when the Professors endeavour to be teachers in more than name. This was wide enough to condemn without reserve the system which prevailed in the Scotch Universities, and to a substantial extent in the English Universities, in the Queen's University in Ireland, and which was recognised in the Dublin University. The Resolution of the hon. Member, in fact, amounted to this, that the system of mixed education must be a sham. How was that charge made out? The hon. Gentleman made a long speech, extending over two hours, but he had only endeavoured to show that if the subjects to which he had specifically alluded were taught in a particular way some injurious results might follow; or, in other words, if there was a system of cross purposes between the teachers and the taught, if the Professors had no common sense and the students were bent on mischief, no possible good could come of the instruction given. But these results were purely imaginary and most extravagant. No foundation in fact could be found for a Resolution so extreme as this. The Resolution, which contained no distinct reference to Ireland, was really an attack upon a system of education which had existed for years in England, Ireland, and Scotland; and the question to be considered was, what were the results which had been accomplished by that system? The hon. Member should have examined into that before he condemned it without reserve. Were there no good social and moral results from the mixed system? Was there nothing gained from the companionship of young men of different religions at a period of life when friendships were most likely to be warmly cemented? Were not these results of the greatest consequence? One could not look back upon his educational career, whether in an old Scotch University, in one of the great English Universities, in the Queen's, or in the Dublin University, without being able to recall some of his warmest friendships, which had grown up without the least regard to differences of religion. But there were other more material advantages gained by the system, and it could hardly be so unreservedly condemned when the students it produced were able, in competition, to win great and substantial prizes. He should not confine his view to Ireland. The Resolution did not mention that country. It was an attack on mixed education, and he was entitled to look at the results of the competitive examinations in the Empire. Everyone knew how successful the students were in the case of England and Scotland, and Ireland also. These were reasonable answers to the hon. Member, who, though he had made an elaborate indictment, had totally failed to advance any evidence in support of his sweeping Resolution.


complained that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had dealt in a very off-hand manner with the most important question of mixed education, which, as practised, not only led to, but absolutely involved, scepticism as to religious matters. It was true that in several respects the system, or rather, the theory of mixed education, had not worked ill in some parts of Ireland, but those were parts of the country in which some particular form of religion prevailed almost universally, and where the views of the teachers were actually in accordance with the religious predilections of the students who had to be taught. The question they were dealing with was whether there should be a school education without history as a branch of study; and if there should not, could there be a system that did not deal with the problems of Christianity? He did not care what the religions were. Of course, he should prefer his own religion. But in all the forms of Christian faith there was sufficient protection for society at present, and to teach every man his duty to the State. Physical science in education was of great use to individuals, but of no use to the State, unless the individuals were made good members of society. That, he denied, could be accomplished without making religion a portion of the education, and therefore the wishes and the aspirations of the people ought to be consulted in the system of education. Were they to ignore the influence of the Roman Catholic faith, which had lived and taught the highest morality in Ireland in spite of every opposition? He thought they ought not to do so, and he therefore supported the Motion.


regretted that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland had not attempted to grapple with the difficulties attending the system of mixed education in the Irish Universities. As was said in nautical circles, he gave a "wide berth" to that question. It was not, however, to be wondered at, in view of the fact that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was a distinguished alumnus of Trinity College, Dublin, in which the difficulty existed in its most complete form. Charges had been made that in a Catholic University the Professors would be slaves, and dare not teach anything objectionable to the priests. Well, he rather thought that the Universities in this country attained to some eminence under the system so impugned. In the declaration made by a Professor connected with a College or University where mixed education prevailed, he bound himself to avoid all subjects which were calculated to produce any manner of controversy, religious or political. If he gave his pupils his own ideas of the history of the Reformation, the punishment meted out to him would be that he would be summoned before the Council and formally warned and reprimanded, and, if guilty of a repetition of the offence, he would be forth with suspended from his functions, and his removal from office recommended. Well, how, he asked, could any such Professor in Ireland avoid references which would stir up such controversies on the part of one or more of his class? He remembered seeing a plate representing a scene in which some years after the battle of the Boyne an old Irish piper might be observed in the presence of a stalwart Irish soldier who was armed with a formidable shillelagh, and saying to the piper, "Strike-up 'The Battle of the Boyne;' I want to know how I can stand it." Might there not be some students to be found who would be as reasonable as that Irish soldier? He hoped that all traditions of the greatness, glory, and independence of University education had not faded from the land. Supposing that all the students were Protestants, a Professor dare not make use of phrases to them which Catholics would not shrink from using. If he was dealing with the time of Henry VIII., he might say he was a Prince of many virtues and many vices, but which were his virtues and which his vices he would leave to them. They paid their money, and might take their choice. It was an insult to Ireland to pretend this was to be the style of University education. The declaration to which he referred was a fetter on Professorial teaching. He had known cases of conscientious Protestant Professors who dared not treat the episode in history of the Inquisition in Spain in the manner in which their convictions would have led them to do, because a Roman Catholic student might be present, although they full well knew that such was not the case. The Attorney General for Ireland had asked what mischief had accrued from the present system? The answer to that question was this, that when they came to divert or to poison a system of education, the evil results could not, necessarily and naturally, be pointed to for a long time. The system had been sought to be palliated and defended by the fact that Roman Catholic students had gone through Trinity College, Dublin, and had not been prejudicially affected by the system which prevailed in that institution, of which every Irishman was proud. But the fact was due, not to the system which the Resolution condemned, but had occurred in spite of that system. If he were a Protestant parent, he would prefer to send his child to a Protestant rather than to a Catholic University, although students might have emerged from that Catholic University without harm to their religious principles. A system must be judged by its logical and consistent consequences, and not by its accidental products. If the emasculated conditions of the mixed system were maintained, he cared not whether in Ireland, England, or Scotland, learning must deteriorate, and a future race would grow up unworthy of their forefathers, imbecile as scholars, and a peril to Christian society.


said, he was surprised that the Attorney General for Ireland should have put Trinity College on a level with the Queen's Colleges, which had notoriously failed as teaching institutions. Trinity College was, at the time when the right hon. and learned Gentleman was studying there, a strictly denominational College, and it was as such it had been so successful. The hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) had argued in favour of the mixed system on the ground that they got on so well with it in Scotland. But he denied that the Scotch system was really a mixed system. Scotch Presbyterians had a habit of assimilating themselves and their religion to the mixed system of education, and of converting a nominally undenominational and secular institution into a Presbyterian College or University. This was the case with the Colleges in the North of Ireland. He would like to know whether any Catholic filled a Chair in the University of Edinburgh? They were bound to respect the conscientious convictions of the Roman Catholics, and to legislate in accordance with their requirements. They might call the Irish system a mixed system, but it was decidedly opposed to the conscientious feelings of a vast majority of the people of that country. It was admitted that the state of Roman Catholic education in Ireland was deplorable, and Parliament was driven to this position—that they must give the Roman Catholics of Ireland a system that they could conscientiously take advantage of, or else give up the pretence of supplying Ireland with any system of University education at all. The system in Oxford and Cambridge was most sectarian, and he did not see how it was possible, with a great variety of branches of knowledge, that teaching could be conducted from any other than a religious point of view. Were they going to have no history at all taught in their Universities? Were they going to have no theological or divinity schools, in order that they might carry out their peculiar ideas as to University education in Ireland? He said by all means let the Freethinkers', children be taught in accordance with the Freethinkers' wish, but that the children of Roman Catholic parents be taught in accordance with their wish, and the children of Protestant parents in accordance with their wish.


said, he profoundly objected to the proposition now before the House. He believed that the effect of the adoption of that proposition in the terms in which it had been expressed would be to strike a blow at almost everything which had been done for education in the country for many years past. He thought that the objection raised by hon. Members to the mixed educational system of Ireland might be traced rather to the way in which the inhabitants of that country regarded that system than to that system itself. In England, for many years past, a mixed system of education had existed without banishing religion from the schools. Why should not the same thing be done in the sister country? Why should it be impossible to teach history without rousing religious contention and stirring up questions which ought long ago to have been effaced from the minds of the people of Ireland, as they had already been from the minds of the Catholic inhabitants of this country? He wished to respect any man's convictions, be he Catholic or Protestant; but those convictions ought not to be wounded if they were founded on truth and a real knowledge of the religion a man professed, simply because he attended the lectures of a Professor of history. Since the University Tests Repeal Act was passed, nine years ago, the Universities of England had not lost their hold on the people of this country merely because no religious test of any kind was required of any person who took a degree. Yet there was no subject that was not introduced into the University curriculum, and nobody could fairly say that the Universities were irreligious. This debate seemed to him to be founded upon a false assumption—namely, that if Professors really taught their subjects, they must give offence to some denominational student. He declared that to be entirely untrue, and that it was quite possible to have mixed education without injury to religious susceptibilities. Hon. Gentlemen who opposed that system were trying to turn back the hand of the dial. Catholics and Protestants ought to be able to face a University in which students of other creeds besides their own were taught; and if their faith was not strong enough to hold its ground against such association with students of other creeds, then the sooner they obtained more firmly rooted convictions the better. Of all Christian creeds, that of hon. Members opposite had the longest tradition, and, perhaps, the ablest writers; but, at the same time, they now lived in the nineteenth century, and Catholics, as well as Protestants, must be prepared to face the world of scientific professors and historians. If there was one thing for which the education of this country was famous, it was that every subject was being introduced into its curriculum. He did not venture to dispute with Irish Members on their particular views with regard to particular Colleges or Universities in Ireland; but he differed from them profoundly with respect to mixed education. They were confusing mixed education with the mariner in which it might be applied in a particular country. It might be so misapplied that the system might be bad; but he was convinced the system was the only means of teaching the rising generation the truth of the great principles which ought to be instilled into them from their youth.


asked whether the hon. Member who had just spoken had ever found in his experience that educated Catholics were afraid of facing the intellectual issues of the present day? The hon. Member said Catholic youths should not be afraid to enter the arena with an army of Professors, and he asked, why should they not submit themselves to Protestant Professors? He trusted the hon. Member and the House would not forget the able arguments of his hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), and the declaration he made, speaking on behalf of the Catholic people of Ireland. It had been assumed that the mixed system of the Queen's Colleges was the same as the system which pre- vailed in England and Scotland. No proof whatever had been given that it was. But even if it had been proved, it did not follow that the system which was suitable to England and Scotland was also suitable to Ireland. He held the Irish University Question would never be settled except on a denominational basis, and the Irish people could not follow the advice of the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) to rest and be thankful. The hon. Member for Edinburgh had risen to prove that religion had nothing whatever to do with University education in Scotland; but he admitted that Professors had to subscribe a declaration that they would teach nothing subversive of the Westminster Confession of Faith. There was some laughter at this, and the hon. Member for Edinburgh got a little testy at it. This reminded him (Mr. O'Connor Power) of the opinion of a brilliant writer, that it required a surgical operation to get a joke into a Scotchman's head. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, when he made this admission about the Westminster Confession of Faith, really surrendered the whole case. The Irish people might have purchased peace long ago from England if they had been willing to sacrifice two things—the religion and the nationality of Ireland. But they refused to accept the bribe of the English Parliament at the expense of their religious or national convictions. Though the people of Ireland had had a long struggle to sustain education on Catholic principles against the richly endowed University of Dublin and the Queen's University, they had thought it right to make the sacrifice, and there were signs every day that parties were becoming convinced that no English Government could ever hope to settle the question of education in Ireland except upon a denominational basis, and one which would give Catholics the same advantages which Espiscopalian Protestants and Presbyterians enjoyed. The hon. Member for Edinburgh had borne testimony to the good intentions with which the system of the Queen's Colleges had been introduced. They had heard of a place paved with good intentions, but that did not make people anxious to go there. If an unjust and oppressive system was to be accepted because of the claim of good intentions on the part of its authors, the most monstrous tyranny ever practised for the degradation of man might be justified. He was glad the hon. Member for Dungarvan had seized this opportunity of presenting the Irish view of the matter to the House; and he should lose no occasion of reminding the House and the Government of the day that the demand of the Catholic people of Ireland must be acceded to if they really meant to do equal justice. The Irish did not want any special favour, but they asked the House to look at the practical results of the present system, and they were convinced they would have to say what Lord Cairns and the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had said, that University education in Ireland was scandalously bad, and that it was a scandal to Parliament and to Government that it should continue so.


said, it was impossible for a Professor to teach properly under the mixed system. Hardly any question in Irish history had excited such controversy as the Great Rebellion of 1641, and on that subject Mr. Froude had been the accepted authority, until Mr. Leakie proved that the atrocities attributed to the Irish people were entirely false. There were a thousand matters in which conflicting views were taken, and he asked, how could history be discussed, and how could controverted points be worked out, if the Professors who taught it were not to touch upon points which might excite the religious susceptibilities of those to whom they lectured?


remarked that although the question had been brought before the House in an abstract form, it enabled hon. Members to understand one of the subjects which at the present moment gave so much uneasiness and anxiety to the Irish people. Lord Beaconsfield once described Ireland as an island surrounded by a melancholy ocean, in which the people were discontented because they were not amused. Education, however, was no matter of amusement, and it was because the Irish people were like other human beings that they reiterated their demand to be allowed the ordinary liberty of British subjects—to educate their children in the way which seemed best to them. They asked that those who desired secular education should have it, and that those who desired religious education should have it; but the Irish people objected to Parliament giving them a system of a kind which did not exist in the rest of the three Kingdoms, and to compelling the Catholic people of Ireland to accept an education which some might call secular, but which was in reality denominational. Secularism and rationality were really religions. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) had felt the religious difficulty, and he proposed to eliminate from the teaching the whole of modern history, and everything connected with moral philosophy. And what was the reason why the proposal proved fatal to the right hon. Gentleman's Government? It was because he told a people fond of learning, such as the Irish were, that in order to concede what was requisite to their prejudices, he would eliminate two of the greatest subjects of education. He thus insulted, instead of conciliating them as he expected, and every man in Ireland felt that the English Government put upon him such an insult as had never been put upon an intellectual people before. The hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. Ridley) was a promising young man, and it was not improbable that he might be sent to govern Ireland, he having the great advantage, which was generally looked for in a candidate for the post of Chief Secretary, of knowing nothing about the country which he was going to govern. As a Protestant he felt ashamed whenever this question was discussed in the House of Commons, because he felt that if the issue could be tried out before a Judge and jury, the verdict on the abstract justice of the case would be against the House of Commons. If there were a good sprinkling of Mahomedans in this country, the Government would do what they had done in India by providing for Mahomedan education, and not compel them to undergo the moral tortures of being educated in the atmosphere of a religion which was not their religion. The hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) had made a most inconsistent speech. Why, only the other day the University of Glasgow got a grant of money from the Government. For what purpose? To build a chapel in connection with their University where the doctrines of the Westminster Confession of Faith could be taught to the students. They had been advised to rise above the level of mere conversation; but he thought that no unprejudiced person who had listened to the speeches which had been delivered from that side of the House would deny that the question at issue was one of great importance, and that it had been advocated from their point of view with much ability. It was a noteworthy fact that two Members only on the other side of the House had taken part in the debate; and that fact might be accounted for in this way—that hon. Gentlemen opposite did not wish to advance arguments which they knew would be replied to effectively, and to have the debate thus stimulated. What the Irish people demanded in this matter was justice, and justice only. They required to be allowed to educate their children under a system of which they approved, and they would be satisfied with nothing less; and nothing could be fairer than such a demand. The subject had been introduced in a spirit of great forbearance, and no threats had been uttered or any disagreeable things said; but he trusted the House of Commons would remember this fact—that if it continued to violate the religious convictions of so large a portion of Her Majesty's subjects, it could not in fairness expect that there would be that union of hearts and minds which alone could make up a loving people.


said, he was not able to say anything new on this subject; but he would repeat some of the arguments used previously, as the greater part of the hon. Members then present had not heard the earlier part of the debate, and as, in addition, it was sometimes useful to repeat arguments which had been used before, for they then became more deeply engraven on the minds of hon. Gentlemen, and they were more likely to profit by the arguments which had been directed at them. He had not himself had the opportunity of hearing the speech of the Attorney General for Ireland, who was also the Representative of the University of Dublin; but he believed that right hon. and learned Gentleman had devoted part of his remarks to dealing with the practical results of the teaching in the Queen's Colleges. If he had really made himself practically acquainted with this subject, he could not think that the result had been very flattering. The result was far better in the Catholic University, for there the Professors did give really good teaching, but they had not power to grant degrees; and, as a consequence, the students lost the practical fruits of their labour. Now, in all walks of life they liked to have the prizes of their labour, and to have value for their work. But in the Queen's Colleges the result was very different. In Galway they had literally to bribe the students to attend the lectures, by offering a very large number of prizes, in proportion to the number of students; while the teaching given there was, he was informed, of the worst description. Yet students, who were practically uneducated, and were almost ignorant of the subjects taught, were competent to obtain valuable Scholarships, and were very likely to get them. If that was the result of mixed education, he did not think the right hon. and learned Gentleman had any right to be proud of the practical result of the teaching in that College. In Cork, he understood, the case was not much better; while of Belfast he could speak more vigorously, because he knew the place from his personal knowledge. There was a pretty decent medical school there, and there was good teaching for the Presbyterians; but for the mass of the population—Roman Catholics or Episcopalians—it was an open failure. The Presbyterians, however, had utilized the College in a very judicious way, for they had built divinity schools immediately adjoining the College, in which they taught their students, and then sent them into the College for the rest of their classes, so far as the curriculum was suitable for their purpose. But there was no Episcopalian literary school in Belfast; and, in reality, the College was used almost entirely by the Presbyterians. Surely, then, the Queen's College of Belfast could not be said to be in a satisfactory state for the whole of the people of Ireland. It was of great value for a small sect in the North part of the country; but, so far as the nation generally was concerned, it was of no practical value whatever, and was a thorough failure. As to the teaching in Scotland, to which the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) referred, he believed all the Professors at Edinburgh were bound to teach nothing contrary to the Westminster Confession of Faith. But that was a creed which, he believed, no man living believed. Some 35 years ago he was in the habit of going to a Presbyterian church, and there found out the way in which these affairs were managed. A number of elders were being ordained, and they had to make a declaration that they accepted the Westminster Confession of Faith. The clergyman who ordained them told them he only expected them to declare their belief in the Confession as at present understood. That must be the principle on which University education in Ireland was carried on. Again, although not universally so, he believed almost all the Professors were Presbyterians. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh had, it was true, mentioned certain cases in which the Professors were not Presbyterians; but one of those was the case of the Professor of Mathematics. Surely there would be considerable difficulty in introducing anything of a theological character into the explanations of Euclid. In the teaching of mathematics, the religious views of the Professor surely might be made an open question, and it seemed that in Edinburgh that was done. On another occasion, on the election of a Professor of Greek, a Protestant Episcopalian was elected. If that was what denominational education meant in Scotland, they could put up with it very well in Ireland. If it were laid down in Ireland that nothing should be taught contrary to the Roman Catholic religion, nobody would object. Nothing would be said against it in Ireland. In these Queen's Colleges, however, so far from the Professors being Roman Catholies, they were, with very few exceptions, members of the different forms of the Protestant religion. Nobody could pretend that that was a satisfactory state of things in a Roman Catholic country, where the people wished their children educated in their own faith. Yet they could only have their wishes carried out where the Professors of debateable subjects were of their own faith, looking at all important matters of education from the same point of view. He did not intend to hold out any threats; but hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite must not think it strange if this question was debated, not once or twice, but many times during the Session. In fact, they might make up their minds that they would hear a good deal on this subject until they settled it in a satisfactory manner. As to the Board of Examiners, he had no authority to speak for the Roman Catholics, or to say what as regarded University education would be considered thoroughly satisfactory as a settlement; but he certainly thought he might say that the people would not pull down the flag if something unreasonably small were offered. An hon. Gentleman had said that he did not consider this Resolution was shaped in a very satisfactory form. If the hon. Gentleman who said that had heard the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), he would probably have thought differently; for, as it seemed to him, the case in support of the Resolution was put in a very conclusive and exhaustive manner. An hon. Gentleman should certainly hear a speech before he ventured to offer any criticisms upon it. If hon. Gentlemen took the trouble to listen to their speeches, they would probably then be able to form an opinion on a subject which was worth the attention of the House.


said, no doubt the Members of the Government would be very much annoyed at the continuance of the debate; but they must not be surprised at it. The people of England had been both deceived and disappointed by the action of Ministers in regard to University education, and they had no right to be surprised that Irish Members should endeavour to force the subject upon the House. This was well known, and over and over again it should be repeated, in order to impress upon the Government how deeply the people were pained. The Government had undoubtedly deceived them. They had, to a certain extent, committed themselves; but in obedience to the advice of Orange Members from Ireland, and of some of their evangelical allies, they had endeavoured to ignore what they had partly promised, and had tried to set aside the wishes of the people of Ireland. This subject was of the greatest moment; it was, indeed, almost vital to Ireland. This question of mixed education was now being fought out, not merely in this country, but in every nation of the world. In the United States of America the common school system had been a bone of contention for several years past, and the Catholic Bishops of that country had called upon their flocks to come forward and sub- scribe to schools that would give purely Catholic education, so deeply did they feel the necessity for it. In Switzerland and France the same thing was going on. The Conservatism of England—the spurious Conservatism of this country— would, no doubt, sympathize with revolution in France and with the Liberal majority in the Chambers there, so long as the revolution was not brought over to this country; but they must remember that that majority refused to give the education which the majority of the French people demanded. In Germany, also, the same struggle was going on. He thought, however, that the Government would hardly care to follow in Prince Bismarck's footsteps. It would not attempt to muzzle the minority, as Prince Bismarck had tried to muzzle the minority in the Reichstag. The Conservative Party in this country were pledged to denominational education, and had fought the Liberal Party year after year upon it. They were ready to cede to the Catholic minority in this country the right to denominational education in the primary schools and in the Universities, if necessary, and yet they would not give the same privilege to the Catholic people of Ireland. It was folly to suppose that the Catholic Irishmen would be satisfied so long as that right was denied them. The Catholic hierarchy recently proclaimed their wishes on the subject in the most formal manner, and University education would be made a vital question at the next General Election. The Liberals formerly held sway in Ireland, and the Irish votes year after year gave them a majority in that House. But a third Party had now grown up, which had broken their power; and was it wise, as a point of political tactics, for the Conservatives to force that third Party into the arms of the Liberals by refusing them the justice they demanded? They owed, besides, a debt of gratitude to the Irish Party, for during the present Parliament in every vote on education questions that Party had voted with the Conservatives. On this question of Irish education the people felt deeply; and during the Session their Representatives in Parliament would feel it their duty to force the question very strongly on the attention of the Government. The teaching in the Queen's Colleges was a mere farce; and if the Professors acted honestly, must, by the nature of the terms under which they worked, be a mere nullity. In Belfast the College practically belonged to the Presbyterians; while in Cork and Galway the Catholic hierarchy had withdrawn the students from the Colleges. He believed the mixed system of education to be a most harmful one. Under Guizot it produced the Revolution of 1849, and later on its results were seen in the Commune of 1870. But the Irish were not a revolutionary people, and they held aloof from the troubles on the Continent. But though in England attacks on religion were allowed to go unchecked, and Atheism spread rapidly among their work-people, they did not want anything of that kind in their country, and would still endeavour to rear their children in the spirit of true religion, and in the spirit of true loyalty.


said, though the Resolution was in an abstract form, there was no question which at the moment more deeply affected the Irish people than this one of University education; and, therefore, he was surprised that but one Member of the Government, and he not a Cabinet Minister, had risen to address the House. Yet, unless public rumour was a liar, for the last six or eight months there had been interviews, and conversations, and interchanges of views going on between various Members of the Government and representative Catholics upon this great question. When the Irish people read the report of that debate, they would ask why no Cabinet Minister addressed the House. Had the noble Duke, who at present occupied the post of Vice Regent, been communicated with? Had he represented to the Government the desirability—as a matter of prudence, of policy; above all, of justice—of considering the demand of the Irish people? Might not that noble Duke, who had now obtained considerable popularity in Ireland, have been able to come to some agreement on this subject? The Conservative Government had given the Irish Members a polite hearing on this subject; but it had done nothing else. No one had ventured to say that the Catholic hierarchy had demanded what was outrageous and could not be granted, because they knew such a statement would be incorrect. They did not say that they were so overwhelmed with Irish Business that they could not attend to the matter. They could not say even that their attention was occupied by foreign affairs, for they all were assured the success of the Treaty of Berlin was great and manifest, and they now had the necessary time to turn their attention to domestic affairs. He did regret that the Government had not told them whether or no they had a policy, or whether they would be likely to have one before the end of the Session. There was yet time, however; and he did most respectfully beg to bring that question to the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


said, he was afraid he could not enlighten his hon. Friend (Sir Patrick O'Brien) upon the policy of the Government with regard to Ireland. They were masters of their own secrets; and he supposed, for the present, they would have to wait to learn what was the proposition they were said to have made in Ireland—if it was not to remain for ever an undiscovered secret, like the history of the man in the Iron Mask, and the authorship of Junius. He had only risen to say that Irish Members must not think, if English Members did not take part in this debate, that it was due to any want of interest on their part in the subject. The reason was, that one of the first things English Members desired to know was exactly what Irish Members desired in this matter. That point, he was bound to say, was not so clear to them all as they would desire. They heard conflicting statements of what the Irish people did and did not desire; and, therefore, at present, they were somewhat in the dark as to what really was required. On the main question he thought it was practically admitted that this was not a fortunate proposition in its terms; because it did not refer alone to Irish University education, but was directed against mixed education everywhere. In England certainly they were not dissatisfied with mixed education. He admitted, of course, that because they were satisfied with it in England and Scotland that, therefore, it ought to be absolutely satisfactory and sufficient for the people of Ireland. But he was sorry that this question of University education in Ireland should be raised on this general Resolution; and he hoped the subject would be brought up again during the Session in a more positive form. It was admitted that the Presbyterians were satisfied with the Queen's Colleges. If that were so, he did not see why they should be done away with. It was quite another question, however, whether they supplied what the Irish people—the Roman Catholic people— wanted. It would, therefore, be a very wise thing to provide some other scheme of education for them which they did not at present possess. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Wexford had claimed the gratitude of the other side of the House for his Party for the way in which they had voted with them. He, and one or two others, it was true, had voted with the Government, and, therefore, had a very considerable claim upon its gratitude.


rose to explain. What he said was that in every question affecting education debated in the House during the last five years, the Irish Members had supported the Government.


The hon. Member said that the Irish Members had merely voted in favour of denominational education, and he (Sir William Harcourt) had remarked that his support had gone far beyond that question; and that, therefore, he had a special claim upon the gratitude of the Government. There was, in fact, no Party question upon which they had not been sure of his support.


said, he had not voted for the Government on the question of mixed education, but had walked out of the House.


said, he would not discuss any longer the policy of the third Party, which was a policy he did not understand; but wished to say a few words on another matter. He thought the Irish Members ought not to suppose that the English Members upon either side of the House were at all indisposed to consider, and that with a view of arriving at a settlement, their desire for a system of education that would give more satisfaction to the Catholics of Ireland. His noble Friend the Leader of the Opposition, who had just left the House, had expressed the same sentiments in a statement made by him some months ago, when he said that there would be a desire to meet, in any fair way, the views of the Catholic Members. An experiment had already been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone); but it had, unfortunately, failed, and other experiments had been talked of, but had not seen the light. It was an entire misconstruction of the intentions of English Members to suppose that there was any disinclination carefully to consider the question with a view to settlement. He had always been in favour of undenominational education; yet, as the majority in Parliament had established in England what was, practically speaking, a denominational system of education, he thought it would be unfair, on the part of a Protestant majority, to refuse to Irish Catholics denominational education. When the Irish Members brought forward clearly their views with reference to a system which could be established for meeting the requirements and demands of Irish Catholics upon University education, he could assure the House that it would receive from him the most careful and respectful consideration; because he did not think anyone could avoid seeing that the University education given at Dublin and in the Queen's Colleges, however well it might have been intended, had not met the requirements referred to, and that in one way or another some system must be discovered that would do so. At that hour he did not think that question could be advantageously entered upon. He had only risen for the purpose of saying, in answer to the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), that he must not suppose there existed the slightest unwillingness to consider, with the hope of arriving at a beneficial and satisfactory result, any positive proposition which might be brought forward by Irish Members.


wished to say a few words in reply to the hon. and learned Member (Sir William Harcourt), who had asked the Irish Members to state, if they could, what they desired with regard to Irish University education. He had, during the last six weeks, been in constant communication with all classes of Catholics in Ireland—amongst others, with three or four Bishops of the Catholic Church, and he could assure the House—speaking, of course, only for himself—that they desired nothing but an equitable settle- ment. The form of that settlement he thought they were justified in leaving to the Government of the country, to whom the initiative belonged, as it was felt that no Bill introduced by a private Member would have any chance of success. He could assure the House that, as far as he was acquainted with the sentiments of the Irish Bishops, they desired nothing unreasonable, and were ready to accept any adjustment of the question by which equality should be secured.


congratulated the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) on the change which had come over the spirit of his dream, when he found him expressing sentiments which were really encouraging to the Irish Members. As far as the experiment referred to by him as having been introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich was concerned, and which had, unfortunately, failed, he was of opinion that no speech made during the progress of that measure had tended more to bring that failure about than the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman. But what was the recommendation of the measure given by him? Was it that it gave satisfaction to the Irish Members? On the contrary, he had spoken of it as one which was equally unsatisfactory and distasteful to Irish Catholics and statesmen.


said, that whether Trinity College, Dublin, was denominational or not, it was largely permeated with the religious atmosphere; and he would mention the name of Professor Hoffman, of Trinity College, who had spent many years of his life in proving the consistency which existed between the Book of Genesis—that was to say, between religious and high scientific teaching. In that way Professor Hoffman had brought about a most healthy state of religious teaching within the walls of Trinity College, Dublin. There was an atmosphere about the College lecture-room which told the Professor that religion had not been divorced from science; and he (Dr. O'Leary) trusted the day would never arrive when that retrograde state would be reached.

Motion, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," by leave, withdrawn.

Committee deferred till To-morrow.