§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. W. J. CORBET
, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, the question of University Education for Ireland had been, over and over again, so exhaustively treated in debates in that House that it would be presumptuous on his part to attempt to add to the information already in the possession of the House on the subject. In the few observations, therefore, with which he proposed to introduce the Bill to the 1561 House, he should confine himself to pointing out briefly the unmistakable fact that University Education in Ireland was far from being settled by recent legislation, and that a University question still existed, ought to exist, and must of necessity continue to exist, until it was dealt with on a just and proper basis—namely, that of providing for the Catholic people of Ireland education on a perfect footing equal to that of their Protestant fellow-countrymen, who formed but a small yet highly-favoured minority of the whole—a minority, it must be remembered, who had hitherto had all the loaves and fishes to themselves, and who were, and had been, in a much better position to take care of themselves and of their own interest than the majority of their fellow-countrymen. University Education in Ireland, as hon. Members knew well, was for centuries confined to Trinity College, Dublin—a University established by Charter in the reign of Queen Elizabeth in 1591, and largely endowed for the express purpose of exclusive Protestant education. The treatment of Catholics in those days, not only in regard to education, but everything else, was so painful a subject that he did not desire to dwell upon it. The atrocious Penal Laws, which blurred the Statute Book and disgraced the English name, had one by one been blotted out—those laws which the Prime Minister had so often and so eloquently denounced as un-Christian, barbarous, and abominable. But, although those enactments had been swept away, the inequalities between the two countries had been but slowly and gradually, and, he regretted to say, unwillingly diminished, and they were still far from having been altogether removed. With regard to those inequalities and the unwilling concessions which had, from time to time, been made in this House, he would, with the permission of the House, quote a very brief extract of the speech of the Prime Minister. Speaking on a kindred subject in this House, the right hon. Gentleman said there was no end to the concessions which had been accorded by a Liberal policy; but they had not produced the natural fruits that might have been expected; that the Roman Catholics still remained unsatisfied; and that Parliament was met with fresh demands; and his answer was—"As we have sown so have we reaped." He said 1562 the method pursued had produced its inevitable fruit, and what ought to have been seen. From time to time the Irish problem had been dealt with; but it never had been dealt with by removing the whole cause of dispute. How thoroughly well the Prime Minister understood the situation! He said that for 100 years they had been moving in the same direction. The right hon. Gentleman then quoted the concessions which had been made from 1778 up to 1829, when the Roman Catholics first took their seats in Parliament on a footing of substantial equality; but they had not proceeded from a spontaneous sense of justice on the part of England, in a melting mood, when considering the sufferings of Ireland, but rather from fearful anticipations of impending trouble; and, therefore, they were not to be surprised if they failed to elicit the abundant gratitude which the people of England expected. The facts spoke for themselves. In 1828, when the prospects of the American War were growing more gloomy, the first concession was made; again, when we had serious troubles with Prance; and again, in 1800, when that struggle had assumed its darkest and most desperate aspects, concessions were also made. At last, in 1829, they gave the Roman Catholics seats in that House, when the hon. Member who proposed the measure said unless they were prepared for concessions, they must look for civil war in Ireland as the only alternative. When they had engraved upon their own acts the motives from which they had proceeded, they would fail to have elicited the gratitude of the people. The right hon. Gentleman added—I believe the laws of nature have been too strong for us, and they ought to have enabled us to predict what has happened.Future legislation for Ireland, not only in the matter of education, but on other subjects, had been the fruit of, he (Mr. Corbet) would not say of the generous bounty of England, for they indignantly repudiated that idea—they did not desire to receive as a loan what was their right; but if legislation for Ireland had been the fruit of natural justice, not, as the Prime Minister had put it, of fearful anticipation, the relations existing between Ireland and England to-day would be very different indeed from what they were at present, 1563 Those words of the Prime Minister were pregnant ones, and it was very much to be regretted that they were not more reflected upon and acted upon by Englishmen, both inside the House and out of it. Now, as to the existing state of University Education in Ireland, he would not say a single harsh word about Trinity College, Dublin; his only surprise was that a University founded by a Sovereign who in Ireland was so stern and relentless, and whose avowed object was to root out and destroy the religious faith of nine-tenths of the people, should for so long a period of time have preserved so large a share of popularity as it undoubtedly possessed, and that, too, amongst Roman Catholics, who had never sought to enter its halls, or endeavoured to obtain its distinctions, its honours, and its rewards. It would ill become him, or any Irishman, to speak disparagingly of a University which had given so many notable and brilliant ornaments to the world, to the Bar, to the Senate, to science, to literature, and society. But a sectarian University, founded as he had described, was founded not to meet the wishes or ideas of the great majority of the Irish people; and the late Sir Robert Peel strove to meet the difficulty by establishing, in the year 1850, the Queen's University—or the "Godless Colleges," as they were named, from the fact that religion in any or every shape or form was excluded from them. It was foolishly thought that the good Roman Catholic Bishops would assent to so monstrous an arrangement as the exclusion from what professed to be a National University of all religious teaching. Largely endowed with a grant of £36,000 a-year, the Queen's University was exceptionally advantageous to the Roman Catholics. But the one thing necessary was wanting, and after a sickly, peevish, and perverse infancy, it had ceased to exist, and the Royal University was substituted in its stead. But did the Royal University meet the circumstances of the case? Nothing of the kind. It did not place the Catholics on an equal footing with their Protestant fellow-countrymen. The Protestant Church had the University of Dublin, with its splendid buildings and endowments, and he should be sorry to grudge them. Belfast was what he might call its counterpart, with its Presbyterian College there. But Ireland possessed 1564 no teaching University whatever that was acceptable to the great majority of the people. In this respect, however, both England and Scotland were well provided for. England had its great Universities at Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, London, and so on, with multitudinous Colleges and great endowments. Scotland had its four or five Universities, with very great resources; and all these great Universities had the warm and hearty sympathy and support of the people of England and Scotland. But Ireland was left out in the cold. It had no teaching University such as those he had named, for this hybrid University, as he might call it, was only an examining Board, and it was, moreover, starved by an insufficient provision, and. handicapped unfairly in favour of the Queen's Colleges. The Queen's College Professors could join and compete for its Fellowships and its honours, as also could the Queen's College students for its prizes. Exhibitions, and Scholarships; but the Queen's College doors were closed against the Royal University men. No reciprocity existed with respect to the two institutions; and, therefore, whatever relation existed between the Queen's College and the Royal University, it would almost seem, under these circumstances, as if Government did not wish to lift its own offspring out of the mire, but rather to nip it in the bud. He had spoken of the Royal University as hybrid, and he did not wish to use the word in any offensive sense; but such it unquestionably was. Let them just look at the constitution of its Senate, and he thought it would show that was not an inapt description. They had upon it both Protestant and Roman Catholic Lords and Bishops, and Protestant and Roman Catholic laymen. He would not trouble the House by reading the list of the names of the Senate; but he thought he was justified, under the circumstances, in calling it a hybrid University. But, hybrid as it was, and defective as its operations were, he wanted to see its advantages extended in the words of the Bill, which he respectfully asked the House to read a second time, and to place all classes in Ireland on a more equal footing with regard to the advantages of study, and the awards of merit provided by State endowments. The Royal University was the nearest approach to equal rights that the Roman 1565 Catholics had yet obtained; and until the time arrived when they could have a Chartered University of their own, equal in all respects to Trinity College, Dublin, or, at all events, equal in regard to its privileges and emoluments, he desired to see the legislation on the subject of University Education extended in the way indicated in this Bill. He complained that while exclusive advantages were retained by the Queen's Colleges, the Royal University was compelled to devote a considerable amount of its petty grant of £20,000 a-year to the Queen's Colleges. He asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland a Question on this subject a few days ago, for the purpose of getting a little information as to the relative possessions of the Colleges and the University. He asked the right hon. Gentleman if he could state the number and value of the Scholarships, the number of Exhibitions open exclusively to the Queen's Colleges provided by the public funds, and the number of the students. It happened there were not so many candidates as there were Scholarships; and he asked the right hon. Gentleman if they were open to all students of the Queen's Colleges, and were they also eligible to the prizes, honours, and distinctions of the Royal University; and, if so, to open the prizes and Scholarships at present open to the Queen's Colleges to students equally—to all students of the Royal University; and this report in the papers was the reply he had received from his right hon. Friend. It was stated that at some times there were fewer candidates than prizes, that all candidates were eligible—that was to say, all candidates belonging to the Queen's Colleges. But he did not think it would be to the interest of education to offer the prizes of the College to those not belonging to it. But if the Royal University honours and prizes were open to the Professors and students of the Queen's Colleges, why not show some reciprocity by offering their prizes to the Royal University men? He complained, then, that the advantages possessed by the Queen's College men were altogether exceptional, and it was manifestly unfair thus to handicap in its very infancy the Royal University that had been just established. It was with the object of extending the advantages of a higher education to all classes of Her 1566 Majesty's subjects in Ireland that the Bill which he now asked to be read a second time was introduced to the notice of the House.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
, in seconding the Motion, said he did so, because it was designed to relieve inequalities in the system of University Education, and to throw freely open to the competition of the youth of Ireland all the moneys voted for this purpose by Parliament, without any exception in favour of any particular sect. He maintained, in the language of the Bill, that it was advisable to extend the benefits of the Royal University of Ireland by placing all classes of the Irish people on the same equal footing with regard to the studies, the rewards, and merits provided by State endowments; and for the carrying out of that purpose. The Bill called attention specially to the fact that, since the abolition of the Queen's University in Ireland, the State endowments of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland had served to confer unfair advantages upon students entering the Queen's Colleges compared with the very large majority of the students entering the Royal University from other sources. The revenue of the Royal University was £20,000 a-year, while the endowments of the Queen's Colleges amounted to between £30,000 and £35,000 a-year. There was some alteration in the latter amount owing to the abolition of the central body—the Queen's University; but the fact remained that the Queen's Colleges were known amongst all the Colleges which had a right to compete for the honours and prizes of the Royal University; but the Queen's Colleges alone were endowed out of the public funds, while they were eligible to prepare and train their students to compete for the prizes, honours, and distinctions of the Royal University. In that respect distinctly, there was an unfair advantage conferred at the expense of the general taxpayers upon that section of the students of the Royal University who elected to prepare for the courses of the Royal University within the Queen's Colleges. They had a Royal University open to all the academic youth of Ireland; but when they examined the matter to see if the academic youth had a fair start all round for competition for the honours and prizes of the Royal University, it was a glaring inequality and 1567 injustice that stared them in the face that a student who entered any ordinary College, and worked in that College for the prizes and advantages of the Royal University, they must do so entirely at their own cost and expense from the first day of their preparation to the last; while, on the other hand, the student who competed for the prizes of the Royal University, and who entered the Queen's Colleges for that purpose, was supplied at the public expense with proper professorial and tutorial assistance and encouragement of every kind at the expense of the general taxpayer. There could be no equality, there could be no form of justice, on the grounds of undenominational and unsectarian education, if a system like that was maintained. When they knew, in addition, that already, in the very first year of the starting of the Royal University, the students who entered the Royal University—though the Queen's Colleges formed only a minority of the general body of students entering the Royal University through other doors—they found at once—and they must admit at once—that the grievance was not merely a theoretical one, but it was, indeed, a grievance which had already become of a practical and serious description. In that year some 800 students matriculated in the Royal University for its opening session. Of these 800, only 300 matriculated in the Queen's Colleges, while 500 matriculated in the other Colleges throughout Ireland; but if the present unjust distribution of public funds were obtained in Ireland, all the majority of the 500 matriculated students who were approaching the honours and distinctions of the Royal University from outside the Queen's Colleges must pursue their educational preparation at their own private expense; while the 300 favoured students, who elected to enter the Royal University through the lecture halls of the Queen's Colleges, would be supplied at every step of their course with Professors and tutors at the public expense. These 300 students were, therefore, most unjustly favoured; and instead of there being equality and fair play between the different Colleges in Ireland, instead of there being that healthy and honest competition which was of much advantage for the stimulation to a desire of knowledge and learning in Ireland, they had the students of the 1568 Queen's Colleges encouraged by the bribe of State endowments, while all the rest of the general students of Ireland were left out in the cold. Was that the way to redress Irish grievances and to remove the inequalities of centuries? On the contrary, the system under which the Queen's Colleges were subsidized, and all the rest of the Colleges in Ireland left out, was nothing more or less than an aggravation, and a most offensive aggravation, of the previous injustice, whereby a scandalous system of inequality and favouritism was maintained. When they took another point into consideration, that injustice and inequality to which he had referred became more apparent and painful. They knew, as a matter of fact, that the Royal University was established ostensibly—and, he believed, with the intention of Parliament—to meet, in a special manner, the wants of the vast Catholic majority of the people of Ireland; but not only did they bribe, at the public expense, the students of the Queen's Colleges as against the students of other Colleges, but they bribed the students of those Queen's Colleges which, as regarded the vast bulk of the people of Ireland, were the most hopeless and incurable failures that could be imagined. He would show the failure of the Queen's Colleges, notwithstanding its bribery, by briefly quoting some statistics showing the number of Catholics who, in various years, received the humble degree of B.A. from the Queen's University. Take the average year of 1865. From all Ireland only six Catholics received the degree of B.A. in the Queen's University. In the following year only nine Catholics graduated to B.A. in the Queen's University. In 1867 only seven; in 1868, seven; in 1869, six; in 1870 only five. Just imagine keeping up, at the public expense, a University and Colleges for the ostensible advantage of the people of Ireland, the total work of which Colleges and University, as regarded the bulk of the people of Ireland, only amounted to an average of five graduates in Arts in the whole of Ireland. In 1871 the number rose to eight, and in 1872 the number for all Ireland was only six. Statistics for the later years were not forthcoming, although they were prepared, he believed, in 1872, with a view to the prosecution of a measure of Uni- 1569 versity education by the Premier about that time. From those, however, which he had given, it appeared that, even under the stimulus and influence of a special University to themselves, the Queen's Colleges only succeeded in making from five to eight graduates in Arts per annum throughout all Ireland, and for that result the taxpayers had been paying £35,000 a-year to these very unsuccessful forcing institutions; and the most recent statistics as to the attendances at the Queen's Colleges in Ireland fully confirmed and corroborated the conclusions drawn. The reason why he took the Faculty of Arts as the test of the education in the Queen's Colleges was that the Faculty of Arts was the only educational Faculty. Medicine or engineering would not be any test, because in the Queen's Colleges no previous degree in Arts was required to qualify for medicine or engineering studies, and a student who entered one of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland to study for either of those Professions merely obtained the means of earning his daily bread. He was at work in a purely professional school from his first year, having no connection with a University education, properly so-called, except that connection which consisted in the accident of the prolongation of the roofs of the University Department to the various professional schools in which young men received a purely professional training. There was a great deal of difference in this respect between the College of a Queen's University and Trinity College, Dublin. For instance, he believed it was the rule in Trinity for a Bachelor of Medicine to be a Bachelor of Arts as well. Thus the medical degree of Trinity College imparted an educational degree in addition to the mere professional qualification; whereas in the Queen's Colleges the professional degree imparted no educational qualification whatever. In support of that statement, he would quote from the evidence given before the Royal Universities Commission of 1857, by Mr. Craik, the then Professor of History and English Literature in the Queen's College, Belfast. He said—I could hardly insist on a student being rejected, however great his deficiency in any department. I do not consider it as important as Greek or Latin. If a student proceeds to medicine, his knowledge of the English language 1570 is not tested in any subsequent year. 'A man may then proceed,' asked Sir T. M. Reddington, 'through his whole College course and obtain the degree of medicine without any competent knowledge of the English language?' The witness replied—'If he was found totally ignorant of the English language, he should not be allowed to enter College at all. Possibly I could hardly go the length of saying that if a person came entirely ignorant of the English language I should pass him.'This showed the want of educational strictness insisted upon with regard to medical and other professional students in the State-supported Colleges of the Queen's University, and that, in order to obtain the professional degree, no educational degree whatever was required. He wished it had been otherwise, and that the student would receive degrees in Arts as well. When they went outside the Arts Faculty they went outside the educational Faculties altogether, and the instruction given in the Queen's Colleges could be tested by the instruction in Arts alone. He would now give the statistics of attendance to which he had already referred. In the Queen's College, Cork, for instance, be found the total attendance in 1881 of 72 students in Arts. Cork was the capital of an almost exclusively Catholic Province, whose inhabitants were comparatively prosperous, and having a population among whom the benefits of education had always been most highly esteemed, yet only 25 of the Art students at the Queen's College, Cork, last year were Catholics. At the Queen's College, Galway, in the midst of the almost exclusively Catholic Province of Connaught, out of a total of 81 Art students last year only 16 were Catholics. The Queen's College, Belfast, which was to a certain extent numerically successful, was so entirely on account of the support it received from the Protestant and Nonconformist Bodies. It was, in fact, a distinctly sectarian College—a Protestant and Nonconformist College supported by funds raised from the taxpayers under the false pretence that it was an undenominational institution. During its whole existence from 1849 to 1881, 3,625 students had entered the halls of the Queen's College, Belfast, and of that total the Catholic students, Medical, Law, and Engineering, numbered only 158–158 Catholic students against 3,467 Protestant and Nonconformist students. From the point of 1571 view of numerical attendance the Queen's College, Belfast, was not a national institution in any sense of the term; it was simply and absolutely a sectarian Protestant and Nonconformist institution, supported out of the public funds on the pretence of its being a non-sectarian institution. With regard to its tendency to become so, there was this palliation to be offered. It was but natural that as the Catholics of Ireland refused to go to the Queen's Colleges, and particularly to the Queen's College, Belfast, that institution readily accepted its position as a Protestant College. If this fact were a little more plainly admitted, and successive Chief Secretaries for Ireland in moving for grants to the Queen's College in Ireland were to do so on the ground that they were sectarian Colleges for Protestants and Presbyterians, there would be more uprightness and straightforwardness about the whole transaction. His contention was that these Colleges, whether they were sectarian or non-sectarian, should receive no advantage at the expense of the taxpayer, if the same advantages were refused to other Colleges in Ireland. Especially did that argument hold good when the Queen's College had totally failed to secure the attendance of the mass of the people. As regards the Queen's College, Belfast, in particular, it Was not, as was originally intended, an unsectarian, undenominational College; but it was an institution of a sectarian character, especially adapted to the teaching and to the wants of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; it was, in fact, officered with a view to securing Protestant and Nonconformist patronage. The Roman Catholics were affronted at seeing that not only was their own religion not taught at this College, but that instruction of a kind offensive to Catholics was taught at a College which, though devoted exclusively to Protestantism, was yet maintained at the expense of the common purse. He would give the House an illustration as to how the so-called unsectarian system worked at Queen's College, Belfast. The 17th section of the Queen's Colleges Act provided, on the subject of religious instruction and training, that for the better enabling of a student to receive religious instruction according to the creed he held, it should be lawful for the Governing Body to assign lecture rooms within 1572 the precincts of such College hall to be set apart for the use of such religious teachers as should be recognized by such Governing Body. But for years past a curious and significant alteration and contravention of that Act had been freely committed in the Queen's College, Belfast. Day after day there appeared on the notice-board of the College a notification addressed to the students of the College, announcing that a course of Presbyterian religious instruction was about to be given at one of the Presbyterian churches in the town, under the auspices of the Presbyterian General Assembly—that was to say, that such instruction would be given within the walls of a professedly sectarian institution and not within the College itself. He would give the House another illustration showing how far the authorities of that College were impartial in their treatment of different religious bodies. At length, some of the Catholic students had taken offence at this singular advertisement on the walls of a professedly non-sectarian institution. As a test, these students proceeded to copy out the course of religious instruction that was being given at the same time in the Catholic Church of St. Malachy, in Belfast, with the intention of having a similar notice framed and posted up, as had been done in the case of the Presbyterian notice. They asked permission of the Council of the College to place their notice on the same board as the other notice had been placed upon, and under the same circumstances; but the President of the Council at once refused to allow the Catholic notification to appear upon that board, upon which for months or years previously, in a professedly non-sectarian institution, the notices of Presbyterian religious instruction had been displayed, and the reason given for the refusal was that the Presbyterian Body would resent the introduction into the College of notices which might have a proselytizing influence upon the minds of the Presbyterian students. He (Mr. O'Donnell), or any Catholic Member of the Irish Party, did not want favour or disfavour shown to any religion or branch of his fellow-countrymen in Ireland; but that which was done to one should be done to another. None in that House would stand up more warmly and earnestly for having equal educational facilities 1573 granted to all classes in Ireland without distinction of creed than the Catholic Members of Ireland. They claimed that the endowments and favours should be equally shared by every class and every creed in Ireland. They repudiated all idea of sectarianism in this matter. He would now call the attention of the House to a significant fact, to show that the arrangements by which the Queen's College at Belfast was to be practically a Presbyterian institution were of no recent origin, but, on the contrary, although concealed from the public, had been contemplated from the earliest days of the College. He would call the attention of his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland, one of the most distinguished of the students of the Queen's Colleges, of the Queen's University, to that fact, and would refer hon. Members to evidence given in 1857 by the Rev. Robert Wilson, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, who was examined. He clearly expressed how, in the minds of the Presbyterian Body, the Queen's College was intended above all things to be an institution especially adapted to Presbyterian feelings and requirements; and from notes of proceedings of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, it was shown that the Body had held a meeting to consider the steps to be taken towards the establishment of a special College for Presbyterians. They had received a certain amount of subscriptions, but suspended operations until it should be seen whether a College to be established in the North of Ireland would be suitable for their object. They had a very strong assurance from Sir Robert Peel himself on the matter, when the measure itself was introduced. It was brought before a regular meeting of the General Assembly in Dublin, and certain suggestions and alterations were made at that meeting. At the General Association of the Presbyterian Church in 1849, the Queen's College at Belfast was formally approved of, and a resolution was passed permitting Presbyterian students to attend the classes there. The resolution set forth that, whereas Government had enabled them to provide for religious instruction, that one of their ministers, in whose paternal care they had every confidence, had been appointed to a Professorship; and the 1574 qualifications and character of the persons appointed in the Queen's College, Belfast, for those classes which the students of that Church would require to attend were such as to justify that Assembly in accepting certificates and degrees from that College. Thus, they gave permission to their students to attend the classes in the Queen's College at Belfast, and the General Assembly would not have gone to the trouble of passing that formal resolution and granting that solemn permission to their theological students, if it had been only the Faculty of Arts that concerned them; it was in connection with the classes which the students of that Church were required to attend, and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland were led to express their complete satisfaction with the appointments in the Queen's College at Belfast. From a perusal of the list of the existing Professors in the Queen's Colleges, he thought they would be fully enlightened upon the nature of the qualifications which enabled the students of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland to attend their instruction. With regard to the Staff of the College, he found that the President was a Presbyterian, and that the Professors of Latin, Natural History and Geology, Logic and Metaphysics, Medical Jurisprudence, Surgery, Materia Medica, and Midwifery, the Demonstrator of Anatomy, the Librarian, and the Bursar were Presbyterians also. The Professors of Greek, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, and History and English Literature were Episcopalians; and one Chair only, that of Medicine, was occupied by a Roman Catholic, Dr. Cumming. It seemed, then, that in every department, even in the training schools, which most indirectly affected education throughout the whole Faculty of Arts, the Catholic was rigidly excluded, and very nearly the whole teaching of the College was thus in the hands of Protestants. Belfast, therefore, practically possessed a sectarian College, endowed out of funds to which Protestants and Catholics alike contributed. As he had said, the meaning of the guarantee that the character and qualifications of the Professors in Queen's College, Belfast, should be such as to allow the General Assembly to approve their teaching, simply meant that all the Chairs in Belfast were to be kept in safe Presbyterian hands; and what was the actual 1575 composition of the students in Arts in the Queen's College, Belfast, in the present year? There were only seven Catholic students in Arts, while the number of Presbyterian students in Arts was 131. There was the reason why the Professorial Chairs were carefully kept out of Catholic hands. The total number of Catholic students of all Faculties, including the mere professional schools, was only 20; while the number of the Presbyterian students attending College was 374. And, again, what was the composition of students of the Arts Faculty. Out of the 131 Presbyterian students in Arts in Queen's College, 100 or upwards of 100 were Presbyterian theological students, receiving the whole of their secular education under Professors in conformity with their religious belief; and to that extent the Presbyterian Church received its recruits for its ministry at the expense of the general taxpayer of the country. In communications he had received from other students at the Queen's College, Belfast, with regard to the general class of text-books, and with regard to the general class of instruction given by the Professors in that College, he found the distinct complaint that they were directly hostile to Catholicism. The Catholic students who made those complaints were, at the same time, so fair as to state that they did not set down that anti-Catholic tone in the lectures and class-books of the College to any deliberate wish or intention on the part of the Professors to insult or offend the Catholic students; but it stood to reason that if anti-Catholics were chosen as Professors in the History of Literature, in General History, and in Natural History, it was impossible for any of them to do so without unconsciously uttering expressions and giving tone to their instructions which were most detrimental to the convictions and hurtful to the feelings of students of a different religion from their own who were listening to them. He thought he had laid before the House a crucial proof of the tone and tendency of the instruction given by these non-Catholic Professors to such unfortunate Catholics as were misled by the pretence of unsectarianism to attend the sectarian classes of the Queen's College. That, as hon. Members would at once perceive, was inevitable, especially in the domain of History. Mr. Froude, for instance, could scarcely lecture on such a subject 1576 in a manner agreeable to a Catholic audience; nor could a Lingard or a Newman avoid displeasing his Protestant hearers. To give an example of the way in which Catholic students were trained by Protestant Professors, he would introduce to the House a book called Three Centuries of Modern History, by Mr. C. D. Young, Regius Professor of History and Literature in the Queen's College, Belfast. Alluding to the Reformation, Professor Young spoke of the dominant priests and the subject laity, and gave as a reason why many adhered to the Catholic faith that "it was easier for them to purchase absolution for their vices than to abandon them." Such statements might be an object of good-humoured mirth both to Protestants and Catholics in a piece of Exeter Hall declamation; but the teaching of a Professor whose mind was filled with those ideas could not but be hurtful to the consciences of Catholic students. Again, take the case of the reception of the news of the horrible massacre of St. Bartholomew in the various Courts of Europe. It was well known that it was the first care of the French King, in order to conceal his guilt, to send messengers to the Sovereigns of Europe, stating that a monstrous conspiracy against the life of the Monarch and the security of his dynasty had been discovered in time, and had been prevented by the destruction of the intending assassins. That statement was conveyed to Queen Elizabeth, who sent her expressions of satisfaction at the escape of a neighbouring King from a horrible assassination. The same message was received by the Pope, who had solemn services of thanks celebrated for the French King's escape. But how did the Regius Professor of History and Literature in Queen's College, Belfast, deal with the massacre of St. Bartholomew? He wrote that the only Sovereign who showed himself insensible to the infamy of the deed was the Pope, who was eager to claim a share of it for himself and his religion; that the Pope and his Cardinals offered up thanks to God for the singular favour which, in permitting the massacre, he had shown to the Holy See and to Christendom; and that he decreed a jubilee, and ordered a salute to be fired on the occasion. Another illustration of the Professorial mind that was dominant in the Queen's College, 1577 Belfast, was afforded in the description given of the Holy Roman Emperor who ruled over Germany at the time of the outbreak of the Thirty Year's War. The same writer said that MonarchHad been educated by the Jesuits—that fatal Order whose narrow principles and relentless bigotry have been the chief source of the evils that have flowed over the French and Spanish dominions.Could a Professor with such views possibly treat the subject of the Jesuits, wherever they appeared in history, without his teaching to his students reflecting and being coloured by those opinions? In the same volume the severity of Louis XIV. against the Huguenots was thus explained—The Huguenots were special objects of antipathy to his confessor, a Jesuit, who out of the King's vices found a way to the gratification of his own bigotry, and who, finding it impossible to induce Louis to forsake his licentious habits, was willing to accept a compromise by which, instead of abandoning them, he should atone for them by the extirpation of Protestantism.Was that the kind of teaching to be given to Catholic students? If, however, the Professor of the Queen's College, Belfast, were to unsay all his disagreeable things to his Catholic auditors and to say only agreeable things to them, he would put his Presbyterian auditors in the same state of mind as he had put his Catholic hearers on the other supposition. That showed the disadvantage of mixed education. That was an illustration of the non-Catholic professional mind predominant in the Queen's College, Belfast; and he (Mr. O'Donnell) maintained that it was in consequence of that predominance that the Queen's Colleges in Ireland had failed in the past and were failing at present. It was these hopeless failures; these Colleges rejected and justly neglected by the feeling of the vast majority of the nation; these masquerading institutions, that were carrying on the game of Presbyterianism under the name of Denominationalism. It was these institutions that were being subsidized out of the general taxes of the common taxpayers of the country, in order to induce the men who might be tempted by such bribery to enter their halls, and in those halls to compete against the unendowed youth of all Ireland. The Royal University pretended to open its arms to all Ireland; but it was impossible it could 1578 do so with an endowment of no larger an amount than £20,000 a-year—about as much as this House would vote for the matrimonial establishment of a Princely pair. The students of the well-endowed Queen's Colleges had not only secured to them absolutely their chance within their own Colleges of the special endowments of their own Colleges, but had the sole use of their Professorships and tutorships to prepare for endeavouring to snatch some of that paltry £20,000 from the general youth of Ireland. This was a dishonesty none the less flagrant and none the less scandalous because it was generally unnoticed. It was an instance of the fact that Irish affairs were totally unintelligible in this country, because the vast majority of the Leaders of opinion in this country did not take the necessary steps to understand Irish affairs. It was impossible that this system could live. They could not possibly keep those institutions going. They could not have three Collegiate failures only suited to the religious requirements of a mere handful of the people to the detriment of a large majority of them—the Catholic population. It was not even fair competition so long as they allowed these special State bribes to be at the disposal of the Queen's Colleges. The object of the Bill, which they asked the House to read a second time on that occasion, was to do no injustice to any student or Professor of the Queen's Colleges. All their pecuniary advantages, prizes, stipends, and salaries would be religiously respected; but it was doing them no injustice to say their students should get the honours, rewards, and endowments of the State on the same principle as the rest of the youth of Ireland, with a fair field and no favour. They only wanted all the endowments of the Queen's Colleges to be thrown into the same common fund as the Royal University, and to let every student in Ireland, of whatever religious persuasion, whether Catholic or Protestant, get as much of them by fair competition as he could carry away with him. That was the moderate, just, and courageous proposal made from these Benches, and he hoped the House would accept it. It was impossible for the Party which, on grounds of religious equality, disestablished the Garrison Church to maintain in a far more odious way an example of religious ascendancy by 1579 funds extorted out of the pockets of Catholics as well as non-Catholics.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. William Corbet.)
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that the hon. Member who last spoke (Mr. O'Donnell) had made a long and, in many respects, an interesting speech, a good deal of which was occupied with historical University questions. As regarded that part of the speech of the hon. Member, he did not propose to follow him. Except in the last few sentences, he had hardly made any allusion to the Bill actually before the House. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) could hardly suppose that the proposal for the second reading of the Bill was much more than an attempt to bring up the question of University education in Ireland. He thought he was warranted in saying that on account of the manner in which the Bill was drawn. Supposing the House were to consent to the second reading, it would destroy the Queen's Colleges entirely; but it declined to repeal the enactment made only two or three years ago when the University Act was passed. Therefore, he thought this could hardly be regarded as much more than an academical discourse on the question of education. At any rate, the Government could not accept the Bill in any form, because it was a Bill that tended to the destruction of the Queen's Colleges, and he believed that by a large proportion of the Irish people, or of those likely to obtain the advantages of University education, their destruction would be considered a misfortune. ["No, no!"] Certainly the facts of the case would seem to show that, for the Queen's Colleges were more flourishing now than they had ever been before, and they gave to a great number of students what was most useful—namely, a good professional education. A great number of young men would find much more difficulty in earning their living without that advantage than they did now. The hon. Member for Dungarvan went on to say that those Colleges had proved a failure; but he (Mr. W. E. Forster), educationally speaking, could not agree with him as regarded that statement. There were more than 1,000 students in the three Queen's Colleges. Let them take Belfast College. The number there 1580 last year was 508; that was a larger number than they had had in any previous year. [Mr. O'DONNELL: How many Catholics?] There were very few there, 22, he believed; but they were like the Protestant subjects of the Queen, and it was desirable that they should get a good professional education. They liked to go to these Colleges, and it was a very serious matter to suddenly deprive them of the advantages of these Colleges. If this Bill were carried out, no young men would be enabled to procure this education. [Mr. O'DONNELL: They could at the University.] He would mention afterwards the position they would be put in there. If they went to Cork they would find that there the majority were Roman Catholics. There, again, the number was considerably more than it had ever been before; last year 327, in the previous year it was 300, and in the three years before that it was 280, 257, and 232 respectively. That showed a steady increase. The number of Catholic students had also increased considerably every year for the last five years. In 1876–7 it was 113; in 1877–8, 130; in 1878–9, 146; in 1879–80, 152; and in 1880–1, 179. That showed that the Queen's Colleges were not the actual failure that hon. Members seemed to state. [Mr. SYNAN: How many of them are Art students?] A good many of them were Art students; but it was a matter affecting the professional education of those young men, and the young men who hoped to obtain these advantages would not thank hon. Members for trying to prevent them getting them. There were 69 Art students in Cork. The hon. Member seemed to suppose that that professional education was given without any regard to general education. That was a mistake. He supposed that he was alluding to medicine; but, according to the rules of the Medical Council, no young man could enter on his professional studies without passing an examination upon subjects for which considerable general knowledge was necessary. The first objection of the Government, then, that was made to this Bill was that it would deprive the Irish people of institutions to which they showed they attached very considerable value. The hon. Member for Dungarvan then went on to show how in an indirect way the views of the Professors might effect the religious belief of the students. He (Mr. 1581 W. E. Forster) thought he ought to; mention the fact that the book from which the hon. Member quoted was not a text-book.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he did not say it was a text-book. He referred to it as the production of one of the Professors.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he did not think that the hon. Member for Dungarvan meant to convey in so many words that it was a text-book; but hon. Members might easily have supposed it was. It, as a matter of fact, merely showed the private opinion of the gentleman who wrote it. He would leave it to his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland (Mr. A. M. Porter), who knew much more than he did of the Queen's College at Belfast and its discipline, to reply to the attacks made by the hon. Member. He might, however, say that he thought the contention of the hon. Member was not proved, for the conditions of unsectarian teaching had not been broken in the Queen's College, Belfast. Probably there would be more teachers there who held views in regard to history that were not generally acceptable to the Roman Catholic Church than there would be in the other Colleges; but certainly, in his opinion, people did not, as a rule, find that the religious character of their children remained as they wished by wrapping them up in cotton-wool and not allowing them to hear the opinions of the other side. He doubted very much whether the hearing of opposite opinions did have the effect alluded to by the hon. Member. He thought there was a striking instance to the contrary in the case of the hon. Member himself. The hon. Member had referred to the teaching he himself received at Galway; but that teaching did not seem to have the effect of moulding his views to those of the teachers.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
The right hon. Gentleman is speaking without any knowledge whatever of my tutors, their opinions, or how far I was dependent upon them in any way as far as my teaching.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, that he understood the hon. Member to refer with pleasure to the instruction that he had received, and yet he alluded with an expression of so much sorrow and pain to the similar teaching which other young men were now receiving in the Queen's Colleges of Ireland, that he (Mr. 1582 W. E. Forster) imagined the hon. Gentleman had been subjected to the trial and had stood the test. But it was not correct to say that young men were subjected to a trial when they received such instruction as that to which the hon. Member had referred. It was the result in more cases than he supposed. There was a striking example of it in Oxford at one time. There was a sort of current of free thought, and almost Radical views in politics, and to some extent in religion, which he believed was a reaction on extreme teaching on the other side, and he was told that a similar reaction was now following from many of the teaching staff being Liberals. In this case, the young men guarded their own views very much as the hon. Member guarded his. If parents in Ireland preferred to have University teaching conducted according to their own ideas of religion, and even to apply them to matters of history and general knowledge, there was no reason why they should not be allowed to do so; and he did not doubt that great as were the advantages of the mixed system, if parents would take to it, it was not a system on which they could solely or mainly rely for education in Ireland, whether elementary, intermediate, or University education; but there were a great many people in Ireland who liked the mixed system, or at least did not dislike it. It was a very serious matter to step forward and say that a year or two after they had destroyed the Queen's University they should destroy the Queen's Colleges, which were doing a great service in Ireland. The hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Synan) seemed to suppose the Bill would merely place the education of these young men in connection with the Royal University, instead of with the Queen's Colleges; but the hon. Member could hardly have read the Bill, because it would deprive them of any educational training whatever. That would be the effect of the Bill. Its 2nd clause handed over the money to the Royal University of Ireland to be employed for the same purposes as the funds already provided by Parliament for the use of the University; but the hon. Member was well aware that the Royal University was only an examining Body, and that consequently the educational and Collegiate training of these young 1583 men would cease, and they would be loft to get their training as best they could. [Mr. O'DONNELL: Establish Fellowships.] He had always supposed that hon. Members thought it would be an advantageous thing that there should be established a Collegiate training for Catholics in Ireland rather than a mere examining Body; but if they thought so, it struck him as a very curious thing that they should have brought in a Bill which would abolish all Collegiate training in Ireland outside Trinity College. Even the buildings of the Queen's Colleges would be rendered useless, and would have to be sold, because the Royal University could not by its Charter use them. That brought him to what was a sufficient objection if there was no other. It was too early to re-open the University Question in Ireland. ["No, no!"] He meant by an Act of Parliament; he did not object to hon. Members raising the question, and stating what they considered was justly due to them, though he imagined that even from their own point of view they would have done it by a better drawn Bill; but, in his opinion and in the opinion of the Government, it was too early to reopen the question. It was only three years ago an Act was passed to meet the claims of the Roman Catholics in Ireland. He did not say that it fully met them. He was now speaking solely of himself, and was not to be understood as pledging anybody but himself; but he would state the same views now as he had expressed before—that it would have been far better to have boldly endowed a Roman Catholic College than to establish the clumsy method of mere prizes for education, which he thought was open to the same religious objection, and was not educationally as advantageous. That was, however, accepted. ["No, no!"] He did not say it was accepted as final; but it was so far accepted that the most influential Catholics in Ireland were setting to work to do the best they could with it to get it into full operation, and he did not think it was fair to ask Parliament to unsettle the matter until it was found out what the Royal University could do, and all those eminent persons, including all those of the highest dignity and influence in Ireland, had found out what were the effects of the Act; but, under any circumstances, it seemed to him a 1584 very objectionable mode of proceeding, and to be levelling down with a vengeance, that because the Roman Catholics had not got what they would like to have, a Collegiate training of their own, therefore they should take the present Collegiate training away from those young men whose parents wished them to have it, and with whom and for whom it was working most satisfactorily.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, this was a very instructive discussion, because it showed the House the manner in which Irish questions were dealt with, and proved that the Government had not the courage of their opinions when they refrained from asking the House to carry legislation which would settle the question once and for ever. During his (Mr. Synan's) long Parliamentary experience of the last 20 years, various Governments had been peddling with this question, and the settlement invariably proposed by either of them could neither receive the assent of the House, nor the assent of the people of Ireland. They always endeavoured to march between two contradictory lines by attempting to please the mixed educationists of England and by trying, at the same time, to conciliate the denominational educationists of Ireland. In that spirit the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland addressed the House a moment ago. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that the question was not satisfactorily dealt with by the Act of 1879; but that he could give no pledge on the part of the Government to take it in hand again. When it was remembered that the right hon. Gentleman was the Educational Minister for England for many years, and that he succeeded in carrying great reforms, why had he not the courage to give his opinion, and to tell the Government that in Ireland, as well as in England, the question ought to be settled, and that it could only be settled by adapting the educational system of the country to the opinion, interests, and desires of the people of the country. The right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to prop up the Queen's Colleges by pointing to the rush of students to them lately; but could any fair-minded man who was accustomed to listen to the speeches of Irish Members on this subject, after listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), come to any other conclusion 1585 than that the Queen's Colleges in Ireland, as far as the education of the Irish people was concerned, were almost a total and absolute failure? Every matriculated student of the Queen's Colleges by the Act of 1879 became a student of the Royal University, and the increase of students since 1879 could be easily accounted for by the advertisements published in the papers, inviting them to matriculate in the Queen's Colleges, because they would have the double advantage of having a chance of gaining the prizes of the Royal University and of gaining the prizes of the Queen's College as well. The Chief Secretary for Ireland admitted that that was unfair; but, if it was, why did he not remedy it? Two years ago the Irish Party brought the question before the House by a Resolution asking it to throw the educational prizes of the Queen's Colleges and those of the Royal University into one common fund, so that all could have access to them. What was the answer given to that demand? That the Queen's Colleges were not disturbed by the Act of 1879, and that, therefore, they should remain as they were. That was no answer to the Irish people, or to the students of the new University. Neither was it any justification of the injustice which was practised upon them by giving the Queen's College students an unfair advantage and depriving the others of the advantage of competing for a portion of the fund given by Parliament for the education of the people of Ireland. Upon what principle was £4,000 a-year exclusively appropriated by the Queen's Colleges for prizes and scholarships; and why should students educated in other Colleges at their own expense have their funds encroached upon by students of the Queen's Colleges without any chance of having the £4,000 a-year given to these institutions? He would admit that the Bill before the House was badly framed; but he did not think the Government could have any difficulty in appropriating section 3, which proposed to transfer to the Royal University the £4,000 a-year already referred to for prizes, scholarships, and fellowships. In Belfast College there were but 22 Catholics out of 508, not with standing the fact that in the Province of Ulster the Protestant and Catholic populations were almost equal. Why should Belfast College be 1586 practically a denominational College for Presbyterian purposes; and why should 22 Catholic students be compelled to listen to opinions like those of the Professor to whom the hon. Member for Dungarvan referred? The Chief Secretary for Ireland did not like to enter on the question. He said it was well to hear both sides of any question; but was it well for a boy of 14 or 15 years of age to hear one side of a question only, and that side at variance with his religious opinions? Could it be expected that any Catholic student in Ulster would be allowed by the members of his family to enter that College; or was it surprising that those who did so were few in number, as was proved by the facts? The Theological School was practically incorporated with the Belfast College, and 100 of the students were trained for the Presbyterian Church. Suppose the Cork or Galway College was used in the same way for denominational purposes, and put in connection with Maynooth, the question would not stand a moment's investigation in the eyes of English Members. But what was good for one College was good for every other, and if there was to be justice let there be justice all round. No reason had been given by the Government for the injustice of which they complained, and he knew very well there could be no answer given. In this particular everyone knew that the Irish accepted the Bill of 1879 under protest. They failed to carry The O'Conor Don's Bill, and it was a question of nothing or accepting the Act of 1879. They, therefore, took the one offered instead as an instalment. The people of Ireland were shut out from what should be their University, the University of Dublin, and they accepted the Act of 1879 as a kind of wedge by which they hoped to be able to work out the end. The present Bill proposed, not in very artistic language, he would admit, to place at the disposal of the Royal University the funds derived by the Queen's Colleges, to be appropriated as the Senate of the University thought fit, while the sum appropriated by the Queen's Colleges might be added to the £20,000 given for general University education in Ireland. There could be no difficulty about that on the part of the Government. It also proposed to hand over to the Senate of the Royal University the buildings of the Queen's 1587 Colleges, not interfering with the Professors, Presidents, or other officers. The Chief Secretary for Ireland said that would be destroying; and levelling the College without putting anything in its place. He (Mr. Synan) would admit that it had that aspect; but it could be changed in Committee, for he did not see any difficulty in making an alteration which would meet what the right hon. Gentleman said ought to be done in regard to Collegiate education. The Royal University was not solely an examining Board. It had the power of appointing Fellows, and of giving prizes and scholarships; and what the Bill proposed was to super add to these the advantage of having Collegiate education by placing the existing Colleges at the disposal of the Senate. It was true the Act of 1845 prevented such a transfer, and the Act of 1879 preserved the Queen's Colleges intact from encroachment by the Royal University; but he saw no difficulty in repealing the clauses of the Acts of 1845 and 1879, so as to enable the Royal University to use these Colleges for educational purposes. What was the difficulty of putting a clause in the Act to allow the Royal University to deal with the Colleges as they stood? He saw no difficulty except the non possumus of the Government. The Government did not want to deal with the question of University education, nor did they want to deal with any Irish question in an Irish sense, and it was impossible for the Irish Members to do anything with these questions except what Ministers liked themselves. He would, however, have expected that a strong Minister like the Prime Minister would have decided that this was a question which ought to be dealt with. He would admit that the Act of 1879 did not deal with the question, and that the unsettled state in which this question was left increased discontent in Ireland; but that discontent would continue until the question was dealt with in a Catholic sense as well as in a Protestant sense, and until a system was established from which nobody would be excluded and by which all would be placed on an equality. Those were the grounds upon which he should support the second reading of the Bill before the House, defective though it was.
§ COLONEL COLTHURST
said, he wished to say a few words in support of 1588 the views expressed by the hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Synan). All hon. Members of the House who approached the subject of Irish education admitted, in general terms, that educational equality ought in some way to be conceded to every section of the Irish people. It had been attempted to reach educational equality by many means, and, among others, by means of the Queen's Colleges; but the solution proposed by the late lamented Mr. Butt was the one that commended itself most to his (Colonel Colthurst's) judgment. In 1879, after the failure of The O'Conor Don's Bill, the University Education Act, which was passed, was not accepted by any hon. Member professing to speak on behalf of the Catholic population of Ireland as a satisfactory solution of the question. The O'Conor Don himself pointed out most clearly that the inequality would be more glaringly exhibited between the students of the endowed Queen's Colleges and the students of the unendowed Catholic and other Colleges in Ireland. Mr. Kavanagh, the late Member for Carlow, who was entitled to the gratitude of the Irish people for the pains he took to settle this question satisfactorily, and the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), pointed out then that it would be impossible to resist the claim of the Catholics of Ireland to an endowed College, if the Bill before the House then passed. He (Colonel Colthurst) disclaimed any responsibility for the present Bill; but he did not say that the time might not come, if the present system was persevered in, when the Queen's Colleges would have to be totally disendowed. Neither was he prepared to say that the time had come when it was reasonable to expect the Government to come to a conclusion on the lines laid down by the hon. Member for Limerick. But his hon. Friend pointed out that upon those lines it was perfectly possible to concede some sort of equality to the Catholic students of the present Royal University. It was now in the power, and it would be next year in the power, of the Queen's Colleges to send their best men forward to compete for a share of the £5,000 to be allocated in prizes and scholarships by the Royal University, and to let the residuum fall back upon the £1,200 a-year now allocated to each of the Queen's Colleges for prizes. He asked, 1589 could anybody defend such a glaring injustice? He trusted that his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland might be persuaded to offer some hope that the Government would consider the question. He did not say they should accept the Bill, nor was he himself altogether in favour of all its details; but if the hon. Member for Wicklow (Mr. W. J. Corbet) should go to a division, he should vote for the Bill, not because he agreed with it altogether, but as a protest against the inequality and injustice to which the Catholic students of Ireland were still subject. If that injustice were to be removed, there was, in his opinion, no possible solution of the question but a general disendowment, if the convictions of the people of this country would not allow of the system of levelling up.
§ MR. DALY
said, he was aware that the Bill was imperfectly drawn; but it had been put forward by the Irish Members from a desire to put before the English people the very great grievances under which the Catholic youths of Ireland lived. No matter from what motive the Queen's College in Belfast was started, it was plain to everyone that to-day it was a sectarian College. They claimed, as a matter of fact, that the Queen's Colleges were a failure altogether as they existed at the present day. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland said that it was too early to re-open the University question. That being so, he (Mr. Daly) did not expect the Bill to pass the second reading, and he believed the only practical result of bringing it forward would be to awaken the English mind to the inequalities under which Catholic students laboured, as compared with Protestant and Nonconformist students. By reason of the conscientious convictions of the Catholic youth, representing by far the largest majority of the Irish people, they were debarred from participating in the education given by the Queen's Colleges. In Cork the Faculty of Medicine was alone well attended for the sake of the qualification conferred; but the absence of Catholic students in Arts was sufficient of itself to condemn the present University system. No matter what hon. Members might say about Catholics having no right to abandon the Queen's Colleges on religious grounds, they could not shut their eyes to the 1590 fact that the Irish people as a rule rejected worldly matters for the sake of religious convictions; and the proposal of his hon. Friend (Mr. W. J. Corbet), simply to transfer the funds of the Queen's Colleges to the Royal University, which was approachable by all classes and religions, would not meet the question. It was therefore proposed to convey those sums which at present they had no chance of sharing to the University which was approachable by all. If the funds of the University were increased so as to make the prizes and scholarships more valuable, there was no reason why members of every sect should not enter it as well as the Catholics. It would be a question of no favour, but let the best man win. In the Queen's Colleges they had splendid consulting libraries, museums, and every aid to the acquisition of a knowledge of practical science; but, under the existing rules, the Catholic student was debarred from all those privileges, because his religious convictions would not allow him to enter those Colleges. In a report by the President of the University (Dr. O'Sullivan), he had referred to the want of several of these aids which were possessed by the Colleges, and he asked if that were not likely to produce in the mind of the Catholic student the idea that he was debarred from these advantages which were provided in part by his money, and were helping a man to take the prize out of his hands? He (Mr. Daly) thought that they should give all the students a chance of starting fairly. If the Motion did nothing else, it would be useful in enlightening public opinion, and it would bring to the mind of the English people the grievance under which the Catholic students laboured; it would show that part of their money went to provide educational advantages from which they themselves were debarred. By throwing open the prizes for scholarships in the Royal University to all denominations, injustice would be done to none.
§ MR. BRYCE
said, the Irish Members, in his opinion, were fully justified in raising this discussion, which would do good service; but he was equally convinced that the attitude the Government had assumed towards it, both with respect to its principle and to its details, was the proper one, and he was glad they had made an unequivocal declara- 1591 tion of their opposition to the Bill. He hoped the Government would adhere to the declaration that had been made by his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and refuse to move, by even one step, towards doing anything which would injuriously affect the Queen's Colleges. So far was he from agreeing with the hon. Members from Ireland that those Colleges were a hopeless failure, that he maintained they had been a distinct success. When they compared the population and prosperity of England and Ireland, the number of students attending the Queen's Colleges in Ireland contrasted favourably with the number attending the English Colleges and Universities. More than that, the Queen's Colleges had had to struggle against many difficulties, and the fact that they had withstood the constant opposition of the Catholic hierarchy was some testimony to their strength. Hon. Members from Ireland thought they had shown the Queen's Colleges to be denominational institutions, when they showed that the great majority of their students were not Catholics; but he (Mr. Bryce) could not admit the relevancy of the argument, not even with regard to the Queen's College at Belfast. Hon Members seemed to have forgotten that in Ulster the Protestants formed the wealthier class, and that the Catholics, unfortunately, were not, as a rule, in that prosperous worldly condition which would enable them to give their children an University education. An institution could only be called sectarian when its endowments and emoluments, or some portion of them, were exclusively reserved for the enjoyment of persons belonging to any one religious body. This was not the case with the Queen's Colleges, and, indeed, no proof of such a thing had ever been attempted. All their Professorial Chairs were open to Catholics as well as Protestants. If hon. Members showed that when Catholic and Protestant candidates of equal merit came forward for a Professorial Chair, the preference was always given to the Protestant, they might have some ground for their assertion; but that had never been shown. If any one of the Queen's Colleges was practically denominational, it could not be in consequence of anything connected with the institutions, but because a larger number of Protestants presented themselves as students. This did 1592 not imply sectarianism. It might be true that the majority of Professors in the Colleges were Protestants; but that was not in itself a ground of complaint. Dissenters in England could not complain of the English Universities, or refuse to send their sons there because 99 per cent of the teachers there were members of the Church of England. The largest number of wealthy persons in the neighbourhood of Belfast were Protestants, just as the largest number of wealthy persons accustomed to send their sons to the English Universities were members of the Church of England; and hence it naturally followed that the largest number of Professors and tutors were of the same religious views. The method of choosing a candidate, not from any particular denomination, but simply the candidate of the greatest merit, whoever he might be, had naturally resulted in the elections complained of. He should like to know why it was desired to destroy the Queen's Colleges? They were at present rendering very great services to a country where the means of promoting higher education had long been too scanty. Their existence did not injure any other Colleges which might seek a share in the prizes of the Royal University. Hon. Members opposite forgot that by the 4th sub-section of Clause 9 of the Royal University Act of last Session, students of the Queen's Colleges who had already got scholarships or prizes in those Colleges could not compete for such in the Royal University without dropping those emoluments. He did not, however, feel satisfied with the conduct of the Government in proposing their Irish University legislation of 1881; nor could they excuse themselves by alleging that they were merely following up the policy of Lord Beaconsfield's Government, expressed in the Act of 1879. He had pointed out the defects of the Act of 1881 at the time; but the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland was determined to press his measure. If the Queen's University had not been destroyed there would be no case against the Queen's Colleges—no pretext whatever for such a Bill as the present. The destruction of the Queen's University was another instance of the unsatisfactory way in which legislation on the subject of Irish education was effected by Ministers 1593 in that House. He did not think they could draw any distinction in that respect between Liberal and Tory Ministers. Both Parties alike seemed to have been actuated, not by any permanent principle, but by a desire to do the thing that would give them the least trouble at the moment; they had thought only of humouring the Roman Catholic hierarchy on the one side, and the Ulster Protestants on the other, not what would best secure sound education for the Irish people. The scheme was, like too many Irish Government schemes, a mere tinkering with the question—a mere sop to Irish dissatisfaction, to be received as such, and to be repudiated as soon as received, instead of an honest attempt to deal with the difficulties of the general question apart from present politics. The Government should take into consideration even now, when so much mischief had been done by the extinction of the Queen's University, not what would please one Party or another, but what would be the best for the whole of Ireland in the long run. He did not think the proposed Bill would bring them back to the true track. He admitted, and he ventured to think that many hon. Members around him also frankly admitted, that the Irish Members had a grievance, and they wished to see which was the best way to remedy it. The scheme for the Royal University provided scholarships and so forth, but did not provide for the teaching, or only in a secondary way, and gave no security that the teachers would be well chosen. It was not merely money that was wanted; money might be so used, and often was so used, as to injure instead of promoting education—it was teaching institutions, duly organized, and worked by capable men. If the Irish Members would bring forward some Bill which would provide for such institutions, the Government might perhaps regard it more favourably; and he would promise for himself, and he believed he might add for many hon. Members who took the same view of these questions, and had hitherto opposed anything savouring of denominationalism, that they would consent to forego their own special view on the subject, if, by doing so, they could give satisfaction to the Irish people. It was a question that should be settled upon a principle, and that principle should be 1594 one that should work right through, and be capable of future development.
§ Mr. THOMAS COLLINS
said, he would give his support to the second reading of the Bill, because he thought it was very desirable that they should offer to the people of Ireland a system of education that the great mass of the people could avail themselves of. He had always advocated religious education for this country, and if a principle was good for England it was good for Ireland. He would like to see the Queen's Colleges which had been disestablished disendowed, and their endowments given not to a section of the people, but to all the people of Ireland. He thought that the Mover of the Bill would have done more wisely if he had made an attack upon the Queen's Colleges one by one. There was something to be said for the Queen's Colleges of Belfast and Cork; but nothing could be said in favour of the one at Galway, and on previous occasions he had both spoken and voted against any endowment being given to it, because he thought it was nothing more than a job from beginning to end. The number of Roman Catholic students in it was so few that it had no reallocus standi as educating the West Country population of Ireland; and, looking to the numbers who ought to be educated in it, he must say that it had never given satisfactory education to the people of the Catholic Province in which it was placed. The Bill which very wisely disestablished the Queen's University did not satisfy the people of Ireland, leaving as it did the mass of the population excluded from a share of the educational emoluments which existed. The object was to set up in its place a new University, which should be undenominational in a certain sense, but which by means of payments by results would give equal advantages to all classes. That was getting in the thin end of the wedge, for it was not for a moment to be supposed that they could keep the Trinity College and the College of Belfast endowed and give no endowment to the Roman Catholics, who formed the great bulk of the population. There was no doubt that the Queen's College, Belfast, was practically a Presbyterian seminary, just as in old days Trinity College was substantially an Episcopalian University, and just as Oxford was a Church of England University. Practically, the bulk of the Noncon- 1595 formists that went there conformed. No one could with justice say that the three particular Queen's Colleges should have an advantage over every other institution in Ireland of a cognate character. Such an idea would not hold water. Those who sought University education in Ireland must not be subjected to any special disabilities, and no particular privileges should be given to persons entering what were called the Queen's Colleges, unless they were preparing to open up a few more Queen's Colleges, and let Galway and Cork be purely Catholic Colleges, and Belfast purely Presbyterian. They must either do that, or adopt the other system of handing over those emoluments to a University which had the confidence of all sections of the people of Ireland. He should vote for the second reading of the Bill, although he considered it would require material alteration in Committee.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said, the Catholics of Ireland should be furnished with proper facilities for University education, provided they got the same. He did not wish to say that anything was wrong about the Queen's College in Belfast; but if hon. Members would like to know what the system of the Queen's Colleges really was they must go to Galway. The College building there was magnificent, and he believed some of the Professors were eminent men, and had attracted some Catholics; but he would like to see that building put to a proper use. But under the present system that was impossible. It was simply throwing out a salmon to catch a sprat. It was a case in which gross bribery was evident, for the Catholic students went there in spite of the feeling that they were doing something mean. The Roman Catholic youth must, of course, get their education, and would have it; but still they know that it was forced on them on very unfair terms—namely, that they must leave religion in abeyance when they entered the College. It was all very well to say they could get religion outside. When Catholic young men entered the Queen's Colleges, a great many of them retained their religion, and a great many of them who lost it afterwards recovered it; but it must be allowed that the religion of the Catholics who went there was, on the whole, injuriously affected, for when young men found that religion 1596 was put in the lowest place they naturally began to think little of it. Many of them retained their religion, but it was in spite of the College training, and not in consequence of it; and Protestants must not suppose that the Catholic students who lost their faith came over to them; the fact was, they went in the direction of freethinking. He thought that no greater mistake could be made by a country than that public money should be paid for the training of the people without any sense of religion. He did not go so far as to say that they should actually keep money from people who might wish to rear up children without religion; but he thought nothing would be more unfair than to say to parents that they should have no choice—that they should either do without University education, or give up their religion. That was the system offered by the Colleges. As long as the English people continued to educate the Irish not upon the English, but upon the Irish system, they deserved to be held up to the derision of the whole world. Ireland only asked for a Catholic College; and if the Liberals brought in something to that effect, they certainly would give them every support, and they certainly would accept any scheme that would give Catholics as good an education as might be obtained in the Queen's Colleges at the present moment and under the present system. He did not think that could be a good government of any country which did not provide for the education of the people, and which did not provide that education in a systematic manner, and in a manner suited to the genius and to the religion of that country. He did not believe there could be any good system of education which totally ignored University education, by which means many persons were qualified to occupy the best positions. Under the present system the source of the whole of the educational system of Ireland was poisoned, and good government was rendered impossible so long as England insisted upon struggling against the principles of Ireland, and driving the people to be educated on a system which was contrary to their own religion. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland had objected to this Bill on the ground that it contained no provision for a grant of public money; but the 1597 right hon. Gentleman appeared to have forgotten that no private Member had power to bring forward such a provision, and that he as a Minister of the Crown alone had power to introduce such a provision into the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Irish Members had accepted the concessions that had been made them in recent legislation, as at all events a settlement for the time being of the claims of the Irish Catholics in this matter; but he (Colonel Nolan) denied that they had ever looked upon those paltry concessions in the light of being even a temporary settlement of those claims. The Chief Secretary for Ireland said that he was unable to consent to this question being reopened so soon; but that, he (Colonel Nolan) presumed, meant that the right hon. Gentleman thought the constituencies of Ireland were not in earnest on the subject, and that he would, therefore, wait until some great pressure had been brought upon him in the shape of outrages in Ireland or the suspension of a Member of Parliament before he yielded to their requests. The right hon. Gentleman advocated that young men should have an opportunity of hearing arguments used on both sides of a question. If that was the right hon. Gentleman's opinion, he was somewhat surprised that certain newspapers were denied to the Irish Members. Putting aside for the moment all question of Home Rule, the real point at issue was whether a matter that solely concerned the Irish people was to be dealt with according to English public opinion, or according to Irish public opinion. He (Colonel Nolan) held that it should be exclusively by Irish public opinion. Let England say how much money she intended to give, and then allow Ireland to determine how it should be spent. He did not object to the right of protecting a minority of Protestants in Ireland. He did object to Protestants being endowed to a greater extent than Catholics. Roman Catholics in Ireland had scarcely any educational endowments of any value, and he, therefore, contended that his countrymen were being unfairly treated from a pecuniary point of view. There was not the slightest intention on the part of the Irish Catholic majority to interfere with the education of the Protestant minority; all they asked for was that they should 1598 have a sufficiently endowed Catholic College.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, he did not think it right that this discussion should close without making a few short remarks upon the subject. He feared that many Members of the House had not yet realized all the difficulties and complications of the present position, and of the history of the Irish University question. Undoubtedly the question was a very difficult one, and hon. Members might be excused if they failed at once to see all the points that arose out of it. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) said that this question should be settled upon an abstract principle of what was right. That was, no doubt, a very good and a very high-sounding sentence.
§ MR. GIBSON
said, he should be very sorry to misrepresent the hon. Gentleman; but he went on to explain what he meant when he used the words. He had indicated that principle should be arrived at without any special reference to the wishes of the Irish hierarchy on the one side, or the Irish Protestants of the North on the other. He (Mr. Gibson) thought that anyone who proposed a settlement of the Irish University question on such a principle could not claim to have realized all the practical difficulties of the subject. He was very pleased to notice, in that interesting discussion, that the University which he had the honour to represent, and where he himself was educated, had not only not been attacked, but had been spoken of by both sides of the House in a manner which he very gladly and very proudly acknowledged. He could only say that the University had ever striven throughout its long and anxious history to be true to its mission. Long before the great English Universities of Oxford and Cambridge saw their way to open their degrees to their Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen, Dublin University, even before the close of the last century, had seen that it was right 1599 and in accordance with its traditions, to confer its degrees upon the Roman Catholics of Ireland. Very recently it had thrown open all its prizes, Fellowships, and scholarships, to everyone, regardless of their religion. It would be in the recollection of those who took an interest in University matters that not long ago a Nonconformist was elected to one of its Fellowships, and that still more recently a Roman Catholic had been similarly honoured, and within the last week a Roman Catholic Fellow had received the responsible Professorship of Moral Philosophy. He regretted that the Roman Catholics of Ireland did not themselves desire, in greater numbers, to resort to the University of Dublin; but if they did not, it was not owing to any ungracious, or unworthy, or ungenerous treatment they might receive within its walls. They did to some extent go there; and he was sure that those who looked after the interests of that University would be much better pleased to see a very much larger number of them there. The Act of 1845, by which the Queen's Colleges were founded, made something of a new start in the matter of University education in Ireland. Although the Act was not the foundation of the Queen's University, it was the prelude to it. Whoever was responsible for the drafting of the Bill now before the House, he (Mr. Gibson) might remind him that the Act of 1845 was not in the slightest degree repealed or purporting to be affected by it. These Queen's Colleges had been attacked from various points of view. He had had no connection with them himself; but he could speak highly of vast numbers of gentlemen whom he had met, and who had been educated within their walls, and he thought he would be wrong if he did not acknowledge that they had attained a great measure of educational success. The same might be said of the Queen's University, which had only ceased to exist within the past two months; and the point most lost sight of in this discussion, on the part of the hon. Member who introduced the Bill, was not so much the historical aspect of the question as its position at the present moment. The Royal University was only called into existence in consequence of an Act passed in 1879; while the Supplementary Act of Parliament, which was 1600 to give it vitality by giving it funds, only passed the House last August. It was, in his view, quite a misnomer to say that the grant of £20,000 made under that Act was a petty grant, having regard to the functions it had to fulfil, and the duties imposed upon it. It was far and away more than the Dublin University had to apply to the purposes for which the Royal University was chartered. The Royal University was not a teaching or a Professorial University; it had only to conduct examinations and distribute prizes; and for fulfilling these duties £20,000 a-year was amply sufficient. The present position of the Royal University was not adequately represented to the House by referring to the Act of 1879, because that would appear to indicate a history of three years; whereas the position it now held was this—it had only got into working order within the last four or five months. The first matriculation examination had only been held within the last couple of months, and that examination was such as to promise success to the University; and, considering that it had been so recently established, he thought there was every prospect of a substantial success—at all events, enough to indicate that it should be allowed to go on in its own way, without any such violent interruption as was provided by this Bill. Would it not be unreasonable that before the Royal University was right on its legs it should be disorganized by a Bill involving such changes as that before the House? Besides, the present Bill almost altogether ignored all the practical difficulties that underlay the question of University education in Ireland. It left the Act of 1845 untouched; it left the Act of 1879 on the Statute Book unreformed and unamended; sections 7 and 8 of the Act of 1879, having reference to residences and Queen's College property required to be taken into consideration in any new law on the subject; and the present Bill did not deal at all with these matters. Supposing it were to pass, what was to be done with the buildings of the Queen's University? Were they to be turned into barracks, or what was to be done with them? The Royal University under its Charter could not prescribe residence in them, or could not prescribe teaching in them; it had no power, in fact, to utilize them. These matters might be dealt with in Com- 1601 mittee; but the omission perhaps showed that the Bill had been framed rather for discussion than for legislation. He was far from making a charge against the hon. Members who introduced the Bill; but it should be remembered that the Order to bring in this Bill was made by the House on the 9th February, and the Bill was printed practically only on the 17th March. They were discussing a Bill which affected the very existence of the Queen's Colleges almost before the Queen's Colleges themselves could know anything about it. Until the Bill was printed and circulated, nothing had been said or done to indicate the character of the Bill, or the course it proposed to take; and it was not until yesterday or to-day that the heads of the Colleges, the Professors, the students, and all those interested in the Colleges, had any means whatever of learning the smallest particle about the Bill. If this were a Bill that, in the nature of things, was likely to be heard of again he would say, without hesitation, that that was not a reasonable way of treating the Colleges, and would suggest that every possible notice should be given them in order that they might make their case. He was sure, however, that anything that had been overlooked in making out the case of the Queen's Colleges would be amply made up by his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland, who was himself one of their most distinguished students. He could not himself support the second reading of the Bill.
§ MR. THOMASSON
said, that, as a strong opponent of denominational education, he generally concurred in the views expressed by the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce), for he felt that as long as we gave aid to denominational schools in this country, we must do so in Ireland also. The difficulties of the case arose from the prejudices of the English people; and as an illustration of the disgraceful partiality which existed on this question of denominational education, he complained of the Church of England Party, who advocated denominational education of their own particular order in England, whilst, on the other hand, they strongly objected to anything like a corresponding system being permitted in the Roman Catholic Colleges of Ireland. He must repeat, that so long as denominational 1602 education was given in England the Irish people would have a right to complain of the system now pursued in that country; and he thought, therefore, that the only solution of the question was the granting of State aid for the endowment of Roman Catholic Colleges.
§ MR. LYON PLAYFAIR
Sir, the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Colonel Nolan), who generally expresses the opinion of Irish Members in this House with great clearness, has said that their only wish is to have a Roman Catholic College similar to the essentially Presbyterian Queen's College in Belfast, in order to give them systematic education. Now, if that was the measure which was before us, we would have a constructive Bill to construct a College, in order to give Roman Catholics a good secular education on proper principles. But it is not a constructive Bill we are asked to consider. It is entirely a destructive Bill. Its object is to destroy an educational system which exists, and which has existed for some time in Ireland. I sympathize, and have always sympathized—and I may refer hon. Members to speeches I have made for many years—I strongly sympathize with the Roman Catholics in their endeavours to get a system of education in Ireland which will meet their educational requirements. I admit, further, that the systems of education which exist in Ireland have failed to enlist the confidence of the Roman Catholics. I am, therefore, entirely in sympathy with their efforts to construct; but I am not at all in sympathy with their efforts to destroy an existing system of education. What is a University? A University, except in modern times, has not been a mere examining Board. We have had the London University as an examining Board, starting a sort of Chinese system in this country, and trying to promote education through examinations; but Universities, properly and efficiently constituted, are teaching Bodies, which, by means of well-regulated examinations, give degrees to the students whom they have taught. Well, what do you wish in Ireland? Do you wish to promote that system of education as the means of educating the Roman Catholics of Ireland? [Cries of "No, no!"] Well, that is precisely what you are proposing by this Bill to do. You propose to take away £25,000 a-year from the Queen's Colleges and pass that 1603 sum over to the examining Board of the Royal University, and thus to extinguish three out of four of the teaching Colleges of Ireland. Let us consider in what state higher education is in Ireland. You have Trinity College, of which even Roman Catholics are proud. You have the Queen's Colleges, which the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) says ought to be destroyed, because they have failed, and the proof of their failure he states to be that they have few Art students. I do not admit this as a fact. The Art students amount to 27 per cent of the whole number. In the University of Edinburgh, which is a much older College, the proportion is only 33 per cent. The hon. Member for Dungarvan despises professional education, and thinks it unworthy of a University. Excepting Oxford and Cambridge, where the Arts Faculty has always been predominatingly strong, the other ancient Universities arose out of the desire of Professions to obtain culture and scientific education.
§ MR. LYON PLAYFAIR
The hon. Member asks me which? Well, Salerno arose out of Medicine; Bologna out of Law.
§ MR. LYON PLAYFAIR
Paris arose out of Theology and Law. The Arts Faculty in Paris was originally a mere preparatory school, in proof of which I may remind the hon. Member that an edict was passed to prevent any student from becoming a Master of Arts before he reached 12 years of age. Professional education is admirable for enlarging the faculties, and cultivating the mind. As regards medical training, I know no sort of education equal to it, for, by the rules of the Medical Council, evidence of liberal culture must precede scientific training. Education may come through sciences, as well as through philology. It is not, however, the question which is the best, but which is the most suitable to poor countries like Scotland and Ireland? Scotland, until recent years, could not boast a large number of Art graduates; but, nevertheless, her Universities have moulded the character of her people, and laid the foundation of her prosperity. Scotland has in one corner mineral wealth; but her soil is 1604 naturally more sterile than that in Ireland. Her education has, however, compensated for her natural poverty, and made her rich and contented. But now Irish patriots actually propose to destroy three systematic Colleges, without substituting anything for them. They have now 1,059 students admirably taught, and they are to be deprived of all means of systematic education which they now have in Arts, Medicine, Law, and Engineering. The Bill, after destroying these Colleges, hands over £25,000 a-year to the Royal University, which already has £20,000. As the fund of a mere examining Board, I quite agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Gibson) that the latter is a very large sum. It is a great deal too much to scatter as prizes for cramming. You may do much harm by the unwise use of money in education. At present the Royal University scatters its money among small Roman Catholic seminaries, which are not properly provided with teaching appliances. To put more money at its disposal would, I think, do infinite mischief to education, and elevate "cram" above systematic teaching. I think we ought very carefully to watch the growth of examinations in this country. The Public Services have fostered them, and I look with much anxiety to their multiplication. They force intellect too rapidly forward in youth, and stunt it in manhood. I, for one, would be very glad to see any constructive system presented for promoting higher education amongst the Irish Roman Catholics; but a destructive system, such as is proposed by this Bill, is one which, I think, the House ought to resist, and, as this Bill proposes to destroy most useful Colleges, in order to promote an examining system which I much distrust, I intend to vote against it.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, that in his opinion Irish Members, without exception, would be much gratified at the tone of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Lyon Playfair). The very liberal and most excellent views expressed by the right hon. Gentleman went to show that the great bugbear of the religious difficulty would not, if he could help it, stand in the way in the future of giving effect to the desire expressed over and over again by the Irish people that the 1605 Roman Catholics should be allowed to have the advantages of resident teaching in Colleges of their own. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the great evils of an examination system, under which it was not cared where the pupils examined obtained their training, he should bear in mind that that was one of the principal objections urged by the Roman Catholics since the question was first brought forward. Eight or ten years ago this was a burning question, and the present Government would never forget what happened to them and to the Liberal Party because they absolutely despised all the demands of the Roman Catholics. The Government was destroyed upon the very question that the Irish Members speaking on behalf of the Irish people asked—not to be put off with mere opportunities for examination and the taking of prizes, but that something should be given them like that conceded to the Protestants—namely, resident Colleges and Universities in which the young men might receive their education. When there was a question of teaching the Chinese language in one of the Universities, the House might probably recollect that Dr. Johnson said a University was a place in which everything ought to be taught, not a place for examinations, and in former days there were no examinations in the Universities. Now, the Roman Catholics of Ireland had no place in which their young men could be taught. It was true that a Catholic University in Dublin had been founded by the exertions of the Roman Catholic Body, who in Ireland were really very poor, but who did more and made greater efforts on behalf of their education and of their religion than any other people in this or any other country with which we were connected. For it must be remembered that the Catholics supported their own ministers, built their own churches and chapels, and contributed everything out of their own pockets, except for the education of priests at Maynooth, which was an endowment that had been given long before the Union. But a Catholic University had always been refused, and the Irish Catholics had always been frowned upon in that House. The Catholic Body asked in the most modest way that a grant should be given to enable them to construct buildings of their own; but it 1606 was refused with contumely. And then, when one great Government had ceased to exist, and the Liberal Party had been put out of Office for six years, their Successors made it a so-called University which was nothing else than an examining College. To suppose that the question of University education in Ireland was to be settled in that way was absurd. The Roman Catholics never would, and never ought, to be content until they had exactly the same advantages for education in their own way that the Protestants had. It was all perfect rubbish to talk about the liberality of the University of Dublin. Trinity College, it was true, rather than lose some of its emoluments and prestige, threw over the religious character of the education given at that institution—the very thing that was prized by Protestants, and respected by Roman Catholics. That step, however, did not attract to the College the suffrages of the Roman Catholic people of Ireland; while, on the other hand, it rather alienated their sympathy, because they contended that education to be real should be founded on religion. He should like to know what the Roman Catholics were to do? He was not speaking on their behalf, because he was not a Roman Catholic. But he felt bound to ask the question. This Bill was brought forward, he presumed, not as a proposition for education that would be acceptable to the Catholic Members or to the Catholic people, but as a pilot balloon to ascertain the feelings of the House, and to show the dissatisfaction of the Roman Catholics with the present state of things. He should think it most unjust to disendow the Queen's Colleges in Ireland, which were for mixed education, provided they gave opportunities for denominational education for Roman Catholics. The Roman Catholics to his mind were perfectly just and fair when they said—"Endow all or disendow all; but do not mock a people who love education, who desire to have it, and who have made such great exertions to obtain it, by pretty speeches now and then." Hon. Members in that House seem to say—"Oh, we should be delighted to assist in a constructive scheme, but we will not assist in a destructive one." The Roman Catholics did not wish to destroy any system; but they insisted on their rights, without which they would never be content. He must 1607 again ask what were they to-do? He was sure that this Government would never bring in a Bill on the subject. The Government was not strong enough—was not strong enough in their convictions. They had no sympathy with denominational education, and they were afraid. [Mr. JUSTIN M'CARTHY: Hear, hear!] His hon. Friend aimed to be an advocate of justice; at the same time he kept all the plums in the pudding to himself. Denominational education did exist in Ireland, but it was entirely Protestant. [Mr. JUSTIN M'CARTHY: Where?] He was almost startled at being asked such a question. He should say in Trinity College, Dublin. The whole notion and idea of education there was Protestant, and he hoped it always would be. Trinity College, of which he desired to speak only with respect, had greatly lowered itself by throwing off, under the Bill of his right hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), for a purpose of its own—in his (Mr. Mitchell Henry's) opinion not the most creditable—the religious character which it had formerly held. The Queen's Colleges were also Protestant; and, although one of them had a Roman Catholic Principal, that did not alter the general character of the Colleges. The Roman Catholic Hierarchy and. the Roman Catholic people were opposed to any education which was not founded upon religion, and he maintained that they were right, and that their feelings ought to be respected. The fact was, that the Protestants of this country were still as full as ever of the old bigotry and the old prejudice. He spoke as a Protestant himself, and regretted that it was so. The Roman Catholics did not want to destroy; but he should like to know what assistance would be given to them if they did come forward with a constructive system? Would the House grant to them the sum of £25,000 a-year which had been spoken of for Queen's Colleges on a denominational basis? Of course, they knew perfectly well the House would not. But what they might do, and what he believed would eventually have to be done, would be to make the University of Dublin a University of more than one College, and to affiliate to it a Catholic as well as a Protestant College. If that was done, the Roman Catholics would feel that they were 1608 getting a fair share of the emoluments, and would be able to provide a training for their students; for they could not be expected to be content with merely an examination and a series of processes, which, in the long run, might be almost said to degrade, instead of to advance, the intellectual development of young men. He was greatly delighted to hear the tone of the debate; but he din not think they ought to make too much of it. Honeyed words had been frequently made use of in this House on the subject of education; but they always found that whenever it came to the question as to whether they had overcome their prejudices against Roman Catholics, they found that they had not done so. The Protestants had all the emoluments in their own hand, and they would keep them. That was what it always practically came to; and until the feeling was altered in some way or other, so long, in his opinion, would the Roman Catholic people of Ireland retain the feeling that they had an injustice to overcome, the continuance of which would make the rule of this country distasteful to them.
said, that the statements of his hon. Friend who had just spoken (Mr. Mitchell Henry) were hardly consistent with each other. He had found fault with the University of Dublin for having changed its religious character; but it was impossible to please the hon. Member. He blamed it for being exclusively Protestant, and then he blamed it for having parted with its denominational character. They could not both be true, and which did the hon. Member want? He also said the Presbyterians had a denominational College of their own. Where was it? Did he mean the Queen's College, Belfast? There was also the Academical Institution, which was founded by Presbyterians; but they did not demand that the University should alter its standard for the purpose of adapting itself to their opinions. They had also the Magee College, which had recently acquired the right to confer degrees of a particular kind—namely, to the clergy of the Presbyterian Church; but when the Irish Church was disestablished, a large slice of the property of the Church was conferred for ever upon Maynooth College, which also had the right to confer degrees. Was not that endowment an en- 1609 dowment to an exclusively denominational College for the purpose of instructing Roman Catholic priests? And now, the Roman Catholics claimed to get the funds either of the Disestablished Church or of the University College of Magee, for the purpose of establishing for themselves a University which should be under the exclusive control of the priesthood of the Church of Rome. That, he thought, was what was foreshadowed in the speech of his hon. Friend. His hon. Friend had also spoken of honeyed words being too frequently employed as concerned this question; but he (Mr. Macartney) was not in the habit of putting much honey into his words. Perhaps he was more prone to put in a little vinegar. But he would have the hon. Member understand that if the Government of Great Britain abandoned the position it had hitherto maintained of holding the balance equal between the religions, and gave to the Roman Catholics the advantages of exclusive denominational education, the feeling of Protestants in Ireland would be considerably exasperated. They would feel that they were to be deprived of an exclusive privilege which they had enjoyed for 300 years to make all things equal among all men, and then to re-establish those who had assisted in despoiling them, and give them the very advantage for their own benefit of which the Protestants had been deprived. That would not be either justice or equality. In reference to the Queen's Colleges, the Roman Catholic priesthood had said to the people—"If you send your children there, you are not real Roman Catholics." But, in spite of all this, and other influences brought to bear, hundreds of Roman Catholics had been educated in those Colleges at Cork, Belfast, and Galway. It had been over and over again said in this House, that among the College-going population in the districts where those Colleges were established, there were in proportion as many Roman Catholics as of any other denomination. [Cries of "No, no!"] Of course, very poor people could not send their children to the Universities; but they could afford to give them sufficient education to enable them to enter into the competitive examinations, though they could not send them into training in a University where they would have to reside, and be clothed and fed in addition to being educated, unless 1610 that University was very largely endowed. He was himself educated at a University in a Roman Catholic country, and he wished to say there was no such thing as denominational education there. Education was open to all without restrictions. As to the books out of which the Professors were to take their lectures, that very point was the stumbling-block which upset the Bill of the right Gentleman who was now at the head of the Government. According to that Bill, it would have been open to the students to object to the lecture or Professor, and if such objection was taken, the lecturer was bound to submit himself, as far as that went, to the judgment of the students attending his class. Now, if that was to be the system on which Fellowships were to be appointed in Dublin or elsewhere, it would be a lamentable thing for the country. The larger, wider, broader education was provided for, the Professors not being allowed to teach that which was contrary to the belief in God, the better it would be. But how were they to act in the present age? Was everybody to be subjected either to the assaults of infidelity or the influence of superstition? They had the one on one side and the other on the other. He was told that he was too severe. [Ironical cries of "No, no!"] Well, he was glad to find that hon. Gentlemen below him, at any rate, were not inclined to think he was using unhoneyed words. He did not wish to give offence to anybody. He submitted his opinions earnestly, openly, and frankly; and he was sure that nothing worse could happen to Ireland than to destroy the Queen's Colleges, and hand over their endowments to the Royal University for the purpose of creating, he presumed, a large number of scholarships. If they afterwards made an assault on the only remaining University in Ireland, which would be the University of Dublin and Trinity College, and despoiled it also, and brought all down to one uniform level, men getting in from all parts of the country for examination before a certain number of Professors who were bound not to ask questions which would be displeasing to any of the students, Ireland would be in a worse state than she had ever been, and she was bad enough now. He lastly objected to the present Bill, because it sought to carry 1611 further the prevailing idea that, no matter what they dragged the property of other people from, they must get it somehow.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. PORTER)
said, that the matter under discussion was one in which he took the deepest interest, having been a student at one of the Colleges referred to. The debate had taken a singular course. It was now admitted, he thought, by all the speakers in favour of the second reading of the Bill, that the means which the Bill provided for carrying out their object were not justifiable. It was avowed that it was not desired to put an end to the Queen's Colleges. It was avowed they were doing a work, which, if it were not as much and as good as might be desired, was yet a practical and useful work. Again, it was avowed that the end which would be accomplished by that Bill was not the end that the promoters of it had in view, because it had been made plain in the course of the debate that the object which that Bill would accomplish would be the transference of the funds of the Queen's Colleges to the Royal University, in whose hands they would necessarily be held not for the purpose of promoting academic teaching in any shape or form, but simply for the purpose of affording additional scholarships and prizes in a non-teaching and merely examining University. It seemed to him that, dealing with the Bill as a Bill on which the House might seriously vote, there was nothing to be said in favour of a second reading of it, as the only way in which its end was to be accomplished was by the destruction of the Queen's Colleges. There was nothing otherwise for the Bill to operate upon. The only fund to be got was the endowment which the Queen's Colleges possessed, which consisted of £21,000 a-year, which, by the Colleges Act of 1845, was charged on the Consolidated Fund. There had been some Parliamentary grants of not very large amounts; but the amount stated was in the main the public endowment of the Queen's Colleges. That endowment was at present administered by the three Colleges, and what were the results of that administration? He would point out to the House that the teaching in the Queen's Colleges was a real and actual fact, and that they had 1612 been a marked success. At present, or rather, as the latest Report showed, in the Session of 1880–1, there were between 1,000 and 1,100 students attending lectures within their walls; and in order that the House might appreciate the significance of that figure, he would draw attention to the fact that no student could pass through the classes there without regular attendance on the lectures during the entire term of his course. One would naturally suppose that by the side of that ancient, distinguished, and renowned seat of learning, Trinity College, so splendidly endowed, the Queen's Colleges would make but a very indifferent comparison; but, if he was not mistaken, the number of those really or nominally on the books of that College did not exceed by more than 100 or 150 those in connection with the Queen's Colleges, while a large number of them were not compelled to attend any lectures, so that they had got 1,000 to 1,100 young men actually receiving an academic training which would culminate in their taking a degree. It seemed to him that, as regarded mere numbers, the students in attendance on the Queen's Colleges indicated marked success on the part of these institutions. As regarded the character of the teaching, he spoke with diffidence; but it appeared to him that these Colleges and the University which recently terminated had had an honourable career, and honourable results to show. As to the Medical School which had been so largely spoken of, as if it ought to be excepted from the general account of the work done by the University, it seemed to him that during the debate that argument had been answered conclusively. There was no more important portion of the work of the College than that to which medical education was confided, and there was no medical degree in the Three Kingdoms which stood higher than that of the late Queen's University, with the single exception, he believed, of that of the London University. In all departments of public work, in all branches of service, in every region where the British Government extended, the students of the Queen's Colleges had been doing good and useful work, and had been reflecting credit upon the institution. The technical character of the education had also been remarked upon, and it seemed to him 1613 that in a country like Ireland they would expect to find the number of those receiving a professional education largely preponderate over those receiving a mere Arts training. It was not a country like England, in which a large number of people could look forward to a life of cultured ease; and what few there were of such persons resorted, as a rule, either to Trinity College, Dublin, or to the English Universities. It seemed, then, that the Queen's Colleges had been doing principally, though not exclusively, the work of training men for professional life; and he should like to know what more useful work could be done in such Colleges? It was alleged that they had been teaching men who afterwards went to the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. That was quite true; but was it said that those who were to be educated for that Church were not to receive an academic or Arts training? That was an important part of the educational work of the country. Several times it had been said that the College at Belfast was practically a denominational College, and that it was largely a College resorted to by members of the Presbyterian Church. The latter statement was quite true. The students on the books numbered about 500, of which 300 were Presbyterians, and the remaining 200, or nearly 200, were divided amongst a number of different denominations, none of them disentitled to the advantages of the educational establishments of the country. Although the Presbyterian students preponderated, it was in no sense a Presbyterian College, and in no sense open to the charge of being a sectarian institution. It was also quite true that only one of the Professors happened to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church; but he had heard of no complaints of interference in the selection of Professors, and had never heard it alleged that an appointment in that College or in any of the other Queen's Colleges was ever made on a sectarian basis. Sectarianism had nothing to do with the appointment of Professors in that College. As regards the working of the College itself, it was a very considerable number of years since he left its halls, and ever since he had taken the deepest interest in it, and was in a position to judge of its working, having been long a member of the 1614 Senate of the Queen's University, and he might say that during his whole undergraduate course, or since, he had never heard the slightest complaint from anyone in reference to the teaching of the Belfast College, on the ground that it was in any degree sectarian. The hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) had explained a difficulty under which he was placed when he was attending the College at Galway, by being obliged to attend the lectures of a Professor of History, whose views he did not agree with. The hon. Member also quoted extracts from a work published by another gentleman, Professor Young; but Professor Young's publication never was a text-book, and it had not been alleged that any opinion of a controversial character had ever been introduced by Professor Young in the discharge of his duties as Professor. On the contrary, it was perfectly well known that the teaching of that Chair was particularly guarded, so as to avoid any controversial matters. It must also be remembered, although the hon. Member himself appeared to be ignorant of the fact, that by a rule of the Queen's Colleges History was one of the Chairs the teachings of which were not compulsory on any student. No student was under any obligation to attend such lectures. The Queen's Colleges were said to have been a marked failure as regarded the attendance of Catholics. It should not be forgotten that the number of Roman Catholics in the Province of Ulster, although large, did not include many of those in a position to take advantage of a University education, and those who were able to do so were generally the sons of country farmers, who did it with the view of becoming clergymen. With regard to these last, they got their education under public endowment at the College of Maynooth, so that so far as that class was concerned it could not be alleged that they had any grievance. They would find that in the Colleges of Cork and Galway combined of the numbers of students actually upon the books more than one-half were Roman Catholics. A distinction had been drawn between the other Colleges and the College at Galway, and a suggestion had been made that that College ought to be thrown overboard; but he dissented entirely from that proposition. It had been placed in very exceptional 1615 circumstances in a poor and thinly-populated district and in a declining town, and he was surprised to find that under the circumstances such a number of students were attending it. It was surprising to note that the number of its students at present was as great as that of the students of Belfast for the first 10 years of its existence, and that as regards the quality of its teaching it compared favourably with its fellow-institutions. It deserved the warm support of all who had at heart the interests of Ireland. It had been urged that the numbers were to some extent a fallacious test of the utility of the Colleges, and that there had been a spasmodic increase of students in consequence of the dissolution of the Queen's University; but he maintained that the Colleges had grown gradually, and that there was nothing spasmodic about their development. Even as regarded the number of Roman Catholics, it seemed to him that the case against the Colleges had failed. Another observation which was made was that it was an unfair thing that the students of Colleges which had been so largely endowed should be allowed to compete for the prizes of the Royal University. At the time the Royal University Act was passed the Queen's University was destroyed, and there was no place where the students of the Queen's Colleges could obtain a degree, unless they were admitted to compete in the Royal University. It could not be said that it would have been right now to establish a University from the honours and prizes of which one class, that probably the largest that would seek University education, should be excluded. But, according to the constitution of the Royal University, no student of a Queen's College could gain a prize in that University unless he gave credit for the amount of any prize he possessed in his College. That was to say, if he held a prize of £50 from the Queen's College. Galway, and gained a studentship of £60 from the Royal University, he only obtained £10, the other £50 being left in the University for other persons. Therefore, however the argument might stand with respect to the establishment of an independent College for Roman Catholics, he maintained that no hardship existed in the present management of the prizes of the Queen's Colleges. The hon. Mem- 1616 ber for Cork City (Mr. Daly) fell into an error when he was referring to the feelings of mortification which he conceived Roman Catholics who did not attend the Queen's College in that city would hear of the extensive grants to that College for the remarkable appliances at the service of the students there. But the hon. Member had not observed that President Sullivan, in his report, mentioned that the cost of these had been borne by a local gentleman who did much for the private endowment of the College. President; Sullivan had with great zeal and industry striven to develop from private funds the resources of the College over which he so worthily presided. It seemed to him (the Solicitor General for Ireland), therefore, that there was no reason why the Queen's Colleges should be destroyed, and even on the part of the promoters of the Bill that appeared to be conceded. If the Queen's Colleges were not to be destroyed, there remained the consideration whether anything should be done for the purpose of conferring additional funds upon the Royal University. The Queen's University only terminated last month, and the Royal University had only just come into existence; it had only held one matriculation examination. It was founded on a principle questionable in itself, a principle which, at least, did not recommend itself very largely to some important classes in Ireland; and the time during which it was in operation was too short to form any opinion as to its efficiency. The idea, therefore, of transferring bodily the funds of the institutions that were doing good work to this institution, for the purpose of their being applied to questionable ends, appeared to him to be very wild and absurd. What was to be done with the buildings? It was contrary to the constitution of the Royal University to establish a College. It could not render attendance in any school an essential preliminary to obtaining its degrees. It would probably be obliged to sell its Colleges—as had been remarked—for barracks, and apply the funds to the same profitless objects it pursued at present. It seemed to him that a Motion for Inquiry would have attained all the ends that hon. Members had in view by the introduction of the Bill, if indeed they had not been attained already by the discussion. The 1617 Queen's Colleges had gathered around them the good wishes, not only of those who had been connected with them, but those who had examined that work. There had been large private endowments associated with the Colleges of Galway, Cork, and especially Belfast. They had been acquiring these endowments on the faith of an Act of Parliament, and discharging honestly and loyally the work appointed for them to do. A cessation of their existence, then, would be a wrong not only to the students and Professors, but an outrage to the donors who had placed funds at their disposal. The old argument which he thought had been long since abolished had again cropped up about those Colleges being "Godless Colleges," a description applied to them long since, and he even believed up to the present time by some persons. There were no Colleges in the United Kingdom to which that description less applied. So far from religious teaching being banished from their walls, as was commonly supposed, absolutely the reverse was the case. Instead of a prohibition of religious instruction, there was absolutely a statutory requirement binding upon a student in every case, if those connected with his Church would only afford it to him, to receive religious instruction within the College walls; and in the College with which he (the Solicitor General for Ireland) was connected not only was religious instruction not banished, but it was strictly enforced, and given by the heads of the Churches with which the students were connected, under the penalty of rustication or expulsion, if the students did not attend that religious instruction. It might be right or it might be wrong to have such a system of education as was established in the Queen's Colleges; but as regarded the results on the character and lives of the students, he could only say he had never heard an allegation that the students, whether Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or Methodist, were not as well conducted, as moral, and as religious as those of any other Colleges in the country. For those reasons, it seemed to him that there was no ground whatever for either the demolition of these Colleges, or the appropriation of their funds. His view differed widely from those of the Irish Members opposite on the question of denominational education. At the same time, he recognized 1618 their right to entertain their views, and he entirely sympathized with their honest and sincere expressions of opinion on these matters. But, while that was so, it seemed to him that that was not a fit and proper opportunity for discussing the subject. The straightforward way for hon. Members to try to attain their object was to openly bring forward proposals for the establishment and endowment of a Catholic College, and thus fairly raise the question, leaving the Queen's Colleges, which were admittedly doing good work, to do it unharassed and undiscouraged. by such discussions as had been going on to-day.
§ MR. METGE
said, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who represented the University of Edinburgh (Mr. Lyon Playfair) was one that would give universal satisfaction in Ireland, inasmuch as he had thrown the weight of his influence into the scale in favour of University education on the system of concurrent endowment. The right hon. Gentleman told them that the greatest blot in the present Bill was that it endeavoured, by destroying the Queen's Colleges in Ireland, to transfer the endowments by which they were supported to what was merely an examining Body. He (Mr. Metge) felt quite as strongly as did the right hon. Gentleman the inefficiency of the Royal University for the purposes of education. But, as it existed, it was not so entirely a mere examining Board as had been represented, provision being made in its constitution for Fellowships on the Board, those Fellowships to be held by gentlemen who were actually teachers and Professors in Colleges throughout Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the College in Belfast, if for no other reason, should be maintained on the ground of its usefulness as a Professional Institution. That might be very desirable, but it was not the object for which the Queen's Colleges were established. According to the evidence of Sir Robert Kane before the Queen's Colleges Commissioners, they were simply established to develop the Faculty of Arts on a large scale. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland seemed to think that the great difficulty of doing away with the Queen's Colleges would be that the Protestant students of these Colleges would have no other means of obtaining a Collegiate education; but he 1619 (Mr. Metge) thought that was rather a weak argument, and would ask hon. Members to consider what was the position of the Catholic students at present. All the endowments for Catholic education, with the exception of Maynooth, were supplied from private sources. The Catholic students had to obtain Collegiate education at private institutions, except so far as they could avail themselves of Maynooth. Surely the Protestants were as well able to endow Colleges for themselves as were the Catholics. It was an outrage to put forward the difficulty of dealing with the buildings as a reason for not redressing a grievance. He did not see how a Bill which proposed to transfer the emoluments of a University which was obnoxious to the people of Ireland, and which had practically failed to be of any use, could be regarded as one for destroying an established system of University education. They were told that the question was not ripe for settlement; but that was a statement they had heard so often that it was time to take a lesson from it, and to advise their constituents to make it ripe for discussion by agitating outside, and for the House to pay that attention to it which the paltry pressure of 12 or 15 Members could never extort. The Irish people must, therefore, take great care in the future to thoroughly agitate every subject, and then the pressure would be brought to bear.
§ MR. CORRY
denied that the Queen's College at Belfast was in any way a sectarian College. It was in a Presbyterian district, and therefore it was natural that it should be resorted to by Presbyterian young men desirous to be educated for the Ministry. He was sure that if the accommodation were bettor, they would have a still larger number of young men resorting to that College. He hoped they would find in the Estimates that there was a considerable grant made to that College. It had been a very great success, and his constituents would be annoyed if they thought that College was to be interfered with in any way, and he should therefore vote against the Bill.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, he considered the principle which underlay the Bill was one that the House ought not lightly to cast aside, and, as it was likely to be defeated by a very large 1620 majority if they went to a division, he would move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Sir Joseph M'Kenna.)
§ MR. BIGGAR
rose on a point of Order, and said, his hon. Friend (Mr. Metge) had spoken on the Main Question, and he (Mr. Biggar) would like to know if it were in Order for him to second the Motion for Adjournment?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, as the hon. Member had spoken on the Main Question, he would be out of Order in seconding a Motion for Adjournment.
§ There being no Seconder, the Motion was not put.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 35; Noes 214: Majority 179.—(Div. List, No. 57.)