§ MR. DOOGAN (Tyrone, E.)
I rise to call attention to the question of teaching the Irish language in Irish schools and to move the resolution that stands in my name on the Paper. This is not a party but an educational question, and one which I claim can be supported in all quarters of the House. To explain the question it will be necessary for me to refer to the deplorable condition of the school life of the children in the Irish-speaking districts of Ireland. When they enter school they are set to what I consider an impossible task, and to one which inflicts upon them much pain, punishment, and mental torture. Those children who come from Irish-speaking homes, where they may have never heard a word of English in their lives, are set to struggle to acquire English, 849 which to them is a foreign language, through a vocalism to which their tongues have been untrained, their ears are unfamiliar, and they are frequently taught by a teacher who knows not a single word of Irish. The problem seems a most extraordinary one to have to solve. It is strange that such treatment should be inflicted on any civilised community—to teach English to Irish-speaking pupils who know no English through English alone, and by a teacher who knows no Irish, and therefore without the aid of any oral explanation whatever. Surely such a system is not education. Education means the drawing out of all the mental faculties and the training and developing of the intellectual powers. But this system must inevitably dwarf and stunt the intelligence and deprive the children of their natural rights' to be educated—a right to which every person born into the world is entitled. It is inevitable that such a system must and does produce illiteracy. This evil method has been going on now for a long period in the history of Ireland—ever since the Commissioners of National Education took over the educational destinies of our country about sixty-six years ago. At that time the native language was spoken extensively in the rural areas of Ireland. Since that time the home language of the pupils as an educative instrument has been entirely ignored, and the extensive vocabulary which the children have acquired at home and through intercourse with the people in the locality is absolutely shut out from them when they go to school as a means of acquiring new ideas. The children are quick, alert, and intelligent, and everybody knows that ideas can only be acquired through the instrumentality of language, so that the system of beginning the education of Irish children in a foreign language is most unenlightened and intolerable, and is perhaps the most barbarous that could be followed in any country in the world. The pupils acquire some words merely through the ear, and they may be taught to read by sight in a mechanical manner without understanding what they are reading. When these children escape from school—and escape they do at the earliest time they can, for the school to them is a veritable 850 prison—they having picked up a mere smattering of English, return to the old environment of hearing Irish spoken, and of speaking it themselves. They have acquired such a distaste for the sound of the English language that they have no desire for continuing their reading. In the districts in which they live they do not hear it, and as a natural consequence in the course of time their memory of that language dies out, and before they are fully grown up they have lost the capacity to read and write, and in the Census Returns they must necessarily be enrolled in the long local list of illiterates.
The resolution which I respectfully submit to the trained intelligence and reasoned judgment of the House is the only real remedy for this absurd and irrational system. It asks the Government to put an end to a system that has been absolutely worthless as a system of education. It has deprived hundreds of thousands of the population in these Irish-speaking districts of anything resembling education at all. This resolution is purely a demand for educational reform—a demand made by the voice of the united people of Ireland. The bishops, managers, teachers, elected local boards, literary societies, the Nationalist press and the Nationalist party, and the Gaelic League are unanimously and loudly demanding this educational reform. The Gaelic League has pledged itself to continue its active and vigorous agitation for the revival of the Irish language as part of the educational curriculum of the country, and as it has behind it a widespread and growing movement I venture to think that the Government will find it impossible to refuse its just demand. The question then is ripe for settlement, and I hope the House to-night, by affirming this resolution, will render the continuation of this pernicious and anomalous system in the Irish-speaking districts an impossibility. The resolution before the House does not demand that this bilingual system should be applied to the schools of Ireland, which may fairly be described as being in English-speaking areas. It is only to be applied in Irish-speaking districts, where education, under the existing system, is a nullity, and where quick, intelligent children, born with the inherited capacity 851 of a gifted race, go to school with a large stock of words and ideas in their own language, and which should be utilised to lead them from the known to the unknown. Sir Patrick Keenan the late resident commissioner, a man of experience and broad mind, a lover of education, and a lover of his country, when he was head inspector of the Board, in 1855, criticised the fatal system of instruction pursued by the Board of Education in the districts of the west of Ireland where Irish alone was spoken by the people. He pointed out that the system in vogue was absolutely worthless. In his report in 1855 he refers to a school which had been seven years in operation, and in which he did not find that one child knew a word of English, or, in point of fact, knew anything else. He said it was a waste of time and a cruel injury to the children, which deprived them of the capacity for future development. In that report of 1855, nearly half a century ago, he set out in detail the system which ought to be followed by the Commissioners of Education.
The system outlined by Sir Patrick Keenan, then, is what I am to-night submitting to the House. When a pupil enters a school his mental equipment should be utilised, and his intelligence developed, in the most thorough and efficient manner. He should be taught the alphabet of his own native language before being set to learn the grammar of a strange one. He should be taught to read his mother tongue intelligently, and then his education in English and other school subjects should be pursued through the medium of Irish. Sir Patrick Keenan pointed out that by that system no injury would be done to the acquisition of English; in fact, it would enable the children to learn English in a shorter time and in a more improved fashion, for their English would be strengthened and beautified by the vigour and imagery of the mother tongue. Sir Patrick Keenan repeated his recommendations in 1856, 1857, and 1858. In 1859 he was taken into office as chief of inspectors, when his duty to make annual reports ceased. In 1868 he gave evidence before the Royal Commission on Irish Education, in which he again expounded the same unchanged ideas on the subject. When the present Chancellor of the Exchequer was Colonial 852 Secretary he gave Sir Patrick Keenan, in 1878, an important commission. He sent him out to investigate the language difficulty in Malta, and gave him a free hand: and Sir Patrick solved the problem by introducing into the Maltese schools the system of bilingualism—a system that throughout his long and glorious career he was unable to have established in the interests of the bright children of his own dear land.
The absence of this system has done much wrong to generations of Irish children, who have grown up with their intelligence dwarfed, and who had to fight the battle of life on that account as mere hewers of wood and drawers of water. The conclusion irresistibly forced upon the impartial mind is that the policy of the Government during this long period was the extinction of the Irish language. I hope that hereafter a more advanced and enlightened policy will be carried out in the whole educational system of Ireland. Rules have recently been promulgated by the Board which go very far to reform the defects in the system of elementary education in Ireland, but when the question of teaching the Irish language had to be considered, although the Commissioners have taken a step in that direction, they have stopped short of bilingualism, which was adopted long ago with so much success in the Highlands of Scotland, and more recently with the happiest results in Wales. Countries such as Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, and Switzerland recognise the great advantage, as an educational instrument, of two languages. Nobody can deny the disciplinary effect upon the mind of learning two languages; and the mere transference of thought from one language to the other is in itself a mental process of great educational value. The introduction of the mother tongue into school life would enormously enhance the education of the pupils. The use of the Irish language would tend to widen their ideas, to cultivate the imagination, to foster a love of literature, to improve the taste and enlarge the understanding. The Irish language is a classic of great beauty, imagery, and strength. It is as harmonious, copious, flexible, and as well suited to make "the sound an echo to the sense" as is the language of Ancient Greece. It is as capable of expressing 853 every idea of the mind and every affection of the heart as is any language of ancient or modern times. I hope, therefore, that the Chief Secretary will not stand in the way of the revival of the native language of the children in the Irish-speaking districts—a revival which is so essential in the interests of education and in the interests of Ireland.
I appeal, therefore, to the right hon. Gentleman to accept this resolution for an educational reform which has been too long delayed—a reform which has been sanctioned in Scotland and Wales by the educational authorities, and which has been so favourably reported upon by the inspectors. I beg to move the resolution standing in my name.
§ MR. THOMAS O'DONNELL (Kerry, W.)
In rising to second the motion of my hon. friend I wish to say that I desire to deal with this subject as a literary question of great value to us from a philological point of view. I wish also to say that the Irish language is the only natural and most effective medium through which to educate the Irish child. This language is to Irishmen really a national treasure, and we should be unworthy of our position and failing in our duty if we did not attempt to keep it alive. I think I shall be able to prove to the House the value both from the intellectual and material standpoints of a bilingual education. I do not wish to go back into the history of the treatment which this language question has received from the English Government. Suffice it to say that ever since the English came over to us the language of our country was a special subject of detestation to them. In 1837 a law was passed by which it was made a criminal offence punishable by death to teach the language, and the men who continued to speak it had their land confiscated. Bui still the Irish kept their language and treasured it. Sixty years ago when a system of education exultantly termed "national" was introduced into the country, four-fifths of the Irish spoke the Irish language. It was the language of home; the language in which the children thought, and the only language by means of which they could receive ideas from their teachers in their schools Can it even be imagined by hon. Members of this House that the only language by which they could be taught did not 854 find a place in the curriculum of the schools? It would be difficult for Englishmen to understand the results of such a system. Fancy an English child, who knows only English, transplanted to, we will say Russia, and taught by a teacher who only knows Russian. During the first six months what would happen to the child? The language by which he could receive ideas is not used in the country, and how is it possible that such a child could be effectively instructed? Such was the condition of the Irish child, and such has it remained. Such a system of education is unjust, and must tend to blunt and retard the progress of education among our people. Only a few nights ago the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary stated that one of the reasons why Irishmen were not appointed to lucrative positions in Ireland was that they were not sufficiently educated. Even the right hon. Gentleman must admit that Irishmen are capable of receiving education; the Irishman is proud to be able to say he is the descendant of a people who loved education and carried its light abroad before England was a nation; but I am afraid I must agree with the Chief Secretary in this respect. Irishmen are not so well educated as they should be. What is the cause; are they incapable of receiving it? Are they the descendants of a race so stupid and blunt that no education can improve them? Look at the Irishman abroad—in America, in the colonies—where, under the influence of that liberty which you deny him at home, he progresses and goes forward to the highest positions in commercial and social life. In those countries he is capable of filling the highest positions, but at home in his own country he is uneducated; there alone he is unable to fill important positions. We feel that that is due to the fault of the system of the Government, which has not the proper force to draw out the latent abilities of the Irish, and we come here to-night to appeal to this House for more enlightened treatment; to appeal to them to give our children at home the opportunity to develop the intelligence with which Nature has endowed them.
It may be said that the Irish language is dead, and that our grievance with regard to it is a sentimental one, but I trust the few quotations I shall read to the House will prove to England that the 855 Irish language, which extends back over 1,400 years, is still a living language, and that it would be a loss not only to Ireland, but to the whole world, if such a virile and ancient language should be allowed to pass away. Professor Alfred Nutt, the president of the Folk Law Society, in a letter to Dr. Douglas Hyde, says—This literature can be traced back with certainty for over 1,000 years, inferentially for several centuries further. It has exhibited during the whole of this period characteristics of imagination, presentment, and form alike enduring, significant, and of extreme interest. It contains the life history of the soul of a race, and it can best be comprehended and expounded by means of that race provided they receive the necessary training. The great continental scholars who have done so much for the furtherance of Celtic studies are the first to insist upon the value of living tradition; the first to urge the importance of the instinctive native knowledge and love of Ireland's ancient speech and literature. If Celtic studies are discouraged in Ireland springs of knowledge and right comprehension will be immediately lost.Professor Stern says—My opinion in consequence is that it were to be exceedingly regretted if instruction in the Irish language should be excluded from the curriculum of schools in that country.Professor Windisch, of the University of Leipsig, says—In Ireland, Irish is the ancient language of the country which is even still spoken by hundreds of thousands, a language in which the spiritual mode of interpretation and expression of the people's forefathers is preserved. It expresses the spiritual peculiarities of the character of the Irish population, and not to cultivate the Irish language means to close up without any necessity a well-spring of the spiritual characteristics of the people. For the Irishman the Irish language must possess a value as a school subject, because it contributes towards the maintenance among Irishmen of their spiritual characteristics.Professor Dollin, of the University of Rennes, says—I confess to you that I am absolutely astonished that any one can contest the utility of it. It is certain that the intelligence of people who speak more than one language is singularly developed, and it is only natural that in Ireland one should study Irish in addition to English.Professor Zimmer, of the University of Greifswald, says—With regard to the Irish language as a subject of instruction, I know of no other modern language which, regarded purely as a language possesses a higher educational value than modern Irish for a boy who knows English. For thorough education of the mind (i.e., the intellect) Irish stands on a level with 856 French and German, in fact it is in many respects superior to them, because it is more characteristic and consequently gives more matter for thought.Professor York Powell, of Oxford, says—It would be a thousand pities if a wise and reasonable effort to bring culture to the children through their mother-tongue should be stopped on the ground that it is a waste of time. The discipline and education were the same whether a child learns in Gaelic or English. We want it to learn both and we know by experience in the past that a bilingual child will learn English better and more readily if its own tongue is not tabooed in the early years of its life.These are quotations from men of European fame, scholars of the highest reputation, knowing the ancient Celtic language and the modern languages of Europe, who have come over to Ireland and spent months at a time on the western seaboard to acquire there a speaking knowledge of the language. Surely their testimony is worthy of regard. I might quote also Professor Meyer, of Liverpool, a professor of an English university, who says—To refrain from teaching it to Irish youths who talk it as their mother-tongue I must regard as a gross educational blunder. The Irish language well taught I regard as a first rate means of mental training. Why deprive in their education for life and all it means the youth of Ireland of such intimate touch with the literature of their past as they can thus acquire?Professor Holger Pendersen, of Copenhagen, says—I wish to state that the teaching of Irish seems to me to be imperiously commanded by the simple circumstance that one-third of Ireland (in area) is still Irish speaking; for Irish children, even if they know some little-English, cannot acquire a satisfactory intellectual and moral development if they are not taught to read and write their mother-tongue. The neglecting of the mother-tongue of the pupils is always and everywhere a barbarity, and an injustice that should not be allowed in our century.Mrs. Hall, speaking of the effect which this study has on Irishmen, says—I have never seen anything to compare with the enthusiasm and earnestness with which the study of the language has been taken up. It appears to exercise both an intellectual and moral influence over the students; many of them are young men engaged all day in various public offices, and young women employed in the General Post Office. Yet after a hard day's work they meet together to study the language with an energy and perseverance which I have never seen applied to any other intellectual pursuit, while on their holidays they find a new and healthful field of recreation in gathering the folk-lore and 857 songs, and studying the antiquities of their own parts of the country. Surely every possible facility should be put in the way of such rational and wholesome recreations and pursuits.I trust these quotations from scholars of world-wide fame prove that the Irish language, even from a literary point of view alone, is worthy of being saved.
Now I wish to pass on and prove that the study of language is not alone useful to the people of the particular country, but necessary. Gallant little Wales has preserved its language. It is studied and taught in the schools as necessary for the children. Who can say that Wales has been injured because of the respect they have for their language and the traditions which their language brings home to them? The hon. Member quoted the opinions of Professor Keenan and other educational experts, and also extracts from the reports of the examiners as to the effect of bilingual studies in Wales, and proceeded]: In appealing to the House to-night on behalf of Irish children, we hope the honesty of the English Government will extend to us this reasonable concession, and remove the stigma from the people of Ireland that they are uneducated, and cannot take any position in their own land.
It has been said by the enemies of the language that there is no widespread feeling for the resuscitation of the language. As a fact, the feeling is as widespread as it can be. The Catholic Hierarchy of Ireland has passed resolution after resolution stating in plain unmistakable terms that for the thorough education of the Irish child bilingualism is absolutely essential. Can anyone in this House say that these men are unable to form a correct judgment as to what is useful to the Irish child? Can anyone say they are influenced by sentiment alone, and that they have not the welfare of the Irish child at heart? Can this House refuse a demand in which no political considerations are concerned? The different county councils of Ireland, representing the people, have practically all passed resolutions claiming that the Irish language is essential to the proper education of the people. For the last quarter of a century repeated resolutions have been passed that Irish should be taught in the schools. There is strong evidence in favour of the national demand 858 abroad. The Gaelic League, which started a few years ago to cultivate a knowledge of our dear old mother tongue, has over 200 branches in Ireland, over a dozen in South America, over 50 in North America, and a great number in England and Scotland, and in these branches you have the young men of Ireland who are determined that the language of their forefathers and of their country shall live. As showing the demand for literature on this subject, I may mention that last year there were sold 43,000 copies of the first edition of O'Growney's "Study of Irish," 13,000 of the second edition, 3,500, of the third, 3,000 of the fourth, and 3,000 of the fifth edition, and about 20,000 copies of other books. That shows, even with the present system of education, the results of voluntary effort. The Irish language is a cultivated and literary language, a language which the people are determined shall survive. If I have not already wearied the House I should like to give another quotation. Englishmen are very practical, and they like to see Irishmen who are always regarded as merely sentimental, prove their case with positive facts. I will quote an extract from a reverend clergyman who knows what he is talking about. (The hon. Member then read in Irish the letter referred to.) I hope that this latest quotation will appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ SIR HARRY BULLARD
For the benefit not only of members on this side of the House, but of his own party also.
§ MR. THOMAS O'DONNELL
I should be delighted to translate it, but in an assembly of educated gentlemen I should be sorry to enlighten one who is unable to understand the oldest language in this kingdom, if not the oldest in Europe. I do not wish to import any political bias into this discussion; I have given a quotation in my own language in favour of the claim I am advocating; I have not done it to offend; I thought it my duty to do it; and if my hon. friend does not understand it I can only pity him. Only a few days ago I got a letter from a member of the Flemish Academy. They 859 also have a language question. Other countries have a language question, and will continue to have it. This gentleman says:—I have just read your interesting paper concerning the revival of the Irish language. As you perhaps know, we Flemish Nationalists have been struggling for years and with good result to uphold our language; in fact, we have succeeded so far that at present French and Flemish enjoy equal rights in Belgium, and are both used in school and even in the armyI am afraid that we in Ireland cannot say that with regard to the Irish language. I trust that the English Government will recognise that it is of no advantage to them, and is a great injury to our country, to deny us the opportunity of educating our people in the only effective way that is open to them. I do not wish to dwell too long upon this matter. I trust I have proved that the Irish language is a literary medium worthy of preservation, and that its use in the teaching of the Irish child is essential. Under these circumstances, I hope that the English Government of to-day will try to remedy the evil of the past and give to the Irish child that facility for education which has hitherto been denied him. I do not wish to touch upon the sentimental aspect of the question. I am addressing Englishmen, who are a very practical people. I ask, What is your present system of education in England? A few days ago a Bill was introduced in this House, which, while it gave a central control, allowed each different district of the country to introduce the system best adapted to its own particular circumstances. Wales is allowed to introduce the Welsh language. Other districts are allowed to teach whatever subjects they think best suited to their requirements. When you in England received, a long time ago, local government, you said that we in Ireland were unfit to receive it; if you did not say it you acted it; but after a long time we have received it. Now we simply ask that you should give to us in Ireland that which you are giving the English people, the right to manage our education in the way we think best suited to the educational development of our people. Surely that is not a great demand. Perhaps I should insult my hon. friend who rose just now if I quote these words, and before I do let me remind him that they are from a 860 clergyman of, I was going to say, the ascendency party in Ireland. He says—Britain, with shame confess this land of mineFirst taught thee human knowledge and divine;My prelates and my students sent from henceMade your sons converts both to God and sense.We in Ireland sent our prelates and our missionaries not alone to England, but all over Europe, in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries. Our schools, flourished; they were free not alone to our own people, but to students from, the Continent, and they sent forth scholars all over the world. But to-day we stand—we, the descendants of a people who were ever remarkable for their educational ability; we, the descendants of a people who loved knowledge and learning more than all people on earth—we stand to-day, cursed by a vicious system of misgovernment, declared by you to be illiterate, uneducated, and undeveloped. ["No, no."] Yes, we do. If it is to your advantage or to the advantage of England that Irishmen should remain undeveloped and uneducated, continue the bad and pernicious system which has obtained, in the past. But if you are prepared, to discard politics for once, to do justice for once, to allow Irishmen to develop on Irish lines, to allow Irish intellect to feed on the only food which will develop and improve it, then I say grant to us; to-night the prayer we now offer, and allow the children in Irish-speaking districts to receive their mental training; in the language which alone is capable of drawing out their best faculties. I beg to second the motion.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed—"That in the opinion of this House it is essential in the interests of education that bilingualism, as a system, be introduced into the national schools in districts where Irish is extensively spoken, and that special facilities be afforded for training teachers to meet the demand for the teaching of Irish throughout Ireland."—(Mr. Doogan.)
MR. RENTOUL (Down, E.)
No one can accuse the Irish Nationalist party of want of consistency in their programme—at least, as viewed from this side of the House. They are eminently consistent in asking for things which 861 would be for the disadvantage of Ireland. In asking for Home Rule we think they are asking for that which would be for the disadvantage of Ireland. We think also they are asking for that which would be for the disadvantage of Ireland when they ask for a sectarian University. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: The old, old story.] We certainly think it would be for the disadvantage of Ireland that there should be a revival of the Irish language, for which they are asking tonight. That the Irish language should form a class subject in University colleges is a perfectly conceivable and proper thing. As an ancient and practically dead language—["No, no"]—to the antiquarian and scholar it would be of considerable interest and value. Mention has been made of the literature of the Irish language. I understand that in it there are some very beautiful things, but, after all, it is a very small literature. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: Have you read it?] As to the preposterous question whether I have read it—
Personally, I have not the slightest objection to hon. Members' interruptions, because they seem to me to indicate that hon. Gentlemen do not like a plain statement of the facts with regard to this highly sentimental and poetic subject. I am told that the literature is a very small one. The same remark applies to the literature of the Hebrews. That undoubtedly contains very beautiful gems, such as might not be found in any other language in the world, but it is certainly a very small literature, and if it was not the language of sacred Scripture it would not be studied seriously as competing with other languages as a means of education or of benefit to any people. Look at the manner in which the most prudent and intelligent people in the world act with regard to their language and literature—I refer to the Jews. They put in the first place, as far as they can, not necessarily English, French, German, or Russian, but the language of the country in which they happen to be, and of the people with whom they associate. When I came into the House the hon. Member the mover of this resolution was urging 862 that Sir Patrick Keenan had done something in the way here suggested in connection with Malta, and as far as I could judge the only advantage that he could put forward as springing out of that attempt was that Sir Patrick had been knighted. The first knight I ever knew was my tailor, and when he measured me for my clothes, and I had to address him as "Sir Robert," I learnt then to have, perhaps, less appreciation of the honour of knighthood than I might otherwise have had. That was the sole recommendation, as far as I could see, put forward in connection with the application of the bilingual system in Malta.
Then the hon. Member spoke of the value of learning this language, and said that some of us would like to extinguish it. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that I would like to extinguish Irish as a spoken language in the country. I happen to have spent a great portion of my life in County Donegal, which is very much a bilingual county, and in which Irish is spoken, I suppose, as much as in almost any other county in Ireland. I found that the people there regarded having learnt the Irish language as their mother tongue as a wonderful disadvantage, and they were very anxious to conceal the fact that they knew it. If this were merely a sentimental matter, put forward for the sake of a debate on a Tuesday evening, it probably would not be worth anybody's while to speak, but it would be deplorable if in these days, when we have so much difficulty in getting our children taught two or three languages, such as French and German, without overwork, this subject was added to their task. I am sorry to see that an immense proportion of the examination papers in connection with London and other Universities is absurdly taken up by old French and old German, which are of no practical value whatever, so that people have to learn these old dead-and-gone forms of French and German at the expense of the living language. With regard to the bilingual system, let us look at how the matter has worked out in other places. The two countries in Europe in which the bilingual system prevails to the largest extent are Belgium and Switzerland. Those are the two countries in which, so far as I can 863 find, university education stands lowest. Certainly the university education of Switzerland and Belgium cannot compete for a moment with that of Germany or France or Italy. Some time ago I had a conversation in Antwerp with a priest who was examining a class in Flemish, and certainly his testimony was very strongly against the bilingual system. I came across this bilingual system in Brussels. The servants there have to speak French to their masters and mistresses, but they speak very bad French. Coming to Switzerland, I feel a little more on firm ground. The languages there are French and German and a little Italian. It is acknowledged that Swiss French and Swiss German are not good. Very many Swiss people come over here to be educated, and we know that in many schools Swiss teachers are employed because they speak both French and German. It is admitted, I think, that the average Swiss is not a good or safe French scholar. They are not at all equal to the Frenchman in French or the German in German. If I were employing a teacher to teach French and German for a term of two years, I should prefer to employ a Frenchman for one year and a German for the other year, instead of employing a Swiss for two years to teach both languages. The hon. Member opposite, in his peroration, said he thought the Irish language was equally as fine and grand as the language of the ancient Greeks, and that it was as capable of expressing anything as any other language. That was thrilling and delightful, and his peroration shows that he is a master of the English language.
Yes, I am. If the hon. Member opposite had professed that he was a master of the Irish language I should not have been in the position to contradict him. I was, however, obliged to notice the difference between him and the Leader of his party whilst that long extract in Irish was being read by the hon. Member for West Kerry. I have never seen on the face of the Leader of the Irish party such a wooden look.
§ MR. DOOGAN
I do not think the hon. and learned Member opposite is 864 drawing a parallel example of what I want. How would you teach English in a school to Irish-speaking pupils when the teacher does not know Irish?
I am sorry I cannot answer that question, because I do not follow it. With regard to teaching in the schools, that is a matter with which I will deal later on. I think the meaning seems to be that in order that a child should be taught English well it is necessary that the child must first be taught to speak Irish well.
§ MR. THOMAS O'DONNELL
I did not state what the hon. and learned Member has attributed to me. I simply stated that in order to have English taught thoroughly it should be taught through the language which the child knows.
I am prepared to dispute that point. I have known many children who have been sent to a foreign country, and who have been taught the foreign language through the foreign language itself, and I find it is the best method that could be applied. I sent a boy to France, and had him taught the language entirely through the French, without the assistance of one solitary word of English. I see occasionally in the Irish newspapers at the present time portions of Irish printed from time to time, and that is evidently done to propagate the Irish language. That does not seem to me to do anything useful, and I am told it is often printed upside down. [An HON. MEMBER: No, no.] At any rate, I am told that that is so, and I am sure that the Leader of the Irish party will not contradict this statement from his own personal knowledge. The hon. Gentleman opposite spoke of the system in Wales, and he stated that the bilingual system there had produced intelligence which could not have been got by any other educational system. The only instance I ever heard of in connection with the use of the Welsh language in a court of justice was one which occurred some time ago at a Welsh assize, where counsel asked the permission of the presiding judge to address the jury in Welsh. 865 The judge in a weak moment permitted it, and counsel said—Gentlemen of the jury,—The Judge is generally an honourable, upright man, but in this particular case he is prejudiced against the prisoner, and therefore you will not listen to a word he says when he comes to address you.The result of this case was not desirable. Why does Italy not reintroduce Latin, the ancient language of that country? Why is not ancient Greek revived in Greece and taught by the side of modern Greek? The whole argument in favour of the revival of Erse is base merely on sentiment, though I respect that sentiment. What is wanted in Ireland is something practicable, and the few quotations which the hon. Member opposite gave certainly do not seem to carry him any further than this, that in a university Irish might be kept up as an interesting dead language, or a language practically dead. I have no objection to Irish being taught as a dead language. The great advantage of English is that it is spoken in so many parts of the world. Language, after all, is intended to convey our thoughts in the clearest and most unmistakable manner—except when we are making political speeches. The Irish language will carry us nowhere. It is of no value anywhere outside a few mountainous districts in Ireland. English is admitted now to be the leading language of the world. English is what the Germans would call the Umgangssprache, the language for going round the world. If they have not been as fortunate as we have in being born into other belongings, and in what the hon. Member called "a religion made in Germany," we do not wish to take away everything that is good for them, and we would like to leave them the English language.
I want to ask the hon. Gentleman who seconded this motion, or one of his friends who may follow me, to answer a question. I wish to know how the teaching of the Irish language is to be done. If the Chief Secretary for Ireland answers seriously this matter, what he has to inform us is, How is this to be done? Does It not involve the getting of a vast number of teachers who are not to be got at present? The hon. Member opposite would be perfectly qualified for filling that position, but I understand that he is one of the rare specimens of that class in Ireland. There would have to be an 866 entire change of the whole system of inspectors, and the cost of the Irish national system of teaching would be increased by one-third. It would be the very worst thing the Chief Secretary could do for Ireland to grant this request. I do not think for a moment that hon. Gentlemen opposite are serious in their desire to put the Irish language in competition with the French or German languages. There are several hon. Gentlemen opposite, I am told, who are having their children taught modern languages. I want to know who would think of putting Irish in the place of either French or German in the education of a child? The average child is not able to make headway with more than a couple of spoken languages at the same time. Hon. Gentlemen opposite know perfectly well that there is nothing harder than to get an Irish peasant to confess that Irish is his mother tongue. We want to know how this language will benefit the people of Ireland or their prosperity. We are told that it is not a party question; but we are not going to support this motion on merely sentimental grounds.
§ MR. WILLIAM JONES (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
said the hon. Member for East Down had spoken as if it was proposed to resuscitate a dead language, but that was not the proposal. On the other hand, this was a very moderate resolution. It was sought to develop the mind of the children through the medium of a language that they already knew. The hon. Member for East Down entirely misunderstood the question before the House. He had stated that Ireland had no literature worth speaking of. If the hon. Member had taken the least trouble to consult the writings of the great European scholars in France, Germany, and Italy, he would have found that their testimony was that at one time the Irish language had not merely a literature, but that it had the richest literature in Europe. He could quote many authorities on the value of the Celtic languages. It was, however, from the practical point of view that he was going to deal with the matter.
Speaking as a humble student of the Celtic language, and particularly the language and literature of Wales, he would tell the House what had been done 867 in Wales in recent years. He believed it was universally acknowledged that no nation had done by self-sacrifice and endeavour more than the Welsh nation towards fostering education during the past generation. What was one of the main elements in the success of their system? Why, that Welsh had been recognised not merely as a means of culture, but a means of instruction. The success was so startling that the chief inspector, who was an English gentleman, said there was a striking growth in all-round excellence, in English especially. Other inspectors told us in their reports that the standard of elementary education was greatly raised by the introduction of Welsh. In our secondary education system it was likewise said by the best authorities that the influence of the study of Welsh was already beginning to tell on the literature of the country. Another leading educationist bore witness that we had gained in every direction by giving Welsh an important place in our whole system, from the elementary classes to the university course. In these days, when commercial education was wanted to enable us to compete with Germans and Americans, what did we find in Wales? Welsh children in the elementary schools and in the splendid intermediate schools, and those who entered the university, learned French and the Romance languages through Welsh much quicker, than through English. Surely that was a practical thing. These languages must be an effective means of culture if foreign languages which were of such use could be learned through them. The reason was this. The vowel system, the sytacztical arrangement, and the genius of the Welsh language was much more akin to the French language than English. The same thing held good in regard to Irish. If Irish children could be taught in their schools by using the language already known to them as their mother tongue they would learn English all the better. After all, that was the main question. They were not seeking by the resolution to do away with English or to de-Anglicise Ireland. What they wanted was to get at the mind of the child for educational purposes wherever that child was to be found. In Wales the teacher could now draw forth and educate the 868 mind of the child by means of the tongue known to it. The man who most of all in Europe had emphasised the importance of the mother tongue as a means of culture was Bismarck.
There was another point in connection with education in Wales to which he desired to call attention. He held in his hand an extract from the latest report on the secondary education schools in Wales. What did the examiner say about the teaching of Welsh in these schools?It is pleasing to state that the work actually submitted to the test of examination was, as a whole, of a very high character. This year was a conspicuous absence of poor papers. … The Welsh composition and the work in grammar were, in every stage, better than in any previous year.Of course, the study of Welsh was proving to be a really efficient help to the acquisition of English, and to serve the highest purpose educationally the language itself must be taught pari passu with English. That was exactly what hon. Gentlemen from Ireland asked with regard to Irish. Such a course of education to-day would be better for Ireland and better for this country. Bi-lingual education was the best for developing the literary power and qualities of the child. If they wanted to raise a cultured nation, they must give it the best means of sharpening its intellectual equipment, and Irish was a remarkable instrument for that purpose. Professor Rhys, Principal of Jesus College, Oxford, perhaps the best all-round Celtic scholar living, writing to one of the Commissioners during the Viceregal inquiry into the question of the Irish language in intermediate education, said—I am very sorry to learn from Dr. Douglas-Hyde that some educationalists who know nothing about the Irish language and its literature are trying to persuade your Commission to exclude both from Irish education.… Irish is a highly inflected idiom, with an eminently logical syntax, which is likely to be heard a good deal of in the future in connection with the question which the early ethnology of the British Isles has to dispose of. It has a large literature, in which the foundations of a good deal that was developed into the romances of the middle ages are beginning to be recognised.… The difficulty, if there is any, would arise perhaps from the fewness of the texts which have hitherto been edited for school use; but I feel sure that once the subject is recognised by your Commission, able men would be found who will undertake to prepare handy books.869 What was the use of foisting an adventitious growth in the shape of an alien language upon a child who was thinking and speaking in his mother tongue? The system of education in Ireland should train and educate the intelligence without missing to educate the sympathies. He hoped the Chief Secretary would give his most sympathetic attention to this question. Even from the practical point of view, from the point of view of the children to be trained, from the point of view of the teachers who taught, it was worthy of that attention, as such a course was calculated to produce the best and most capable citizens in after life, and to fit them to take their places in the world.
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. WYNDHAM,) Dover
Most of us know little or nothing of the Celtic languages, but I think I may say for everyone here that we are ready to listen to the hon. Member who has just sat down for as long as he likes whenever he is good enough to speak to us on these subjects. He has to-night, as ever, enchanted us with the spell of his eloquence, but it seems odd to me to remember that he began his speech with the observation that he meant to be entirely practical. Throughout the whole of his remarks he has, no doubt, been very practical; he has created a practical effect, yet I think he has invested the subject with something of Celtic glamour. It is my painful duty to approach the subject in the humdrum capacity of a British Minister.
At the very outset I must draw a sharp distinction between the two questions involved in the matter we are debating to-night. One of these questions is very explicitly set forth in the resolution, but nearly every speaker has glanced at the other question, which is very closely allied to it. The first question is this—"Ought instruction to be given through the medium of Irish to a child who either can only speak Irish, or who speaks a little English, but thinks in Irish?" That is the first question, and the resolution deals principally with that. Well, Sir, I do not claim to be an authority upon what is, after all, a purely educational question, and I prefer to base myself on the 870 words of Sir Patrick Keenan, who wrote, so long ago as in 1855—It is hard to conceive any more difficult school exercise than to begin our first alphabet and syllabication, the first attempt at reading, in a language of which we know nothing, and all this without a means of reference to or comparison with a word of our mother tongueAnd there I pause for one moment to pick up what seemed to me to be a fallacy in the reasoning of my hon. friend the Member for East Down. He said that the best way to teach a child French or German was to send it to a French or German home. Yes, but surely that child would have learned to read his mother-tongue, and would have got over the difficulties of the alphabet and syllabication of its own language? Sir Patrick Keenan says—The real policy of the educationalist would, in my opinion, be to teach Irish grammatically and soundly to the Irish speaking people, and then to teach English through the medium of their national language. If that system be pursued people will soon be better educated than they are, and English will be more generally and purely spoken.It is notorious that the Highlanders of Scotland brought up in Gaelic homes do speak very pure English, and they are taught at the outset through the medium, of Gaelic. The words of Sir Patrick Keenan were, I submit, common sense fifty-five years ago, and are common sense still. Indeed, I can speak from my own experience. I was not so very long; ago in a school in a remote district of Ireland, where I found particularly good instruction being given by a young lady to a number of children, and she said that three or four of those could speak no English. I said, "Do you speak Irish?" She said, "No." I asked her, "How do you begin?" Her answer was a winning smile, charming but inarticulate. However, I think it was a complete answer. I believe that is how she relieved the tedium of those children who, on recognising, certain cyphers, were taught to declare by rote that "A cat was on a mat" or that "A fox was in a box—a sorry business at the best, as most of us remember, but lightened in our case by the interest which children take in the familiar, or unusual, predicaments of animals. There has been a note in the Code of the National Board of Education since 1883 advising that Irish-speaking children 871 should be instructed in the way suggested by Sir Patrick Keenan, and my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade, five years ago, referring to the matter, said—There are districts in Ireland where the national language is the language of the people. Where that is the case it is probably true that the best way to teach the children is to teach them in the language that they naturally speak.I adopt that view with the single substitution of certainty for probability. Really, Sir, the matter is not in dispute. I could quote a hostile witness—hostile in the sense that he and many able men are opposed to any unnecessary extension of the bilingual system. Dr. Atkinson said that—These children should be taught Irish: and they would learn it without great difficulty, because they speak it from their childhood. If they speak it, then it would be right to teach them in the mother tongue. It is wrong not to teach them in their mother tongue. If they know Irish, let them be taught in Irish. If the child thinks in Irish, let it be taught in the Irish language.That evidence was given only three years ago by a very learned gentleman who is not in favour of the view so eloquently put forward by my hon friend, so that there is no difference of opinion upon this matter. It is not maintained that a system of education which might be a sad necessity in the case of deaf mutes is really proper for those who do not suffer from that infirmity.
In the revised programme of the Board of Education, drawn up last September and sanctioned by the Irish Government in March, I find:—In schools where there are Irish-speaking pupils the teacher, if acquainted with the language, is advised to use the vernacular, and inspectors are at liberty to use] Irish in conducting school examinations.English Members may ask why the Board of Education, holding that opinion, only gave advice. I must explain that there are profound differences in the system of education in Ireland and in this country. For example, neither the Chief Secretary nor any member of the Government has direct control over the Board of Education; and, further, the Board of Education has not direct control over the managers and teachers of the schools. Except by expressing opinion, or by offering advice and helping 872 to procure funds, I do not know that any very operative effect can be transmitted either by the Government or by the Board of Education to the managers of schools in Ireland. Hon. Members from England may think that system very absurd, but I must tell them that we are not the only people who have found it necessary to govern Ireland through a system of boards. Nominated boards have always been found useful. Why, even St. Patrick, when he addressed himself to the task of bringing the Brehon laws into line with Christianity, found that he could only effect his purpose by appointing a joint committee to revise them, consisting of three bishops, three Brehons, and three kings; three clerics, three lawyers, and three permanent officials—the very image of a Castle board! [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: They were all Irish.] And there is another difference. In this country we have compulsory education. In Ireland except in sixty-eight towns and townships out of 120, there is no compulsion; it is only optional, and in rural districts there is no machinery of any kind to put compulsion into effect. As a result, out of 900,000 children who ought to be in school in Ireland there are only at present 500,000. We have a right to ask whether more would not attend if the instruction were more congenial, and whether more of those who attended would not learn more English. I know that the size of this problem is not very large. The Census figures are often quoted. The return of those who spoke Irish in 1881 was 885,000. In 1891 it was 642,000. But the force of that argument must be qualified to a certain extent when we reflect upon the great number who emigrated from Ireland, to which the reduction must be probably attributed, and not to a cessation on the part of the people from speaking the language. It is very difficult to get at the truth of the Census returns, and we have been warned that a good deal of pressure would be put on the Irish people to make it appear that they talk nothing else but Irish. I am bound in honesty to say that in the past a great many people thought it a fine thing to say that they knew English and knew no Irish. I should not like to make that statement 873 without some evidence to support it. It is better to get at the truth in this matter and not to argue from a priori premises. I quote these words from the official report of an inspector of fisheries—The men we found, on the whole, well clad, but only one could speak good English, and one other man had a few words of English. The children seemed to know no English, although there was a school in the island. The man who was spokesman said if you put one of the bigger girls at the fifth book she could very likely go through it in first-rate style, but beyond the books they dad no English.I have very little doubt a child which could get through the fifth book in "first rate style" would proudly inscribe herself as an English scholar in the Census report.
I submit a further consideration. Compulsion is optional on the part of the local authorities in Ireland, but the local authorities are urging this matter upon all our attention, and as a matter of administrative expediency ought we to resist the demand made by the Irish local authorities in a matter which has been accorded to the Highlands of Scotland and Wales when it is impossible to hope that education will be made compulsory unless we co-operate with the local authorities? Therefore, as to the question of teaching the children who speak English but think in Irish, or who know only Irish, I say, in view of what is done in Scotland and Wales, from an administrative point of view, and also from an educational point of view, in which all the educational experts concur, the question is no longer an open one, and I regard this debate to that extent as being somewhat academical. That question is closed, and I should be slow to believe that anyone would reopen it; and I shall be slow to believe that the Board of Education will neglect any steps that may be necessary in order to secure the acceptance of the advice which it itself gave eighteen years ago, and has explicitly reaffirmed during the last few months with the sanction of the Irish Secretary and the Government.
I do not think that I need say any more upon this question of teaching Irish-speaking children through the medium of Irish, because I really do not believe that we are in dispute upon that 874 matter at all. Where we are in dispute is when we come to more debateable points—the grounds traversed by many of the speakers in this debate—"Ought Irish to be taught in non-Irish-speaking districts?" Well, I will do my best to describe my own view on that matter, which is an educational and literary question rather than a political one. My opinion is identical with that of the National Board of Education. In their revised programme, sanctioned by the Treasury and the Irish Government, I find—In connection with the new scheme the Commissioners sanction, as they sanctioned under the old results system, Irish, French, Latin, mathematics, instrumental music as optional branches that may be taught in all national schools, and taught during the ordinary school hours, provided that the adequacy of the course of instruction in the usual day subjects is not impaired or hampered thereby. But, as the time for secular instruction is limited, it may not be found possible to do that during the ordinary school hours. In such case the Commissioners will be prepared to recognise them as special branches, and pay supplemental fees for the work done outside ordinary school hours.Now, that is the position taken up by the National Board of Education. That is my position also. I will not comment upon it myself, but I will invite the attention of those interested to a comment made upon that by one of the Commissioners of National Education, Archbishop Walsh, who is reputed, and I believe justly reputed, to be a great authority upon education. This is what he says—I for my part regard what has been done by the Commissioners in reference to the teaching of Irish as satisfactory enough, at all events for the present. I see that on this matter also people are writing to the newspapers, trying to make out that Irish may not be taught in schools as the programme says it may be taught now. Plainly, what people of that description want is not facilities for the teaching of Irish, but what they want is a grievance, and in this particular matter the occupation of the grievance-monger is rapidly coming to an end.I agree with that. I believe that the revised rules of the Board do show a reasonable attempt to meet the wishes expressed upon this matter. But what is practical? We have heard debates on the Irish Estimates. We have had a great increase in the Irish Estimates recently in reference to Irish education. There was £14,000 last year, and £16,000 this year for the training of teachers in 875 elementary science, cookery, etc. I should not interpret this resolution as a mandate to the Treasury to stand and deliver more money, and everyone knows that no resolution should be interpreted in that way. In my opinion, if managers and parents mean business, and if the necessary steps are taken to teach through the medium of Irish in the first case, viz., where Irish-speaking children are involved, then, without adding to the expense of education in Ireland, it will be quite possible to teach Irish as a kind of secondary subject in the manner indicated in that portion of the Commissioners' Rules to which I have referred. I am glad to believe that the occupation of the grievance-monger is rapidly coming to an end, and I hold that it would be a grave mistake to give back his occupation by taking any backward step or exhibiting any vacillation upon a question which excites so much interest in Ireland at the present moment.
I approach the second question from a purely educational standpoint. My right hon. friend and predecessor said in a previous debate that if there were any national desire to see Irish introduced in this way as a secondary subject he would not withstand it. Neither am I prepared to withstand it. There is at present an enthusiasm in Ireland for the study of Irish, and in the interests of education I submit that it would be a mistake not to take advantage of that enthusiasm, because any subject is of value educationally if it is pursued with zeal. Again I cannot dogmatise as an expert in these matters, and I should like to quote the words of an inspector of intermediate education in Ireland. He says—It does not appear that the good results likely to follow from the proper study of Irish are very generally appreciated, notwithstanding all that is constantly being said about the need of bringing the sympathies of the young to bear on the subjects of their study. We all know well that as regards the general round of subjects, the best efforts made in this direction can be only a partial success so long as boys are boys and girls are girls. Hence the great advantage of including in the curriculum one subject which makes a personal appeal even to the youngest Irish students, and supplies them with a motive to put forth their mental powers lovingly and zealously, as doing so towards one subject cannot fail to have a good influence on their mental attitude towards other subjects.But consider what a small question this 876 is in size, though I believe it is a great one in respect of educational advantage. Only 1,443 children passed in the National schools in Irish last year. Does anyone believe that our own language will become unintelligible in that country? With all the efforts which have been made there has been very little progress. I could give an illustration of the progress which has been made from this same report. There is a phrase, the pronunciation of which I will not attempt to give, but the meaning of which is, "The chest was full of meal at the time of their marriage." These are some of the translations of that sentence given by the children:—"The cup of their happiness was full at the time of their marriage"; "their conversation was filled with sweet honey while they were married"; "they filled their box with fine linen on their marriage"; "the country was full of oats when they were married"; "the cupboard was full of wine at the completion of their marriage"; "the coffin was filled with meal during their marriage"; and, lastly, "the company was filled with surprise at the duration of their marriage." For an Irish child, that is a novel, one might almost say a hill-top novel, view of the marriage tie.
If that be the progress which has been made, I think my honourable friends may reckon on attending Punches-town races or the horse show without any danger of making a mistake in a bargain owing to unfamiliarity with the language in Ireland. The only difficulty, I think, in dealing with this question is to keep politics out of it. I have not altogether succeeded in doing so myself, because a moment or two back I let fall the remark that it was difficult to refuse to Ireland that which we have accorded to Scotland and Wales. But need we dread any dire political consequences even from the spread of what is called "the Celtic Renaissance"? The hon. Member for Waterford will for give me for reminding him that the leaders of that movement are quite impartial in the attentions they pay, whether to the Chief Secretary or to the leader of the Irish Nationalist party. In a very interesting publication of theirs I find this statement by one of the standard-bearers of the Celtic Renaissance—Politics is not nationality, and the nineteenth century has been for Ireland mainly a century of humbug.877 He writes elsewhere that—Ireland during the last century has in many vital matters played the fool.Some of the standard-bearers of the Celtic Renaissance may believe that English will shortly be unintelligible in Ireland, but nobody else does. The hon. Member for the Harbour Division of Dublin, speaking last year, said that the Irish were not so far advanced in lunacy as that. The bread and butter argument, does come in, and nobody means to throw away such a good industrial and commercial asset as the English language. What the Irish want is, as I have said, that the children who cannot be taught through English should be taught through Irish, and that Irish should be taught in the schools as a special subject which is calculated to elicit those intellectual qualities which everybody must allow to Irish children. That is the practical question. Is the study of Irish, even of ancient Irish history, or even, if you will, of ancient Irish legend, a good or a bad subject for eliciting these qualities? I happen to think that it is a good subject, and I do not believe that the political consequences would be very harmful. Suppose they do go back a little further in history. I have sometimes ventured to think it a pity that all Irish history, even the rebel history of Mitchell, seems to begin with the Treaty of Limerick, about 1690. Yet centuries before that the Irish illuminated the "Book of Kells" and won the battle of Clontarf. If Irish children read some of the publications of the Celtic Renaissance I venture to say that they will find that the Ireland long before what hon. Members call "the pernicious influence of British rule" was not as totally different from the Ireland of to-day as they have been led to believe. I do not know whether I may refer to a poem. The hon. Member who preceded me did so, and I wish that I could repeat it with the same charm. It is a very interesting poetical account given of a visit paid to Ireland by a king of Northumbria, a little before the time of the Venerable Bede. It says—I found in Ulster, from hill to glen,Hardy warriors, resolute men.Those are what we find there still.I found in Leinster nourishing pastures.I hope to use that some day in a debate upon grass-lands.I found in Meath's fair principalityVirtue, vigour, and hospitality.878 I have admired the vigour of Meath in the hunting field, and I have enjoyed its hospitality. And, lastly—I also found in Armagh the splendid Meekness, wisdom, and prudence blended.Everybody will recognise in that a portrait painted in anticipation of my right hon. and gallant friend the Member for North Armagh. Now, Sir, are the consequences of studying the literature of the Celtic Renaissance so very desperate? If the result of such instruction should be that in fifty or a hundred years—though that is a sanguine forecast—Irish lads were to abandon the practice of singing upon certain anniversaries spirited ditties which enjoin the propriety of kicking the Crown or the Pope into this or that river, and to prefer instead to recite some of the publications of the Celtic Renaissance; for instance—Oh, where, Kincora, is Brian the great,Where is the Beauty that once was thine,Where are the Princes and nobles that sateTo feast in thine halls and drink the red wine?Where, oh, Kincora?For the life of me I cannot see that such a change in the national taste for ballads would be politically deleterious. A belief in legendary grandeur does not—witness the Scots—impair the utilitarian aptitudes of a race. You would not make a Scotsman into a better engineer by confiscating his heirlooms. The Irish language is an heirloom of the Irish. Its usefulness may not be immediately obvious; but that is true of most heirloom and household gods. And yet a tutelary reverence for household gods has often nerved heart and hand for purely utilitarian contests. There is no heresy to the Union in permitting to Ireland that which we promote in Scotland and in Wales; on the contrary, it is an article of the Unionist creed that within the ambit of the Empire there shall be room for the co-operation of races, maintaining each a memory of its own past as a point of departure for converging assaults on the problems of the future. Therefore I really see no objection to the motion at all.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
I have not risen with any kind of desire to continue this discussion, but I have risen simply for the purpose of congratulating the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary upon his exceedingly witty and charming speech. It is one of the most delightful speeches I have ever listened 879 to in this House. What I desire chiefly to congratulate him upon is that underneath the lightness of touch and the wit of his speech there was evident to the House a sincere sympathy with the object we have in view. The right hon. Gentleman has accepted the resolution which has been proposed by us, and I cannot help feeling that the movement in favour of which we have spoken here to-night will gain immeasurably by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. If there was any danger of the National Board of Education halting upon the road in which they have embarked in this matter, I feel sure that the courageous words of the right hon. Gentleman will encourage them in following out the course they have entered upon, and it will enable Irish to be taught in school hours in the ordinary districts of Ireland, thus introducing the system of bilingual teaching into those districts where Irish is the house language of the people. Although I admit that the right hon. Gentleman is justified in saying that this resolution cannot be held to be in the nature of a mandate to the Treasury to provide additional funds, at the same time he must recognise that it would be impossible to carry out the good intentions he has enunciated, and fulfil the policy he has approved, unless, in the words of the resolution, in the future "special facilities be afforded for training teachers to meet the demand for the teaching of Irish throughout Ireland." It would be wrong for me to say anything further than this, and I am heartily glad that the opportunity has been afforded me of congratulating the right hon. Gentleman not only upon his rhetorical triumph, but also upon the general sympathy with our object he has shown in his speech, which I am sure will be received in Ireland with feelings of great gratification.