The Earl of Roden
rose for the purpose of presenting Petitions from the ministers, elders, and Presbyterians of Ballymena, praying for a change in the national system of Education in Ireland; and from the members of the Protestant Conservative Society of Ireland, to the same effect. He had also a petition to present from a parish in the county Fermanagh, praying that the new system of education might not be imposed upon them, and that either the system adopted by the Kildare-street Society be substituted, or some other which did not interfere with the free circulation of the Bible. Before moving that, he would take the liberty of making a few observations to their Lordships. The noble Earl accordingly addressed the House in nearly the following terms:—
779 My Lords—Having felt it my duty, a few evenings since, to give notice of my intention of submitting to your Lordships' consideration the petitions upon the subject of the system of national education in Ireland, which now lie upon your Table, I must solicit your attention at some length to the subject. Although I feel extremely anxious that this subject, which has always appeared to me to be of deep and vital importance, should obtain an early discussion, I also feel most anxious not to press it forward except in the presence of the parties interested. But now seeing the most reverend Prelate opposite, one of the Commissioners, the Archbishop of Dublin, in his place, I propose to make some remarks to your Lordships, by which I shall give the very reverend Prelate an opportunity of informing the House what have been the results of that system of education which, twelve months since, was brought into operation—a system which, it was stated by the Government, was to benefit all classes, by imparting a united education to Protestants and Roman Catholics. In what I have to address to your Lordships I shall be as brief as possible; but as I shall have occasion to refer to various documents, I trust your Lordships will bear with me, while I lay before you statements founded upon authority that cannot be questioned. I think I shall be able to prove to your Lordships, that this system, which was adopted as a national system of education, is one of an exclusive nature, and that its tendency is rather to separate than combine the different classes in Ireland. I must, however, in the first instance, call your Lordships' attention to this fact—that there was, previously to this system being adopted, another system in operation, and which, from 1816 to 1831, formed the national system of education in Ireland. It is almost unnecessary for me to inform your Lordships, that the society to which I allude was called the Kildare-street Society. It received for a series of years annual grants from Government; and I do not think I am going too far when I say, that the system worked well, and conferred important benefits upon all classes of society. But, your Lordships must also bear in mind, that in 1831 his Majesty's Government stated it to be their opinion, that the system was of too exclusive a nature, and that they must change it 780 altogether, in order to unite and combine under one system, persons of every religious denomination. It will be more accurate, perhaps, if I refer to the words of one of his Majesty's Ministers upon the subject. Mr. Stanley, the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, on the formation of this new plan, wrote a letter to the Duke of Leinster, who, as your Lordships know, has been placed at the head of the new Board, in which the right hon. Gentleman said, that the system was to be adapted to the views of persons of all religious persuasions; that it was a grand plan of national education, one of the great objects of which would be, to unite in the same schools children of all creeds. It will be necessary, continued the noble Earl, to remind your Lordships, that, at the period his Majesty's Government thought fit to withdraw the grant from the Kildare street Society, 1,621 schools were receiving aid from its funds and; that 137,639 children were receiving instruction, a great majority of whom were Roman Catholics. However, there was one great fault found with this society—or as it was described in the letter of the right hon. Secretary for Ireland, there was a vital defect in the system, and that defect was, that under it was permitted the use of the unmutilated Word of God. His Majesty's Ministers sacrificed the Kildare-street Society, not because the feelings of the great mass of the Roman Catholics were opposed to it, inasmuch as the Roman Catholic children attended not merely the schools of the Kildare-street Society, but those under the Hibernian School Society, where the use of the Bible was more strictly enforced than in the Kildare-street schools; but his Majesty's Ministers sacrificed the society upon the representation of the Roman Catholic priests in Ireland—who have ever been opposed to allowing the children of their creed to be instructed in God's Holy Word. It may be urged by noble Lords opposite, that few petitions have been presented in this Parliament against the measure. I cannot, however, imagine that any forcible argument can be deduced from that fact. In the last Session of Parliament petitions from various parts of the empire crowded your Lordships' Table. The petitioners set forth, that the system was fraught with mischief—that it was calculated to propagate error, and was sure to prevent the knowledge of truth from reaching those 781 who were most anxious to obtain it. These petitions were numerously and most respectably signed; and I was sorry to hear in this House some of the petitioners charged with being actuated by private motives, while others were charged with being influenced by factious views. And why, my Lords, should they have been so accused? Have, or have not the statements set forth in the petitions been verified? I am sorry, my Lords, to state, that the fears expressed as to the results of the experiment have been too unhappily realized. Now, my Lords, I shall show presently, that this system of education is so exclusive in its nature, that it is impossible it can ever afford combined education to Protestants and Roman Catholics. It is impossible, I say, that Protestants can consent lo send their children to these national schools—schools which in a great many instances are held in chapels, monasteries, and nunneries. I am prepared to show, that the Board of Education granted in several instances pecuniary assistance to schools which were held in monasteries, nunneries, and chapels, where the tenets of the Roman Catholic faith are of course inculcated. I charge the Board with having granted, out of the public monies, sums for imparting an exclusive system of education—out of funds, be it remembered, that were placed at its disposal for the purpose of teaching a system that would combine children of all religious creeds. I charge the Board, moreover, in the presence of the most reverend Prelate, the Archbishop of Dublin, with a lavish expenditure of the public money—I charge it with giving salaries to schoolmasters, in some instances double, and in others treble, what the same persons received from the Kildare-street Society. Persons aware of the fact must come to the conclusion that such an increase of salary was meant as a bribe to the masters to induce them to leave the Kildare-street Society, and thus gave an appearance of popularity to the schools under the Board. The first thing to which I beg to direct the attention of your Lordships, is to a paper laid upon the Table of the House, setting forth all sums granted by the Board to the several schools. This document was laid on the Table of the House at the close of the last Session of Parliament, and is made up to the 11th July, 1832. it is not my fault that we have not got a similar Return up 782 to the present period. I shall now proceed to show the exclusive character of the new system. In doing so, I shall, of course, be obliged to trust, in a great degree, to communications which I have received from individuals residing where the schools have been established; and, as my correspondents are highly respectable persons, I make no doubt that my information is accurate. The first sum I find upon this list, is a grant to the Mendicity Society. It would appear from the Return as if the Board had granted a salary of 100l. a-year to the teacher of the Mendicity Society Schools. In communicating with some persons connected with the Mendicity Society, I discovered that there was some misunderstanding with respect to this, inasmuch as the sum had never been received. I have it from a gentleman of high character, a member of the Mendicity Committee; and I received from him a statement of the proceedings between the Society and the Education Board, in which he denied that the head of the Mendicity Society Schools had received aid. It described the nature of an application made to the Board, and the forms that were required. The application, which was said to have originated with the Mendicity Society, was, in fact, got up at the instigation of the Education Board. There were two public meetings of the Society held on the subject; and during the discussions, which were public, one of the Commissioners of Education was present; and though the grant was ordered by the Board, it has never since been applied for by the Society; if, therefore, an application, as stated in the returns, was ever made, there must have been some imposition, or, perhaps, forgery, practised. The next school to which I shall refer is that of Carlow, the teacher of which receives 25l. a-year from the Board; that is, exclusively, a Roman Catholic free school, and one of a very numerous class to which I shall have to refer somewhat more in detail. I do not mean to trouble your Lordships with reading all the communications which I have had from several parts; they are, it is true, important, but they are too long to be read in detail. Nearly the whole of the observations which I mean to make might, I have no doubt, be gleaned from those letters, and I am ready to show them in private to any noble Lord who may have a desire to see a confirmation of my remarks. The school 783 of Carlow is, as I said before, a free-school, and exclusively devoted to Roman Catholics; and there is also a female school in the same place, conducted on similar principles, and both are under the patronage of the Board of Education. A grant has likewise been given to a Roman Catholic female school in the town of Clonakilty: this school is kept by a man, and, like the others, exclusively Catholic; and, under such superintendence, it is impossible it ever can become a medium of combined education. The school at Barron is another establishment under the patronage of the Board: there are 100 Roman Catholics and three Protestants in it; it is a chapel-school, and the system of education, I may say, is exclusively Roman Catholic. There is another school at Clon-more, in which there are about four Protestant children; though the signatures to the application for assistance contained some Protestant names, which, I must inform your Lordships, were obtained by the Roman Catholic priests under false pretences. There is a school at Ennis which was instituted by a Roman Catholic priest; the present teachers are monks, and the system of education is purely religions; the Board has given to this school 30l. a-year for a teacher, although the school has actually been set up in opposition to scriptural education. At Rahana, a school, which was formerly under the patronage of Lord Down, is now converted to similar purposes. A Catholic school for females has been set up in Maryborough, and twenty Protestants signed the application, but they did this at the urgent entreaty of the Roman Catholic priests; and one of them, a watchmaker, has since declared, that he was afraid to refuse his signature, as he had frequent occasion to travel through the country repairing clocks and watches. Several of those who signed the application have since regretted that they did so, and endeavoured to withdraw their signatures, but without avail. The grant has been made. I am, therefore, justified in saying, that, when such a preference is given to the priests, in opposition to several scriptural schools established in Ireland, the Board and the Government have neglected their duty, and are instrumental in supporting error against truth. There is at Esker an extensive, and (judging it on Romish principles) I believe an excellent school—but the education is purely 784 Roman Catholic—all the children are Roman Catholics: in the body of the school there is an altar, at which mass is celebrated every morning, the Roman Catholic catechism is read at another period of the day, and prayers, according to the Roman Catholic form, are read at two other stated hours in the day. A lady told me, also, that, upon entering that school, the first book she perceived was a little volume entitled "Fifty Reasons for not becoming Protestants," and this, too, is one of the schools patronised by the Board of Education! There is another school, under the Board, at Castlebar, exclusively Roman Catholic. At the Glynn school there are but two Protestants, and the Roman Catholic catechism is there read daily to the pupils. I might enumerate several other schools of a similar character; in all they amount, I believe, to forty-nine. I have now laid before your Lordships the important fact, that forty-nine of these schools are purely Roman Catholic, where the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church are exclusively taught. These schools, I have shown, are either held in monasteries, nunneries, Roman Catholic chapels, or in the chapel-yards, and I think I have made out a strong case to prove to your Lordships that what his Majesty's Government promised should be a system of a combined education, has turned out to be one of a most exclusive nature. But it is said, that this system has met with the approbation of the Roman Catholic priesthood of Ireland. It undoubtedly has, and it is not surprising that it should. When I turn to the list of applications for aid at the Board, I find the names of 209 applicants, all of whom are Roman Catholic priests. Of the other applicants, there are but twenty eight who are called Protestant clergymen, and amongst these are some Socinians and other seceders from the Church of Scotland. How the Roman Catholic bishops have come to concur in it I know not, unless it be, that the teachers in the schools are all under their dominion. The effect of this system has been the giving up of the Roman Catholic children exclusively to the Roman Catholic priesthood, and virtually depriving those children of the Word of God. It is quite impossible that Protestants can unite in a system which seems to them the means of propagating and supporting a religion against the errors of which they have been taught to protest. It is impossible that 785 any united system of education can ever be adopted where there is no common ground to stand upon. The only common ground that ever can be discovered is the unrestricted use of the unmutilated scriptures of truth. That was the ground taken by the Kildare-street Society; but his Majesty's Government, in cutting that ground from beneath the feet of the Society, have made the breach wider than it ever was before between the Protestant and Roman Catholic population of Ireland. It is some consolation to these respectable individuals in England, Scotland, and Ireland, who took the same views of this subject as that entertained by myself and my noble friends, that we did all in our power in your Lordships' House, to prevent the system from being acted upon; and although petitions have not, for the reasons I have before stated, this Session been poured in against it, I will take upon myself to say, that never was the public voice more loudly raised against it than at present—never, in fact, did the public pulse beat higher with respect to this system than at this moment. Can any person doubt what the feeling of the public is with respect to it? Seventeen out of the twenty-two Irish Prelates have protested against it, and they have been followed and imitated by the Synod of Ulster, a body composed of persons not surpassed in respectability and a love of religion by any class whatever—men devoted to those principles for which their forefathers bled—and whose anxious desire is, that their fellow-countrymen should not be debarred from the blessings derivable from the Word of God. That enlightened body has lifted up its testimony against this system. There are also the Methodists—the clergy of the Established Church—the Grand Jurors and High Sheriffs—they have all concurred in deprecating the system. We find also many Prelates of the Established Church in this country opposed to the system—and I recollect being delighted during the last Session by hearing utterance given to the truly Christian sentiments entertained by these right reverend Prelates—sentiments which did equal honour to their heads and hearts. When Scotland heard that the Bible—that book which her children so much valued—was about to be withdrawn from the people of Ireland, how did she act? She sent forth her indignant remonstrance against such a proceeding; and yet, in defiance of public opinion, and 786 contrary to reason, and common justice, his Majesty's Ministers have continued to force their plan upon the people of Ireland. Dr. Chalmers, speaking in his own forcible manner upon the subject, declared, "that the proposed system of education was the first attempt since the Reformation to interfere with the Scriptures by a legislative enactment, and that he could not approve of a plan which kept the Scriptures out of the hands of children—those Scriptures which formed the foundation of true religion," Such, my Lords, are the sentiments of that great man, who concurs with me in the opinions I have ever held, and continue to hold, on this great and important subject. All who know the working of the Kildare-street Society are satisfied that the system produced great benefits. It was going on most favourably until the new allies of his Majesty's Ministers—the Romish hierarchy—became alarmed at the progress which scriptural knowledge was making, and having entered into a correspondence with the noble Earl at the head of the government, we find the effect has been the production of this new Board—this bantling of Romanism—this motly crew—this heterogeneous mass—this cage—I will not say of unclean—but of many coloured birds—this Board, I repeat, was not formed for the purpose of conciliating the Roman Catholic population, because their children attended the Kildare-street Society Schools, but it was formed in obedience to the dictates of the Romish hierarchy—and be it remembered by those who so basely crouched to them, that many of these same individuals last year led on crowds of persons in opposition to the law, covering the country in many instances with blood, and in all with ignominy and disgrace. These, my Lords, I consider as awful times—awful with respect to Ireland, and give me leave to say, with respect to England too. The times indeed are awful when the rulers of the people consent to sacrifice the Book of Truth at the shrine of error and of prejudice. That Book which was so long the safeguard of England is now withheld from the people; and the rulers of the country, in order to gain them over to their side, are obliged to bow down to those who thrust this system of error upon them. I think, my Lords, the times are awful when we find the rulers of the land, who ought to be the first to set their faces 787 against error—who know it to be error—who have sworn it to be so—I say, my Lords, it is awful and lamentable to see such men, in place of checking the evil, doing everything in their power to extend and perpetuate its baneful effects. Fatal delusion! If they think to gain the Romish priesthood over by such a course, they are grievously mistaken. Each concession will be followed by demands for still greater concession. Each new concession whets their appetite for more, and depend upon it, my Lords, that party never will be satisfied until Romanism is triumphant and Protestantism laid prostrate. God forbid that I should live to see the day when my Protestant countrymen—ay, and my Roman Catholic countrymen, too—are bound hand and foot, and placed at the disposal of those who have ever been opposed to liberty. I have lived in Ireland all my life—I will not yield in love for my country to any man. I know the people well, and I am attached to them. I have seen with sorrow the tyranny practised towards the poor Roman Catholics—and I have done all in my power, so far as the influence of a landlord and a resident could go, to relieve them from the thraldom in which they are placed. I took the only means in my power of enlightening them, by the distribution of that immutable word which is capable of making man "wise unto salvation," with what effect, it is not necessary now to inquire; but I am sure many noble Lords will agree with me, that it is impossible for the private exertions of any individual to compete with those who have the command of the public purse. If the noble Earl and his Majesty's Ministers be determined to establish the Roman Catholic religion in Ireland—and the signs of the times induce me to suppose such an object not to be altogether out of view—if, I say, they are determined to do so, and proceed in their plan of spoliating the property of the Church, and paying the Roman Catholic clergy out of the plunder—if they are resolved upon the destruction often Bishoprics—but, above all, if, by persisting in this system of education, they deny the Scriptures to the people—on their heads be the sin—on them be the awful responsibility. I feel I have occupied your Lordships too long; but, in the name of my countrymen—in the name of those who are interested in the preservation of the Church—in the name of those who are interested in the 788 maintenance of the true religion, as established amongst us—in the name of the Protestants of Ireland—I call upon your Lordships to give them protection and support. They have been the English garrison in that country since the time of Henry 8th; they have been true to the trust reposed in them; they have been faithful to you in your utmost need; they have stood forward in the breach—and, though many have fallen, and survivors have been ill requited, they are bound to you by ties not easily dissolved. Listen, then, my Lords, to their remonstrances. I feel it no small privilege to be permitted to stand here as their advocate. I have embarked with them in a common cause, and with them I am ready to stand or fall. I know not what conduct his Majesty's Government may next pursue; but I would implore of noble Lords who sit on this, the Opposition, side of the House not to absent themselves from that post which their duty calls upon them to occupy. I would implore of them that they be ready to answer "content" or "not-content," on whatever question is brought forward; and I would implore of his Majesty's Ministers, if they have not determined upon sacrificing everything valuable or worth regarding in Ireland, to give up their odious plan for propagating the Romish faith in that country. If the Government do not find themselves able to stand by the truth, let them withdraw the grant altogether, and leave the education of the people in the hands of those who will give their time, their money, and their influence, in forwarding what they know to be for the benefit of the country. I would implore the Government to save the country the expense, as well as the disgrace, of perpetuating such a system. I trust it will never be said, that any Protestant Government—but above all, a British Government—united with Popish priests to withhold from the people the immutable Word of God. The noble Earl concluded by moving that the petitions do lie on the Table.
The Archbishop of Dublin
said, that he felt it necessary to bespeak the indulgence of their Lordships, in rising to address them under circumstances which must be painful to every one who was not a stranger in that House, as he had been till so recently; but which were peculiarly painful to him, because he was now placed upon his trial on account of his intimate 789 connexion with the Board of Education. He stood before their Lordships to be tried, not only for countenancing a system which was pronounced to be radically vicious—which was called a bantling of Romanism—a nefarious system—and was characterised by other phrases equally severe, but for having, in conjunction with his colleagues, been guilty of malversation in their office, not only lavishing the public money, but using it for purposes of bribery. He trusted their Lordships would recollect the situation in which he was thus placed, and would make allowance for the difficulty of his position, as well as for his w-ant of those oratorical powers which might be requisite to meet the accusations brought against him. He was invited by his Majesty's Ministers to take a part in the conduct of the Education Board in Ireland; and after a good deal of deliberation, and the best inquiries he could make, he consented, from a firm conviction that it would be for the good of the country. He had not, it was true, long resided in Ireland, when the invitation was given; and when he visited that country some fourteen years ago it was only for a short time; but even before he had any thoughts of going to reside there permanently, Ireland had occupied a great deal of his attention. He had always felt, and he wondered that all his countrymen did not feel the same, that Ireland was a part of this empire, and entitled to most anxious consideration, on account of the troubles and difficulties and dissensions under which she had suffered. He had often turned in his mind (although without any prospect of being able to carry his views into practical effect) how the evils of that country could be removed, and, therefore, he was not a complete stranger to the subject when he was appointed to the Archbishoprick of Dublin. He decided in his own mind that the plan of his Majesty's Ministers was more likely to be successful than any other. Perhaps he erred, perhaps he deserved blame for not being led by those who had more experience than himself; but the truth was, he was told one thing by one person, and another thing by another: they differed as much in their facts as in their inferences. Some very respectable persons told him that the Kildare-street schools were a great benefit to the country, that they were making great progress among the people, and would furnish everything in the way of 790 education that was wanted, while others gave him a directly contrary representation. He, therefore, found himself under the necessity of collecting facts for himself, and forming the best deductions from them he could. The result of his inquiries was, that he thought he might do good by joining the Board, though he could assure their Lordships that he had not consented to become a commissioner to these schools with a view to any credit or comfort or ease of his own. He knew that, in accepting the office, he should be liable to many attacks. It had been said of him, for example, and often repeated, that he supported this measure, and would support any measure of his Majesty's Ministers, as a devoted partizan. It might be of little consequence whether such a person as himself was attached to any party or not; but if he was worth mentioning at all, he was worth mentioning with truth. He did not mean to impute wilful falsehood to those who made these accusations against him. Perhaps they judged from their own experience—perhaps they had never known or seen or heard of a person who was not attached to some party. But he said that they were not justified in putting-forward a conjecture with respect to him as if it were a fact. All who knew him knew that it had ever been a rule with him never to attach himself to any party, ecclesiastical or political. He considered every measure upon its own merits, without reference to the persons from whom it emanated. Any attacks which might hereafter be directed against him he would answer as he answered those which had been hitherto made upon him—not by words, but by his conduct; for he held that the character which could not defend itself was a character scarcely worth defending. But it was said that there was no moral turpitude in being connected with party. That was the very reason why he disclaimed it. If the charge were one which implied a moral delinquency, he hoped it would be unnecessary for him to notice it before their Lordships. He said, in answer to the charge, that he was an independent man, and was entitled to be considered as an independent man. He felt it necessary, as a matter of justice to his Majesty's Ministers still more than to himself, to declare, that whatever support he gave to their measures was not induced by party bias; and that if he gave his voice 791 in their favour, it was not the reluctant and extorted testimony of a prejudiced witness, by whom everything was taken at a premium on one side of the question, and at a discount on the other. He averred thus much reluctantly of himself, because he wished their Lordships to be aware of his views, and to judge of him with that candour with which he spoke. He considered himself bound also to state thus much, in justice to his Majesty's Ministers. He would then proceed to speak of the grants of the Government; money by the Commissioners. He would; say first, he did not find the system proposed to be adopted by the Government was essentially at variance with that pursued at several other schools which had caused none of this clamour. In the course of many private conversations, individuals had brought forward objections to every scheme of education, some of which he must acknowledge were sound and valid. There were objections, undoubtedly, against the education of Roman Catholics and Protestants together; there were objections, and in his mind—stronger—to their education being conducted separately; and there were also objections, which he considered the strongest, to not educating them at all. They had a choice of evils, and he thought the least evil had been chosen. He lamented that there should be so much hostility on account of differences of opinion in Ireland; but the differences and the hostility existing must be met in some way. He found an example of a combined system of education in the Mendicity Schools in Dub-Jin. At those schools there was a system, which was said to be the very type of the Government plan: Protestants and Catholics together received instructions which did not interfere with their religious tenets; and one day in the week was left, upon which they received religious instruction from their respective pastors. While that difference of religion existed in Ireland, which he lamented as much as any man, it was necessary to provide for the religious instruction of the children by some such means. The funds of the Society being low, it was considered whether an application should not be made, for a grant; but it was determined that the application should not be made, as numbers of the subscribers threatened to withdraw their names if the Society received any aid from the Commissioners, 792 or had anything to do with that which had been called a nefarious system. Yet it appeared that the Mendicity Society schools were conducted on exactly the same system, in every particular, with that of the Education Board. He would not weary their Lordships by going through all the objections which had been raised against the system itself, and which had been long since fully discussed. He would not go the length of saying, and considering their Lordships as pledged to the conviction—that the system was good; but neither ought its opponents to say that it never could possibly succeed; because that point remained yet to be decided. It was brought before their Lordships in a former Session; Their Lordships had, after mature deliberation, decided that this system ought to be tried. If, then, they did not mean to tax themselves with folly for having come to that decision, he called upon them, in the name of justice and common sense, to give it a sufficiently long and fair trial. It was said, that the Kildare-street Society had not had a fair trial—that it had not been suffered to go on long enough—that it would have produced all the benefits that could be expected from it, but that it was hastily and prematurely stopped. He did not say that it had gone on long enough. He did not presume to judge what length of time would be sufficient for a fair trial; but this he said, that for several years the Kildare-street Society had had inspectors, a model-school for the preparation of masters and mistresses, a pile of books for the use of the Institution; masters and mistresses had been sent out by the Society, and most of those who superintended the schools, had received their education from the Society. He need not explain to their Lordships that a model-school was of the most essential importance. It was a school under the immediate inspection of the director of the system in which those masters and mistresses were framed who were to carry it into effect. But the model-school of the Education Board in Merrion-street—he meant that for boys—was only opened yesterday; the model-school for the girls would not be opened until after Easter. They had not been able sooner to get the buildings and furniture, and the various necessary arrangements completed. And this they were told was a, fair trial—the measure, having, in fact, 793 not come into actual operation until this very day. It was not until inspectors should have been sent to the different schools, and masters and mistresses sent from the model-school, prepared as well as the Board could prepare them, that there could be a fair trial. To call for returns, and throw obstacles in the way of the proceedings at such a time, when the system had not been much more than a year in operation, and when the model-school—its most important feature—had only been brought into operation this day, reminded him of the child who planted seeds in a garden, and dug them up every two or three days to see if they were growing. They might laugh at the child; but if an adult were to do the same thing every body would conclude that he did not wish the seeds to grow. If the system were to be tried at all, it should have a sufficiently long trial and a fair trial. In order to have a fair trial, it was important that the Commissioners should not be perpetually interrupted, and their secretaries and officers taken away from their regular duties, for the purpose of making out returns, which occupied a considerable time that ought to be devoted to objects connected with the Institution. The Board consisted of persons who had other occupations, which rendered it impossible for them, if they possessed double the strength and diligence of ordinary men, to perform the tasks which were sought to be imposed upon them. There had been several hundred applications for the establishment of schools which they had not had time fully to consider, though they had exerted their utmost diligence to forward the inquiries which were necessary, before these applications could be acceded to. With regard to the expenditure, all he could say was, that they had been scrupulously economical. It could not be expected that he could bear in mind all the cases which had come before the Board, and he could not remember the particulars of the forty-nine cases which had been alluded to by the noble Earl; but he wished their Lordships to remember, that the statements of the noble Earl were ex-parte; and if he were permitted to make inquiries, he had no doubt but that he should be able to show that the same principle which had regulated the conduct of the Board generally had regulated them in all these cases. But supposing all to be as was stated, still there were only forty-nine cases out of 794 497 in which grants had been made (scarcely one-tenth part) complained of. The rule was, where applications were made for aid to establish schools, the Board had instituted inquiries, in order to ascertain the character of the persons making such applications, and the description of the scholars. He could not bring forward any of the correspondence, but he could assure their Lordships, that the Board had acted with the most scrupulous care with respect to the character of the schools to which grants had been made, as well as in the allocation of them. In one case that had been brought forward—that of the Mendicity Institution—the salary proposed was, altogether, 100l.; but no grant had been made. Ordinarily, the Board had granted salaries of no more than 10l. and 15l. a-year, which struck him as being very low. But he had to entreat their Lordships to remember, that it was impossible for him then to explain all the cases. All he could say was, that they had exerted every care and pains to conduct their business in the most economical and the most effectual manner, and all this in the midst of a system of persecution and delusion which would have been enough to deter most men from proceeding. Not only the Commissioners and agents of the Institution, but those who sent their children to the schools, had been designated as infidels, apostates, everything opprobrious that language could supply. They dared not publish their names, because their characters were liable to a species of moral assassination. One of the obnoxious parties said, he thought the burnings in the south of Ireland not worse than the persecution on account of these schools in the north; and he mentioned one or more Presbyterian congregations which had been set against their pastors, and had been induced to insult them in the streets. It had also been objected to the Society (and to this their Lordships could bear witness) that they had used compulsion in the establishment of some schools; but he could assure their Lordships, that no force had ever been employed further than this:—They had told the parties, here is money, if you wish to establish a school, take it; but don't take it if you don't like it. They had also been told (and this had been asserted throughout England, and was the only cause why so many petitions had been presented against the new system); that 795 Protestants were to be deprived of the use of the Bible. They certainly did not compel the children to read the Bible, and for his part he did not wish to compel any one to read the Bible. That would savour of persecution, and to do so would neither be of any service to religion, nor consistent with the proper spirit of Christianity; but they had made it imperative in all their schools, that a certain portion of the week should be set apart for religious instruction—namely, some one day, besides Sunday. Those who had any scruple against such instruction had it in their power to withdraw themselves; and any clergyman of the neighbourhood might appoint a day in the week in which the children of his own denomination might read nothing but the Scriptures, or the Homilies of the Church. The children read the Bible one hour a-day for five days in the week, and the other two days they read nothing but the Bible. He would ask how many of their Lordships' children—how many even of their Lordships themselves, read the Bible so much? He would ask whether such instruction as that contemplated by the Institution was not sufficient to make the children know the Bible both in spirit and in truth. He believed that these children would know more of the Bible than under most other systems. At the same time he would not deny that, in many cases, the instruction was not given, because the clergy in the respective neighbourhoods, whose duty it would have been to carry the intentions of the Institution into effect, had refused to give instructions to any of the children in these schools. They had declared, in letters to the Board, that they would have nothing to do with these schools, and would not go into them. If they conceived themselves justified in that proceeding, be it so: it was a matter betwixt them and their consciences; but what right then had they to complain of the effects of their own wrong? It was they who were depriving their flocks of the want of that spiritual instruction which they accused the Board of causing. Did they dread contamination from going into the schools? If the Apostles had never gone into a Jewish synagogue, how would the Christian religion have been promulgated? If St. Paul had never preached the gospel to the Athenians upon the hill dedicated to Mars, none of us, perhaps, would ever have heard of it. He did not blame any person, 796 who really thought, being a Protestant clergyman, that he could not, with a safe conscience, encourage the Government system of education, although he must consider him to be in error for abstaining from doing so; but surely such a clergyman should not come forward and condemn the system as being exclusively Roman Catholic! Suppose he were to send round to the parishioners of certain parishes, whose ministers differed from him in opinion, and warn them that their pastors were bad men, who preached unsound doctrines, and that they ought to keep away from them; and rather frequent another church or meeting-house, or none at all: this would be thought rather a strong measure. But if, after their parishioners had taken his advice, he should turn round upon the pastors and upbraid them for having their churches deserted, and their company shunned, what words would be deemed sufficient to characterize the unseemly folly of such conduct? Pharaoh was called an oppressor when he beat and reproached the Israelites for not delivering the tale of bricks after he had deprived them of the requisite materials; but he did not go so far as to promulgate an edict, exhorting his subjects to prevent them from going into the fields to gather straw where they could find it, and then turn and reproach them for not bringing their tale of bricks. Whether the system were bad or good, it ought not to be frustrated by unfair means; but should be put to a reasonable test before judgment was pronounced upon it. The question, as to its being allowable to instruct members of different persuasions in the same school, their Lordships would decide; but, he would observe, that the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick, which had been established for fifty years, had, as one of its principal regulations, an order to the teachers to see that the children should attend to their religious duties—Protestants and Catholics, according to their respective creeds—their principles extending to all. The system of the Board was founded on the same principle. As to the mutilation of the Scriptures, he had always understood that a mutilation was only when a work was given as complete, while it was really deficient; but certainly the term could not be applied to such a work as Mrs. Trimmer's selections from the Bible. Yet that work had been used in all our schools for many years. He could not go through 797 all the accusations which were daily brought forward against the Commissioners, and himself in particular, in the Dublin newspapers. The greater part of them he had not seen; for he did not read those papers, and should not know anything of them unless a friend should happen to tell him of them. From what had come under his notice, he could say, that five or six libels appeared in these prints every week. A system of terrorism was regularly acted upon. With regard to falsehoods stated in these prints, there were one or two every day. He had seen a letter from a Prelate to a Clergyman in his diocese, commanding him, on his canonical obedience, to withhold his support from the schools. The noble Lord had spoken of signatures to applications for grants being obtained by intimidation. He had no doubt that some signatures might have been obtained by that means; for, unfortunately, in Ireland, there was a system of intimidation which was not confined to any one sect or party. But he could assert, that the Commissioners had never encouraged anything of the kind, but that they rejected all such signatures as they knew to be obtained in that way. He would mention one of the cases put forward as a ground of complaint against them. It was alleged at a public meeting held at Dublin, and the allegation excited much indignation, that a clergyman of imbecile mind was carried to some place privately by the Commissioners, or some persons employed by them, and there entrapped into signing a paper, signifying his approbation of the system, and his wish that it should be introduced into his parish, and that afterwards, on being informed by his friends of the wickedness of the proceeding, he desired to retract his testimony of approval; but that no notice was taken of this application. He trusted it was unnecessary for him to assure their Lordships, that nothing of the kind ever happened—that the Commissioners had had nothing to do with so black a crime as kidnapping a man of imbecile mind for any purpose. But the charge had been in fact sufficiently refuted by being publicly contradicted. The person who stated it had been defied to bring forward any proofs of the assertion, and he bad failed to meet the defiance. A complaint was made, that in many cases where persons sent to retract their signatures, the Commissioners, notwithstanding, did 798 not withdraw the grant. In answer to that, he had only to say that they considered all such signatures as if they did not exist, but the other signatures were sufficient to induce them to make the grant. With regard to persons signing applications for grants, and afterwards withdrawing their signatures on the ground of not having read or understood the paper, it must, perhaps, be admitted that such persons rendered themselves liable to a charge of imbecility on one or other of those occasions, if not on both. He recollected two cases of clergymen retracting their signatures. One was a gentleman, who signed his name to an application for a grant, and afterwards came a retraction from a relative of his, a daughter-in-law he believed. The Commissioners said, that as the Gentleman himself had signed the application, he must himself retract it—and accordingly in a month or two he did so, and, without making any inquiry how it was brought about, the Commissioners at once erased the name. Another case was where a Curate asked his Rector in his (the Archbishop of Dublin's) presence, whether he would like that he should apply for assistance for a school which was established, or about to be established in his parish; and the Rector acquiesced. Afterwards, however, he said he was disposed to withdraw his name. The Curate, however, did not change his mind, and he knew of no canon which obliged a Curate to change his mind whenever his Rector did. With respect to extracts from the Scripture, it was said, that they would never be received by the Roman Catholics; except so garbled as to be a mutilation of the book, and offensive to Protestants. Now, the first extract adopted in the present system consisted of the whole book of Genesis, with the exception of some passages which he was sure no parent would hesitate to keep out of the hands of very young children. There was nothing of a controversial nature in it. Again, it was said, that the Bible was the one common ground for Protestants and Roman Catholics. Now, he said, that even if Protestant children read the whole Bible through, it was not a common ground, for the Protestant version was not admitted by the Roman Catholics as an authorised version. The Douay Bible was taken from the Vulgate, which was the authorised 799 book of the Roman Catholics. Besides which, the Apocrypha formed part of the Roman Catholic Bible, and not of the Protestant. Therefore, he said there was no common ground. As to the charge that no extracts would be used by the Roman Catholics which were not garbled, he thought it was rash and premature to suppose that the different parties concerned would acquiesce in such an arrangement. There were clergymen of the three kingdoms on that Board—English, Scotch, and Irish, all brought up at different Universities. There was a presbyterian minister, the reverend Mr. Carlile; Dr Sadleir, who was educated at Trinity College, Dublin; and himself (the Archbishop of Dublin), educated at Oxford. How was it to be supposed that they would all agree in garbling the Scriptures so as to favour the Roman Catholics? He would however, mention one or two of the accusations brought against the Board. One charge was, that certain passages in the lessons sanctioned the worship of the Virgin Mary who, in fact, was never mentioned at all. The second Scriptural lesson which the Board was so much condemned for? authorising, consisted of the whole of that mutilation of Scripture, called the Gospel of St. Luke. As an instance of the calumnies which were heaped upon them, he would mention that it was stated some time back at a public meeting, that violent dissensions had occurred in the Board, upon a difference of opinion as to the adoption of the phrase, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand," or "Do penance, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand," and that in consequence of this controversy, the injunction to repentance was thrown overboard altogether. Both the words penance and repentance were omitted, it was said, and thus a great Christian doctrine was completely cast aside. This charge was repeated in pamphlets, in newspapers, in private conversations, and in books, almost incessantly for half a year. A loud clamour was raised against the omission of the doctrine of penance, and undoubtedly such an omission would deserve very severe reprobation. There was, however, one circumstance to which, although it seemed to be quite immaterial to the persons who originated the statement, their Lordships would, perhaps, attach some little importance—namely, that there was not one word of truth in the story from beginning 800 to end. The whole was a fabrication. He pledged his honour that there never had been the slightest dispute at the Board on the subject, and that there never was a motion for the omission of the passage; and there it stood as it had ever been, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand." There was indeed a note appended, stating, that as the phrase, "Do penance" might be offensive to Protestants, and as "Repent ye" could not give offence to either party, the latter was preferred. He was fully sensible of the importance of this passage, and he hoped that those who had taken part in the propagation of so slanderous a report, would immediately and publicly testify their repentance of it. This was a specimen, and no more than a specimen, of the reports which had been circulated from one end of the kingdom to the other—these were the engines which were made use of to divert and delude the people—but he appealed to their Lordships whether this could be called giving the plan a fair trial. He declared that he and his colleagues had been assailed by every kind of misrepresentation and falsehood, violence, and intemperance of language, which appeared to him far, very far, from being consonant to the spirit of Scriptural education. All those who endeavoured to aid in the introduction of this system, had met with the most severe persecution, their motives had been assailed, and their characters hunted down. This was a species of Scriptural mutilation to which he strongly objected—that practical mutilation of the Scriptures which made men resist that important precept, "Do as you would be done by." Nor had this agitation been confined to Ireland. In England—in London, meetings had been held at a place—Exeter Hall, he believed it was called—at Bath, Liverpool, and other towns. But how were these meetings got up? They were founded upon a system—the exclusion of all persons who did not come there prepared to oppose the measures of the Government. In this way there could be no difficulty in getting up petitions for or against any measure. He did not impugn the motives of the persons attending those meetings: but he had a right to impugn their judgment; for they had only heard the statements, or rather the misrepresentations, of one party. They were 801 told that the Protestants were to be excluded from seeing the Bible, and they expressed an earnest desire that that Bible should not be taken away from that people of Ireland—a desire in which he most heartily concurred. They were told that the children in Ireland were to be delivered over to the Catholic priesthood whether they would or not: and many other gross mis-statements were made, they having previously taken care to exclude all possibility of contradiction. But why, he asked, did they not give the people an opportunity of fairly exercising their judgment? Why did they lead them away by delusion? Why resort, as they had done, to persecution and intimidation? He was ready to pledge himself—he was ready to give a pledge on behalf of his colleagues—that nothing of the kind should ever be exercised in favour of the system, and he called on those opposed to it to exert themselves in a similar manner, and then they might be enabled to obtain a fair trial of the workings of the system; but it was utterly impossible to say whether the experiment would succeed, much less had they any right to say it had not succeeded, when it had not yet been tried. It had not yet been tried as many months as the Kildare-street Society had existed years, and yet they were told that the Kildare-street Society had not yet received a fair trial. It was absurd, therefore, to say that the new system had been sufficiently tried. He was compelled to call on their Lordships to take something on his assertion, which he could, but dared not, prove, lest he should sacrifice the comfort, peace, and safety of some highly deserving and respectable individuals. He pledged himself that there were many clergymen, both Protestant and Presbyterian, who approved of this system, but who dared not support it for fear of coming in collision with their neighbours and friends where they resided. They dared not expose themselves to the clamour that would be raised against them, or encounter the obloquy and abuse which was sure to be poured on them. Some clergymen had personally, but privately, communicated this to him, whose names, of course, he could not betray. Others had written to the same effect, and in some cases they had refused to support the system, although they strongly approved of it, because the Bishop of the diocese had signed a paper against it—they did not like to have 802 their names in print opposed to their respective Bishops. Others, indeed, were animated by a feeling, which for the sake of charity and religion he hoped would soon die away—had declared they would have nothing whatever to do with the religious instruction of any children who went to these schools. He hoped that all persons who wished men to enjoy true liberty, and the unmolested right of expressing their sentiments according to their own conscience, would exert themselves to put an end to that system of intimidation and agitation which was kept up in Ireland. Agitation he said it was—for what was it but agitation to go about through every parish in Ireland, setting not only Catholics against Protestants, but Protestants against each other, and denouncing all the supporters of the national system of education as idolaters, atheists, apostates—in short, heaping upon them almost every term of abuse which the language supplied. Was it right, then, he would ask, to reproach his Majesty's Ministers with consequences brought on by the very misrepresentations and calumnies with which they were assailed? He hoped the opponents of the Board would no longer attempt to bias the sentiments of the people by the use of violent language or insulting epithets. If the system was bad—speak of it as it was—and let it stand or fall upon its real merits. In conclusion, he would call the attention of their Lordships to this point. He did not deprecate any opposition which was made to this measure on his own account, or on that of his brother Commissioners. It was for the sake of Ireland—for the sake of that unfortunate country—for whose welfare he was ready to undergo even more slander and obloquy than he had yet been exposed to. He deprecated everything like a system of agitation on this subject, as opposed to every Christian feeling, and calculated to inflict the deepest injury upon society. For the sake of Ireland, then, he appealed to their Lordships to let this system have a fair, uninterrupted trial; and then let them come to a decision with calmness and Christian temper. For himself, he was ready to make every sacrifice, even that of life itself, to effect the moral regeneration of Ireland.
The Bishop of Exeter
complimented the most reverend Prelate on the very able speech which he had just made, and expressed 803 his sincere conviction that the most reverend Prelate had been actuated by the best and purest motives. He at least had never attributed improper, or unworthy, or party motives to the most reverend Prelate; nor had such motives, he believed, been attributed to him by any body in this country. That most reverend Prelate had said, that there were three modes of treating the question of education in Ireland: either to educate the Roman Catholics and Protestants together—to educate them separately—or to educate them not at all. The right reverend Prelate seemed to assume that the Irish were less educated than the people of this country—now the fact was the contrary; nor did he say this without due grounds; he had high testimony, that of the Archbishop of Cashel, given before the Commission on Irish Education in 1824. That Prelate said, that even in Tipperary he found the people more educated than in England. He did not, however, mean to say they were better educated; but the fact was, there were more persons in proportion who could read and write in Ireland than in England. The great question, however, was the best subject matter for education. Their Lordships had been told that this system had been condemned before it had been tried, and that a large majority of that House had last year decided that it should receive a trial, and that if they put an end to it in its present state, they would be stultifying themselves, or something to a similar effect. He did not know how far the voice of a previous majority was to bind them on the present occasion; but, if he remembered rightly, the majority of those who were present on that occasion, was for the Motion then brought forward. [No.] The majority which sustained this system was composed chiefly of proxies; but if it were not so, he was not one of those of whom it could be said that he condemned the system before giving it a fair trial? It was said, he knew, that the system was condemned without being tried; but he had always contended that no trial could ever prove its propriety or efficacy, since it was not founded on the principles of Scripture truth, and on the principles of the Protestant religion. He said, it was contrary to these principles, and he had a right to say, speaking in that House, that no trial could be successful. They were still, though not exclusively 804 Protestant, yet a Protestant Legislature; and he trusted the time was not come, and never would come, when they were to be told that they must cease to enjoy the rights, and to discharge the duties which a Protestant Legislature ought to enjoy and to discharge. He had said, that he condemned this system because it was contrary to the principles of Protestantism; and he said this, because, in his opinion, it rendered impracticable the founding of the education of the children of Ireland on the knowledge of the Bible. They were told, that abundant opportunities would be afforded of giving Scriptural instruction to the children in the intermissions of school hours; but he would ask with what recommendation such instruction could come to those children, who would regard it as a deprivation of their hours of recreation and sport? Was that the way to recommend the Holy and Blessed Book to the affections of children? On the contrary, did he not perceive, that it would be the most effectual way of bringing them up in the dislike of all Scriptural instruction; for it would be in fact to require them to obtain that instruction only at the hours they would have at their own command, and for their own enjoyment? They ought to have Bible lessons as a principal part of the instruction in their schools—they ought to be always impressed with the feeling and the conviction that the knowledge of the Word of God was an essential and indispensable part of Christiair Education. This, he should feel it his duty to contend, even if Scriptural instruction could be given by the clergy in sufficient measure out of school-hours. But it was affirmed by all who knew the local circumstances of Ireland, that it was impossible for clergymen to do what this system would require of them, if they were to be the sole teachers of the Bible; and the statistics of Ireland justisfied the assertion. The parishes were so large that there were several schools in almost every one of them. Throughout Connaught and Munster especially, such were the local circumstances, that it was physically impossible for the clergyman to attend all the schools, even if he had no other duties to perform, or for the children to receive that most essential part of their education, instruction in the Bible, if they received it not at school. The children were required to attend at school in the country at ten in the 805 morning; but such was the distance which many of them had to go, that, as was affirmed by those who had most experience in the inspection of schools, in very few, was there a full attendance of scholars before eleven o'clock, and, for the same reason, the whole was over at three. It was therefore really impossible for the clergyman to give that regular and systematical course of Scriptural instruction which alone is worthy the name of instruction, and which the circumstances of the children required. With regard to the extracts from the Sacred Scriptures, the most reverend Prelate had complained of the statements, "that extracts from the Scriptures would never be made but in a garbled form, or, at least, that none but such garbled extracts would be accepted by the Roman Catholics"; he added, "that it had been made matter of accusation against the Roman Catholics that they permitted their children to read even such extracts, and that the Board of Education had been calumniously assailed as willing to lend itself to countenance these garbled extracts." He was quite sure, that the most reverend Prelate himself would not willingly suffer any garbled extracts to be promulgated; but the complaint made was, that the extracts selected did not present a fair specimen of Scripture properly so called. Why did he say this, not from want of charity, but from excess of charity towards the Romish Hicrachy. He perceived the noble Earl (Earl Grey) lifted up his eyes at this expression. He felt much obliged for the attention the noble Earl was paying to his remarks; and he would tell the noble Earl that it arose from this much charity towards Roman Catholics that he believed them when they spoke upon their oaths. The Roman Catholic Prelates had sworn, that, consistently with their duty and the dictates of their conscience, they could not consent that any of their children should be present at the reading of any portion of Scripture taken from a version not their own. That was the evidence they had given on oath, before the Commission of Education Inquiry in 1824, and knowing this, he did not suppose it possible that any thing like a volume of extracts could be placed in the hands of Romans Catholic children which could be otherwise than garbled. The most reverend Prelate had produced, with a tone of 806 triumph, a volume of extracts, which he said was not garbled. Now, the Roman Catholic said, that he would not permit an unauthorised version to be used in schools; and yet he found they had given their consent to the reading of at least a very large portion of it. It was said, that this was a specimen of their liberality. True, they were liberal; so liberal, indeed, that they seemed, in this instance, to have forgotten what they had previously sworn to. He also found that they had been, particularly in relation to one passage—the only passage, indeed, of great importance as relating to the distinctive difference between the doctrines of the Church of England, and the Church of Rome, and where the language of their own version was departed from—to take care that a note should be appended, explaining their peculiar view of the passage. The right reverend Prelate then proceeded to call the attention of the House to the note, which he said clearly contained an allusion to the Virgin Mary, and entered into a theological disquisition upon the "seed of the woman crushing the serpent's head," to show that Roman Catholics had perverted the meaning of the passage into expressing that the Virgin Mary herself, and not her seed was to crush the serpent's head. And this was a volume of extracts to be read in Protestant schools! In a book recommended to the perusal of the scholars by the Board of Education, it was held to be indifferent with regard to redemption, whether the head of the serpent was to be crushed by the woman or Jesus Christ, or whether Jesus Christ did it for himself; so it was described in a book adopted by the Board.
The Bishop of Exeter
Tolerated for the present? But it is a matter of notoriety. [The Duke of Richmond got up from his Seal.] It would be convenient if noble Lords on the front bench would allow him to proceed. He hoped, indeed he was sure, they did not mean to interrupt him.
§ The Duke of Richmond
rose to order. The right reverend. Prelate never rose in that House without complaining of interruption or inattention from that Bench, though the greatest attention was uniformly paid him. He, at least, had not the slightest intention to interrupt the right reverend Prelate.
The Bishop of Exeter
As there was 807 no intention to interrupt, be would suppose that no interruption had taken place. The most reverend Prelate had denied any intention to deliver over the children in Ireland into the hands of the Catholic priesthood. He was not surprised at the view which the most reverend Prelate had taken of it; but in a letter and speech of the author of the system, the right hon. the Chief Secretary for Ireland, the object was avowed to be political, and not religious, in order, by restoring the influence of the Roman Catholic Clergy, to secure a more peaceable and willing obedience on the part of the peasantry to the laws. The right hon. Secretary said, 'it might be true that, by the present means, they were giving education to Ireland, but would they be giving a benefit to it by means of that education, if it was contrary to the religious feeling of the country? But those who undertook to argue in favour of the Kildare-street Society were in the habit of saying; "only allow us to keep on; only continue the grants; and we must finally succeed." But such success as that was contrary to a feeling of charity, for it would be a success m spite of the religion of the people, in spite of the precepts of their faith, in spite of the dictates of the priests; and could it be the object—ought it to be the object—of Government to promote a success on such terms as these? Their object ought to be, not to oppose the Catholic priest hood and the people, but to bring the priesthood and the people, through their influence, into an amicable and friendly relation with the Government. He would not then go deeper into an important subject, immmediately connected with the topic he had just noticed; he would not advert to the means of drawing closer the tie which would bind the Catholic clergyman to the State. His object would be, looking to Ireland, and looking to it in a political view, not to aim at diminishing the influence of the Catholic priesthood, for that influence produced benefit to the community nine times for once that it yielded evil.'* It was plain, therefore, the object of the authors of this scheme was a political one—it was to make use of the Catholic Priesthood to ensure obedience and tranquillity. The Ministers sought to give additional powers to those who said that they* Hansard (third series) vi. p. 1255.808 could not, without sin, have recourse to the Bible; and, therefore, they certainly were liable to the imputation of joining with the Roman Catholic clergy to take away the Bible from the Protestants of Ireland. In fact, the right hon. Secretary was an advocate for not taking away the influence of the Romish priesthood, and wished to increase that because he deemed it beneficial to the State [cheers]. He scarcely knew how to understand that cheer, but if that were not the meaning of the language he had quoted, he knew not the meaning of words. If the noble Lords who cheered thought it a wise, consistent, and wholesome measure, worthy of a Christian Government, let them act upon the plan; but he could not consider such a design to be consistent with Christianity. The plan of the right hon. Gentleman was wrong upon principle, and no trial that might be given to it could prevent it from becoming at all times a just object of reprobation. It was rather remarkable, that in the Returns laid upon the Table, the answer to a Return which had been moved for by the noble Earl opposite, as to the numbers of Roman Catholic and Protestant children attending the school, was to this effect—that they could not give the Returns of their respective numbers, as their attention had been directed to the extension of education, without distinction of class or sect; thus taking away from them the means of ascertaining whether the experiment had succeeded or not. The Commissioners had, in fact, taken care to know nothing of the working of the system, and were necessarily ignorant whether the scheme they were appointed to carry into effect bad failed or succeeded. The right reverend Prelate then referred to the extracts of the Commandments, as published under the sanction of the Board, and entered into another theological discussion. In the second Commandment, he said, the words "graven thing" for graven image—and the words "bow down to" were omitted; thus cloaking and hiding that idolatry which was the scandal of the Romish Church. This was still worse, as it was admitted by Mr. Carlile that the word in the original was, "bow down to." And what must be the effect of this sort of half sanction, accompanied by the circumstance that these children must be constantly in the habit of witnessing the performance of those ceremonies so common 809 amongst the Roman Catholics, but so repugnant to the principles of all true Protestants. In his opinion this was very wrong. Protestant children under the authority of a Protestant Archbishop were condemned to witness these abominations, these idolatries, and they had put into their hand a mutilated and garbled form of the second Commandment, in which that part was suppressed which denounced the abominations they saw practised. The right reverend Prelate then proceeded to read several passages from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, and from the works of writers who were esteemed high authorities on matters of Catholic faith and discipline, for the purpose of showing that which he believed would not be disputed—namely, that Roman Catholics were instructed to consider all who differed from them as heretics and schismatics, and incapable of becoming inheritors of the Kingdom of Christ. From data such as these nothing could be more evident than that it would be impossible to devise a system of instruction which should satisfy the wants and the wishes of a community composed, as that of Ireland was, of persons of different and hostile creeds. Nothing could be more indisputable than that the Catholic children would, at all times, look upon their Protestant fellow-subjects in the light in which they were taught to consider them by the instructions they received at home and at school. If he might be permitted to call the attention of the House to the instructions which Roman Catholic children had received recently, and that which had been inculcated upon them formerly, he should show that until very lately they had been taught that they were bound to pay tithes, but now they were informed that they were merely bound to support their pastors. That was the language at present used. The Catechism formerly prescribed the confession of sins once a-year, and the payment of tithes. Dr. Milner spoke of it as notorious, that the Catechism prescribed the payment of tithes. But that instruction had been left out of recent editions of the Catechism. Bishop O'Reilly's Catechism, published in 1831, contained these lines:—Receive your God about great Easter day, And to his Church neglect not tithes to pay.But an edition of this work was printed in 1832 under the sanction of the Board, in which was substituted: "And to his 810 Church remember dues to pay." The very name of tithes which might have been inconvenient in works of elementary instruction, at present, had been carefully removed. The alteration, however, in these elementary works was not noticed by the Commissioners in the return made by them to the House of elementary works, though they professed to make a return of those alterations, and Bishop O'Reilly's Catechism was one of the books placed in their Lordships library. Perhaps, in 1833 or 1834, if the prospects of the Roman Catholics continued to improve, the word "tithes" might again figure in the Commandment. He would not trouble their Lordships further, than by referring to one other of the returns made by the Commissioners, that of the instruction given by them to their inspectors of schools. It was there said: 'No book inculcating or countenancing peculiar views of religion is to be used. As the Holy Scripture is itself unhappily subject of controversy in this country, &c., it is not to be in troduced during those hours set apart for common education.' In the year 1827, the Protestant Archbishops of Ireland solemnly declared, that it was impossible for them, consistently with their duty to that Church of which they were the highest ministers, and to the people of whose spiritual interests they were the appointed guardians, to accede to any scheme of national education which did not include the use of the Holy Scriptures as part of the instruction of the schools. In consequence of this decisive declaration on their part, while the Roman Catholic Bishops refused to permit even the ears of the children of their communion to be wounded by hearing the Protestant Bible read by the Protestant children, the scheme of that day was abandoned. If the present Government, in spite of this warning, had chosen to try an experiment founded on a principle which was thus solemnly protested against by our Archbishops in 1827, they had no right to be surprised, much less to complain, if their experiment had failed. He should not hesitate to say, that any one might have been able to to prophesy beforehand, that the proposed scheme could not succeed; and looking to the result, he should say, that that result would have fully warranted what ought naturally to have been anticipated. The scheme, unquestionably, had been a signal failure, and he believed that there 811 was no modification of it, nor of any system not based on the whole Scriptures which could render it truly a scheme of national education.
The Archbishop of Dublin
wished to explain. It was true that some schools under the Commissioners had been held in places of Roman Catholic worship, but that was expressly in opposition to their recent regulations—they did not allow any new schools to be held in any place of worship whatever, and where they found that their grants had been applied to schools held in places of worship, they either withdrew those grants, or took measures for causing a building to be erected so as to prevent the continuance of the practice of holding schools in places of public worship. The number which came within the description which he had been giving did not amount to more than four or five out of 500, and for all those, separate buildings were now in progress.
The Bisliop of Bristol
concurred generally in the view taken of the question bv the right reverend Prelate near him (the Bishop of Exeter), and he especially assented to the important truth, that the scheme of education pursued by the Government in Ireland had proved a complete failure. If the scheme now proposed were carried into effect, what was the security that any good book of instruction would be circulated among the people of Ireland? That, however, was not the only difficulty. It was said, that there was no intention of leaving out any particular point of the Protestant translation; but many—indeed most of them—had been left out altogether; and the only one that had not been entirely omitted had been altered—he meant the word Shiloh, which had been altogether changed for an inappropriate word. If such was the conduct of the present Board at the commencement of their career, what was there to show that their successors would not go much further, and make alterations or omissions of even greater importance?
said, that the matter was of such importance that it could not receive too much attention from their Lordships. That was his apology for addressing them. He was perfectly convinced of the sincerity of the right reverend Prelate who had recently addressed them, and in answer to whose speech he should make a few remarks. The right reverend Prelate 812 was, no doubt, impressed with the sanctity of the object he had in view; but in adopting means to secure it, he should at the same time have taken care not to transgress the bounds of that charity which he expected from others. Before answering the right reverend Prelate, he must say a few words upon what had fallen from the noble Earl, and in doing so, he assured the noble Earl, that he felt the most perfect respect for the noble Earl's conduct and motives. The noble Earl assumed throughout that which was necessary to be proved as the very foundation of his arguments. The noble Earl had appealed vehemently and successfully to large bodies of persons, many of whom were quite uneducated; he had come down to that House with petitions from 200,000 persons. Now, to those persons, the language the noble Earl had uniformly held was, that the course of education adopted by the Ministers would have the effect, and was intended for the purpose, of robbing the Protestants of the use of their Bible. No assertion could be more unfounded; and unfounded as it was when it was first uttered, not one attempt had been since made to prove that it was true. It was no part of this system to meddle with the system of exclusive Protestant education; it was not intended to interfere with the schools which the Protestants had already established for themselves, nor with the funds which they had appropriated for that purpose. But Ministers said, if there was to be a joint system of education, at the public expense, and for the public benefit, to be provided for the people of Ireland, there certainly ought not to be annexed to it a condition which would prevent the majority of the people from enjoying the advantages to be derived from that education. He was not surprised that any one of the 200,000 persons should say, they would not give up their Bible. But he had a right to complain that the noble Earl, after drawing his own inferences, and often drawing them most illogically, should state them to the people as facts. What fact was there that authorized him to make these statements? The principle on which the Ministers acted was, that it was expedient there should be a system of public instruction; that the unfortunate people of Ireland were not to be left, as before, but were to have an opportunity of obtaining rational, moral, and religious instruction. Any system of instruction 813 which was not founded on these principles was defective. So far they were all agreed. Again, they were further agreed, that education, to be safely adapted to the people of that country, must be based not only on religion, but on revealed religion; and, further, that it must not only be founded in morals and religion, but on Scripture, as the authorized Revelation of the will of the Supreme Being. Then the question to be solved was, whether they could found such a system of religious instruction for the Catholics and Protestants, based on the authority of the Scriptures, as would be capable of being carried into execution. There was no noble Lord but must lament, if that were impracticable. He had, therefore, listened with the most unfeigned regret to the statement of the right reverend Prelate, who seemed to consider that no possible system could be found capable of attaining that end. The noble Earl stood quite solitary in the opinion that the people of Ireland were about to be robbed of their Bible. Extracts from it he called mutilations, and said that no person with a proper regard for his religion could endure that these mutilations should take place. When this question was agitated last Session, the Primate of Ireland—a man in every way worthy of the highest respect—met it quite differently. He did not say that the plan practically went to deprive the people of the Scriptures; he did not speak of mutilating them; but he attacked the plan, because he said it was founded upon a principle which the Church could never admit—namely, that the whole of the Bible was not made the foundation of education. If the noble Earl was right, that was an abandonment of the Protestant principle—a lowering of the Protestant standard. But that was not a religious, but a political principle; for it amounted to this; that it was inconsistent with the dignity of the Protestant Church that anything should be admitted, or any money applied for the purposes of education, except on a system to which only the members of that Church could give their assent, or, in other words, that the great body of the people of that country should not receive public education at all. All these arguments resolved themselves into this—that this was a re-agitation of the Catholic question, and amounted to saying, that the Catholic measure never should have been passed. Not an argument 814 on that side but went the length of saying, that the Catholic was a religion which ought not to be tolerated. The right reverend Prelate who had recently spoken, took up a ground at variance with that adopted by the noble Earl; for he did not object to selections from the Scriptures, nor call them mutilations. He was too learned to make that complaint, nor indeed had ever done so; for in the former debate he said he did not object to the selection of passages; but that he had no confidence that they would not be garbled. Even that, however, was a gratuitous assumption, for nothing was then done. The right reverend Prelate had not exhibited an excess of charity to-night in the observations he had made respecting the most reverend Prelate, whose speech had been so satisfactory, able, and eloquent, and whom he called a lover of truth, but to whom certainly he had not done a superabundance of justice. Indeed the whole speech of the right reverend Prelate was deficient in no quality so conspicuously as that of charity. He had once before accused the most reverend Primate of having declared, that he saw no necessity to keep holy the Sabbath Day.
rose to order. The noble and learned Lord was overstepping the bounds of debate, inasmuch as he was referring to opinions published during a controversy which was carried on out of doors.
continued. What the noble Lord said, might show that it was not delicate for him to persevere in his observations, but by no means proved that he was out of order. He should not have thought it necessary to refer to what had before fallen from the right reverend Prelate, if it had not been confirmed by what the right reverend Prelate had said tonight—he had said, that he had been perfectly convinced that no fair extracts from the Scriptures would be made from a Board constituted as that in Dublin was. Why, there was Dr. Sadlier, of Trinity College; there was Mr. Holmes, a Barrister, both of whom were men of the highest respectability; and then there was the Archbishop of Dublin; and not one of these was likely to sacrifice Protestantism. Well, then, here were the extracts—the right reverend Prelate found fault with passages in them. Instead of the words, any "graven image," the extracts used 815 the words "graven thing." Thai was mentioned as a fault. In his opinion, the latter was a more effective prohibition of idolatry than the former, for the word "thing" included "image;" but he believed, that the right reverend Prelate admitted, that the word "thing" was more correct. [The Bishop of Exeter: The word would bear that construction in the Greek version.] But if the Hebrew word would bear that construction, as he believed it would, then it was nearer accuracy than the common translation from the Greek. The next point on which they were called on not to give education to the people of Ireland, was the question about the word "he" or "she," in the passage about bruising the serpent's head. He had seen the word "it" used. [The Bishop of Bristol was understood to say, that the word was "he" in the original, but that it was "it" in our version.] It seemed, then, that both differed from the original. The note said, that in the original Hebrew the word was "it;" but it was surely hardly material whether the word "it" or "he" was used to denote the seed, for both agreed that by the seed of the woman was the serpent to be crushed. If the rescuing of millions of men from vice—if the prospect of restoring tranquillity to Ireland were to be blighted by sucii criticisms as these—then indeed must the Government stop in their proposed career of improvement. The noble Earl and the right reverend Prelate no doubt thought them most important, but for the life of him he could not see that they were so. Another objection was about the words "thou shalt not bow down." "Bow down" did not necessarily mean to worship, and he believed it was customary for the Canon of Christ Church, Oxford, to bow to the altar as he quitted it, so that that ceremony was not confined to the Catholic Church, nor did it necessarily show idolatry. Then there was a charge that the Government had made a league with the Roman Catholics to upset the Protestant hierarchy, and the right reverend Prelate said, that the right hon. Secretary stood by the priests in their rejection of the Bible,
Yes, that might be, but not without note and comment. Could anybody believe that the charge made by 816 the noble Earl opposite with respect to this plan was, that it would overturn the present established religion? Could anybody in his senses believe such a charge? And was it not calculated to keep up the jealousy that unhappily existed between the parties of the two religions? The noble Lord who spoke first said, that the present measure was not such a very bad one, and that he objected to it because a society already existed sufficient for all purposes, from which the powers it had should not be taken. The question was, which system was the best? The Government system of education did not allow two versions of the Scriptures to be used in their schools, whilst the Kildare-street Society permitted either version to be used. Yes, that Society was guilty of everything that was now called bad and abominable, in the conduct of the Board of Education. That Society allowed a Popish version of the Bible to be used, and their masters interpreted and commented on it after their own way. They gave mutilated versions of the Scriptures, garbled extracts, and sanctioned the use of the Douay Bible. Could this be endured by the 200,000 Protestants who had risen and petitioned against the Government plan? Why, if the noble Earl who had introduced this subject had applied his powerful eloquence to rouse resistance to the Kildare-street Society, no doubt it would have been as vehemently assailed as the Government plan. But the noble Earl from some unexplained reasons approved of that in the Kildare-street Society, which he anathematized in the Government Board. It had also been argued that the proportion of Protestant children in the schools was not satisfactory. It was no wonder that that should be the case—that the number should be so small, when such unworthy means were employed to keep the children away. It was one part of the plan of the Board to assist schools and institutions by the grant of small sums; but when an application was made by the Mendicity Society, certain persons threatened that if the Society accepted the aid they would with draw their subscriptions. Was that justice—was that anything like a Christian way of proceeding? No greater service could in his view be done to the country than that of extinguishing the jealousy which existed between both persuasions. But the way to do that was, not by men of high rank and of great authority continually spreading 817 abroad the doctrine that the Catholic religion contained within itself principles deadly to the State. The keeping up of this unextinguishable sectarian hostility would not tend to protect that Established Church for which he was most anxious. It was terrible to think that a large portion of the Irish people, thirsting for education, were to be told that they were outcasts from the Government, and were to have no share in its advantages, none of the education which it provided funds to bestow. In the name, then, of their common country, and the charity of their common faith, he implored noble Lords to forget their mere political predilections in the cause of education—the only means of rearing up a moral, and religions, and truly Christian generation in Ireland. The cause was too sacred to be viewed through the mists of party or sectarian distinction, and the state of Ireland too loudly called out for so unexceptionable a cure for avoidable delay to be sanctioned. It was anything but just, it was anything but feeling—in the present state of that unfortunate country, to denounce the exertions of those who were endeavouring to benefit her. What right had the noble Lord to say, that they did not endeavour to protect the interests of the Protestants? And what right had he to put himself forward as the sole advocate of their rights? He (Lord Plunkett) did not know that the noble Lord's pretensions were superior to his, or that the noble Lord had done the Protestant Church in Ireland greater service than he had done. Such aspersions were the offspring of rank and bitter jealousy. He could assure the noble Lord, (hat in supporting the new system of education, he did so in the conviction that he was supporting the interests of the Protestant Church; and he would remind him, at the same time, that one way of causing detriment to those interests was by obstinately and pertinaciously attempting to sustain in its stead a system at direct variance with the sanction of the Legislature.
The Earl of Wicklow
thanked the noble Earl (Roden) for the able way in which he brought before the House the present subject. It was pretty clear, from what had fallen from the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord opposite, that the forebodings of last year had been fully verified. No contradiction had been given to the observations of the noble 818 Earl, not even by the most reverend Prelate, who ought to know most about the matter, from the attention he had paid to the subject. The noble and learned Lord who spoke last did not appear to him to have taken a right view of what had taken place last year upon this subject although the noble and learned Lord had altogether directed himself to the proceedings of their Lordships at that period. What his noble friend near him said on that occasion had been fully borne out; and he congratulated his noble friend on having now confirmed the statements he made when he brought forward his motion. No answer had been given to the statements of his noble friend. He had listened to the statements of some of the right reverend Prelates opposite; yet he considered their observations as not in any way answering his noble friend. He would ask any man, who had seen the papers and documents alluded to, whether, in adopting a system of universal education, some difference ought not to be made between Roman Catholics and Protestants with respect to the use of the Scriptures? He considered it a national calamity that many Protestant children attended those schools; and if the system were continued, he feared it would be found, that numbers of children who entered those schools as professed Protestants, would leave them professed Roman Catholics. He would, with their Lordships' leave, read a short extract, because it expressed, his opinions in better language than he could pretend to do. It was an extract, from a work published by a learned writer and a sincere Christian. He said, in allusion to the Pagan and Christian Churches—"The Pagans have books which few are permitted to look into, whilst we are anxious that all the books belonging to us should be universally read; they were anxious to keep the people in the dark, and to stop all inquiry, whilst we were most anxious to enlighten and strengthen them." The writer then went on to compare the Popish with the Pagan religion. The former, he observed, was under the dominion of error; instead of eliciting the truth, the Papist was anxious to hide his candle under a bushel, rather than hold it forth as a light to nations. The work went on to add, "that the worst feature of the Roman Catholics was, that they prevented the due circulation of the Holy Scriptures." What would their 819 Lordships say when they found that this was the language of the most reverend the Arclibishop of Dublin, whom they had heard upon the subject? He thought the most reverend Prelate had not duly considered the case: but that having been raised to his present high dignity, he felt himself under an obligation, and was anxious to do something for those who had raised him to it. While he said this, he felt quite sure, that the most reverend Prelate did not perceive the tendency of this system, which he and those who thought with him so justly apprehended. With respect to the noble and learned Lord, he had confined himself entirely to answering speeches which had been made last Session. He had addressed himself to the speech of the Primate, the speech of his noble friend near him, and also had honoured him (the Earl of Wicklow) with his notice. When the noble and learned Lord last took his seat, and spoke on this question, he produced vast returns of the number of children placed at these schools under the new system within a few months. But to-night they did not find that the noble and learned Lord had produced any such returns; he had made no such statement; neither had the most reverend Prelate who preceded him. He (the Earl of Wicklow) was, he confessed, surprised at this, as he thought the noble and learned Lord would have made a statement of the number of children (not Protestant he hoped but Roman Catholic) who had been placed at these establishments. Instead of tills the noble and learned Lord had contented himself with contending with the right reverend Prelates as to the differences between the Protestant and Catholic Bibles. The noble Lord seemed to consider those differences to be of a light and frivolous nature; bat it should be remembered that the overlooking them might cause the ruin of the community. The line of argument pursued by the noble and learned Lord on the present occasion was totally different from, not to say at variance with, the line of argument he had formerly adopted. Making alterations in any of the Scriptures, in any manner, or degree involved the most important consequences. He objected, as he had done last Session, to the introduction of the Government system of education, as it would tend to subvert the plans of that society, which was better adapted than any other to promote a united system 820 of education. He thought it unwise to subvert the system of that Society, which was not only working well, but which had been approved of by many of the Catholic clergy themselves. The blow which that society had received from the present Government, it would be very difficult to recover from, though its management was placed in very able hands—in the hands of those most likely to do good to the Catholics. He hoped the Government would explain this united system to Parliament, and that for the future, they would say, that they applied for the grant to promote Catholic education. They might apply a portion of that grant to the education of Protestants, or of the Dissenters of the north, but keep the chief portion for the Catholics. He knew that many honest men thought that no grant should be made by a Protestant Government for the education of the Catholics. That was not his opinion, and the opposite opinion had been acted upon in the case of Maynooth. He therefore should have no objection to see the grant made exclusively for the Catholics, if it were openly and avowedly done, as he was pretty sure the Kildare-street Society could not be revived, and as he wished that children should be educated in their own schools. The Protestants—for they were generally rich—had their own schools; it was not so with the Catholics, who were poor, and who, consequently, had no means of being educated unless they took education on the terms which the Government dictated. It was, however, the duty of Government to inform Parliament that the money was for educating the Catholics, and if they continued to take it except, on that ground, they would take it on false pretences.
The Earl of Gosford
was not surprised that Protestant children were kept away from the present schools, when such reports, prejudicial to those schools were industriously spread throughout Ireland. He had met with several Protestant clergymen of the North, who had the strongest objections to those schools; but when he questioned them, he found that their objections were not founded either on evidence or observation, but that they proceeded from mere hearsay. The system wherever he saw it tried, had most completely succeeded. He begged to mention the testimony of a reverend gentleman—the reverend John Staples, of Moville—who, as soon as he had described the new 821 system, saw his school filled with scholars of all persuasions. The noble Earl also quoted a letter from another clergyman, in praise of the religious books used in those schools, which were so plain and well divided into lessons that they would tend much to the keeping up of true religion.
§ Lord Cloncurry
agreed with the noble Earl (Wicklow) that the Roman Catholics were much more in want of education than the Protestants. He thought that the funds formerly granted to the Kiklare-street School which he knew to have been misapplied, should be set aside for the education of Catholics exclusively; and he thought that their Lordships would not consider 25,000l. or 30,000l. too much for the education of all the Catholics in Ireland. They had no charter schools, they bad been deprived of all the advantages of the public schools in the reigns of William 3rd and Anne, and therefore they needed assistance. The funds for the education of Protestants were large and ample, and could be increased if necessary; but those for the education of Catholics were both precarious and small. He thought that the present state of Ireland was attributable in a great measure to the priests. They were not so well educated as they formerly were, and were given to low society and low habits, so that they lost that influence which might enable them to prevent disturbances. It was incumbent on Government to make liberal grants for the education of the people, whether they were or were not of the established religion.
The Marquess of Lansdown
would only detain the House for one minute, while he endeavoured to satisfy the House with regard to those schools. The right reverend prelate was right in stating, that these schools were only on trial, for there had not been sufficient time yet to judge of their full effects. There were already, however, in course of education in connection with those schools, 86,440 children; and as soon as the grants now under consideration were decided on, he had no doubt that the number would be increased to 120,000. He would mention the case of a school in which he himself was interested, to show how difficult it was to establish schools unconnected with this society. He founded a school in a very remote district, with every desire to give the advantages of it to persons of all religions. 822 That school had the protection of the Kildare-street Society, the support of the landlord, and many other circumstances in favour of its success; nevertheless, from the prejudice felt against it, he found, after the experience of twelve years that it did not succeed. He found, that one-third the number of scholars did not enter which the school could contain, and he was at last obliged to discontinue it. That school was afterwards taken under the care of the Education Board, and he was shortly afterwards asked if he would be willing to increase the size of the school-hoiise as the number of scholars which was formerly too small for the building, had become too large for it. He believed that was generally the case in the south of Ireland when the experiment had been tried. But the question really was, not whether there should be a united system but whether the poorer classes were to have education at all? He thought it but a poor compliment to the Protestant religion, paid by a right reverend Prelate, when he objected to the system, because a child, though attending only four days in the week in a school with Catholic children, and having the other three days, during which he could receive religious instruction from his parents or clergy, might thereby have his religious principles undermined, and be converted to the Catholic faith. He might take the number of children at 500,000, and of these only 100,000 received instruction at the expense of the country. But how were the remaining 400,000 educated? Were they not educated in such a way that of necessity they must have instilled into them feelings hostile to the Government? And were not these the men that an agitator would try to work on to excite disturbance? He agreed with the noble Earl (The Earl of Wicklow) that if they were driven to such a point as to admit the new system of education to be impracticable—he agreed with the noble Earl that then they would be bound, not only on the score of liberality and charity, but of political expediency, to make a full and adequate provision for the education of Catholics in Ireland; but he would not abandon a system which had been tried for such a short time—he would not abandon the advantages which must necessarily result from the early intercourse of children of different persuasions, and draw a line of distinction which would tend to alienate 823 them from each other in after life. He would have referred their Lordships to some of the evidence laid before the House on that subject, were the hour not so late; he would then only say, that the evidence of Sir Francis Blosse proved, that the most common education had a powerful effect in preventing disturbances. That gentleman was a Magistrate and a landed proprietor; and he stated, that the principle of education, common to both Catholics and Protestants, had been attended with the best results in the county of Mayo; and that the effect of it had been to restore social order in other parts of Ireland. He did therefore hope, that a full and fair trial of this experiment might be allowed. He implored their Lordships not to look at the system as one that was already perfect, but as one, the principle of which was calculated to meet the difficulties of the case, by providing the means of education for the general population of Ireland; four-fifths of whom, not being members of the Church of England, were unable to provide education for themselves. That was all the merit which the new system could lay claim to; and he trusted that having proceeded thus far, it would be allowed to go on. He asked so much of their Lordships, without impugning the motives, or casting any reflection upon the conduct of those who considered it to be their duty to offer their opposition to this system.
The Earl of Roden
said, it had been his wish to answer, if it was possible for him, the observations of several noble Lords who had addressed the House; but more particularly those which had fallen from the most reverend Prelate who directed the operations of the Board of Education in Ireland. The most reverend Prelate had stated that, in no instances, except four, had these schools been held in Roman Catholic chapels. He (Lord Roden) had mentioned eight or nine schools that were held in chapels; and though he had refrained from troubling their Lordships by reading the documents, he had such as would fully substantiate that fact. He was satisfied of the correctness of the information he had received on that point. The most reverend Prelate had forgotten to state how many of these schools were held in old nunneries and monasteries; but he knew that there were no less than forty-six schools held in places appropriated to the exercise of the Roman Catholic 824 faith. The noble and learned Lord, the Chancellor for Ireland had said, that he (Lord Roden) had stated, at different meetings which he had had the privilege of attending in Ireland, on the subject of Irish education, that the people of Ireland were deprived of the use of the Bible by his Majesty's Government. Although he had always contended that this abominable system was contrary to the principles of Protestantism, he had never said any such thing as that which the noble and learned Lord imputed to him. What he had said was, that by this system of education, the children were deprived of the use of the Bible in the schools. That he re-asserted without any fear of contradiction. The noble and learned Lord maintained, that every proper system of education must be founded on revealed religion. He agreed fully with the noble and learned Lord in that opinion; and therefore he was opposed to the system adopted by his Majesty's Government. The noble and learned Lord had also referred to a right reverend Prelate, as if that right reverend Prelate was wanting in Christian charity, and said, further, that their hostility to this system had arisen in consequence of opposition on the Catholic question, and because he and his party were disappointed in their views on that matter. The noble and learned Lord who professed so strong a feeling of charity himself, ought to allow to persons acting on honest principles, the credit of good motives. It had never been his opinion that the Roman Catholic clergy were not to be tolerated. What he had said was, that the Roman Catholics ought not to receive encouragement; the noble and learned Lord must admit, that there was a great difference between toleration and encouragement. What he complained of was, that this system of education did go to encourage Catholicism in Ireland. On another point, the sentiments of the noble and learned Lord had given him great pain: he meant those which he expressed in answer to the observations of a right reverend Prelate, who contrasted the different versions of the Scriptures promulgated by the Board, with the authorized version. He had heard with great pain the observations of the noble and learned Lord on that subject; because, in the belief that the seed of the woman, and not the woman herself, was to bruise the serpent's head, the whole of 825 the question rested. He regretted the arguing of so solemn a question on the part of the noble and learned Lord, because, in the thorough belief of it rested the only hope of obtaining everlasting life. The noble and learned Lord had also referred to meetings held in Ireland, which had been attended by 200,000 persons. He could not remember ever to have attended any such meeting. He had certainly met large bodies of persons; but the noble and learned Lord said they had amounted to 200,000 persons ready to take up arms for him. [Lord Plunkett had stated that the noble Earl represented the 200,000 persons whose petitions he had presented.] But the noble and learned Lord had also said, that they were ready to take up arms for him. He might have said so in haste, and not meant to make such an assertion. The noble and learned Lord had also charged him with having raised an outcry in Ireland against this system of education. Whatever statements he had made on that subject, he was ready to reiterate at any risk, because the subject was in his view of vast importance. The noble and learned Lord could not understand why he had put himself forward as the only Protestant Peer. He had stood forward in defence of Protestant principles in that House, and he should be totally unworthy of a seat in it, if he, in any way whatever, flinched from his duty in such a cause. He trusted he never should flinch from protecting the interests of the people, be they Protestant or Catholic. The noble Marquess (The Marquess of Lansdown) had stated, that he had received a return of the number of children educated in these schools, which he said was 87,000. He was not surprised at that fact; his wonder was, that the number was not greater, he was sure that the number would increase, and he lamented it from his heart, because he considered it would be destructive of the best interests of the country. He did not mean to enter into a defence of the right reverend Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter), which would be most presumptuous on his part; but he was sure he never said, that the mere contact of Protestant children with Roman Catholic children, in these schools, would lead to the contamination of the former. What they had both stated was, that it was unfair towards the Protestant children, that these schools should be held in chapels, nunneries, and monasteries, where 826 Protestant children could not attend, without witnessing the forms and ceremonies of the Catholic Church. He trusted, their Lordships would give this matter their most serious consideration—convinced, as he was, the more the subject was inquired into, the more objectionable would the system complained of be found to be.
§ Petitions to lie on the Table.