The Bishop of Exeter
presented a Petition from the Inhabitants of the town of Derby, complaining of the inadequacy of the sys-tem of Education established in Ireland, and praying their Lordships not to sanction any further grant to Maynooth, or any similar establishment; and spoke to the following effect:*—My Lords, in presenting myself to the notice of the House, I beg leave to assure your Lordships, and especially the noble Lords near me, (his Majesty's Ministers), that I rise, not for the purpose of proposing any motion in*From a corrected edition, published by Murray, with notes, by the Right Reverend Prelate.275 a spirit of hostility to them, or to awaken any angry discussion on the subject to which my motion refers; on the contrary, my intention is—and I trust I shall be found to have realized that intention—so to deal with the subject as to satisfy the noble Viscount himself, that I have no other feeling than that which his Majesty's Government must have in common with me—I mean, a feeling for the real good of the mass of the population of Ireland, so far as their real good may be affected by the influence of education. In moving, as I shall do, for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the practical results of the operations of the Board of Commissioners of National Education in Ireland, I do that which by no means implies the slightest censure on the Government, though I admit it implies some suspicion that the Commissioners have not conducted this great undertaking in a manner in which it was desirable it should be conducted. Still, my Lords, as his Majesty's Ministers cannot be held responsible for Commissioners acting under the authority of the Crown, more than can any other noble Lords of this House, they need not consider a motion of inquiry into the conduct of such Commissioners as in any degree directed against themselves. They are bound, most undoubtedly—and I know they will feel themselves called upon to act accordingly—they are bound to defend all officers acting under the authority of the Crown when they are attacked, if they think the attack unfair, or if there be not such a primâ facie case made out as calls on the accused party to answer it.
My Lords, if the charges I am about to make, and if the doubts I am about to express, of the fitness and propriety of the continuance of the system in its present state, shall be found to be frivolous and vexatious, then, I entreat your Lordships to dismiss it at once. If, on the other hand, it shall appear that I have a grave case of complaint, and that I tender sufficient evidence to support it, I trust, under those circumstances, his Majesty's Government will consider that they, above all the Members of this House, are especially called upon to promote this inquiry. My Lords, I have no right to doubt that such are the intentions of his Majesty's Government; I have no right to doubt that they wish to give all possible publicity to the working of this system. They have always 276 consented to the production of all Returns that have been asked relating to it, (with one exception, indeed, when they objected to a Return of the comparative number of Protestant and Roman Catholic children attending these schools; they have always expressed their wish and desire to assist in the development of all its operations; and, believing them to be sincere in the desires and views which they have often expressed on this subject, I will say, in the outset, that I will not call upon your Lordships for a vote against the Government, if, after I have entered into this inquiry, they disapprove of my motion. I trust this declaration, on my part, will satisfy your Lordships, that I entertain no views hostile to his Majesty's Government, in bringing forward this subject—that I present myself to you on the present occasion, only because I am convinced that in doing so I am discharging my duty as a humble minister of that religion, which it is my bounden duty to advance as far as my poor ability will permit.
In order that noble Lords may see that it is not my wish or intention to proceed hostilely, I will beg leave to read the terms of the motion with which I shall conclude. They are these:—"That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire what progress the new system of education in Ireland has made towards effecting the main purpose for which it was established—namely, 'the combined education of the poorer classes of the community in that country, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, resting upon religious instruction;' to inquire whether the funds intrusted to the Commissioners have been judiciously administered for the attainment of that object; and whether experience of the practical result of their labours has rendered it safe and advisable to adopt the recommendations contained in their Second Report, for the great extension of the system there in contemplated."
Your Lordships will perceive, that in the first part of my motion I have stated the purpose for which this system was established—namely, the combined education of the poorer classes of the community, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, resting on religious instruction. I have done so on the authority of the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons of 1828, which Report is expressly stated in Lord Stanley's letter to be the authority on which the present 277 plan is based. It concludes by saying,—
"It has been the object of your Committee to discover a mode in which the combined education of Protestant and Roman Catholic may be carried on, resting upon religious instruction, but free from the suspicion of proselytism."
This then, I say, has been the object which has always been avowed; and I think that it will hardly be denied that the time is now arrived for endeavouring to ascertain how far this object has been accomplished. My Lords, when the system was first set on foot, it was avowed, on all sides, to be an experiment; such was the judgment of it, expressed both in this and in the other House of Parliament, and such was the language used, and the opinion stated, by one of the most influential and most distinguished Members of the Commission—I mean the Archbishop of Dublin. That most reverend Prelate always admitted that the system was an experiment, and he did not hesitate to avow his suspicion that the experiment would not succeed. Well, then, my Lords, there having been no inquiry into the result of this experiment up to the present day, this consideration alone would justify my present motion. But independently of this, I think I shall be enabled to state grounds sufficient, why that inquiry should now take place.
The Second Report of the Commission, which I hold in my hand, and which was' laid on your Lordships' Table at the end of the last Session, and printed, I believe, during the recess, contemplates such an enormous extension, both of the means and the sphere of action of the Commissioners, that it really becomes the bounden duty of your Lordships, and of all who are concerned in giving effect to the recommendation, to pause and weigh well the grounds on which you are called upon to proceed, and the extent to which you are invited to go. It can hardly be necessary for me to remind your Lordships of the enormous extent of the demands made by these Commissioners; they require very large sums of money for nine successive years, and then a perpetual allowance of 200,000l. per annum. I do not mean to say, this is not the place in which any man would say that the expenditure of that or any other sum would be too large, if it should have the effect of giving religious peace to the people of Ireland, and afford the mass of the popu- 278 lation of that country sound religious education. It is because I think that religious peace cannot be obtained,—that sound religious education cannot be afforded,—by a continuance of the system on which the Commissioners have hitherto acted, that I feel it to be my duty, before you come to consider the vote which is to be proposed for carrying on this system, to call upon your Lordships to take a view of the whole case, and by a Select Committee to consider the course which you may deem it necessary to pursue.
Your Lordships are aware that while the Commissioners demand this large sum of money, they avow that their purpose is to take upon themselves the education of the great mass of the population of Ireland. They expressly say—
"We think that the new system may be gradually extended through the agency of such teachers as we have contemplated, until its benefits are enjoyed by the great mass of the population."
Now, my Lords, I must, in the first place, say that I think it hardly possible—although the Report bears the signatures of every member of the Commission—that it could have been unanimously agreed to. It appears to me hardly possible, for instance, that the most reverend Prelate (the Archbishop of Dublin) could have assented to that recommendation. And why do I say this? My Lords, it may be in the recollection of your Lordships, that when the system was first proposed, it excited feelings of great apprehension and alarm in the minds of most of the clergy of Ireland, and especially of the clergy of the diocese of Dublin, who addressed their diocesan in terms of respectful but strong remonstrance against it. To this address the most reverend Prelate, with firmness and with dignity—but with the most entire disposition to conciliate every feeling of distrust that might have arisen in their minds,—returned an answer on the 7th of March, 1832, in which he said—
"From all that I have been able to learn, I have been convinced that no one description of school can be the best adapted to all parishes alike."
The most reverend Prelate was here addressing himself to the subject of the different circumstances and character of these parishes, and the different religious persuasions of their population. He then goes on to say—
"The rector of each parish must be left 279 to judge what system is best suited to his own; and I am very far from wishing that a more imperfect system should be introduced in any place where one intrinsically better can be made available."
The most reverend Prelate considered that in all cases, where it was possible, they ought to afford religious instruction: on the principles of the Church of England; on which subject some doubts appear to have been entertained respecting his views; and he goes on to explain himself thus:—
"I never understood that it was intended to substitute such (national) schools for those on a more perfect system in any place where such should have been introduced and found to succeed, but to rescue from hopeless ignorance those who (whether by their own fault or otherwise) could not be brought to avail themselves of any better plan."*
That was a very modest expression of opinion in favour of the new system on the part of the most reverend Prelate, and I have no doubt he was quite sincere in giving it; I have, also, no doubt he would at that time have been astonished if he had been told that, within a short period, Parliament would be called upon, in part on his authority, to come forward and adopt this as an universal system. I am sure the most reverend Prelate would have so felt. Still, however, I admit that if it has been found, by the experience of the last four years, that the system has worked so well as to prove it to be the best plan which can be adopted, then, indeed, there has been no inconsistency in the conduct of the most reverend Prelate, even if he has cordially joined in the recent Report. But the question of the success of the system is that which is at issue.
The Report states that there shall be 6,00.0 schools, and as many teachers, in Ireland—that this number is required for*The following passage (p. 23) is still more remarkable:—"Where schools on the Kildare-place plan, or on one intrinsically better, are found to work well, and to embrace the great mass of the population, I should be truly sorry to see an inferior one substituted. But in the many districts where the case is otherwise, it does seem to me highly desirable, that at least an attempt should be made to impart some useful knowledge to those who would otherwise either be left in hopeless ignorance, or would learn more evil than good, from, perhaps, some hedge-schoolmasters, who may be secretaries to a band of incendiaries,280 the purpose of affording education to the great mass of the population. Now, my Lords, let the House recollect that the establishment of a system of education, resting on religious instruction, is that for which the Board was appointed—that religious instruction was declared to be the very foundation and basis of the whole plan; and, therefore, if it has failed in that, it has failed at the very root. I entreat your Lordships, then, to observe how the Commissioners have provided for religious instruction in these schools, to be established throughout Ireland. There are to be, as I have said, 5,000 teachers, and these teachers are to receive a very advanced species of education. I will beg leave to read to your Lordships in what manner, and on what subjects, these schoolmasters are to be instructed:—
"In order to secure teachers of skill and intelligence, we propose establishing five professorships in our training institution:—1. Of the Art of Teaching and Conducting Schools. 2. Of Composition, English Literature, History, Geography, and Political Economy. 3 Of Natural History, in all its branches. 4. Of Mathematics and Mathematical Science. 5. Of Mental Philosophy, including the elements of Logic and Rhetoric."
My Lords, these are most important subjects, certainly, and cannot be too much encouraged in their proper order. I quarrel not now with the attempt to give this wide circle of knowledge to the schoolmasters of Ireland. I only contend that the main object is not provided for, and that the plan of the Commissioners is not likely to attain that object. For it must be observed, that in the Report of the Commissioners, when speaking of the qualification of schoolmasters, there is a total absence of anything like a reference to religion; for anything that appears to the contrary they may be atheists. No mode is pointed out by which the slightest particle of religious knowledge can be obtained by them. It may, perhaps, be said that they will partake of the general means of religious instruction given by the Board, in all the schools under their control; but if this be said, I must lake leave to deny the correctness of the statement. The only principle on which the Board rests its expectation of adequate religious instruction being given in its schools, is the duty of the several pastors of congregations in the different parishes to attend, 281 to the teaching of their respective flocks. But how can such pastors contrive to instruct those who were formerly under their charge, when they are removed to the normal school of Dublin, or of some other great city, or county-town in Ireland? My Lords, it is impossible. These 5,000 schoolmasters will be left to pick up their religion as they can; and I must say, this is the first time that the people of this country were ever asked to believe, that children can be taught the only truths, which it is really essential for them to know,—true morality, and true religion,—by those who are not deeply imbued with the principles of religion themselves.
But these teachers are not merely to benefit the people of Ireland "through the schools committed to their charge. Identified in interest with the state, and therefore anxious to promote a spirit of obedience to lawful authority, we are confident, (says the Report), that they would prove a body of the utmost value and importance in promoting civilization and peace."
My Lords, a higher authority than these Commissioners has commanded a different course to be pursued in training men to loyalty. "Fear God, and honour the King," says a book which, whatever the Commissioners may think of it, your Lordships are not so liberal as to discard. My Lords, the "Fear of God" must go first, for no man will honour the King, no man will be loyal or faithful to his earthly governors, who does not fear God,—who does not honour the King because he fears God? And yet there is not the slightest care taken, I repeat, to teach these teachers their only true lesson of wisdom—nay, there is not the slightest security taken against the appointment of the most godless youths in Ireland to be teachers in these schools.
It is singular enough, but it does so happen, that about the time when the Report of the Commissioners was presented to this House, the Minister of Public Instruction in France directed a circular letter to be addressed to the rectors of the academies in that country; and it is not a little mortifying to observe, how much more importance the French Minister attaches to religion, as an essential part of education, than has been ascribed to it by these Commissioners. Yet this was not wont to be the case. This country was not wont to be inferior to France in reverence for religion, nor in zeal for the 282 promotion of its sacred cause. My Lords, M. Guizot says—
"It has been sometimes thought, that to succeed in securing to families of different creeds the reality and the freedom of religious instruction, it was sufficient to substitute for the special lessons and practices of the several religious denominations, some lessons and practices susceptible in appearance of being applied to all religions. Such measures would not answer the real wish either of families or of the law. They would tend to banish all positive and effective religious instruction from the schools, in order to substitute one that is merely vague and abstract."
Such are the observations of M. Guizot on the subject of a generalized religious instruction in schools. But then follows a passage of greater importance, tending to show the feeling which the French minister entertains, as to the absolute necessity of giving a sound religious education to those whose duty it will be to instruct others,—a point upon which the Commissioners, I grieve to say, are altogether silent. The passage runs thus—
"If the reality and the freedom of the religious instruction of the children ought to be thus secured, in all schools, and for all creeds, with still stronger reason ought the same care to be taken for the religious instruction of the teachers themselves, who are to be placed at the head of these schools."
My Lords, I should be glad to hear any noble Lord get up, and say, he has found a passage like this in any part of the Report of these Commissioners. Alas! there is not a single syllable in it of the kind. I am sure, therefore, that your Lordships will feel that the recommendation of these Commissioners, as far as concerns one great and essential particular, the religious instruction of the teachers, is not only defective, (that would be to say little), but positively vicious. Without religion, all other knowledge can only lead, as it always has led, the corrupt nature of man to a more frightful excess of wickedness. In short, my Lords, by omitting to provide for the effective religious instruction of the teachers, the Commissioners have neglected their first and most obvious duty.
On looking to the grounds on which the Commissioners rest their demands for an accession to their funds, and the extension of their place, I find them declaring—
283 "That the system has already been very generally adopted under the auspices both of Protestant and Roman Catholic clergymen, and of Protestant and Roman Catholic laymen…..That it has proved generally beneficial and acceptable to Protestants and Roman Catholics according to their respective wants."
They state, in particular, that no fewer than 140 clergymen of the Established Church, 180 of the Presbyterian persuasion, and 1,397 Roman Catholic clergymen, have been among the applicants for their aid in the establishment of new schools. Now I have taken the trouble to investigate this matter, and I find by the Returns which have been laid before the House, that with respect to the 140 persons described as clergymen of the Established Church who have given in their adhesion to the plan of the Commissioners, there are, in fact, only 80.* If your Lordships look to the Return, which was obtained, with great difficulty, at the end of the last Session, and then only so obtained in consequence of something very like a threat, which was held out by a Noble Baron, not now in this country,—that it would be necessary to make the authority of this House felt, if the Return was any longer withheld—your Lordships will find, that instead of there being 140 applicants from among clergymen of the Established Church, there are in fact only 80. The same persons are registered over and over again, in consequence of their having applied for more than one school. There are two clergymen (I do not mention the fact to their disparagement, for I have no right to suppose them to be not sincere and zealous in the cause), but there are two clergymen belonging to a parish in the diocese of Derry, who have applied for so many schools, that their names are reckoned as thirteen—nearly a tenth of the whole number! And these individuals are the rector and curate of a parish in which there is by no means a large Protestant population. I wish most heartily that the case stopped here, but it does not. I am quite sure that there will be in this House no special pleading in justification of the statement of the Commissioners, on the ground of their speaking of 140 sig-* Eighty-eight names are given in the return. But eight of these do not apply to any of the schools specified in the other return previously made, and are, all of them, open to objection.284 natures, and of their being, in fact, 140 signatures of clergymen, though not of 140 clergymen. I am quite sure, I repeat, that such a subterfuge would be spurned by every one of your Lordships. I am quite sure the noble Duke at the head of the Commission would not wish that such an answer should be made to the charge; but if it be made, I can then, in reply, refer to another part of the very same Report. My Lords, if you will turn to the Abstract of the Table, No. 1, at the end of the Report, you will find a statement of the number of persons, clerical and lay, who have signed applications for aid in founding those schools. Out of the applicants for 1,106 schools at present in operation, it is expressly and in terms stated, that there are 117 clergymen of the Established Church; and that for the 191 not yet in operation, but building, twenty-three of the applicants are clergymen of the Established Church. Now, these numbers of 117 and twenty-three, make up exactly 140. This, then, is the number of clerical applicants stated by the Board, though there are in truth only eighty, the signatures of the same persons, in many instances, being counted over and over again. I repeat, therefore, that this statement by the Commissioners, of the number of Protestant clergymen under whose auspices the system is said to have been adopted, is not only not true, but contrary to the truth.
But, my Lords, even here the "matter does not rest. I have something still to say, which I think your Lordships will consider far more surprising. Your Lordships, I am sure, will bear in mind what took place when this system was originally introduced. I hold in my hand Lord Stanley's letter, which was the foundation of the system, and which contains the principles laid down for the guidance of the Commissioners. That noble Lord says:—
"As one of the main objects must be to unite in one system children of different creeds, and as much must depend upon the co-operation of the resident clergy, the Board will probably look with peculiar favour upon applications proceeding either from—1st. The Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy of the Parish; or 2nd. One of the clergymen, and a certain number of parishioners professing the opposite creed; or 3rd. Parishioners of both denominations."
285 Now, these are three different classes, and, as the Commissioners present three classes of applicants in their Report, we are bound to suppose that they intend their classes to be the same as Lord Stanley's—strictly the same; the first class being of schools for which application was made by the resident parochial clergymen of the different denominations. The Commissioners state that the number of applicants of the first class is 140; I have reduced them to eighty, and I shall now proceed to reduce them a little more.
My Lords, circumstances occurred which excited in my mind a strong suspicion of the inaccuracy of the Board in this particular, and I was induced to take some pains in corresponding not only with friends in Ireland, but also with other most respectable individuals to whom I was before a stranger, in order to ascertain the real facts of the case. The results of that investigation I will now take the liberty of stating to your Lordships.
I find that several of the clergymen stated, in the Report of the 25th of March of last year, to be applicants to the Board, have been dead these two or three years,—that several others have withdrawn,—that several others have ceased to have any connexion with the parishes with which they were concerned when the schools were established,—that many had never any connexion with the parishes at all,—and that of the existence of at least one no traces can be found;—in short, I pledge myself, if your Lordships will grant me this Committee, to show, by incontrovertible evidence, that the number of 140 will dwindle down to 40 at most. From one clergyman I have received a letter, stating that, on seeing the name of an individual printed among the applicants for a school in the parish of which the writer was rector, he wrote to him, inquiring how he came to apply for the erection of a school in a parish with which he had nothing whatever to do. The answer was,—
"I happened to be visiting in your parish, and put my name to the application on being told that my doing so did not imply any connexion with the place, or impose any future responsibility. I signed it merely as an individual, and not as the clergyman of, or belonging to, the parish."
This shows the sort of artifices to which recourse has been had, not by the Commissioners, but by partisans of the system.
286 I will not weary your Lordships by going into many cases in remote parts of the country of which there is a great variety, and some of which are very extraordinary. In one instance, the individual described as a clergyman bad discarded not only the dress, but the address, of a clergyman; he registered his vote for the county as an esquire, and lost his vote for the false description. My Lords, this worthy applicant to the Board is counted three times, having applied for three schools. He is three of the 140. Noble Lords may testify surprise; but if the noble Viscount will grant me the Committee, I will prove everything I have stated. Meanwhile I will say, that I find this person, once a clergyman, now a layman, styled an esquire in the Report of the Commission for inquiring into the State of the Poor of Ireland in the last year. I do not wish to mention the name of this person publicly, but if the noble Viscount asks me for it I will give it him, whether he grants me the Committee or not.—There is another person in the Return, who I will not say lost his gown, but who had been removed from his cure, twenty years ago, for some act of great misconduct, and afterwards, on endeavouring to thrust himself into active ministry, was removed by the Bishop. That person has applied for two schools, and he is two of the 140. In some other cases the names put down are gross forgeries.
But, my Lords, there is one case peculiarly worthy of remark. For where did it occur? In a remote part of Ireland? No, my Lords, in the city of Dublin itself. The name of Robertson, a supposed clergyman, is given in an application of the first class for the establishment of a school in the parish of St. Peter's, which is part of the corps of the archdeaconry of Dublin. Now, the archdeacon himself has written to me, stating not only that there is no such clergyman among his curates, or connected with him, but that he absolutely does not know the name—and another friend informs me, that he has inquired diligently, but inquired in vain—-for no one knows of the existence of such a person. Can this have been a mistake on the part of the Commissioners? I have no doubt they thought this person belonged to Dublin-—but did they believe he was a resident clergyman in the parish for which he applied? The very circumstance of their not having ascertained the fact is, to my mind, a clear and. manifest proof that they 287 do not take the trouble to make the inquiries which they ought to deem necessary. Their not having done so in this case, in which the proofs lay at their own door, shows that they have not considered it to be a part of their duty to do so at all;—in short, my Lords, I say, confidently, that as the Commissioners have not thought proper to ascertain the authenticity of the signatures to these applications, they have neglected their most obvious duty—nay, they have pursued a course which was manifestly likely to provoke, and has, in fact, provoked, very disgusting fraud.
My Lords, the case which I have just mentioned occurred, I repeat, within the city of Dublin, within the jurisdiction, therefore, and under the eye, of one of the Commissioners—the Archbishop of Dublin—who had it in his power most easily, by merely looking into his Diocese Book, to ascertain,—and I should have thought he would have felt it to be his duty to ascertain—whether the application for this school in Dublin, professing to be made by a clergyman of the Church of England, was really made by the clergyman of the parish, before he permitted his own name to be affixed to this Report; much more, before he came to Parliament, claiming increased means for the extension of the system, and founding his claim on the alleged number of clergymen of the Church of England who support it.
But this has not been confined to the city of Dublin. Within the very same diocese, in a parish very near the country residence of a noble and learned Lord (Lord Plunket), the parish of Delgany, a similar case has occurred. Two clergymen of the Church of England are stated as applicants for a national school there. My Lords, I have the happiness of being acquainted with the clergyman of that parish (the reverend Mr. Cleaver), and believing that he was ardently opposed to this unscriptural plan of education, I requested a common friend to inquire of him how it happened that two of his curates had applied for a national school to be established in his parish. "Two of my curates!" said this gentleman, "it is impossible. I know nothing of any such school." and then came an explanation. The names of those two applicants were Colbourne and Morrison. Mr. Cleaver assured my friend that they had nothing 288 whatever to do with his parish. One of them, indeed, had no pastoral connexion with any parish at all, and the other was resident on his living in a distant part of Ireland, coming to the neighbourhood of Delgany only as an occasional visitor. But the case does not end here. Mr. Morrison, finding that his name had been put forth as one of the applicants for this school, immediately wrote to Mr. Cleaver, assuring him that he never had signed any such application, and that he wondered who it was that had had the audacity to put his name to such a document. The other gentleman is now in Italy, and, therefore, whether his name was forged or not cannot be ascertained. Be this as it may, it is enough for my argument that neither he nor Mr. Morrison had any connexion with the parish of Delgany. Yet their names are made to swell the list of clerical applicants to the Board, and that, too, on account of a parish in the diocese of Dublin, though the Archbishop of Dublin must have known that they had nothing whatever to do either with the parish or with the diocese, and had no right whatever, therefore, to appear as applicants of the first class in this Report.
So much for the clerical applicants of the Established Church. The number of Presbyterian clergymen stated to be applicants is 180. My Lords, I have taken the trouble of examining, and I find that though the number of applications is 180, the number of applicants is about 90. But this is not all. I wrote to a distinguished minister of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland—a man of very high character; and from him I have received a report, by which it appears that many of these names are of persons not Presbyterians—in short, he reduced the number to about seventy. Without, however, taking this into account, and without any evidence in Committee, but upon the mere showing of these Returns, instead of 180 clerical applicants of the Presbyterian Church, there are, in truth, only ninety. Now, these misstatements—this, at least, will not be deemed too strong a term to apply to them,;—are not merely otiose and inoperative declarations; for the Commissioners who make them say, that it is because they have 140 applicants, who are clergymen of the Church of England; and because they have 180 applicants, who are clergymen of the Presbyterian 289 Church in Ireland, that they are justified in saying that their system has been "very generally adopted under the auspices of Protestant as well as Roman Catholic clergymen;" nay, to "have been found generally beneficial and acceptable to Protestants and Roman Catholics, according to their respective wants." Will your Lordships allow them any longer to claim this as a ground upon which to rest their demand for an enormous increase of their funds, and an unlimited extension of their operations? before you do so, I am quite persuaded that when you are solemnly assured, that in Committee I shall be able to prove the facts, I have now stated, you will not refuse the inquiry which I ask.
My Lords, I will now trespass upon your Lordships with some statements on another part of the subject,—I will endeavour to show to you from the disbursement of the funds of the Board, what has been their success in satisfying the people of Ireland, of both Churches alike—Protestant and Roman Catholics.
There were, at the time this Report was made, 1,106 schools in operation; and your Lordships are told by the Commissioners, that these schools are "found to be generally beneficial and acceptable to the members of the different religious communions in Ireland, according to their respective wants." Now, it appears that of these 1,106 schools, 713 have been applied for by Roman Catholic priests alone, without any other clerical applicants whatever. The clergy of the Church of England, alone, have applied for nineteen but of these, nine only are applied for by those who are resident parochial clergy of the parish. Your Lordships will therefore perceive that as 713 to nine such is the comparative approbation of the Roman Catholic priests and clergy of the Church of England of this system. The Roman Catholic priests have received 5,5251.18s. 3½d. for building; the resident parochial clergy of the Church of England have received, under this head, nothing. The Roman Catholic Clergy have received for fittings-up 4,571l. 0s. 3d.; those of the Church of England 29l. 5s. l0d. The Roman Catholic priests have received in salaries to teachers 6,5871.; the parochial resident clergy of the Church of England have received only 66l. The Roman Catholic priests have received for school requisites 2,586l. the parochial 290 resident clergy of the Church of England, 261. the Presbyterian clergy alone have applied for 36 schools, and have obtained 145l. for building, 155l. 8s. for fittings-up, and 292l. for salaries.
But it does appear that in some instances the clergy of the Church of England have applied in conjunction with the Roman Catholic priests. There are 124 schools for which the clergy of the two churches have joined in their applications. These have received 811l. for building; 502l. for fittings-up; 1,286l. for salaries; and 334l. for school-requisites. But of these, fifty-six only have been applied for by the resident parochial clergy of the Church—those whose co-operation is deemed, in Lord Stanley's letter, necessary for the perfect carrying on of the system these have received for building 206l., for fittings-up 336l., for salaries 719l., and something for school-requisites.—There are, 110 schools, for which Presbyterian clergymen have joined in application with Roman Catholic priests; receiving for building 725l. 19s. 2d., for fittings-up 624l. 10s. From these, however, deductions should be made on account of those who have withdrawn from connexion with the Board, or who are not really Presbyterian clergymen; the exact number of these is not known.—There are fifty-seven, schools in operation, for which Roman Catholic priests have been joined by Roman Catholic laymen only; receiving for building 220l., for fittings-up 384l. 4s. lid.—There are twenty-four schools under the superintendence of nunneries, monasteries, or religious houses; receiving for building 517l., for fittings-up 389l. 6s. l0d.
So much for the schools already in operation. But there are 191 cases of schools now building, and not yet in operation, in which the difference in favour of the Roman Catholics is far more inordinate than in the others. The applicants for these 191 schools have received for building 18,343l. 15s. 5d.; 132 have been applied for by Roman Catholic priests without any other clerical applicants, and have received for building-13,341l. 8s. 4d., two have been applied for by clergymen of the church without other clerical applicants, and have received for building 199l.; in neither case was the applicants the resident Minister of the parish. Three have been applied for by Presbyterian clergymen without other 291 clerical applicants, and have received for building 561.13s. 4d. There are eighteen for which clergymen of the Church have joined Roman Catholic priests, and received for building 1,2271. 7s.; of these, ten only have been applied for by the resident parochial ministers, and have received for building 7071. 7s. There are thirteen for which Presbyterian clergymen have joined with Roman Catholic priests, and received for building 1,2141. 2s. 6d. There are fifteen for which Presbyterian and Roman Catholic laymen have applied and received for building 1,5581. 7s. 6d.; there have been three applied for by Protestant laymen alone, and have received for building 212l. 18s. 8d.; there have been five applied for by Roman Catholic laymen alone, and have received for building 5441. 1s. 8d.
So much for the distribution of the funds of the Board—so much for the proof thence derived of the system being generally beneficial, and acceptable to Protestants and Roman Catholics alike, in proportion to their respective numbers and wants.
But I must not rest this part of my case here. It may be said, that this is only a proof that the clergy of one persuasion are well disposed towards the system, while those of the other persuasion are determined against it. [The Duke of Leinster—Hear, hear!] I am not surprised to hear that cheer; it is very natural, coming from the noble Duke; but I must state that the scheme was not originally introduced merely as suiting the inclinations of one party in preference to those of the other; but, it was avowedly introduced as a scheme intended and designed to be equally beneficial and equally satisfactory to both. My Lords, this it is which makes the acceptance of the scheme by the different parties to be the fair test of its success. A scheme set on foot professedly favourable to persons of one religious persuasion, will, of course, have applicants only or chiefly on that one side, and that in proportion to the degree in which the persons of that persuasion consider it to be favourable to them. But this system of education in Ireland professes to be a national system; it is maintained by the national purse, and undertakes to meet the wants and the wishes of a whole nation. When, therefore, it is repudiated by one great section of that nation, it is manifest that the scheme has failed.
292 It may, however, be said that there is a violent and unreasonable prejudice against it on the part of the Protestant clergy. Nay, the noble Viscount at the head of his Majesty's Government, the other night, expressly charged the Protestant clergy with bigotry or fanaticism for rejecting the system. "If the bigotry or fanaticism of one party," said the noble Lord, "made them refuse to avail themselves of the scheme offered to them, that was no reason why the benefit of it should not be extended to others." But, in order to enable the noble Viscount to make that statement, he must show, first, that the real tendency of the system is beneficial to both—fair and equal to both. Now, my Lords, it is notorious that this scheme, in its very outset, started with a declaration that the Bible must be excluded from the schools at the time of united instruction. Why? Because the Roman Catholic clergy did not like it; because, on conscientious grounds, they objected to a scriptural education being attempted to be given to Roman Catholic children. This was expressly called "a vital defect" in the former systems of instruction, supported by the public funds. But, my Lords, is it not very conceivable, that conscientious men on the other side may entertain objections—and I am bigot and fanatic enough to avow that they appear to me very reasonable objections—to the system actually set on foot, because the Bible is not included? Surely, it is a little hard for them to be condemned and branded with the reproach of bigotry and fanaticism,—very awkward and unpopular phrases, in these times especially,—for adhering to their consciences, in spite, I will say, of a degree of temptation to the contrary, which has rarely been met with equal resistance. For, allow me, my Lords, to ask the noble Viscount, what but conscience could have induced the Protestant clergy of Ireland to abstain from gratifying, at once, the Government and the Roman Catholic people, and sparing their own miserably impoverished purse, by applying to the National Board for assistance in support of their schools? My Lords, it is quite notorious that this was a sure and adequate means to obtain the favour of Government in Ireland. When, therefore, persecution in the fiercest form was directed against the clergy of that country, and when they did not take this easy and gainful course to check it in its full career, 293 it is impossible that anything but the most exemplary and conscientious adherence to their own sense of their own duty could have influenced them. My Lords, I honour that venerable body, the clergy of Ireland, more than I can express; but scarcely for anything do I honour them more, than for their conscientious adherence to what they believe, whether rightly or not, to be sound religious objections to this system. But I return to my proper subject.
My Lords, in looking to the operations of the Board, I find one class of cases to which I request your particular attention. It appears, by the return made to your Lordships, that of the number of schools in operation, twenty-four are under the superintendence of nunneries, monasteries, or other religious bodies, and that these schools have received more aid from the Board than all the aid given to the applications from the parochial clergy of the Established Church alone. Now, I will venture to put this matter to the candour of the noble Viscount and his friends—for I am perfectly sure that their liberality does not go so far, as to expect the clergy of the Established Church, or the laity of that church, to send Protestant children to be taught by monks and nuns in these schools—I am quite sure that they must see that the very circumstance of these schools being under such managers, is, in effect, an exclusion of Protestant children from them. I put it, therefore, to their candour, whether a single instance of this sort would not be a violation of the principle upon which this system professes to proceed; yet we have seen that the Board admits no fewer than twenty-four such instances; and I here promise, if the noble Duke who cheered me a little while ago, will prevail upon his noble Friend to grant this Committee, that I will undertake to double the number of those twenty-four exhibited in the Return. My Lords, I am ready to produce an individual of high character, integrity, and accurate observation, who has himself ascertained the existence of nine others not included in the Return, and is willing to testify to that effect, on his oath, before any Committee which your Lordships may appoint. Nor is this a solitary instance. I will produce other witnesses ready to prove other cases of the same kind. I also pledge myself to prove, by the sworn testimony of several persons of the highest respectability, who 294 may defy contradiction, that in those schools under the direction of religious communities, into which two or three stray Protestant children may find their way, there is exhibited to their view that which Protestants are taught to consider—and on the soundest principles consider—the grossest idolatry.
If the Committee shall be granted, I am prepared with evidence to show, that in one of the schools under the superintendence of a monk, there has been erected an altar; that for more than two years the service of the mass has been performed there during school-hours, and in the presence of the half-dozen Protestant children who may have been induced to attend the school. The clergyman of the parish in which this took place brought it to the attention of one of the commissioners of Public Instruction, who undertook to represent it to the Board. No doubt that gentleman fulfilled his undertaking, for subsequently an order came down from the Board to remove this altar. But, my Lords, it is necessary for me to state, that before this representation was made to the board, one or other of the inspectors had been frequently there; and, if he had inspected anything, he must have seen this altar, and, if he had inquired about anything he must have been informed of its use. Be this as it may, after the representation to the commissioners of Public Instruction, an order came down for the removal of this altar; but some time afterwards the curate of the parish, to his utter surprise, saw the altar still continue, notwithstanding its prohibition, and on asking the superintendent "How comes this?" he was told by the leading monk, that he had got the special permission of the board to keep the altar in the school till the new Roman Catholic chapel, then building in the same parish, should be ready to receive it, the outer walls of which were only at this time erected.
I can produce another casein which, on the Board having granted a considerable sum for the fitting up of a national school for boys, under the management of a monastic establishment, the money had been applied in discharge of the expenses of building a nunnery; and, in another instance, I can prove, on the testimony of Commissioners of Public Instruction—of those who are thought worthy of the confidence of his Majesty's Ministers—and 295 that, too in a case, in which a Roman Catholic Bishop was concerned—that the sum of 100l., granted by the Board for the purposes of a school, was abstracted from the uses for which it had been granted, and applied towards the building of a Roman Catholic chapel.
My Lords, your Lordships will not imagine that I mention these facts, now, as instances of the carelessness of the Board in dispensing the money intrusted to their care. The money-consideration is the smallest part of the case; for let it be remembered, that money cannot be misapplied in this case without leading to far worse consequences than mere waste.
But these schools have not only been instruments of extorting funds for promoting the purposes of the Roman Catholic religion, but they have also been made the theatres of the coarsest and fiercest Roman Catholic agitation. I can prove, that, in one of these places, a dinner was given to a person whose very presence implies agitation—to Mr. O'Connell. In another of these schools a dinner was given to the arch-agitator of the West—I mean the so-called Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. M'Hale. In another parish, the master of the national school went forth at the head of an organized body—organized by him—in honour of this same Dr. M'Hale, and met him with banners, on which were inscribed the words "Liberty and Religion." Your Lordships will understand what was meant by the word—"Liberty," when you bear in mind that this took place immediately after Dr. M'Hale came fresh—I had almost said reeking—from the dinner of agitation at Tuam, adinner at which speeches were delivered, which in other times, I will leave to your Lordships to say whether better times, would have excited some curiosity on the part of his Majesty's Attorney-General.
My Lords, a clergyman residing in the parish, where the procession took place under the direction of the national schoolmaster, felt it his duty to make a representation on the subject to the Board; and he received an assurance that the matter should be inquired into. No inquiry, however, having been instituted, after an interval of several weeks, this gentleman renewed his remonstrance. After this second application, the Board, without the slightest notice to the clergyman, sent down an inspector; but unhappily, for want of notice, no witnesses were forth- 296 coming—those who could have proved the case were absent, and so off went the inspector, and no further notice was taken of the affair. Another complaint, on account of another act of misconduct; was made against the same schoolmaster; in reference to which the clergyman received from the Board a simple intimation, that there had been an inquiry by their inspector, and that they were satisfied. The clergyman did that which he felt due to himself and to common justice—he requested that he might see the Report made to them by the inspector; but the Commissioners refused to comply with this very reasonable demand. My Lords, on this case I must add one further particular. The complaint stated to the Board, that the schoolmaster charged with these offences was a man who had been dismissed from another employment for using treasonable, or at least seditious language to the coast-guards. He referred them to proof of this fact also; but to this they thought proper to pay no attention whatsoever.
I now proceed to a case which I am sure will appear to the House to be of a grave character, and one which makes me confident that I shall obtain the assistance of the noble Marquess near me (the Marquess of Lansdowne) in obtaining this Committee which I ask. I am assured, and I believe I can prove the fact, that in a national school built on the property of that noble Marquess, and under the patronage of the noble Marquess's agent, the boys, just after the execution of certain persons who had been tried and condemned by the special commission in Queen's County, were found writing these words as their copy—of course set them by the master—"God be with the poor fellows that were hanged at Mary borough." [A Noble Lord:—This might be a charitable wish.] My Lords, I hear that this might have been only a kind and charitable wish. Now, will the noble Lord who so loudly whispers this, or will any one of your Lordships gravely get up in his place and tell me, with a firm countenance, that he thinks it was so intended? Is there any one of your Lordships who is not sure that those words were put before those children to imbue their infant minds with feelings of disaffection to the law, to make them honour the men, who had justly suffered for their crimes, as martyrs; to teach them, from their earliest infancy, 297 to side with the violators of the law, to sympathize with them, and to regard the law itself as a system of tyranny and oppression.
My Lords, I will not trespass on your patience with any more particular cases, though many more I have, which I reserve for the Committee. The main point, after all, is this,—whether this system carries into effect the principle on which it professes to be founded,—whether, as is the declared object in the Report of the Committee of 1828, which Lord Stanley's letter directs the Commissioners to follow up,—the main question, I say, is, whether these schools give to the children of Ireland a combined education of Roman Catholics and Protestants, resting on religious instruction? My Lords, in proof of the affirmative, it is stated that certain lessons, extracted from the Scriptures, are constantly used in the schools. On a former occasion, I, and those who view this matter as I do, were reproached for not ascribing sufficient importance to these Scripture extracts, as part of the instruction of the Board's schools; but, my Lords, be the value of these extracts what it may (of that I shall say something presently), they are not commanded, but merely recommended to be used. And how far this recommendation is likely to avail, may be guessed from the declared opinion of Roman Catholic Prelates respecting Scriptural education. I recollect that Dr. Doyle declared to Parliament, that the use of Scripture in the instruction of children is radically wrong, and mischievous in itself. The united judgment of the Irish Roman Catholic Bishops, proclaimed to Parliament in their petition of 1824, is to the same effect. After this, your Lordships will judge whether it is probable that Dr. Murray, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, will very earnestly, or very sincerely recommend the use of these Scripture extracts. So far from being constantly used, the truth is, that in a large proportion of the country they are not used at all. They are kept to be shown to such strangers as may manifest any curiosity about the matter; but those who have examined them will tell you, that the very appearance of the books is a proof that in many instances they are not used. In Dublin, at one of the national schools, a monk, who was the manager, told a very respectable individual whom I am ready to pro- 298 duce, that they rejected these extracts with scorn. Nay, I go further: I am ready to show, that in schools under the immediate patronage of Dr. Murray, who professes to join in this recommendation, the Scripture lessons are not used.
And here, my Lords, I am reminded, that a few weeks ago, a noble and learned Lord (Lord Plunkett) was pleased to reproach me with being a false prophet, because, at the commencement of the Board's proceedings, I ventured to predict that no Scripture extracts would be ever used in these schools. My Lords, I plead guilty to the noble and learned Lord's charge. I certainly did make the prediction with which he now taunts me; but for making it I am not altogether without what the noble and learned Lord, at least, may consider something of an excuse. I ventured upon that prediction on the authority of the noble and learned Lord himself.
My Lords, I well remember, and your Lordships in general will not have forgotten, the eloquent and triumphant speech in which, some years ago, the noble and learned Lord called on this House, more especially on the reverend Prelates, who were seated on this Bench, to have confidence in Roman Catholics, so far at least to have confidence in them, as to believe them on their oaths. Now, when I ventured on that prediction, with the falsehood of which the noble and learned Lord reproaches me, I did what he called on your Lordships to do—I believed the declaration of a Roman Catholic Archbishop made upon his oath. In doing so, I own that I was wrong; I own that I have justly subjected myself to the taunt of the noble and learned Lord, and I promise him that I never again will offend in like manner. But true it is, my Lords, that I said, in 1832, that no Scripture extracts could be agreed upon by the different members of the Board. I said this, because I was sure that the Protestant Commissioners could not consent wholly to abandon the Protestant version of the Scripture, and adopt the Douay version in its place. On the other hand, I believed that the Roman Catholic Commissioners would admit of nothing but the. Douay version; therefore I said that no Scripture extracts could be agreed upon. I believed this, and ventured to predict t accordingly, because I knew, (I forget whether I then, stated such to be the 299 ground of my belief,) that Dr. Murray had so sworn before the Commissioners of Irish Education Inquiry in the year 1824. I have the Report of these Commissioners before me, and will read an extract from the evidence of Dr. Murray upon which I founded my prediction. He was asked,Supposing that portions of Scripture should be extracted in the words of the Protestant authorized version, for instance, would there be any objection to their being used equally by Protestant and Roman Catholic children?Dr. Murray's answer upon his oath was this:—I think that if any words attributed to our Saviour were given in any other form than that which is set down in the Douay version, an objection would he against it. As to extracts, if they are given as Scripture, it must be remembered that we have all along said we could not propose to the children anything as Scripture except what is taken from our own version.When Dr. Murray made this declaration, the Commissioners reminded him that, on a former occasion, he had spoken somewhat differently, that he had staled that no difficulty would arise in the arranging of a harmony on the part of the Roman Catholic clergy, and the Commissioners wished to know whether the making it a sine qua non that the harmony should be compiled from the Douay version in omnibus, appeared to be in accordance with that statement? Dr. Murray's answer was:—
"I expressed that as my opinion, without foreseeing all the difficulties which have since arisen."
Your Lordships will perceive that Dr. Murray here has positively sworn that after the difficulty had been brought to the attention of himself and the other Roman Catholic Bishops, they felt that they could not adopt the course proposed, because they could not permit anything to be exhibited as Scripture, except in the form in which it appeared in their own version. This, I repeat, he solemnly swore: he swore to the same effect, again and again; and because he did so, I believed that he would not and could not concur in any sort of Scripture extracts in these schools.
It will not be said that these Scripture extracts do not purport to be Scripture. The volume I hold in my hand is declared to contain the whole Gospel by St. Luke, accompanied by passages from other parts of Scripture.
300 And here, my Lords, I am compelled to make some remarks on these Scripture extracts, which do not apply to the Roman Catholic Commissioners alone.
My Lords, I repeat, and your Lordships will find it worthy of your notice, that the preface declares that this volume contains the whole Gospel of St. Luke. And yet, my Lords, I had not gone through three pages before I found a very considerable chasm, not in size but in importance, extending to ten verses only, I admit,—to ten verses of the 1st chapter of St. Luke, the 28th to the 37th inclusive. But this is a passage of the greatest importance in the estimation of all Christians—aye, my Lords, in the estimation of all who call themselves Christians. Even those persons who thought fit to set forth a book, some years ago, which they facetiously entitled, "An improved version of the New Testament," even they felt the importance of this passage very strongly, and they showed how strongly they felt it, by leaving it out altogether. They left out the whole of the 1st and 2nd chapters of St. Luke, and the 1st and 2nd chapters of St. Matthew, because they thought proper to disbelieve the great doctrine contained in them. Now, my Lords, £ have no hesitation in saying that this part of the 1st chapter of St. Luke, which the Commissioners have left out, is one of the most important passages—perhaps I might say the most important passage—in the Gospel of that Evangelist. It is so in the estimation of our Church, because it gives more fully than is elsewhere given in the Gospels, the account of the incarnation of our blessed Lord. I have already shown, that it is most important in the judgment of the Unitarians also. My Lords, we are told that one of the Commissioners is an Unitarian, and it has been suggested, that this was a concession to his peculiar feelings, which perhaps coincided with those of the authors of the improved translation. For one, I do not believe it. I do not believe that that gentleman sought or wished such a concession. I will not believe that the Unitarian Commissioner is one who maintains all the absurdities and wickedness which some other Unitarians may maintain. But this having been suggested as a probable reason for the omission, I notice it merely in order to declare that I do not believe it. To the Roman Catholics it is a passage, of all others, the most venerated. It is a pas- 301 sage on which they found, and by which they justify, the worship offered up by them to the Virgin Mary, which worship is set forth in the books sanctioned by the Roman Catholic members of the Board, in terms, I need not say, of the highest and most solemn import. In short, my Lords, it is certain, and undeniable, that, in the eyes of all these Commissioners, this is a most important passage, and yet they left it out. Why was this? My Lords, the reason is not very difficult to be discovered. It is simply and merely, because it was impossible for the Protestant and Roman Catholic Commissioners to agree in translating one leading word in the passage;—the word addressed by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, which the Roman Catholics render "full of grace," and found upon it, I repeat, that worship of the Virgin which we deem idolatrous. The Protestants, on the other hand, reject that translation; both because it is not faithful to the original, and also because the phrase "full of grace" is applied in Scripture only to our Lord himself. They could not, therefore, adopt it instead of their own literal version of the word, "highly-favoured." And as neither party could give way, the difficulty was got rid of by the very obvious, though, considering the declaration in the preface, the not very honest, expedient, of striking out the whole passage, and substituting an unauthorized summary of four lines in its place.
My Lords, I need not trouble your Lordships or myself with any argument to prove, that the omission of this passage amounts to a mutilation of the Scriptures; but if I required authority for such a judgment, I should find it in the emphatic words of one of the Commissioners themselves, in the answer of the most reverend Prelate, the Archbishop of Dublin, to an address of the clergy of his diocese in the year 1832, in which they had deemed it necessary to remonstrate with him on the proposed Scriptural extracts, then much the subject of discussion as mutilations of Scripture. The passage of the answer to which I refer is in these words:—A mutilated book means, according to all the usage of language hitherto, one which professes to be entire when it is not; as for instance, when any one strikes out as spurious (which some have done) the opening chapters of Matthew or Luke, and then presents the book to us as the New Testament, we should rightly term this a mutilation.302 My Lords, I willingly adopt this very accurate definition, with the happy illustration which accompanies it, and now, I leave it to your Lordships to decide whether this little volume which I hold in ray hands, the whole Gospel of St. Luke, according to the Commissioners, be, or be not, a mutilation of Scripture?**It is proper to remark—and I hope the remark may call forth some explanation—that the Archbishop of Dublin, in an elaborate speech which he delivered in the House of Lords on Tuesday, March 19, 1833, in justification of himself and his Brother-Commissioners, not only repeated the definition which I have cited above, saying "As to a mutilation of the Scriptures, I have always understood that to be, the publication of what professed to be a book, which it is not," but actually referred in the following terms to this, "2nd number of Scriptural Lessons, taken from the New Testament, which is not yet published, though the whole is now completed (March 1833) with the exception of half of one sheet. This number contains the whole of the Gospel of St. Luke—that 'mutilated' portion of the Scriptures, The entire Gospel of St. Luke!'—MIRROR OF PARL. 1833.When the most reverend Prelate made this declaration, and made it in so exulting a tone, he was either cognizant of the "mutilation'' which has been here exposed, or not cognizant. If cognizant, he will admit that those whom he thus addressed have a right to ask for some explanation. If he was not cognizant of it—if the thing was done without his consent, and even without his knowledge—he will probably consider it due to himself—it certainly is due to the country—that so extraordinary au occurrence should be traced to its proper source.The mention of explanation suggests the fitness of another inquiry.One of the most unhappy particulars in the History of the Board was its abandoning the regulation originally laid down, that copies of the New Testament should be supplied to all the schools, to be read by all the children, at the times of separate religious instruction,—the authorized Version for the Protestant scholars, and the Douay Version, an edition of which had been prepared expressly for this purpose, on the requisition of the Commissioners of 1824, by the Roman Catholic Prelates, for the children of that communion. This regulation, which had been first made by the Commissioners of 1824, was adopted by the Committee of the House of Commons in 1828,—in deference to that great principle, which no true Protestant can ever relinquish, that the Word of God being the foundation of all true religion, access to it is the indefeasible right, and acquaintance with it the indispensable duty, of every Christian. Accordingly, when it was known that this important regulation had been abandoned, no one doubted303 My Lords, I will not, on the present occasion, enter into further minute examination of these Scripture extracts, because I feel that your Lordships' House is not the proper place for a discussion of that nature, a Committee being, in my judgment, much more suitable to such a purpose. There are one or two observations, however, which I cannot refrain from making. It will, probably, be recollected, that the noble and learned Lord, the last time this subject was before the House, defied me to lay my hands upon any passage of the books in question, to which exception could fairly be taken. To that challenge I now reply, that I am perfectly ready and anxious to go into a Committee with the noble and learned Lord, and that I undertake to prove, if your Lordships will give me an opportunity, several gross corruptions of the truth in that volume, which professes to form the scriptural part of the education of the people of Ireland—all those corruptions tending to favour the erroneous doctrines of the Church ofthat this had been done in concession to the Roman Catholics. But a paper, laid before Parliament last year, entitled "Extract of Correspondence between Sir Henry Hardinge and the Board of Education in Ireland, dated January, 1835," has thrown a new light on the subject. It is there stated, that the Protestant, not the Roman Catholic, Commissioners were the authors of this lamented change—a change, which has done more to give a Popish character to the whole system, than anything, or everything besides. The following is the account of it:—It may be right here to observe, that this Committee of the House of Commons recommended" (rather, it was a main part of the system of this Committee, as it had been a main part of the system of the Commissioners of 1824) "that copies of the New Testament according to the Protestant authorized version should be supplied to the different schools for Protestants, and according to the Roman Catholic version, to which notes are appended, for the Roman Catholics. But when Mr. Stanley communicated with the intended members of the present Board, before it was finally instituted, difficulties were expressed by the Protestant Ecclesiastics as to their circulating the Roman Catholic version of the New Testament." The paper proceeds to state, that this scruple was suffered to prevail, and that the regulation was given up.The Archbishop of Dublin here says, that he had felt and "expressed difficulties, as to circulating the Roman Catholic version"—in other words, as to putting that version into the hands of the Roman Catholic children, although the alternative manifestly was, that304 Rome. Indeed, in the Committee I could prove, that almost all the proceedings of the Board, under this system, have a tendency to promote the Roman Catholic faith at the expense of what Protestants believe to be the true religion.
My Lords, I make no further observations at present on these boasted Scripture extracts. But there are other books used in these schools at the time of the separate religious instruction of Roman Catholics, and recommended by the Commissioners, which would warrant some remarks, if I were not afraid of abusing your Lordships' patience. Let me only state, that in one of them the children are taught, that the worship of God in the Protestant Church is rejected by Him as impious and sacrilegious, that our translation of the Word of God is false and corrupt, and that the state of the Protestant people in Ireland is most dangerous and deplorable; because they have put into their hands, instead of the Word of God, only corrupt translations, which present them with a mortal poison instead of the food of life.those children should have no version of the Scriptures whatsoever—nay, that the New Testament, in every version, should cease to be a necessary school-book, under this national system of education, even at the time of separate religious instruction, whether for Protestants or for Roman Catholics. The reasons must have been cogent which compelled a Protestant Archbishop to insist on an objection leading, of necessity, to such a result—still more, which prevailed with him, to continue the sanction of his high authority and co-operation to a system which could not be carried on without a sacrifice so distressing to his feelings, and so much at variance with his principles. Be this as it may, I have too much respect for a conscientious scruple, especially a religious scruple, to inquire very rigidly into its reasonableness—I ask not, therefore, what were the reasons for the scruple;—I only ask how the scruple itself can be reconciled with the following passage of an answer, written about the same lime, to a remonstrance of his clergy against the use of the intended Scripture extracts, "because such a volume, to be acceptable to the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, must be in the language of the Douay and Rheims Version of the Scriptures.''The Douay Version," says the Archbishop, "is permitted to be used under the Kildare-place system"—"and I agree with them" (the promoters of the Kildare-place schools) "in thinking, that there is no translation of the Bible extant, which is not better than none, when that is the alternative?—REPLY OF ABP, OF DUBLIN, p. 21.305 But I will not say more. I hope I have already laid sufficient ground to justify me in asking for this inquiry. I hope, too, that your Lordships are of this opinion-still more I hope, that the noble Lords near me will feel it to be their especial duty to permit a Committee to be appointed. I say their especial duty, for most undoubtedly, I have made out a primâ facie case, charging great culpability on the Commissioners; and if the Ministers of the Crown screen them from the inquiry which is demanded, I shall then think that Ministers are—what I do not now consider them to be—responsible for the misconduct of those Commissioners. But, my Lords, if there are among your Lordships any who have friends among the Commissioners, to them, above all, I confidently address myself: they will, I am sure, do what the Commissioners themselves, if they were present,—and what the noble Duke who is present (the Duke of Leinster), must be anxious to do—they will earnestly join me in conjuring your Lordships to permit this inquiry.
In seeking a Committee, I can assure your Lordships that I have no intention of proposing the destruction of the (so called) national system of education. I never disguised my opinion of that system in its origin, and I never will. But it is a very different thing to look at a system before it is established and afterwards. I do not think it right to make away with established institutions, even if they are dangerous or mischievous, provided that they can be made tolerable; and this system, I think, may be made at least tolerable, by introducing into it two easy, but important, temperaments. I will state to your Lordships the two particulars which, in my opinion, would go very far indeed to remove the objections to the system; and, then, all that would be necessary would be, that the system, so amended, should be fairly and firmly carried into execution.
One change which I would suggest is founded upon the demand made by the Synod of Ulster, to which Lord Grey assented,—namely, that during school hours there should be a regular Scripture lesson every day—that the children should then read from the Holy Scriptures themselves for a time; at which lesson, however, it should not be necessary that all the children should attend, or that any child should attend Whose parents objected to it.
306 Another great point, and one which, in my opinion, it is the bounden duty of the British Legislature to secure, is—the protection of the Roman Catholics of Ireland from the tyranny of their priesthood, by insisting that that priesthood shall not do that which all of your Lordships must feel to be in absolute defiance of God's Word, and an act of most unjustifiable tyranny,—I mean, that they should no longer be permitted to exclude their people from access to the word of God. My Lords, in order to effect this great, this paramount object, I would propose nothing of which the Roman Catholic priests themselves could justly complain—I would be satisfied with requiring that to which Dr. Murray said there could be no possible objection.
The Commissioners, in 1824 and 1825, feeling the absolute necessity of insisting on an adequate exhibition of the Word of God to all the children who were going through a course of Christian education, under the sanction and at the charge of a Christian government, required the Roman Catholic Bishops to produce a translation of the New Testament, with such notes as they might think fit to put into the hands of Roman Catholic children in all the schools which the State should support. Having done this, and having obtained from the prelates such a Testament, they asked Dr. Murray whether there would be any objection to the Protestant and Roman Catholic children reading the New Testament in the same class, at the time of united instruction, each out of their own version? To this Dr. Murray observed, that serious difficulties would exist in the way of such an arrangement; and in lieu of it, proposed that a harmony of the Gospels should be used in the common education of Roman Catholic and Protestant children, and that the Holy Scriptures themselves should be used only at the time of separate religious instruction; at which time, he said, there could be no possible objection to the Roman Catholic children reading out of the Sacred Volume, the Gospels, and Epistles of the week. These, in the Roman Breviary, are far more numerous than in our Prayer-book, and include a large portion of the New Testament.
My Lords, I hope and believe, that if this and the other suggestion, which I have made, were adopted, they would go very far to remedy the great evils of this 307 system, at present complained of by so many of the best Protestants of all denominations in England, in Scotland, and in Ireland. Surely this is not asking much: it is asking only, on the one hand, for the observance of that rule which the Commissioners themselves have said might be properly adopted; and, on the other, it is asking only that that should be insisted upon, which Dr. Murray himself proposed, and to which he said there could be no objection. On the authority, then, of Dr. Murray, I ask this from your Lordships—I ask, that you will give the children of Ireland access to the Holy Volume, for the reading of those portions, at least, of the Scripture, which Dr. Murray said might be read with propriety. The great mischief of all in Ireland is, that the mass of the people in that country do not really know what the Holy Volume is. They never see it; they know nothing of it. That which we, as Protestants, are most anxious to obtain is, that the Roman Catholics should be allowed to see the Holy Volume,—that they should become familiar with it,—that they should be taught to know that it contains the Word of God and of truth.
My Lords, I have done; I hope that I have avoided, as I have sincerely intended to avoid, even the appearance of pressing this motion in any way that should give to it the character of hostility to the Government. I assure his Majesty's Ministers, that I do not look upon this question as one of party feeling. Far from it—it is a matter which interests all, infinitely more than the most important party question that ever was proposed. My Lords, I say this from the regard which is due to your feelings, no less than to my own. I am sine, that every one whom I address must feel, that a question which involves the religious principles, the most solemn duties, the everlasting interests, of all the poorer classes of our fellow-subjects in Ireland, Protestant as well as Roman Catholic, is one which, more imperatively than any other, demands that in the discussion of it every thing like party feeling should be cast aside. I assure your Lordships, that I should, with much greater pleasure, have risen to express my confidence in the continued well-doing of the system which has been established, if I could have done so with truth; and I deeply regret that a most imperative sense of duty has compelled me to avow before 308 your Lordships my utter distrust of it. My Lords, I shall sit down entreating his Majesty's Ministers, if they think that I have made out a case for further inquiry, to grant the Committee, for the appointment of which I shall conclude by moving. In their hands, after the statement I have made, I leave the whole question. I will not ask your Lordships to divide with me, if his Majesty's Ministers state that they will not oppose my motion. My Lords, I move, "That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the progress which the new system of education in Ireland has made in effecting the main purpose for which it was established,—namely, the combined education of the poorer classes of the community of that country, Protestant as well as Catholic, resting upon religious instruction; to inquire whether the funds intrusted to the Commissioners have been judiciously administered towards the attainment of that object; and whether experience of the practical result of their labours renders it safe and advisable to adopt the recommendations contained in their Second Report, for the great extension of the system therein contemplated."
Viscount Melbourne felt that he owed an apology to their Lordships for venturing to present himself to their attention immediately after the very long and very able speech of the right reverend Prelate who had just sat down—a speech of great minutiæ and great detail—em-bracing many particulars, taking notice of the conduct of particular schools, and entering into a minute examination of the publications which had been put forth by the Commissioners for the use of schools in Ireland—matters with which he could not at the moment be expected to display a very familiar acquaintance, and with respect to which, therefore, he was utterly unable to enter into a controversy with the right reverend Prelate. But he thought he owed it to their Lordships to state generally the grounds on which he felt it would be out of his power to comply with the motion which the right reverend Prelate had made. The principal grounds were briefly these; that the appointment of a Committee would tend to no good, but to much evil—to disturb the system of education satisfactorily (as he believed) established in Ireland—to revive religious animosities and dissensions, and to interrupt a plan of j proceeding which had received the sanction (he believed) of every public man in 309 the country, and been adopted by every Government which had existed during the period of the last five years. The right reverend Prelate had stated with great truth, that it was a very different thing to oppose a system at the beginning and to interfere with a system after it was established and in actual operation; and that those who might be anxious to oppose a system at the commencement, might very possibly not be desirous of intermeddling or interfering with its progress after it had once been established. But their Lordships must consider the quarter whence this proposition came, and the effects which would be produced upon the public mind in Ireland when it was seen that a Committee of Inquiry, whose labours were to be devoted to the improvement of the existing system of education, was appointed at the suggestion of one of those who were the strongest and most vehement opponents of the system when it was first proposed. On that ground alone he thought it would be highly impolitic in their Lordships to accede to the motion. The right reverend Prelate stated, in the first place, that the Archbishop of Dublin, in answer to one of the addresses which had been presented to him, admitted that the experiment was likely to fail. But the right reverend Prelate omitted to state the reason which induced the Archbishop of Dublin to think it likely that the experiment might fail. He omitted to mention that the apprehension of failure in the Archbishop's mind arose from the anticipated opposition of the Roman Catholic population. That certainly was not the ground of failure alleged against the system by the right reverend Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter) on the present occasion. The right reverend Prelate subsequently made what he (Lord Melbourne) must admit to be a very fair defence of his most reverend Friend the Archbishop of Dublin, when he stated that the experience of the last four years of the working of the system had convinced him (the Archbishop of Dublin) of the advantages attending it—that he regarded it no longer as an experiment, and that he was anxious for its further extension. That, indeed, was a correct statement of the fact—the Archbishop of Dublin did consider the plan to have succeeded—did consider it as in the course and progress of success, as conciliatory to the minds of the people of Ireland, Catholic and Protestant, and as ex- 310 tending the benefits of a sound education, the acquirement of scriptural knowledge, and an acquaintance with the precepts of true religion to all classes of the community in that country. Upon these grounds he thought it would be unwise and imprudent in their Lordships to interfere with the operation of the system, or in any degree to interrupt or prevent its progress. The right reverend Prelate relied very much upon the Second Report of the commissioners, from which he had read extracts, and which undoubtedly opened very large topics of discussion. The Commissioners in that Report certainly took very extensive views of further proceedings upon the subject. But he (Lord Melbourne) had already stated that the Government were not pledged to the recommendations contained in the Report. Their intention in the present year undoubtedly was, to propose a larger vote for this service than was proposed last year; but if they were going to adopt the system to the extent recommended in the Second Report of the Commissioners, he did not pretend to say that some further inquiry—-some closer examination and investigation would not be necessary. The right reverend Prelate complained that the Report afforded no security for the religion of those who were to be the instructors of the school-masters. He (Lord Melbourne) should think that the offer of any security upon that point would be utterly superfluous; for, could it be supposed that a Board so constituted as the Board of Education in Ireland was, in appointing officers of such importance, would not take proper means to secure their being persons of right religious feeling, and of sufficient religious knowledge. He must here allude to what he could not help calling the rather disingenuous parallel which the right reverend Prelate had drawn between the Commissioners and the Minister of Public Instruction in France; but there was a vast difference in the situation of the Minister of Public Instruction in France and the Commissioners of Education in Ireland, inasmuch as that the former addressed himself to a country where a great proportion of the population were Roman Catholic, and where the Roman Catholic was the established religion, whilst the latter, on the contrary, were dealing with a country where a great majority of the population, it was true, were Roman Catholics, but where the Roman Catholic 311 was not the established religion. In France, too, it was to be remembered that the Protestants as well as the Catholics were much more under the regulation of the Government as to education, than were either Catholics or Protestants in Ireland. But the fact, that the established religion of Ireland was the Protestant, while the mass of the population were Catholics, was the root of the whole difficulty; this it was that forced them to the adoption of so many expedients. It was not wonderful that the new system of education should, in the first instance, have excited some doubt in the mind of the Archbishop of Dublin and others. Four years' experience, however, satisfied him, that it had succeeded in a manner which was beyond all disputation. He did not see that the right reverend Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter) notwithstanding the various statements into which he had entered, had laid any good grounds for the appointment of a Committee. All that the right reverend Prelate had stated of the misconduct of school-roasters; all that he had stated of the improper behaviour of individuals; all that he had stated of the wrong use that had been made of school-rooms, admitted of a sufficient remedy by application to the Board itself. If, after an application to the Board, it were found that a proper remedy was not obtained, it would then be for the right rev. Prelate to come down to Parliament, and to ask for the adoption of such an extreme measure as that which he proposed on the present occasion. The right rev. Prelate had adverted to the statement made by his noble Friend who opened this question in the other House of Parliament, in which his noble Friend stated that the Protestant clergy should, in the first instance, be attended to in founding the new schools, and then the right reverend Prelate proceeded with considerable force to point out the much greater number of schools which had fallen into the hands of Roman Catholics compared with those which had been given to Protestant ministers. But their Lordships must recollect the circumstances under which the new project of education was established. When his noble Friend in the other House of Parliament stated that he wished on that occasion to act in concert with the clergy of the Established Church, he stated no more than the truth; but he did not at that time anticipate the bitter and deter- 312 mined opposition with which the plan was ultimately received by the Protestant clergy; he did not anticipate an address, signed by seventeen of the prelates of Ireland, condemning the plan, and calling upon the clergy of the Establishment not to act upon it. The most reverend Prelate, at the head of the Irish Church, had stated on a former occasion that the Bishops had much greater difficulty in restraining the clergy than in exciting them to opposition. He thought that that was very likely—and the most reverend Prelate having stated it as a fact, he felt convinced of its truth; but, at the same time, it proved how great had been the hostility on the part of the clergy of the Establishment, and how little wonderful it must therefore be considered that the result stated by the right Reverend Prelate should have followed such a commencement. He believed that the original hostility of the clergy was fast fading away—that the original difficulties were likely soon to be got over—that the feelings of jealousy and irritation which at first existed were rapidly passing away. Would their Lordships consent to revive them—would they stir the question again—would they call again into action all those polemical and theological points of difference which had been referred to by the right reverend Prelate? He felt satisfied that they would not, and he felt therefore satisfied that they would resist the motion for the Committee. Everybody who knew anything of Ireland must be aware—looking to the state of the population in that country, looking at the great preponderance of the Roman Catholic faith in many particular parts of it—that in the application of any general system of education many of the schools must be entirely Roman Catholic. The right reverend Prelate had well stated that the object of the new system was to give an united plan of education to Catholics and Protestants. The very strong feeling which prevailed upon the subject prevented the plan from being so successful as it might have been at the commencement; but the best hopes of its success at present prevailed, and those hopes he trusted their Lordships would not interrupt by acceding to such a motion as that proposed by the right reverend Prelate. The right reverend Prelate had mentioned certain schools which were held in connexion with nunneries, or within the walls of nunneries. He (Lord Melbourne) held in his hand a 313 letter from one of the Commissioners, Mr. Carlisle, upon the subject, which, as allusion had been made to the matter, he would trouble their Lordships by reading. The letter stated, that soon after the Board was established, applications were made in behalf of schools conducted by nunneries, and by lay confraternities of Roman Catholics, that the Board was in doubt as to the views of Government with respect to those schools, and that in consequence a communication was had with Lord (then Mr.) Stanley, as to the mode in which these applications should be treated; that after a careful consideration of the subject, seeing that the class of schools in question was most favourably reported of by the Commissioners of 1826—considering that they came under the rule of national schools, and considering also that if their application were acceded to they would come within the control of the Board, whereas, if it were refused, they would remain entirely independent of it, the Commissioners agreed unanimously that the application for these schools should be received. The letter concluded by stating that the number of these schools was not great. That, in his opinion, was a sufficient explanation of the circumstances to which the right reverend Prelate had referred. In conclusion, he would only repeat, that the principle of the existing system of education in Ireland was one which had been approved of by every Government which had existed in this country for many years back, and the present system had been approved of by every successive Government since it was established. It was introduced by his noble Friend in the other House, who was certainly and unquestionably a decided friend of the Protestant religion and the Church Establishment—it received the hearty support of Earl Grey's Ministry—it was adopted by the late Government, who placed that estimate upon the table which their Lordships voted last year for the support and maintenance of these schools—it was entirely approved of by the present Government, and he thought their Lordships would act most unwisely if they were to interfere with its further progress by adopting the present motion.
§ The Earl of Harrowby
begged their Lordships to recollect a little how this question came before them. After a great number of different Commissions—sitting for a great number of years, and proposing 314 a great number of different plans for the education of the people of Ireland—had been appointed, Parliament, about four years ago, adopted the plan which had since been in operation. That plan (taking the words from the mouths of its proposers and strongest supporters) was confessedly a mere experiment, of the success of which they expressed no inconsiderable doubt. The measure having now been in operation for about four years, could anything be more obvious, could anything apparently be so little liable to objection, as that Parliament, after having decided on making the experiment, should now employ itself in an inquiry as to how that experiment had been made, and with what success? When the right rev. Prelate first gave notice of his intention to bring forward this motion, he (Lord Harrowby) did not anticipate that it was likely any objection would be made to it. Many of the plain and simple facts brought forward by the right rev. Prelate in support of his motion, had received no answer from the noble Viscount. They had been told that in many points the money voted by Parliament for the purposes of education had not been properly applied, and that the school-rooms had been appropriated to purposes most directly opposed to their legitimate object. These he should conceive to be strong additional grounds for inducing their Lordships to ascertain fully whether these facts were correct or not. These certainly were reasons which led him to think that the present was not an improper time for directing such an inquiry. The Commissioners were applying for a very great extension of the system; and before they consented to extend, or even to continue the system, it would be right that they should satisfy their minds as to whether it was working well or not. The noble Viscount seemed to feel that himself; for he gave the House reason to expect that before any proposal was made to Parliament for carrying out this system to a greater extent, Parliament should be permitted to inform itself, not only whether it were fit that the system should be extended, but whether it might be fit that it should be continued. He (Lord Harrowby) confessed that that statement of the noble Viscount had in some degree diminished the feeling which he at first entertained that it would be the imperative duty of the House to direct an inquiry of such a nature as that pointed out by the 315 right rev. Prelate. After the noble Viscount's statement, he thought the right rev. Prelate should be satisfied by placing the whole of the responsibility on the head of the Government. At the same time he thought the House and the country were under a great obligation to the right rev. Prelate for directing the attention of the Government and of the Legislature to the subject. There was another reason why he thought he might remain satisfied without going to a vote on the right rev. Prelate's motion. After the refusal of this Committee, it was utterly impossible for the Government to propose that anything should be given from any fund, much less from the funds of the Protestant Church in Ireland, to support a system of education into which they had not dared to allow Parliament to inquire.
§ Lord Plunket
rejoiced exceedingly that the right rev. Prelate, either at the suggestions of his own good sense, or of some good Friend, on this occasion, had abstained from discussing this subject, on those old grounds on which it had been so often discussed before. At the same time, he could not help apprehending—looking at the general tenor of the right rev. Prelate's speech, and looking also at what had fallen from the noble Earl who had just sat down—that the real object of the motion now made was to get rid of the existing system of public education. He wished to know whether the motion were not intended as an arraignment of the whole system, or whether (as it professed to be) it was merely founded on some supposed abuses of the system, for which amendment or correction was necessary. Education in Ireland had been matter of lengthened Parliamentary inquiry for nearly thirty years; and the Report which was made upon the subject so long ago as the year 1812, was well worthy of their Lordships' attention. The names of the Commissioners by whom that Report was made were familiar to their Lordships. They were all attached by early feelings to the Protestant Church in Ireland. There was the Primate of Ireland, the Archbishop of Cashel, Dr. Elrington (the head of the Protestant University in Dublin), Mr. Leslie Foster, and two or three other gentlemen, all of whom had deeply at heart the welfare of the Protestant Establishment; and they stated in their Report principles well worthy of the perpetual recollection of every person who felt 316 anxious for the welfare and well being of Ireland. They stated that there was a thirst for learning on the part of the people of Ireland. They stated, with respect to education, what Sir John Davies had long ago said with respect to law—"Never was a people," said Sir John, "so anxious for the benefit of equal laws." "Never was a people," said the Commissioners of 1812, "so anxious for the benefit of general education." These two natural wishes of the People of Ireland, notwithstanding all the difficulties which had hitherto stood in the way, he felt were now likely to be realized, if the harvest were not blighted by some untimely proceedings like the present motion. With respect to the system of education, an experiment, it had been called, the present result was, after four years' trial, that 180,000 children were receiving the benefit of sound instruction. He, therefore, thanked his noble Friend at the head of the Government for these results, and for having determined, on the present occasion, not to yield to an application, which, if acceded to, might stop the progress of the system, and cause the loss of much of the good which had been already obtained. The question which the Commissioners had to consider was this: was it possible in Ireland to unite moral and religious education? It was agreed that they could not separate them. Was it possible, then, that they could unite them? That question occupied the attention of Parliament thirty years ago, and had been a matter of frequent discussion since. The great difficulty from the first had been whether the Bible was or was not to be used as a book of education? That question was decided in 1812, by the Commissioners to whom he had alluded. It was reconsidered by the new Commissioners appointed in 1824, who came to the same decision; and the decision of the Commissioners of 1812 was again admitted to be correct by the Committee of the House of Commons whose Report was made in 1828. These things had taken place under a variety of successive Governments, under a variety of successive Sovereigns, under a variety of Administrations; and all the great men who had been consulted, or whose attention had been directed to this momentous question, had agreed on this point, that there might be a system of joint religious and moral education proceeding upon this principle—the use, not of the Scriptures at 317 large, but of certain passages extracted from the Scriptures, which might be applicable to Protestants as well as Roman Catholics, and conceding always that the children of either class should be allowed the benefit of separate instruction by their own ministers according to their own respective creeds. Now, how was he to understand what had fallen from the right rev. Prelate in the course of the present debate? The right rev. Prelate had stated that there were certain parts of the Scriptures in which it was impossible that Roman Catholics and Protestants could conscientiously agree; and with great accuracy, and, as usual, with equal ability, the right rev. Prelate had pointed out particular passages and points upon which, as he stated, the two religions were directly opposed to each other. But the conclusion which the right rev. Prelate drew from this statement—if it had any meaning whatever—was, no doubt, very acute, very ingenious, very clever; but if it had any sense or meaning, it was this—that the Scriptures could not be introduced as a book in schools without becoming a subject of religious controversy. Then he (Lord Plunket) could not help saying, that he feared the real object of the right rev. Prelate in bringing forward this motion, was not so much to obtain an inquiry into the working of the system, as to arraign the principle on which the system was established. Nothing could be more alarming to the people of Ireland—nothing more likely to arrest the beneficial progress of the system now in operation, than to hold out an idea that a change might be the consequence of the adoption of a motion of this description. He was strengthened in this opinion by what fell from the noble Earl (Harrowby), who seemed to think that the inquiries of a Committee might lead to a change in the system; that was one of the grounds on which he objected to this Committee. He was apprehensive of the consequences of any change in the system in the present excited state of Ireland. The right rev. Prelate had said, that his noble Friend at the head of the Administration was answerable for the mutilated Scriptures which were used in these schools. So was a noble Lord, a member of an Administration of which the right rev. Prelate was a warm supporter. The right rev. Prelate, as also some noble Lords, including the noble Earl (Roden) on the other side, whatever might have 318 been their hatred of the offence, had not treated all the offenders with the same degree of punishment. They had not flourished the cat-o'-nine tails with the same alacrity in the one case as in the other. They had not administered the torture of their censure with the same good-will in the case of the late as they did in that of the present Administration. It was due to the Administration of the noble Duke (of Wellington), and that of the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel), to say, that their cordial approbation was given to the system, as well as to the mode in which that system was carried on. The estimate of 35,000l. voted in support of the system, in July, 1835, was prepared in April, when Sir Henry Hardinge was in the Irish Administration. It was but justice to that gallant officer to say, that in the debate on the estimate in July, he expressed his approbation of the system, and said it was his opinion that the result of the system could not be otherwise than beneficial. He certainly added, that if the facts stated by the hon. Members of the House to which the right hon. Baronet belonged, who opposed the estimate, were borne out, and that the Protestants of Ireland were treated as they described, his mind would be changed, and it would be his decided opinion that some other course should be adopted. The objections, however, of the right rev. Prelate and those made in the House of Commons were quite as different from each other as the arguments of the right rev. Prelate at present were different from those which the right rev. Prelate had formerly used on the subject. Five different cases of abuse, on the part of persons acting under the direction of the Board, were alleged in the House of Commons. These cases were inquired into by the Board itself, and he took it on himself to say were found to be frivolous and unfounded. Those who made these charges were told that if they sent to the Board every investigation would take place; but from that hour, the 15th July, up to the present moment no attempt was made to verify them. If the right rev. Prelate made out the cases he stated the Board would give every possible means of redress. At the same time, when his noble Friend, at the head of the Government, refused that night to accede to the proposition of the right rev. Prelate, he did not understand his noble Friend to say, that if any particular case of abuse should be made to appear 319 that Parliamentary inquiry was necessary, such an inquiry should not be granted. But he felt the necessity and prudence of the course which his noble Friend had adopted, of not permitting, under the mask (he did not mean to use the word in an offensive sense) of inquiring into abuses, a notion to get abroad that the principle of the present system was to be departed from. It had been stated that the most rev. the Archbishop of Dublin had considered this measure as a mere experiment—that he was not sanguine in his expectations of its success—but that he thought it ought at all events to have a fair trial. Might he (Lord Plunket) be permitted to ask whether the plan had had a fair trial? It had not for one single day had a fair trial. The noble Viscount had already stated the active, and he had no doubt the conscientious, part which fourteen or fifteen Prelates of Ireland thought it necessary to adopt when it was first proposed to carry the system into operation. Notwithstanding the active part taken by these reverend Prelates, he was still sincerely of opinion that a great proportion not only of the lay Protestants of Ireland, but of the Protestant clergy of that country, were favourable to the progress of this measure. The right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Exeter) had criticised the statement made by the Board of Commissioners, that 140 members of the Protestant Established Church had addressed applications to them in favour of this measure. The Board never stated any such thing. The right rev. Prelate was perfectly aware of what was stated; he knew perfectly well that what the Board stated was this; that, amongst the applications which had been made to them for assistance under this system, there were the signatures of 140 clergymen of the Established Church. So there were; that statement of the Board was not only substantially but literally true, because although the names of some of those clergymen were repeated three and even four times over, yet in every instance the duplicate signature had been to a separate and distinct application. If they had described the number of the Protestant clergy in favour of the proposition as greater than it actually had been, they had done the same thing with respect to the other denominations of clergy; so that the proportion remained the same, and the question was not substantially affected. At any rate, he hoped the right 320 rev. Prelate did not mean to insinuate that the Commissioners did anything which they had done for the purpose of imposition. He hoped the right rev. Prelate did not believe that any one member of the Commission would be guilty of such an act. But, even if an individual member could be guilty of such baseness, it was surely impossible that seven colleagues, men of character, and filling high stations in society, should combine for so unworthy a purpose. There was no ground, therefore, for believing that in this respect there had been the slightest exaggeration in the Report. It was necessary for him to advert to some other circumstances, in order to show whether the Board had fair play. It was a matter of public notoriety, that there had been meetings in the north of Ireland, consisting of many thousands of persons, who were told that the sacred word of God had been mutilated, and that attempts were making by the Board to deprive them of their Bible. Was that fair play? Under such circumstances could it be said that the experiment had been fairly tried. The noble Earl opposite (who was not so hostile to the existing system when his noble Friends were in office, as he was at present) had addressed some of these meetings, the very persons composing which had their Bibles in their hands and they were exhortedTo put their trust in providence,And keep their powder dry.At a numerous and respectable meeting of Orangemen, in the county of Tyrone, Mr. Grier in the chair, the following resolution was unanimously agreed to:—"That as Protestants, reprobating the new system of national education, we will not (he begged the House to observe the candour and piety of the declaration) listen to any clergyman who supports it." So the dissenting clergy in the north of Ireland, who depended on their congregations for subsistence, were told that they would not be listened to in their pulpits if they supported the new system. Again, he asked, therefore, if the system could be said to have had fair play. Their Lordships were aware of the system which had been formed by the Kildarestreet society. Of that society, Mr. Jackson, an eminent lawyer, was the secretary. Mr. Jackson was examined before the Commissioners of Education in 1826. The same question was then raised as had 321 been just raised by the right rev. Prelate. Mr. Jackson had been asked as to the religion of the masters and mistresses of the schools and as to the religion of the scholars. He had argued, on former occasions, that it was no part of the duty of the Commissioners to require answers to such questions. In his reply Mr. Jackson stated that he ought to mention as a reason for not being better informed on the subject, that the society never regarded the religion of any individual in making an appointment to an office in the capital; although there were circumstances which rendered it necessary that the religion of masters and mistresses of schools in the country should be known; and to the question from the Commissioners—" Are we to understand that you are equally without data to enable you to ascertain the comparative number of Catholic and Protestant scholars in the schools?" Mr. Jackson replied, "It would be a violation of our fundamental rule if we were to take measures to ascertain that fact." He hoped, therefore, that the right rev. Prelate would have the candour to acknowledge that he was not justified in drawing any inference against the existing Board from what he had stated. The Board had no right to make the inquiry, and no inference therefore could be drawn against them for their not having done so: nay more, they would not have been justified if they had so acted. Let it be recollected that by the existing system above 180,000 young persons were rescued from the grasp of ignorance and vice, and were receiving the benefits of a sound education. Surely no good man could seriously wish to stop the progress of such a system. Before he sat down he wished to say one word in vindication of the Roman Catholics from the charge made against them by the right rev. Prelate with respect to the Holy Scriptures. What the right rev. Prelate had said, meant that the Roman Catholics denied the authority of the Holy Scriptures, or it meant nothing. Now of this he (Lord Plunket) was sure, that no Roman Catholic, either in Ireland or any where else, would deny the authority of the Holy Scriptures. On the contrary, they held them to be the very essence of Christianity; the revealed word of God. It was true that for their explanation they called in aid from other sources; and in that consisted all that was imputed to 322 them, which amounted to this—that they did not consider that the Holy Scriptures, without any comment or explanation, were fit to be put in the hands of the people.
The Earl of Roden
assured their Lordships, that having so often addressed them upon this subject, it was not his intention to have done so on this occasion, had not certain observations dropped from the noble and learned Lord who had just sat down, to which he felt it his duty to make some reply. It was impossible for him to hear those insinuations which the noble and learned Lord had thrown out against him, and particularly the first charge which he had made, without taking the earliest opportunity of expressing himself upon the motives which had actuated his conduct in that House. The noble Lord had said, that when other noble persons, now on the opposition side of the House were in office, he (the Earl of Roden) did not seem to have the same anxiety then upon this subject, as now other noble Lords were in office. That was an imputation which he must beg leave to throw back upon the noble and learned Lord. He would venture to state the circumstances of the case in his own justification, in order to prove to their Lordships that he was not actuated by any such feeling as that which had been falsely imputed to him by the noble and learned Lord. It would be in their Lordships' recollection, that when an answer was given in another place by the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, to a question put by another noble Lord there, as to whether it was the intention of the Government to continue the same system of education in Ireland, on the very next day he (the Earl of Roden) came down to that House and gave notice of his intention to put a similar question to that which had been put in the House of Commons; and having received a reply which was most unsatisfactory to his mind, he then took an opportunity to move for some papers on the subject, in order to bring the question in a tangible form before their Lordships. That, however, he could not do because those papers were not produced until a day or two before the end of the Session. The noble and learned Lord, then, had no authority for making that charge against him. The noble and learned Lord had accused him of holding forth to meetings of Protestants, and telling them 323 that this system had for its object the mutilation of the Scriptures. Why, if he were to attend a meeting of Protestants to-morrow on the same subject, he would state the same thing, and he should he able to do so with the greater effect, because he could refer to the speech of the right rev. Prelate for some of the strongest proof's of it. The right rev. Prelate had read statements to the House which showed that the very ground of the system was the mutilation of the Scriptures: for instance, it appeared that ten of the most important verses in the Gospel according to St. Luke had been omitted. Therefore, if he were to meet his Protestant brethren again, he should make exactly the same statements again. The noble and learned Lord must know very little of the Protestants of Ireland, if he thought they had but little anxiety about the scriptural education of their children, or if he thought any delusion was necessary to be used to draw them together and excite their attention to this important subject. He would tell the noble and learned Lord, that knowing as he well did the character of the Protestants of Ireland, especially in the province of Ulster, there was no subject in which they were so much interested as that of scriptural education, and the diffusion of the scriptures without note or comment, or any mutilation whatever. So far from their being indifferent to the question, it was one of the brightest traits in their character that they were extremely anxious to have their children educated in the Scriptures. The noble and learned Lord had alluded to a meeting at which a Mr. Grier, presided. Now he knew nothing of the meeting, nor of Mr. Grier, whom the noble Lord charged with telling the Protestants that they ought not to encourage this system of education. Was that a crime? If so, it was one of which every Protestant in Ireland was guilty, and one which he hoped they would continue to commit as long as the system was continued, for it was a system which never could be adopted by them. The noble and learned Lord had read some evidence given by Mr. Jackson before the Commissioners of the Board of Education, to the effect, that when he was asked, respecting the Kildare-place Society, what was the number of the scholars and teachers, he replied that the return could not be made because it was contrary to a fundamental 324 rule of the society. But what was the fact? That was the answer of Mr. Jackson, but the rejoinder of the Board was—"You must make the return." The Kildare-place Society did make the return, but the noble and learned Lord had not told the House that. The noble and learned Lord had undertaken to vindicate the conduct of the Roman Catholics with respect to their use of the Scriptures. He did not wish, on the present occasion, to go into any question with respect to the use of the Scriptures by the Roman Catholics, or how far it was allowed by their church; all he knew was, that the children of the people of Ireland were denied the reading of the Scriptures in these schools. Any noble Lord who had paid attention to the schools in Ireland must be aware of this fact. With regard to the question brought before the House, he did not think the noble and learned Lord or the noble Viscount had answered the case made out by the right rev. Prelate. If ever a case had been brought before Parliament which was deserving of inquiry it was that which had now been presented by the right rev. Prelate; and he was certain that when the account of what took place in that House appeared before the public, if such a thing should happen, the impression would be, that the Government was afraid to meet the question—that it was afraid to meet the question and afraid of inquiry. The noble and learned Lord had insinuated that it was not surprising that Protestant clergymen in Ireland should declare their disapprobation of the existing system of education, when so many Bishops were urging them to do so. He (Lord Roden) did not at that time of day, think it necessary to stand up for the independence of the Protestant clergy in Ireland. They stood in no need of his eulogium. He firmly believed that the great majority of the Protestant clergy in Ireland were inimical to the existing system. Inquiry was necessary, to show that the object which the then Chief Secretary for Ireland, now Lord Stanley, had in view in proposing the system, had not been carried into effect. He regretted extremely that the right rev. Prelate had consented not to press his motion; because, in so grave and important a matter, he should like their Lordships to show, by a division, that the majority of them really meant to support Protestant interests.
§ Lord Plunket
, in explanation, denied that he had attributed any improper motives to the noble Earl. All that he had said was, the noble Earl did not attribute to the late Government the purposes which he attributed to the present.
The Earl of Winchilsea
must say, in justice to his noble Friend, that he expressed himself with equal warmth against the existing system of national education in Ireland when carried on under the late Government as at present. The right rev. Prelate had been wholly unanswered by the noble Viscount and the noble and learned Lord. If he (Lord Winchilsea) wished for another ground in favour of the inquiry, it would be the disinclination manifested by his Majesty's Government to give information which the people had a right to receive. It was one of the highest privileges of the people to have full and fair information with respect to the application of money raised by any tax. He (Lord Winchilsea) was not aware until that evening that the grant of 37,000l. to the Irish Board of Education had been increased to 50,000l. In the Report of the Commissioners they recommended the extension of the grant to a sum nearer 300,000l. than 200,000l. for the first nine years, and the fixing of it afterwards at 200,000l. He thought that the Protestants of this country had a fair right to demand inquiry before they were called upon to contribute any tax for a system of education of a mixed character, and respecting the expediency or working of which they entertained strong doubts. The right rev. Prelate had made a most clear and able statement, which had been totally uncontradicted by the noble Lords who had spoken on this question, showing that considerable abuses did exist; and he should sit down satisfied that the discussion within the walls of this House was well calculated to open the eyes of the great body of the Protestants of this country to the fact that the measures pursued tended to the destruction of Protestantism. He boldly charged the noble Viscount with having made certain conditions with the individual, by whose support alone Ministers obtained their places. There were three conditions—the first was the surrender of the Protestant Church; the second was the adoption of a system of national education, in order to make the whole of the Protestants members of the Roman Catholic Church; and the 326 third was the surrender of the whole police and magistracy of the country into the hands of the agitator. He was convinced that he should be borne out upon all these points. Upon the subject of upholding a national religion, Mr. Burke said—" If the Legislature intends to uphold religion, it must specifically state what the religion is. If you will have a religion publicly practised and taught, you must say what that religion shall be which you will protect and encourage, and distinguish it by such marks and characteristics as you in your wisdom may think fit. Your determination may be unwise, but it cannot be unjust, hard, or oppressive, or contrary to the liberty of mankind." In those sentiments he cordially agreed. It was an absurdity to suppose that a system of religion could be established where errors were not to be pointed out. He was one of the first who opposed this system of education, being convinced that no such system of education could be established without a mutilation of the Scriptures, or keeping all the essential points out of view. If he stood alone he would oppose the grant when it came up from the House of Commons, until he was satisfied how the system of education had worked.
§ Viscount Melbourne
observed, that the noble Earl had been pleased to state that three conditions had been imposed upon him. He begged leave most distinctly to deny that either of those three conditions were made, or any one of them, or any other conditions or stipulations whatever. He begged leave to tell the noble Earl that his information upon the subject was totally erroneous, and without any foundation whatsoever.
The Bishop of Exeter
expressed himself gratified with the statement of the noble Viscount at the head of his Majesty's Government. It was to him a matter of the greatest pride to know that he had given the noble Viscount an opportunity of making the declaration that he would not propose an extension of the grant without inquiry—a declaration which he was quite sure would give unbounded delight to every Protestant in this country. It was the most satisfactory declaration that the House had received for a very long time, and would afford more benefit to the Protestants than he could venture to express. He sincerely thanked the noble Viscount for what he had said.
§ The Motion was then withdrawn.