HL Deb 17 August 1846 vol 88 cc747-50

said, that in pursuance of the notice which he gave the other day that he should call the attention of their Lordships to the first report of a visitation held at the College of Maynooth, he would now trouble their Lordships with a few remarks upon it; and he could assure the House that in calling the attention of Parliament to the subject, he did so with feelings which were most friendly to the prosperity of that institution. He had supported the increased grant, and he was anxious that the institution should be improved as much as possible. He should wish to remind their Lordships that in all the arguments which were brought forward last year in favour of the increased grant to Maynooth, which was not very popular with the people of this country, no person ever said that the system of education which was then carried on at Maynooth was such as could be desired, but it was said that it should be revised and improved. Among other things it was particularly held out as an inducement to the grant, that an efficient visitation of the College would be held, that an alteration would be made in the visitors, and that whereas the visitation had been formal hitherto, an additional number of visitors would be appointed, in order that the object of Parliament in making the increased grant might be the better carried out. He had looked into the report which had been made by these visitors, and he was sorry to say that in every respect it was most meagre and unsatisfactory. It was not only imperfect, but inaccurate and contradictory in itself. If their Lordships would look at the report, they would see that it was divided into two parts, one of which was the composition of the visitors themselves, and the other a statement received by them from the President of the College. In the first part of the report the visitors stated that they— Repaired to the College at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, and soon after commenced the proceedings of the visitation in the great hall of the College, where the superiors, professors, and students were assembled. The names being called over, 19 superiors and professors, and 522 students were in attendance. One professor was absent on leave, 11 students were absent on account of sickness; of the students 19 were Dunboyne students, 24 were of the first division of the first senior class, 68 of the second division of the said class, 65 of the second senior class, 97 of the third senior class, 70 of the class of natural philosophy, 81 of the logic class, 52 of the class of rhetoric, and 46 of the class of humanity. Now, upon turning to the statement furnished by the President himself, he found that the total number of students in residence was reckoned at 512, though the visitors said that 522 students were in attendance. There was nothing, indeed, in the report to show how many students were resident, and how many non-resident. Again, it was worthy of remark that the sum specifically granted by Parliament for the superiors and professors of the College was 6,000l., but the salaries which they received only amounted to 4,500l., leaving an ample margin for the increase of professorships if found necessary. Nothing was said about the disposition of the surplus; and as to the number of students, the visitors stated that there were 250 in each class, while in the return made by the President it appeared that there were 257 in the first class, and 241 in the second class. No notice was taken in the report of any funds belonging to the College, other than those granted by Parliament. He did not know, indeed, whether the College possessed any other funds. One point that was of importance certainly did appear in the report, and that was, that the annual allowances of the Dunboyne students had been raised from 20l. to 62l. With regard to the accommodation which there was for the students in the College, it appeared that it was more ample than was generally believed. He regretted to find, however, that nearly 200 of these students, who had previously paid something towards the expense of their education, had been relieved from that burden. He did not wish to see the institution entirely conducted upon the principle of a charity; and he thought that the small sum which these students had been required to pay towards the defraying of a portion of their expenses, might have been well applied to the object of giving them a better education than they could now receive. The visitors closed the visitation at five o'clock in the afternoon, after an inquiry which lasted six hours; and in the last paragraph of their report they said— As other accommodations are soon to be provided for the College by the bounty of the State, we do not deem it necessary to lay before your Majesty the result of our personal inspection, to which we have already briefly referred. But we feel bound humbly to represent to your Majesty that the state of the lecture rooms, and more especially of the rooms and accommodations for the lodging and keeping of the students, is such as to render it in our judgment most desirable that the new arrangements shall be completed with the least possible delay. It was quite clear from this passage that the visitors wished to make the most favourable report which they could, and he hoped that the Government would stir up the managers of the institution; nay, he should almost hope that a special visitation would be ordered. He should wish to know whether any proceedings had been taken with respect to the buildings, for which 30,000l. had been voted last year. He must say that a six hours' visitation was not enough, and the report did not even state what might have been ascertained in that period. If there was dirt, let it be said that there was dirt, and let the parties be taught better habits, for no good ever could be expected from Ireland if the priests were to be taken from the lowest classes of the people, and had no higher taste for cleanliness than was exhibited in their own cabins and cottages.


said, that as the two visitors of Maynooth who were Members of their Lordships' House, (the Duke of Leinster and the Earl of Rosse) were not in attendance, it was not in his power to reconcile the discrepancies which the noble Lord had pointed out, and which certainly, upon the face of this report, did appear to exist. He hoped that the attention of Her Majesty's Government in Ireland, and of the visitors of Maynooth, would be attracted to the state of the College at no distant period, and that another and a fuller report would be presented. At the same time he must observe that the noble Lord had omitted to refer to one circumstance stated in the report, which had given him (the Marquess of Lansdowne) very great satisfaction indeed, as showing that the attention of the trustees had already been directed to one of the most material points the Parliament had in view when they voted the increased grant—namely, the liberalising of the system of education, by the establishment of three new professorships. He quite agreed with the noble Lord in thinking it highly important that proper cleanliness should be observed, and that the character of the young men educated in that institution should be raised by teaching them to respect themselves, and thereby inspire others with respect for them.

House adjourned.

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