HL Deb 11 July 1854 vol 135 cc5-23

Order of the Day for receiving the Report of the Amendments read.


moved, That the said Report be now received.


said, that he wished to address a few words to their Lordships upon this stage of the Oxford University Bill. Their Lordships were aware that it was not the practice in their Lordships' House to place upon record any Amendments that might be moved upon Bills in the stage of this present measure unless they were agreed to. As, however, he was extremely anxious, not only on his own part, but also on the part of his noble Friend the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, who was not now present, that those Amendments which he had proposed should stand upon the records of their Lordships' House, he was induced to take the present course with the view of obtaining that object. He felt he would be consulting their Lordships' convenience by at once stating that he merely wished to be printed, and laid before their Lordships, those Amendments which bad been moved by his noble Friend the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, in order that they might be duly placed upon the records of their proceedings. He, however, felt that he could not part with this Bill without expressing his regret that their Lordships should have adopted it without any of the Amendments that had been submitted to them by his noble Friend. He trusted that, in another place, where much attention and a great deal of time had been given to the consideration of the question, the Bill would be so amended as to meet at least some of the views which their Lordships on his side of the House entertained in respect to its provisions. He would occupy the time of the House but for a few moments, while he referred to the most important of those Amendments upon which their Lordships divided last Friday. In respect to the first of those Amendments, upon the question of the oaths taken by persons connected with the University, he must express his regret that some of the right rev. Prelates had not deemed it of sufficient importance to favour the House with their opinions upon the subject, involving as it did matter of conscience—he was certainly anxious to hear from them whether they thought that an Act of Parliament could relieve a man from the obligation of an oath he bad once taken. He would not trespass upon the attention of the House by dwelling any further upon that point. Another Amendment moved by his noble Friend was to omit the sixth clause for the purpose of inserting another in its place, to the effect that the election of the legislative body of the University should take place by the votes of Convocation instead of Congregation. Although their Lordships were pleased to reject that Amendment, he hoped that in another place the subject would be reconsidered, because he conceived that no accident could happen to the scheme of liberalising, as it was called, the University, so fatal to that object, as the course which the majority of that House had taken in respect to this Amendment. The noble Viscount who introduced the Bill (Viscount Canning) had argued that the University was not doing its duties efficiently; that it was behind the age, and had not kept pace with the general advance of enlightenment and improvement which characterised other similar institutions. Now, what was the course usually adopted when it was deemed desirable to liberalise constituencies? Why, they naturally sought to extend those constituencies. Their Lordships had, however, in the present instance deliberately preferred to leave the election of the legislative body of the University in the hands of some 250 or 300 members, instead of extending the constituency to some 2,000 to 3,000 persons. He confessed he was at a loss to see the value or consistency of this proceeding; for it seemed to him to be a contradiction, considering the preamble of the Bill, and the constant complaints they heard of the bigotry and darkness of Oxford, to confine the constituency to this small number when they might extend it to as many thousands. Now, in respect to the question of private halls for the students—the more he considered the subject—the more he reflected upon the character and constitution of the University and the discipline that was required there, the more he was convinced that the provision for the establishment of those private halls would be attended with the most mischievous results, both as regarded the morals of the University, and the students within its walls. He knew that a great many of their Lordships were prepared to vote for and to support the Government in regard to the clauses which would admit Dissenters to the University, if the clause in respect to the halls were rejected. He had never concealed his opinion as to those halls. To use the words of the Earl of Carlisle the other evening, he believed they would be "retreats for Dissenters." He should be sorry if his feelings towards the Dissenters should be misunderstood. In his opinion, there was no arrogance so objectionable as the arrogance of religious orthodoxy. There was nothing which so shocked him in private life as when he saw a man presumptuously stating that he was right, and that all who held different views were wrong; and he was more disgusted when he heard this said on subjects of religious doctrine and conscience than on any others. In respect to Dissenters, and those others who differed from him in religious opinions, he had always held that they were entitled to be treated upon a footing of equality with himself. He flattered himself that in his own humble and private way he had set an example of this principle. He had been frequently remonstrated with by ministers of the Church of England for not being more exclusive in his dealings, in the employment of his labourers, and the selection of his tenantry; he had always positively refused to adopt any such principle, for he thought that no such differences should exist in private life or upon private business. But this was a peculiar case. In his view the establishment of the University of Oxford was originally intended to be wedded, and closely wedded, to our Church and State. And although he was aware that it had received many endowments from Roman Catholics, and that the University had for centuries existed under the will and by the funds of Roman Catholics, he recollected, too, that during that time the Roman Catholic religion was the State religion, and it ceased only to be the State religion when the Reformation was accomplished. The law then changed the nature of the case, and the Reformed religion became the State religion, and he saw no reason why after eight centuries we should alter the recognised character and constitution of the University in connection with the Church that was established by the State. Now, one or two things he thought must necessarily happen upon the admission of Dissenters to the University. First, it could hardly be expected that the number of Dissenters admitted to the University would remain exactly the same within its walls; they would either convert the members of the Church, or they would be converted by those members. The noble Duke opposite thought it would be more likely that the Dissenters would be converted by the members of the Anglican Church. He (the Earl of Malmesbury) was not prepared to agree with the noble Duke that the Dissenters would necessarily have the worst of the trial, if worst it could be called. They must remember that by the Bill any member of Convocation might establish there a hall, if licensed. [Lord CAMPBELL was understood to intimate that it was at the discretion of the Vice Chancellor] Now, he was almost disposed to consider his noble and learned Friend, while presiding in his court, as infallible; but he must be excused for saving that he bad no such high opinion of his judgment in that House. It appeared by this Bill that the Vice Chancellor had no choice, if the party agree to certain conditions mentioned in the Bill, than to give him a licence for the establishment of a private hall. He did not think he was acting offensively in mentioning the name of Dr. Newman in relation to his argument. During a considerable part of the time Dr. Newman was in Oxford, if this Bill were then in operation, he would have been in a position to claim a right to establish a ball. Their Lordships might easily guess what the consequences would have been. They knew that Dr. Newman did not all at once become a convert; he was for some years gradually descending from the position in which he originally stood, and accepting the creeds of another Church. Dr. Newman's great object at that time was to convert to his own religious opinions as many as he could. Well, then, supposing that the Doctor was at the head of one of those halls, he would naturally have the greatest influence over the religious opinions of the students that frequented it. There was another strong argument against the establishment of these halls—he referred to the encouragement that would be given to religious disputes. He could conceive nothing more obnoxious than this in an University. For the last ten or twelve years, up to a very recent period, Oxford had been the scene of religious disputes and theological discussions. Young men of the age usually attending the University were sufficiently presumptuous and argumentative of themselves, and the introduction of religious discussion could not but be attended with prejudicial results. This was no fancy of his. Let their Lordships remember what had taken place at Oxford within no very distant period, when every private room and association was the arena of controversies about doctrines that were bandied from one side to the other with more zeal than discretion and more passion than knowledge. Now, he asked, whether it was not more likely that these angry religious discussions would be greatly increased by the admission into the University of the champions of the Roman Catholic and of the Dissenting Churches who would be admitted into the same room, and the same society, with the members of the Church of England—and would not these private halls afford great facilities for these disputations? He conceived that there was nothing less desirable in the University of Oxford than the adoption of any measure that would give encouragement to such disputes. The life of a student at Oxford tended greatly to encourage the spirit of controversy. The students there had not the same occupation or amusements which young men in other large towns could command; and he could conceive nothing more natural than that young men should rush into those argumentative disputes upon religion which had lately brought so much evil upon the country, and so much scandal upon the Church. His noble Friend opposite said that the admission of Dissenters into the Scotch schools connected with the Church was attended with no such evils as had been referred to. He denied that there was the slightest analogy between the Scotch schools and the University. In the first place the Scotch schools were not bound up as the University of Oxford had been for centuries with the State religion; and, in the second place, the students in the Scotch schools were of a much younger age generally than those that were to be found in the Universities. Most anxious that his feelings with respect to the Dissenters and Roman Catholics should not be misunderstood, he trusted he had explained, clearly and distinctly, on what grounds, and on what grounds alone, he objected to their admission to the University; and he further must express his hope that when the Bill had left their Lordships' House some parts of it to which he entertained objection would be revised in another place.


was anxious to express, in a very few words, his decided opposition to this Bill, as a measure which was based upon injustice, and was likely to introduce discord where peace and harmony had formerly prevailed. He regretted deeply the manner in which the measure had been dealt with. In passing through the other House of Parliament, the Bill had been modified in several material particulars and with respect to some of its most objectionable provisions, and deeply did he regret to find that in passing through their Lordships' House, not only had every attempt at further improvement been successfully resisted, but it had been actually reinvested with much of that mischievous character of which the decisions of the House of Commons had partially deprived it. But if he had before objected to the measure, his objections had been materially strengthened by what he had heard in that House. The private halls which it was proposed to establish had been spoken of by a noble Earl, the other night, as likely to become retreats for Dissenters; and if it had been correctly assumed with respect to the students in those halls that they would not be required to attend the chapel worship, it would follow, as a necessary consequence, that they would not be able to enforce attendance on the divinity lectures of the University; and, in that case, what became of the protestations of noble Lords and right rev. Prelates opposite, that nothing would induce them to introduce anything which would in any way involve a departure upon the part of the University from her standard of teaching and doctrine? With respect to the expenses of education in private halls, much of what had been said was based upon fallacy and delusion. He held in his hand a statement, with which he would not trouble their Lordships, but which showed incontrovertibly that the necessary expenses in these new institutions must be greater than they were in the colleges, and that, taking the very lowest estimate, they could not be less than 21l. per term in the former case, as against 15l. in the latter. He could not but consider that there lurked in the present measure a desire to impair that close connection between the University and the established religion of the country, by which it had been hitherto so prominently distinguished, and which had caused it to be considered, not only in England, but throughout the civilised world, as the great bulwark of our Constitution in Church and State. Feeling so strongly as he did upon this subject, he deeply regretted that those right rev. Prelates who ought to have thrown their shields around the University had paired with those who had attacked its rights and privileges.


said, that he totally dissented from those provisions in the abstract which provided for the admission of Dissenters, and had consented to the Amendment, not because it involved his own views, but because it amounted to a mitigation of the evil. He objected to those provisions because they had formed no part of the original measure, and had no original connection with it, and because he considered it at variance with the permissive character of the Bill. But, beyond this, by the early clauses of the Bill, the Government had proceeded to frame a constitution which he admitted to be wise, and sound, and rational—which, upon their own hypothesis, was likely to work well, and had all the elements of reformation—and yet, before that constitution had been set at work, they virtually asserted that they could repose no confidence in the governing body they had created, and acted as though no new constitution were in existence, and as though the old Hebdomadal Board were still in force. But although they had admitted Dissenters to the University, and had relieved them of tests and subscriptions, they had not advanced them one iota nearer to that which they sought, which was, not a separate existence in private halls, but the equality of collegiate life; and this they could not give them, unless they gained the co-operation of the colleges. He looked upon the admission of the Dissenters, as effected by the present measure, as a mitigation of an evil which would have been incomparably worse had they been admitted to the government of the University. He would be the first to object to any penal restrictions, but he maintained that this was a question, not so much of the admission of Dissenters to the University as of the exclusion of the Church of England—a question of disqualifying the University for the education of members of the Church. That which was asked for was more than toleration; and if it were an act of generosity upon the part of Parliament towards one class, it was an act of generosity done at the expense of another. If it were summum jus it was also summa injuria; and if the effort should be crowned with success, he thought that the results were less likely to be peace and harmony than disorder and disunion. He could not forget that the Church of England was bound up with the University in all its associations; that it had followed that Church through evil report and good report, and was its organ and exponent in the great matter of education; and it seemed to him inevitable that if this policy were to be pursued further, its tendency must be to force the members of the Church of England to seek repose in other quarters, and to drive them into other institutions, as free as possible from Government control.


said, he was anxious to explain the vote he had given on a former occasion. He trusted that no one could imagine that he had voted against the establishment of private halls from apprehending any dangerous influence resulting from the admission of Dissenters; on the contrary, there was no portion of the Bill to which he attached so much importance as that which provided for the admission of Dissenters, because he believed that their admission would conduce to the interests of the University, to the interests of the Church, and to the interests of the great Dissenting bodies themselves. He believed, however, that to admit them at all with any hope of a beneficial result, they must admit them generously, and without any feelings of mistrust, upon the very terms of which his noble Friend was most apprehensive—upon terms of perfect equality. They would neither do justice to their own intentions nor make their legislation operative for good, if they intended to admit Dissenters upon terms which were unbecoming and unjust. He could not think that their unreserved admission would do any mischief to the Church or to the University. He felt that he might speak with authority much higher than his own upon this point, because, as long back as the year 1834, he had presented to the other House of Parliament a petition in favour of the admission of Dissenters to the University, which was signed by four of the most distinguished members of the episcopacy of this country, and by some of the most distinguished members of the University, by the Archbishop of York, Bishop Thirlwall, the late exalted Bishop Boustead, the Dean of Ely, the Astronomer Royal (Professor Airey), and many others equally known to Europe. Earl Grey had presented at the same time a similar petition to this House. He was entitled, therefore, to say, on the authority of those great men, that the admission of Dissenters would do no mischief whatever to the University. This petition simply entreated Parliament to allow the admission of Dissenters to the University. There was no question at that time of admitting Dissenters into a position which might be considered by themselves—or which might ultimately be understood by others, although not intended by those by whom the present Bill was proposed—to be degrading, unfavourable, or unequal; he thought that, unless they admitted the Dissenters upon terms which, as being just, ought to satisfy them, they had better not admit them at all. But if there were danger to the Church—which he denied if they dealt with this matter rightly—he thought that that danger would be created and carried to its greatest height if the Dissenters in the University were to be admitted on terms of inferiority, formed into small confederacies through the agency of these private halls, and cut off from communion and companionship with the undergraduate members of the Church who might be pursuing their education at the Universities. His noble Friend behind him (the Earl of Carnarvon) seemed to think that the admission of Dissenters was inconsistent with the principle—which he (Lord Monteagle) advocated as strongly as his noble Friend—of preserving the government of the colleges to the Church of England. But was it impossible to obtain this object without abandoning the other? It was not impossible to obtain it, unless, indeed, we were to assume that the Universities of England and the people of England were much less moderate, much less calm, much more likely to be excited by the violence of religious faction, than the Universities and the people of Ireland. From the year 1793 Roman Catholics and Dissenters had been admit- ted to the University of Dublin, and what had been the effect? Had it deranged in any degree the government of that University? Had it made the University less attached to the Church, or less effective as a school for the education of its members and ministers, than it would have been if the Roman Catholics and Dissenters had never been admitted? He had heard many charges against the University of Dublin, but he had never yet heard it alleged against her that she was not sufficiently orthodox to satisfy the desires even of the most orthodox among their Lordships. Well, then, if that were so, why could they not boldly effect at Oxford what had been already done at Dublin, and at once admit Dissenters frankly and freely—not into places which had been called "retreats," in which it is to be presumed they were to lurk and conceal themselves—but admit them in the open day to the full benefit of the education of the place, and allow them to take degrees in common with all other persons who received their education at that University? What was the object of these halls, and to what would their establishment lead? Were there not dangers to be apprehended intra muros et extra? Were there not persons now members of Convocation, who, under the provisions of this Bill, might set up schools or establishments of their own, under the name of private halls, in which something worse might be taught than any Dissenter would be likely to introduce? Might not undergraduates be taught to desert the doctrines, and yet adhere to the ordinances, of our Church under a false allegiance. It was said that there was power to refuse a licence for the establishment of a hall to any member of Convocation who might apply for it. But, as he read the Bill, it was obligatory on the authorities of the University to grant such a licence. He would take one case as an example. Mr. Newman, he believed, was at this moment a member of Convocation, and if he should apply for a licence for the establishment of a hall at Oxford, could he be refused, or had he a right to claim his admission? As he read the clause he must be admitted, because the only qualification prescribed was, that the applicant should be a member of Convocation. His great objection, however, to these private halls did not rest upon the possibility of a case of this kind occurring, but upon the fact that, by establishing these halls contemporaneously with the admission of Dissenters, they were practically proclaiming to Dissenters that they might enter these halls, but that these were the only places of education at Oxford into which they would be allowed to enter. He thought this would be objectionable to Dissenters, and dangerous to the Church and to the University, because it would draw a distinction between two classes, one belonging to the ancient colleges, and the other to these new halls, and with such a distinction, founded, as it would be, on religious grounds, they never could expect to see cordiality and good fellowship established. On the other hand, if they adopted the system of the University of Dublin, frankly admitting all to degrees, without admitting Dissenters to the government of the colleges, or of the University—he did not ask for that—they would be taking a course which, he ventured to say, would be safe to the University, a welcome concession to the Dissenters, and beneficial in every way to all classes in the State.


said, he could not assent to the parallel which the noble Lord had drawn between the Universities of Oxford and Dublin. Dublin was rather an examining University than a place of education; for, if he remembered rightly, a student might reside anywhere, at the Giant's Causeway if he pleased, and only need come up to Dublin twice a year in order to pass his examination.


said, that although he was not prepared for such a discussion as the present— for he thought the objections raised went to the principle of the Bill, and would have been made more properly upon the second reading—he was by no means disposed to complain that the speeches which they had heard had been delayed until that night, because, if his noble Friends opposite had made on Thursday night the observations which they had made to-night, they would scarcely have had any possibility of escape from dividing against the second reading. He would confine himself to making a few observations upon some of the points which had been touched upon by the noble Lords who had spoken. He thought that the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Malmesbury), who had charged against this Bill that it was an illiberal rather than a liberal measure, could scarcely have appreciated all that this Bill would effect for the benefit of the University of Oxford, and all that it would enable the University to effect for itself. That could not certainly be said to be an illiberal measure which took the government of an institution like the University out of the hands of a few men, elected for the government of their own particular societies—elected without any regard to their qualifications in reference to the University at large—holding their offices for life, and being irremovable—whose interests were frequently separate, and in many instances directly at variance from those of the persons whom they were called upon to govern. A government of that kind could not be called liberal, and could hardly be expected to produce good fruits. It was because they were deeply impressed with this consideration, that Her Majesty's Government had determined to lay the axe to the root of the evil, and to establish a principle of government which could not be characterised as illiberal—namely, a government based upon representation. His noble Friend complained that power had been taken out of the hands of the great mass of the University body in Convocation, and placed in the hands of Congregation, which was a smaller body, to the exclusion of the larger. But his noble Friend had fallen into some misapprehension with respect to the precise character of the body which he called a legislative body, created by a constituency of small numbers. He did not admit that the Hebdomadal Council was by any means correctly designated a legislative body. The legislation of the University was by no means concentrated in its hands. It would originate measures no doubt; but those measures would be subject to revision and rejection by Congregation, and Convocation would have the same power as it had had hitherto, of placing a veto upon any measure which it might think would not be advantageous to the University. The most important point on which the noble Earl had touched was that which related to private halls, and he objected to the proposed change as inconsistent with the constitution of the University, which had endured for 800 or 900 years, and had deprecated interfering with institutions so venerable. Now, he (Viscount Canning) could conceive no stronger reason, à priori, for reconsidering those institutions. Could his noble Friend put his finger on any one of our institutions—political, social, or religious—which had existed for anything like that time, and had not undergone great and important changes? The noble Earl had not stated the point with regard to the power of withholding licences with complete accuracy. He had stated that the Vice Chancellor would have no power to refuse a licence, if claimed by a person possessing certain qualifications. He (Viscount Canning) gave no opinion upon that point, but he wished to remind their Lordships that the University was not only authorised, but obliged, to prescribe what qualifications should be required, and what should be the conditions upon which alone the licence should be given. He did not desire to be understood as wishing that the University should act otherwise than liberally in fulfilling this obligation; but she would be perfectly mistress of her own position, and whatever qualifications or conditions she thought proper to lay down could not be barred or checked by any other authority. Dr. Newman had been referred to, and a suggestion had been made as to what might have happened if Dr. Newman had applied for a licence as master of a private hall. He supposed his noble Friend referred to the time when Dr. Newman was still a member of the Church of England, and resident, more or less, at Oxford. But surely his noble Friend would see that if it should be the pleasure of the University to leave any discretion to the Vice Chancellor who was to issue these licences—or if, in anticipation of such dangers as his noble Friend had had in his eye, it should make it necessary that the master should make a declaration of conformity with the Church of England— in any terms which the University might think proper to lay down—such conditions, framed in a cautious spirit, might surely meet the case of Dr. Newman, even at the time to which his noble Friend referred. He really did not see how the clauses relating to private halls, in connection with those relating to Dissenters, could with any justice, be considered as divorcing the University from its connection with the Church, or as likely to import into it polemical disputes. In the first place, the connection between the Church and the University, so far as it existed through the colleges, was altogether untouched by this Bill, and there was no intention on the part of the framers of the Bill to require the governing bodies of colleges to make any departure from the strictest rules of discipline and teaching which they might think best adapted to secure connection between the Church and the Uni- versity in its full integrity. It was conceded on all sides that the number of Dissenters who would be admitted would, probably, be comparatively small, and he did not think their admission at all likely to increase that warfare of opinion on matters of faith which had existed whilst the University was wholly closed against Dissenters. He doubted very much whether opening the door to a certain number of such members, who would pursue their studies and mix in habits of intimacy and friendship with members of different religious opinions, would have any tendency to increase at all the asperity or animosity with which questions of faith were now discussed; he was, on the contrary, much inclined to think that a larger difference of opinion, differences more openly avowed than those which existed between members of the same Church, would have a tendency to soften those feelings of variance, rather than to exasperate them. He cordially concurred in the wish expressed by the noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) with regard to the manner in which this change should have been effected. It would have given him much more satisfaction if it had been brought about by the free agency of the University itself, rather than by the intervention of an Act of Parliament; but he had explained at some length on a former occasion how it was these clauses now stood in the Bill. He explained how it had been the wish of Her Majesty's Government, to which they had openly and steadfastly adhered, that the proposal should have come from the University, and it was not until the other House had declared the contrary that they could bring themselves to deal with the question of Dissenters in this Bill at all. These clauses were, however, inserted, and he hoped ho should not be considered as using any argument unworthy for their Lordships to hear or for himself to express, though he knew it was liable to some misrepresentation, when he said that, as the other House had asserted by a large majority so decided an opinion, he earnestly trusted their Lordships would not endeavour to expunge these clauses, though fully entitled to do so. He did not urge that so much on account of the feeling of the other House of Parliament as for the sake of the University, for he conceived nothing could be more disastrous to the University than to leave it uncertain as to the opinion of Parliament—assured that in one House the opinion in favour of the admission of Dissenters was strong, decided, and unmistakable, and doubtful if in the other that opinion or a contrary one was entertained. To place the University in such a position would be to cramp all exercise of freedom on the subject, and, in fact, to transfer the scene of contention from within the walls of Parliament to the University itself. Feeling as he did, that if the hands of the University had been untied she would have taken this step on her own part, he earnestly deprecated any attempt to go back to the condition in which they were when this Bill was introduced, because he thought that the real intentions of the University could not then be carried out in consequence of the course which had already been taken in Parliament.


said, he would anticipate one great difficulty, which he did not see that the Bill would obviate. One of the most important parts of examination at Oxford was the divinity examination, and whether an undergraduate went in for the highest honours, or only an ordinary degree, the same extent of religious knowledge was exacted. Every person was required to possess, besides a knowledge of the Greek Testament, an accurate knowledge of the Thirty-nine Articles, and to be able to support that knowledge by texts from Scripture, and by his own reasoning. Such an examination, he considered, involved to a certain extent a profession of belief; and he did not see how the difficulty could be reconciled unless they exempted Dissenters from that part of the examination.

On Question, agreed to; Amendments reported accordingly; Amendments made.

On Clause 17 (Regulating the composition of Congregation).


rose to propose an Amendment to that part of the clause which enacted that Congregation should consist, in addition to the persons specifically named, of "all such persons as shall be provided to be added by election or otherwise to the said Congregation by any Statute of the University approved by the Commissioners, or, after the expiry of the Commission, passed by licence of the Crown." The Amendment was to insert after the word "Crown" the following words:—" Provided that at least two-thirds of the persons so to be added shall be such as have attained high honours in the said University, or such as are distinguished in literature, science, or art." The principal object which he hoped to accomplish by the adoption of the Amendment was the encouragement of the study of physical science at the University. When he was at Oxford this branch of study was at a low ebb, and he believed it had not made much progress since. Nevertheless, it was a study of the greatest importance at the present day. In proof of this he would quote a passage from the evidence of Mr. Lowe, the Member for Kidderminster: I must also"' says Mr. Lowe, "as a sincere well-wisher to the University, express my hope that the physical sciences will be brought much more prominently forward in the scheme of University education. I have seen in Australia Oxford men placed in positions in which they had reason bitterly to regret that their costly education, while making them intimately acquainted with remote events and distant nations, had left them in utter ignorance of the laws of nature, and placed them under immense disadvantages in that struggle with her which they had to maintain. The residents of Oxford lead a life of too much seclusion, and, therefore, he availed himself of the opportunity which this clause afforded of infusing what he might call a metropolitan element into the Congregation. The proposal which the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) made on a former evening to substitute Convocation for Congregation was not, in his opinion, judicious, because the great body of Convocation consisted of country clergymen, who knew much less about these matters than the Oxford residents; but the composition of the Congregation would be much improved by persons of the class pointed to in the Amendment. The phrase "high honours" employed in the Amendment was well understood in the University; but if any doubt prevailed on the subject, different words might be adopted to make the meaning clear. In framing the ruling body of the greatest educational institution in the country, Parliament ought to recognise the claims of education. The names of such men as Mr. Hallam and Sir Charles Lyell would confer honour on the body to which they might be attached. It was not, of course, to be supposed that these eminent men would be able to attend the meetings of the Congregation generally; but it was probable that they would be able to attend meetings for determining questions connected with studies and the appointment of professors; and their presence on such occasions would be of the greatest possible advantage, in consequence of their living in the world and being cognisant of the state of public opinion and of education at the present time. Whatever might be the result of his Motion, he could not regret having had the opportunity of advocating the extension of physical education, and he would at all times gladly lend a helping hand to improve an institution in which he must ever take a lively and enduring interest.


said, the tying the hands of the University was entirely contrary to the whole spirit in which the Bill was framed. There was great difficulty also in describing accurately the precise meaning of what they had in their minds. The expression used in the noble Lord's Amendment was, "such as have attained high honours." Now he could easily conceive the case of a double second-class man, who, perhaps, not aiming at honours, had been invited subsequently to continue his examination. He believed they might, with perfect safety, leave the University free and unrestrained, confident that the object of the noble Lord's proposal, in which the Government sympathised, would be attained.

Amendment negatived.


suggested that a preliminary examination for students entering the University would have a good effect on the schools where the youths of the middle and upper classes were educated, and tend to remove the great difficulty at Oxford, the inefficiency of the previous training of the undergraduates.

On Clause 28,


said, that before their Lordships passed the 28th clause he wished to make an explanation with regard to an argument which he used upon the clause in Committee. Their Lordships would remember that upon that occasion he argued in favour of giving power to the colleges to convert their class fellowships into exhibitions, and maintained that those fellowships did not give so much encouragement to the schools with which they were connected as the same amount of endowment would give if thrown into the form of exhibitions. In urging that argument upon their Lordships he alluded to the case of the Abingdon School and Pembroke College; but the report of what he then addressed to their Lordships had been much misunderstood by a party greatly interested in that report. The Master of the Abingdon School felt himself aggrieved, because he understood from the report that the present state of the school was spoken of as being depressed and abject. That, however, was not what he said. What he was urging upon their Lordships at the time was, that the Abingdon School was a good example of the little encouragement which close fellowships give to the school itself; but he was not alluding to the present condition of the school, because he knew that the Abingdon School had lately had the advantage of an active master, who had done a great deal to raise its character. He was referring to the state of the school a few years ago, when, with all the advantages of its close fellowships, it was reduced to nine scholars, not having one single boarder among them. Therefore, his argument was conclusive; but he did not mean to say what the reverend gentleman had understood him to say, that the Abingdon School was at the present time in a state which would prevent parents sending their children to it; he knew, indeed, that the present master had made great efforts to improve the condition of the school, and with very considerable expense.


said, that he had received a letter from the Bishop of Exeter with reference to the published report of what he had said while discussing the 28th clause upon a former occasion. The Bishop stated that he was reported to have said, with regard to the case of Exeter College, that the bishop of the diocese as visitor had refused his assent to any change in the Statutes of the college. If he did use those words, which he certainly was inclined to think he did not use, it was not right to have done so, because he was fully aware that the Bishop of Exeter had, upon many very important points, assented to suggestions made to him by the authorities of Exeter College. But he was also aware—which, indeed, the Bishop stated in his letter—that upon other points he had either delayed or refused his assent to the suggestions of the college; and accordingly he did cite the case of Exeter College and its visitor, because in replying to Lord Derby, who pressed upon him very strongly the propriety of requiring the consent of the visitor to any step taken towards the improvement of the college, he argued that that would be a very doubtful benefit to the college itself, inasmuch as, if the consent of the visitor was necessary, and if the visitor upon any pint should refuse his consent to a proposed change, the consequence would be that the college would by that refusal at once lapse into the hands of the Commissioners, and, instead of being at liberty to deal with its own affairs upon its own rules, would pass over to the judgment of the Commissioners acting upon theirs.

Upon the 43rd clause (providing that no oath should be necessary on taking a degree, save the oath of allegiance),


moved the following addition to the clause— But such degree shall not as such constitute any qualification for the holding of any office which has been heretofore always held by a member of the Church of England, and for which such degree in the said University has heretofore constituted one of the qualifications, until the person obtaining such degree shall have subscribed a declaration before a magistrate testifying that he is a member of such Church.


said, that the intention of the proposed addition was very good, and one in which he entirely concurred.


thought that the effect of the Amendment would be to make the clause more stringent, which he was sure was not the object their Lordships had in view.


suggested that the 43rd clause should be omitted altogether, and the following substituted— Such a degree shall not constitute any qualification for the holding of any office which has been heretofore always held by a member of the Church of England, unless the person on taking his degree shall have made the declaration now prescribed by law.


thought that the clause suggested by the right rev. Prelate would be more stringent than that in the Bill as it now stood.


said, he would not press his Amendment.

Clause agreed to.

Further Amendments made; and Bill to be read 3a on Thursday next.