rose to move for leave to introduce a Bill to regulate admission to the lay or secular chairs of the Universities of Scotland. The hon. Member said, that although his Motion was very similar to one which had been rejected last year, he hoped that Her Majesty's Ministers would, on account of circumstances which did not then exist, but which had since occurred, allow him to introduce the Bill. The two Acts of the Scottish Parliament regulating the admission to the chairs of the Universities were passed in 1609 and 1707 respectively. The one enacted that all the office-bearers of the Scotch Universities should sign the Confession of Faith; the other required subscription to the Oath of Allegiance as well as the Confession of Faith of 1609. Now, in no one of the Scotch Universities had these Acts been enforced in terms as to all the office-bearers. In the University of Edinburgh they had been entirely in abeyance and disuse. He proposed in the Bill he had framed to provide, that hereafter it should not be necessary for any teacher or professor in any lay or secular chair in any Scotch University to make the declarations required by those Acts of Parliament. He proposed to leave untouched all chairs which were connected with the teaching of the candidates for orders, or with the theological faculty. The chairs from the admission to which he desired to remove the existing restrictions, were those connected with literature and science. The theological chairs he did not seek to interfere with at all. To a large portion of his countrymen, particularly those who, in consequence of the late differences in the Church of Scotland, were now placed in the position of dissenters from that Church, those restrictions would be felt as a great grievance and an insult. The opinions of the professors of the Universities themselves, too, were generally opposed to the continuance of the restrictions. The Senatus Academicus of Edinburgh had met, and all professors and teachers of the University, of the metropolis of Scotland, were, with one exception only, favourable to the removal of those restrictions; and in Aberdeen, King's College, which was the most exclusive of all the Scotch Universities, and the most reluctant to admit any reform in the collegiate institutions of Scotland—the question having come under discussion, and the 12 numbers being equal on both sides, a casting vote against their continuance had been given. In Marischal College, Aberdeen, there was a decided majority against them; and in St. Andrew's, two-thirds of the whole body were opposed to them. In Glasgow, opinion was divided in about the same proportion; while in Edinburgh, as he had said, the opinion was all but unanimous. Therefore he had the authority of all the colleges in favour of the proposition he was about to submit. There was another point to which he would especially direct the attention of the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, as forming an additional ground for the change he proposed to effect. Last year the right hon. Baronet, in the course of a conversation that occurred in reference to the late discussion in the Church, referred to some transactions that had taken place at Dundee, as evincing symptoms of a reaction in a prospect of a speedy return of the Free-Church party to the Church from which they had seceded. He had stated at the time that he thought the right hon. Baronet had formed the opinion on fallacious grounds; and he was now prepared to say that the Free-Church party, instead of showing any symptoms of reaction, or evincing any desire or disposition to return, had become firmer than ever in their secession, and had constituted themselves into a body in dissent from the Church. And on a recent occasion, the importance of having a college in connexion with the Free Church having been discussed and admitted, the question arose whether it might not be possible, without calling upon the poorer members to subscribe, or entrenching upon their already limited means for such an object, to carry it out by the subscriptions of the more wealthy of that body; which question was decided in the course of three weeks by twenty of the leading members of the Free Church coming forward with subscriptions to the amount of 20,000l., or 1,000l. each. If, therefore, the existing restrictions were continued, there could be no doubt that the consequence would be the establishment of a rival college, and instead of a common education, with all its beneficial influence on society, they would have a sectarian education, with all its evils spreading from one end of Scotland to the other. If they refused the measure he proposed, they would have a sectarian college established, and the dissenting youth would be taught 13 apart from the rest of the youth of Scotland, and they would destroy that charitable and humanizing feeling which resulted from a common education. And what was it that he was asking the House to do? He was asking them to remit restrictions that, as the law now stood, might be enforced for political, mischievous, and improper purposes. In point of fact, he was asking them to do nothing that had not been done by the Scotch Universities for many years past, and for the last sixty years by the University of Edinburgh. In the University of Edinburgh at this time, the nonconforming members included the Lord Rector, and eleven professors. In the University of Glasgow, there were the chancellors and five professors; in St. Andrew's there was the Principal; in King's College, Aberdeen, there were three professors, one lecturer, the Lord Rector, and four assessors; in Marischal College, there were the Lord Rector and two of his assessors, two professors, and two lecturers, who did not conform to the Established Church. There were thirteen Presbyterian Dissenters who, notwithstanding those statutory restrictions, held office in the Universities; they were not originally admitted as Presbyterian Dissenters, he owned, but had become so in consequence of their having joined the Free Church; but, excepting this thirteen, there were also twenty-seven (that, he believed, was the number) persons who belonged to the Episcopal Church, and had been admitted to hold positions in the Colleges of the several Universities of Scotland, notwithstanding the provision of the Statutes to which he had alluded. The only parties against whom the law was intended to apply were Episcopalians; and yet they found that from the time almost immediately subsequent to the Union, Episcopalians had held offices in the Scotch Universities, from which the rigid enforcement of the Statutes must have excluded them. If those Statutes had been strictly enforced, the two right hon. Baronets opposite (Sir R. Peel and Sir J. Graham), who had preceded him (Mr. Rutherfurd) in the office he had now the honour to hold (Lord Rector of Glasgow University) never could have filled that appointment; and yet when his right hon. Friend near him (Mr. Fox Maule) was about to be inducted into the same situation, he had to enter the office under a protest unless he produced those certificates which had not been demanded on similar occasions for sixty years before. This proved that the institution might be 14 revived for political or interested purposes. The case of Dr. Brewster afforded a more recent and a still stronger instance of the injustice of leaving the law in its present state. Dr. Brewster, as was well known, had long filled the Principal's chair at St. Andrew's, and having joined the seceding party, the University proposed to enforce the law against him, and to eject him from his office. He mentioned this to show that if the law remained as it was, no man who was presented to the chair of mathematics or philosophy in any Scotch University had any security that some person might not afterwards come forward and call upon him to conform to the Statutes, for the purpose of excluding him. And who were the persons they would thus exclude? Within the last fortnight a gentleman had been carried to his grave who had commanded more private affection and more public regard than, perhaps, any other man who had recently expired—a gentleman who had taken a high and prominent position in the great movement that had separated the Church of Scotland—a gentleman firm and determined in his line of action, but at the same time, of all the men concerned in the great movement, the most moderate in counsel and the most temperate in language—a man who had never uttered a word or did a deed intended to give offence. That man (Dr. Walsh) filled a professor's chair in the University of Edinburgh, and he also held the appointment of Secretary to the Bible Board. Acting upon his own conviction of what was right, having separated from the Church, he at once resigned the theological chair at the University; but at the suggestion of his friends, with whom he agreed in the opinion that there was nothing in the constitution of the Bible Board that required his removal from it, he did not think it necessary at the same time to resign his office as its secretary. That appointment was taken from him—he would not say from vindictive motives; but he must say that the act that deprived that gentleman of the appointment was a harsh use of authority, and it was an act which had given to the Free-Church party in Scotland a more just ground of offence, had tended more to widen the breach between the two parties, and to render reconciliation impossible, than anything else that had occurred. With such facts as those before them, they could not think that the Free Dissenters would trust that these laws might not hereafter be enforced 15 against them, although in the past circumstances of the country it had not been done; and his object, therefore, was to take away the paltry and vindictive power of doing that mischief in future. He contended, and he believed, no bearded man would at this period contend that it was necessary to have certain religious tests applied to professors other than those of theology. The professorial chairs had been filled by men of various creeds, and no one had ever surmised danger either to the Universities or the Church from the selections that had been made. Professors belonging to the Dissenting body, and to the Free Church, had been elected to the different chairs, and they had discharged their various duties so as to impair neither the honour nor the efficiency of the Establishment. So far as he could judge, the present question was entirely Scottish in its character, and had nothing whatever to do with the English Universities. The English Universities stood on their own endowments—they were maintained on a system utterly unknown in Scotland. The youth in the English Universities formed part of a large family in which religious teaching and secular instruction went hand in hand. But it was different in the Scottish Colleges; the students there experienced none of that college life which was part of the university system in England. He would say it, for it was to the honour of his country, that not only education was open to all creeds in one University, but all the honours which the University had to bestow were given without reference to religious belief. And why should not professors, teaching only literature or science, be selected from men of talent of all creeds? They had been told before, and they might be told again, that the Act of Union interposed difficulties—and persons might go back to that when their object was to defeat a change; but, according to his reading of the true history of his country, it was a deviation from the Act of Union, it was a Statute inconsistent with it, that first brought out the principle of dissent. It was the Statute of 1711, recalling the Statute of 1690, that had produced a change in the patronage, and had first led to dissent; but no allusion was made to the Act of Union when they passed Lord Aberdeen's Act last year. But was it not a grief when a large party—the majority of his countrymen—were precluded by law from obtaining the academical honour of becoming teachers and professors? Was it 16 no indignity to literature and science—to those who had devoted their lives to it, to find such a state of things? Now was a fair opportunity to interpose. Never was the grievance so strong as it was now, in consequence of the existing dissent, which involved the exclusion of more than one-half of those who were formerly within the pale of the Church. He asked for leave, then, to bring in this Bill in the name of that majority, armed too with the approbation and sanction of all the Universities in Scotland, and supported by the long-continued usage of the country; and he trusted they would see that the exceptions to that usage had been bigoted and illiberal exceptions, which, if continued, would be at the expense of destroying the advantages of common and general education in Scotland, and of inflicting a deep and serious wound on all the Universities in that country by the establishment of a Dissenting College, which he should not like to see established if these disabilities could be removed, but which he should not be sorry to see established if they were continued against the feeling of the country, which had been so strongly manifested. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving for leave to bring in his Bill.
§ Mr. Home Drummond
wished to explain that the Report of the University Commissioners which he had signed, and which had been referred to as an authority against the proposal of his hon. and learned Friend opposite, had been drawn up nearly twenty years ago. Many changes in laws and politics had since taken place, and circumstances were now materially different. There was then no complaint against the Statute, and no grievance before the Commissioners. No one proposed to repeal it, and that question was not discussed. It was a natural thing to say, "Here is a regulation enforced in some places, and not in others; why should not the practice be uniform." Circumstances were now entirely changed. There was an important new feature in the case. The Universities themselves now asked for an alteration of the law as a measure for their own protection. There was now a grievance to redress, and he hoped his right hon. Friends would not find it so difficult to deal with the question as formerly. The late secession from the Church had occasioned the complaints; but his hon and learned Friend was too able an advocate to rest his case on such narrow grounds. He had argued for the change 17 as a measure of liberal policy, and enlightened administration; and it was on this ground he (Mr. Drummond) wished to support it. He had voted repeatedly against Motions for interfering with the English Universities, and he had seen no cause to change his opinion. "The case of the Scotch colleges is quite different, as my hon. and learned Friend has explained. There is no analogy between them. Every Scotchman knows that the Scotch colleges are not intended for the education of persons of any particular religious denomination, but are open to all: and that religious opinions are never interfered with by any professor out of the theological department. No doubt this state of things, together with the fact that the Statute has been in a great measure in non-observance with regard to the professors, is an argument against the extent of the grievance; but no one can say that, practically, the regulation has, for a long time, served any useful purpose; and, if it be felt as a grievance, why should it be retained? If the patronage of the professorships be considered, there would be little ground for alarm. In all the colleges but Edinburgh, it is vested almost entirely either in the professors themselves, or in the Crown. And, at Edinburgh, however doubtful in theory the election of professors by the town council may appear, there is no doubt that the patronage has always been excellently administered by persons of the most opposite political opinions, who have at different times composed the council; and we have no reason to fear that they will not continue, in future as in time past, to select the best professors they can find, without regard to the religious denomination to which they may belong. There may be other considerations to which the Government are bound to attend, but I hope there are none that would ultimately stand in the way of the desired improvement."
would be glad if Government would consent to the first reading of the Bill, and thus give time to hon. Members to consider the whole scope and tendency of the Act. He would not reply to the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Rutherfurd) further than to say that he could not find words strong enough to express the intensity of his difference from the hon and learned Gentleman, with respect to his declaration, that in 1845 no bearded man could maintain the opinion 18 that religious creeds ought to have anything to do with professorial chairs for literature and science. He would not discuss the point; but he begged to say he could not state his objections too strongly to such a doctrine. If it were so that in Scotland all revealed religion was distinctly repudiated, and science and literature were to rest on their own bases as human attainments, and if it were to be understood that the chairs of science and literature would be best furnished without such tests—if it were also established that for a long time this had been the recognised practice, and that it carried with it the general mind, he still thought they ought to pause before they applied principles they held dear in the case of their own country to Scotland. He thought no one could have observed what had taken place during the last ten years in Scotland without seeing that much of the life blood in the Church in Scotland had gone forth from it. This had much weight with him in deciding this question, and he, therefore, hoped the Bill would not be rejected on the first reading.
§ Sir J. Graham
said: I cannot commence the observations I am about to address to the House, without complimenting the hon. Gentleman on the tone of his speech, and the great ability and fairness with which he stated the question. But there are several omissions which he made, which I think it right to call to the recollection of the House. First of all, I think it is our imperative duty to regard this question distinctly as a Scottish question. There are great distinctions to be made in so considering it. There are the peculiarities of the Scottish law—the peculiarity of the relation of the Scotch Universities and the Church of Scotland, and the discipline of those Universities; and I think the hon. Gentleman most fairly put it to the House, that, bearing in mind those distinctions, we must not confound the question of the Scotch Universities with that of the English Universities. At the same time, I am bound to say that this question cannot be regarded with reference only to the Scotch Universities. There is another party—an important party—a party which, for a long time, was undivided and dominant in Scotland, and which, although recently divided, is still a powerful body, to be regarded with great consideration by the Ministers of the Crown—I mean, the Church of Scotland. Let me call to the attention of the House the peculiarity of the obligation on 19 the part of the Legislature to the Church of Scotland, and also to the intimate connexion which has always existed since that relation was established between the Scotch Universities and the Established Church. Before the Union in 1690, within two years of the great revolution in this country, William III. wisely, but reluctantly, consented to the establishment of the Presbyterian religion in Scotland. Almost simultaneously with the Act which established the Presbyterian religion as the religion of Scotland—it was within six weeks—an Act was passed by the Scotch Parliament connecting the Universities with that Church, and, for the first time, that Act introduced the test which has subsisted since that time to this day. It is said that it was levelled against the Episcopalian body—it was introduced avowedly for the purpose of strengthening the Establishment, and guarding it against its enemies, who, by obtaining an ascendancy in the Universities, might materially injure that Church. That was the Act of the Scottish Parliament, and it remained in force from 1690 until the period of the Union with England. Now, be it observed that, simultaneously with the Act of Union—upon the very day that Act received the Royal Assent—the Act of Security was passed, receiving the Royal Assent at the same time with the former, which involved all the provisions of the Act of 1690, with reference to the test imposed upon professors and office-bearers in the Scotch Universities. It was made one of the fundamental conditions of the Union with England, and there is a very remarkable expression embodied in the Act of Union itself. It is this—that although the British Parliament should be at perfect liberty to take within the bounds of England what security it might think fit for the maintenance of the Established Church of England, yet it debarred the British Parliament from taking any step with reference to the Established Church of Scotland which should have the effect of derogating from this security. Amongst other securities is the one which we are now discussing, and it is prominently and signally specified. It must be remembered, however, that although a great majority of the advisers of the Crown are Episcopalians, and though in this House the Presbyterian Members are a small minority, we are dealing with a fundamental Article of the Union, to which the people of Scotland, from the earliest times, have attached the greatest importance; and at 20 the time of the Union, when the terms of the fundamental settlement were adjusted, they did not press for hard conditions, but were satisfied by carrying two great objects — their national judicature and their national Church; and having carried these two, they have raised a lasting monument of national independence and great public virtue. At the same time I must say that, if any alteration is to be made in this matter, I agree with the hon. Gentleman that this is the moment for making it; for I feel that the hon. Gentleman has in the most, fair manner—not urging it as a threat, but stating it as well worthy of the consideration of a deliberative assembly—he has brought under our notice the fact, that there is about to be established in Scotland a University of a decidedly Dissenting character—the funds are provided, and the college is about to be established. If the instruction is confined to theological teaching, there is no danger; but if, from any refusal on the part of the Legislature to reconsider this question of a religious test, as applied to instruction in literature and science, the statement of the hon. Gentleman be correct, that the dissatisfaction on the part of those who are not members of the Church at such a refusal will be so strong, that the great body of the youth of Dissenters in Scotland will be drawn from the national establishments of education, and will flock to the new College—then, indeed, the danger is not imaginary, but the practical evil will be seriously great. I endeavour to look at this matter candidly, in the advice I shall tender to the Crown; and I am bound to ask myself, if that event should take place, will it be conducive or otherwise to the maintenance of the Church as now established? Amongst the many singular advantages enjoyed by the people of Scotland, which have advanced the prosperity of that country in the last century to a degree of preeminence of which Scotchmen may well be proud, I know none that has been practically so conducive to their greatness and prosperity as the absence of sectarian education in that country. Their differences have been not about doctrine, but about discipline. There has been, therefore, in that country one undivided system of national education, extending from the Universities to the parish schools, and harmony and concord on that subject have subsisted for more than a century. I again, therefore, ask the question whether, if it be proved that there is danger with reference 21 to the establishment of a Dissenting College and school of education, will it be conducive to the concord of that country that such a system of education should for the first time be established? I cannot say it would be at all safe on the part of the Government to commit itself to the abrogation of a test which has existed for more than a century and a half, and which has, practically, been enforced since the Union; but the question now is, shall a test framed a hundred years ago, against a danger that has practically vanished, but which, if enforced, would embitter religious controversies, and probably have the effect of dividing the system of education in Scotland, be, in present circumstances, abrogated or continued? That is a matter so materially affecting the Church of Scotland, and the feelings and interests of the people of that country, that I think the British Legislature are bound deeply to weigh and consider it; and it would be imprudent on the part of the Government to give any distinct pledge as to the course they may feel it their duty ultimately to follow. But there is one circumstance that has occurred since this matter was discussed last Session, to which I will refer. My right hon. Friend has this morning received a deputation from the Universities of Scotland; and certainly the fact appears to be, that, amidst the numerous professors of Edinburgh, I believe with one solitary exception, there is a concurrent desire that this test should be abolished. In the University more especially connected with the Church of Scotland—I mean St. Andrew's—if I mistake not, two-thirds of the professors are in favour of the abrogation; and at Glasgow also the professors in favour of it are in the same proportion. I stated on a former occasion, what I sincerely think, that there may be difficulty in drawing distinctly a line of demarcation between theological teachers and general teachers in science; and I cannot but think that there is a certain risk, in lectures not connected with religion, of some opinions adverse to the Church being introduced; but my opinion inclines to the belief that the danger is less from the intermixture of dissenting opinions with literature and science, than from the certain and inevitable evil of a distinct Dissenting College. This fear weighs with me so much, that I do not think that at this moment, which I admit to be critical, it would be wise to refuse the hon. Gentleman leave to bring in his Bill; but I hope he will not press on the second read- 22 ing until the people of Scotland have had ample time to express their opinion. That opinion ought to have the greatest weight with the British Parliament—the feelings and wishes of the people of Scotland ought to be dominant on this question. At the same time, the opinion I so strongly expressed last year, I to a certain extent still entertain. I am bound to state that this test, which it is now proposed to remove, and which was framed against other dangers, was nevertheless framed for all time as a safeguard against the admission to power of teachers in the Scotch Universities who might seek, either directly or indirectly, to injure or subvert the Church of Scotland. There has been a lamented schism in that Church; and I must say, that many of the most eminent divines who have seceded, when members of it, would have been found very reluctant to part with the security we are now discussing. I believe that that most distinguished individual, Dr. Chalmers, had he remained a member of the Established Church, would have been found amongst the most strenuous opponents to the abrogation of the test. That is a very important consideration. I feel all the delicacy of the question; but my earnest and sincere wish is, seeing all the difficulties and dangers, to give such advice as shall be most conducive, under the circumstances of the recent schism, to the happiness and concord of the people pf Scotland, and to the maintenance of the Church as by law established.
§ Mr. F. Maule
felt satisfied that the conduct which Her Majesty's Government were pursuing upon this occasion would have the effect of healing many of the differences which unhappily prevailed in Scotland on the subject of the proposed Bill, and to allay much of the strong feeling which had been excited with reference to it. He regarded the conduct of the Government as the forerunner of great good to his native country. He confessed he should contemplate with great alarm the establishment in Scotland of a college of such a nature as that, coupled with the circumstances of the times, which might cause the education of youth to assume a sectarian character. He wished further to say, that the conduct of the Government was not only satisfactory in the view of its having a tendency to heal the wounded feelings which existed, but he also considered their conduct judicious as regarded 23 the question itself. He repeated that he fully approved of the policy of the Government, for he considered that the right hon. Gentleman was not to blame for the caution that he thought it necessary to exercise. No one could doubt this, that the more the question was looked into the more evident it would appear that there were serious difficulties to be overcome; at the same time, it must be admitted that some of the difficulties were represented rather more strongly than they really existed; and it was not to be forgotten that the strong grounds for those tests had long since vanished; and he felt bound to state, with every possible respect for the Established Church of Scotland, that he thought measures might be devised on the subject of tests, which were likely to prove satisfactory to all classes of the community in that part of the United Kingdom, and which he trusted would have the effect of saving Scotland from the commencement of a sectarian controversy; and which would also secure to the youth of that country all the benefits of an education derived from those old, venerable, and useful institutions which had long been so advantageous to the country.
§ Leave given to bring in the Bill.