§ MR. HEYWOOD
rose to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice, for an Address to Her Majesty for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin. He said that the exertions of his predecessors in the cause of university reform had been attended with beneficial results, and he referred to the debates in the House of Commons, in 1772, to the petition of the sixty-three members of the senate of the University of Cambridge, in 1834, which was followed by Mr. Wood's Bill for the removal of religious tests. The Earl of Radnor had subsequently distinguished himself in the promotion of academical reform, as well as the right hon. Gentleman the Master of the Mint, the hon. and gallant Member for Middlesex, Mr. Christie, and others. If a stranger were now to visit Oxford and Cambridge, he would be surprised to notice that none of the tutors of colleges were married. Instances might be cited in which some of the ablest tutors in those seats of learning had preferred burying themselves in an obscure living in the country, rather than remain an ornament to their educational profession under a law of celibacy. Most of the conditions under which the property of the several colleges had been left, had to a great extent died out; and it seemed to him that at the present day very little of the intentions of the founders were observed. It was desirable, therefore, that inquiries should be made, not only into this property, but into the conditions upon which it was 692 held. On looking over the charters of the universities, he found that they were accountable to Parliament. Under the charters of King James I., the burgesses for the universities were liable to be called upon to present true accounts to Parliament of the state of the universities and colleges which they represented. Thus, in the Cambridge charter, the burgesses for the University were required from time to time, "to make known to the High Court of Parliament the true state of the said university and of each college, hall, and hostel therein." The charter of the University of Oxford was the same; and the charter of the University of Dublin was very similar. So that under these charters he had a right to call upon the representatives of those learned universities to make known their true state. He contended, also, that though the colleges had enormous incomes, but little was done in the way of education. King's College, Cambridge, had now an income of 20,000l. a year, yet the whole number of students it maintained was only 13; New College, Oxford, was a similar institution with an income of between 15,000 and 16,000l. a year, and there were several other instances of a small number of students maintained in colleges of large income. It appeared to him the public were interested in making these colleges open institutions, so that they should educate a larger number of persons, and that the fellows should not be merely occupied in sitting in their rooms, eating dinners, going to chapel, reading books, and otherwise amusing themselves. The fellows should have something to do; and the more the subject was investigated, the more would it be found that some part of the collegiate revenues might be dispensed more usefully in other ways. Some funds, for example, might be devoted to the university libraries. At present every author was obliged to send a copy of his works to each of the universities; and yet, at the Bodleian, in Oxford, no person could take out a single book, though thousands were sent there annually. Notwithstanding the large income of the colleges of Oxford, the university, considered as a separate institution, was comparatively poor; and there was a subscription going round among the friends of the university, at this moment, for a museum which was in the course of establishment—and that, too, when the income arising from fellowships must be about 120,000l. per annum. At Cambridge the sums raised for the fellow- 693 ships was about 90,000l. per annum; and at Dublin it was 30,000l., including the provost's estates. If a true return were to be laid before the House of the revenue of these various institutions, Parliament would be able to judge much more accurately of the best mode to be adopted to increase their utility, especially as he did not see how the colleges themselves could well interfere. In several colleges they were prohibited by the statutes from making any alteration whatever; in proof of which he might quote the oaths taken by the fellows of King's College, Cambridge, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Under these oaths they could not introduce any alterations without the interference of some superior body; and he believed the best body to suggest changes would be a board of commissioners. Royal Commissioners had been appointed in the reigns of Henry VIII., Edward VI., and Elizabeth; and it was to the alterations made in the laws of the University of Oxford by Archbishop Laud that he attributed much of the present state of things. Laud was desirous to visit the University of Cambridge; but the Puritan party there were too strong to submit to archiepiscopal visitation. He suggested that the faculty of theology might be advantageously revised. A tutor in some of the colleges was often employed to teach Greek, Latin, mathematics, logic, and divinity, so that it was utterly impossible that he could properly prepare himself on these different subjects. He believed that one-fourth of the students at Oxford were annually plucked; and the reason usually given was that they had not succeeded in the divinity examinations. No tutor could lecture to young men of nineteen or twenty, who had already acquired considerable information, unless he had had sufficient time to prepare himself. It was of importance to the Church itself that there should be really good lectures upon theology; and in the University of Oxford it would be better that some more modern substitute should be found in the undergraduate course, for that dogmatic divinity which was so difficult to study in early youth, and at the same time so little in harmony with the present, age. With regard to the landed properties of the colleges, he was sure that they might be made to return larger incomes if they were properly looked into. Christ Church had some land in his own county, from which a considerable profit might be derived if better 694 arrangements were made, fines given up, and the ordinary system of leasing resorted to. The college property in Ireland was greatly mismanaged. On some estates in Kerry, the tenantry were extremely wretched; they were ground down by the system of middlemen, and the indifference or ignorance of Trinity College was really surprising. One fellow know so little about the matter, that he actually inquired if the whole of Kerry did not belong to the college. There was an ancient law of Trinity College, Dublin, that, as the profits of the estates increased, they should be divided in proportion among the officers of the college. This, he believed, was not at present the case; at all events, he should be happy to hear that the junior fellows and scholars received an increase of salary in proportion to the increase of the estates, for he believed the salary they now received was very moderate. The university of Dublin was, in fact, the great literary institution for the whole of Ireland; and the excellent colleges founded by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, at Cork, Belfast, and Galway, were only feeders or grammar schools to Trinity College, Dublin. Another subject of consideration with reference to Dublin College, was the compulsory taking of the sacrament, which in some instances operated with great hardship. A Roman Catholic student lately, by his ability and talent, gained a scholarship at Trinity College, and, on declining to take the sacrament, he was refused admission to this little office. He spoke not of the amount, which he believed was only 25l. a year, but it was the degradation inflicted on Roman Catholics by not allowing them admission to a scholarship. He had thought that with the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts such a test would have been abolished; yet he believed that in Dublin a scholar was paid 50l. a year for performing the office of marking the names of those who attended the sacrament. He did not see why Roman Catholics or Dissenters might not enjoy the endowments of the lay fellowships. There could be no great difficulty in this, but the first step to it would be a searching inquiry. With regard to the tests at Oxford, he must say he never saw a greater farce or humbug than the signature to the Thirty-nine Articles at matriculation. The students did not seem to think at all of that part of the ceremony. And with respect to tests on degrees, both at Oxford and 695 Cambridge, he might say that it was mean and degrading in such distinguished bodies to maintain such a mode of proselytism. He did not consider it altogether gentlemanly. But if they permitted these tests to continue, the representatives of the people would not, for Parliament had a duty to perform which he was only sorry to observe had remained in abeyance so long. He should, therefore, be glad if the House would consent to the inquiry. At all events, he was sure the day was not far distant when a thorough investigation would be made into these subjects. At present too much was thought in the universities of ancient usages and ancient learning, whilst modern literature was neglected, including both that of our own native land, and of other European countries. How ignorant, for instance, was many an Oxford and Cambridge man of French and German literature! He was glad that in the University of Oxford there had been some encouragement of late for modern subjects. But he considered that that improvement would not be complete without connecting endowments with the new examinations, because it would be found that a purely voluntary examination, unaccompanied by any pecuniary recompense, would not excite that zeal and energy which endowments would be sure to create. He thought that on subjects like these the deliberations of such men as Mr. Macaulay and Mr. Arthur Stanley (son of the late Bishop of Norwich) and the Dean of Ely, would be of great importance. He must now allude to another extraordinary circumstance connected with these universities, which was, that although electors might vote for other Members of the House of Commons without having taken any religious test whatever, no elector could vote for a representative of either of the ancient English universities without having signed the Thirty-nine Articles. In his own case, he would have been happy to have voted at the last election for the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Goulburn), and for Mr. John Shaw Lefevre; but by the laws of the University he could not even be registered as an elector. There was also this great fault in the electoral system of these universities, that if a name was once struck off the register, it could not be registered again without the party residing one or more terms. It was a mistake to suppose, as some did, that these universities were exclusively devoted to the education of the clergy, be- 696 cause it appeared that only one half of the students received testimonials for holy orders. The other half were laymen, and became members of the bar, and of other professions. He thought it would be for the general interest of the country that a more liberal system of admission to these universities should prevail. He did not think that the establishment of the University of London sufficiently met the difficulty which was felt on the subject. He begged also to notice, before sitting down, the evils which arose from the extravagance of the students. From the facilities which were afforded to them by tradesmen for getting into debt, many young men were plunged into embarrassment for the rest of their lives. He had heard lately of a clergyman who had only succeeded in paying off his debts at an advanced period of life. Measures should be taken to check this system, such as providing that debts should not be legally recoverable from a person under age, unless the bills had been sent in to the parents or guardians within six months after having been contracted. He remembered, in his own case, one bill which had not been sent in for three years. How was it possible to test the accuracy of items under such circumstances? The scenes that occasionally occurred in consequence of such extravagance were much to be lamented. He remembered one young man who, during his year as a freshman at Cambridge, had spent 2,000l. He (Mr. Heywood) went one day to his chambers, and found him locked up in his bedroom, while in the sitting room three or four creditors were ranged on one side of the table, and three or four undergraduates on the other, the latter with their fists doubled to knock down the tradesmen the moment any of them attempted to force a way into the bedroom. The young man escaped at night through a back window, and went off to the West Indies. Perhaps there were noble Lords in that House who could bear testimony to the extravagance of the universities. He had heard of a noble Lord who had covered his father's table with bills on his return from Oxford. He thought, too, it would be improvement if the students all were the same kind of dress, instead of undergraduates of different ranks having as at present to wear different dresses. In conclusion, he considered that the upper classes of the country would gain very much by a reform of the universities; while it would only be a measure of justice to persons in the middle 697 classes of society, many of whom, from their conscientious opinions, were at present excluded from those great seats of learning. He would merely further state, that he should be sincerely rejoiced if the House would give their approval to the Motion which he had the honour now to propose.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That all systems of academical education require from time to time some modification, from the change of external circumstances, the progress of opinion, and the intellectual improvement of the people.
That in the ancient English and Irish Universities, and in the Colleges connected with them, the interests of religious and useful learning have not advanced to an extent commensurate with the great resources and high position of those bodies; that collegiate statutes of the fifteenth century occasionally prohibit the local authorities from introducing any alterations into voluminous codes, of which a large portion are now obsolete; that better laws are needed to regulate the ceremony of matriculation and the granting of degrees; to diminish the exclusiveness of the University Libraries; to provide for a fairer distribution of the rewards of scientific and literary merit; to extend the permission of marriage to tutors of colleges; and to facilitate the registration of electors for the Universities; that additional checks might be considered with reference to the continued extravagance of individual students; and that the mode of tenure of college property ought to be ameliorated, particularly in Ireland.
That as it is Her Majesty's right and prerogative to name Visitors and Commissioners to inquire into the ancient Universities and Colleges of England and Ireland, an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to issue Her Royal Commission of Inquiry into the state of the Universities and Colleges of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin, with a view to assist in the adaptation of those important institutions to the requirements of modern times.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
said: * Mr. Speaker, the total absence of all bitterness from the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has moved the resolutions now in your hand, would render inexcusable any bitterness on my part, even if I were otherwise provoked to it. Yet, at the same time, I may be permitted to observe, that up to yesterday I was ignorant of the terms of his intended Motion; and up to this day the University of Oxford—and, I have reason to believe, the University of Cambridge, and probably that of Dublin also—will be found to have been kept in equal ignorance as to the charges against them, and as to the form and mode in which they were to be advanced. Yesterday morning, the only intimation of the hon. Member's intentions which was to be 698 seen even on the books of this House, was, "Mr. Heywood: Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin." Now I cannot but think, that, if I had placed on those books such a notice as this, "Sir R. H. Inglis: Corporations of Manchester, Stockport, and Bolton;" and had given to the Members interested in those places no fuller advertisement of my designs till the last day, and had made no communication at all to the corporations themselves, even on that last day, I should have expected to hear from the Member for North Lancashire, as well as from the Members for the boroughs in question, such accusations of want of candour, want of courtesy, and want of fairness, as I could not easily have repelled. The hon. Member and I must equally recollect what passed between us on the subject; and he will know, therefore, whether I had individually any right to expect an earlier and a fuller communication of his intentions. With this, however, I will not trouble the House at large.
While I desire the hon. Gentleman to remember, that those whose character is the most directly affected by his Motion, and whom I am bound most especially to represent and defend, were thus compelled to remain in ignorance of the precise charges which he intended to bring against them till they had been proclaimed before this House, I will not conceal from you, Sir, or from him, that we could not be altogether unacquainted with the nature of the accusations with which he threatened us. Those accusations had been embodied in a pamphlet—from the colour of its cover familiarly called the pink pamphlet—bearing the title of A Letter to Lord John Russell on the Constitutional Defects of the University and Colleges of Oxford; with suggestions for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Universities; by a Member of the Oxford Convocation." This work, thus addressed to the First Minister of the Crown, was for some time circulated secretly, but not among those whom it attacks; though bearing the name of a publisher, he had not a single copy for sale: it is at length to be purchased; and it contains the substance of the bill of indictment which the hon. Member for North Lancashire has now preferred against all the ancient universities of the realm, but against the University of Oxford in particular. [Mr. HEYWOOD: I was not the author of that pamphlet.] No, Sir: I never accused the hon. Member of being the author of that pamph- 699 let: he is not its father; but he has adopted it; and, without betraying any confidence, I feel myself at liberty to say, that the hon. Member for North Lancashire is thoroughly cognisant of the work; and not only does not disavow it, but, in a certain sense, has made it his own. It was, in fact, understood, I believe, by almost every human being who read the pink pamphlet, that it represented the mind of the hon. Gentleman, and was to be the foundation of his statement in the House. I cannot, therefore, deny, that some of us have had some means of knowing some of the counts of the indictment upon which we are now brought to trial. The preamble to the indictment, or, if the hon. Member pleases, his first resolution, is a truism so obvious that I will not waste the time of the House by making another observation upon it. I proceed, then, to the disputed matters between us.
The indictment itself, Mr. Speaker, as I still venture to call the paper in your hands, contains ten counts, while the indictment originally drawn by the hon. Gentleman's clerk in the pink pamphlet consisted of eighteen counts; but still regarding that pamphlet as "Mr. Hey-wood's manifesto"—if he prefer the word—against the universities, whoever may be the penman, and knowing that the hon. Member has at all events given sanction and currency to it elsewhere, the House will, I am sure, forgive me if I should occasionally notice a charge against us, even if it be not repeated here in his place by the hon. Member for North Lancashire.
The first proposition, or count, laid by the hon. Member for North Lancashire, is as follows:—That in the ancient English and Irish universities, and in the colleges connected with them, the interests of religious and useful learning have not advanced to an extent commensurate with the great resources and high position of those bodies.I am compelled to repeat it, because I appeal to the House whether there were one single sentence in the hon. Gentleman's speech which even attempted to substantiate that proposition. There was, in truth, not one argument, or even allusion, which referred to the subject. And I contend, further, that unless the hon. Member shall establish at least a primâ facie case against the universities, he has no right on this ground, at all events, to ask this House to interfere by an address to the 700 Crown, praying for the issue of a Royal Commission of Inquiry. And here I must be permitted to pause in reference to the general question.
I do not deny the right of this House to inquire into many things, though I do not always admit the expediency of the inquiry. I do not deny the right of Parliament, or of the Crown, to interfere with the universities in certain circumstances. I deny, however, that, as a matter of course, the Crown can, upon its own Motion, and by its own commissioners, whether or not, in answer to any address from either House, visit those institutions; though it is obvious that the Crown has a far better right to do so, than either or both the Houses of Parliament. But before I consent, Mr. Speaker, to a proposition like that now in your hands, it must be very considerably explained and modified; and I must be informed and satisfied as to the mode in which the inquiry is to be conducted. As to the two Houses conjointly, and still more as to either separately, I have no hesitation in saying, that they have no jurisdiction whatever in the matter. In the year 1647, the University of Oxford indignantly resisted a conjoint mandate of both Houses. I hold in my hand their answer at that time—"That His Majesty, and without him none other, is to visit this university." But even as to the Crown, its visitation must not be an arbitrary visitation. It must be exercised constitutionally, through the intervention of the Lord Chancellor. I will not enter into the question, whether in any case that visitation can be made without some previous complaint from some party alleging to be aggrieved, and requiring the remedial interference of the Crown; as little will I enter into the question how far the Archbishops of Canterbury, as such, whether by virtue of their own office or by any delegated authority, within their own province—and Oxford and Cambridge each are so situate—are at this day the immediate visitors of all places of education; though this last proposition was maintained before the Privy Council in the memorable argument of one whom I never name without respect and regret, the late Sir Charles Wetherell. It is enough for me now to say, that I do not deny the right of Parliament to interfere; or even the right of this House—in the character which it claims of being the grand inquest of the nation—to inquire, in respect to the government of the uni- 701 versities; though I do deny the right of this House to inquire into the amount of the property, or into the management of the property of any man, or of any body of men, or of any corporation, unless in the case of a party applying to the House for some power or favour. Even as to the Crown, if I admit, with all the pro-ceding qualifications, its right to inquire into the universities, I deny that it has any such right or duty with respect to their colleges, the concerns of which are absolutely and essentially distinct from those of the university; most of which, as I shall presently show, have separate visitors, and all of which are amenable, like the other corporations of the land, to the jurisdiction of its ordinary tribunals.
I resume the case of the universities. The hon. Member for North Lancashire has well said, that the universities are lay corporations, and not ecclesiastical bodies; but when he proceeds to assert, as a consequence of that proposition, that, there fore, they are not to be considered as having a direct connexion with the Church, I must at once contradict his assertion. I maintain that, for more than six centuries they have been considered as the chief nurseries of the Church of England; that at no time have they ever been separated from the Establishment; and that at this day—and here is the origin of all the complaints, and all the attacks against them—they constitute the main human strength of the Church, and cannot be weakened without weakening the great superstructure. The proposition of the hon. Member has a direct tendency—and, I believe, a direct intention—to unchurch the universities, and to mix them up with every form of dissent. At present the governing bodies in the other universities, as well as in Oxford, are absolutely and necessarily members of the Church of England; and the interests of the Church of England are, accordingly, identified with the interests of the universities. It is true that Parliament has already unhappily taken the initiative, and has exercised its power, in respect to the hierarchical constitution of the Church, by destroying ten of its bishoprics—without the consent of the Church in any form, and against its notorious will. I grieved over that measure in its progress, and resisted it to the last. More recently, and in a very different spirit. Parliament has again dealt with our hierarchical system by creating one other bishopric; but with respect to the spiritual 702 concerns of the Church, Parliament has no more right than the common council of the city of London to interfere in the matter. Even in respect to secular matters connected with the Church, Parliament ought to see its way very clearly before it could be expedient for it to interfere at all; and as to the Crown—I repeat it with all just respect—the interference of the Crown with the universities must be constitutional, and not arbitrary; and, whether on its own Motion, or in answer to an address from either House, must be through the Court of Chancery.
In much which the hon. Gentleman has said, he has fallen into the common error of confounding the universities with the colleges. Admitting, for the sake of argument, the right of the Crown to visit the universities—qualified, as I have qualified, the admission—the hon. Member has advanced very little towards his object: inasmuch as the case of colleges stands on ground entirely distinct from that of the universities in which they happen to be placed. He mixes up the aggregate wealth of the colleges in Oxford with the wealth of the university itself. He says—"Look at the enormous incomes of the fellows of colleges in Oxford, say 120,000l.—look at Cambridge, with its 110,000l.—look at the university of Dublin, with its 30,000l. per annum." He ought to have known that the income of the universities, as such, distinct from their colleges, is comparatively small: the income of the University of Oxford—perhaps the largest—has been mainly dependent on the fluctuating profits of its printing press: nor does the University of Oxford, as such, claim or expect any contribution from the independent bodies within its boundaries. Does the hon. Member know that there are eighty-nine city companies within the city of London? Does he know that each of these is independent of the other, and that all are independent of the city itself? Does he know that no one of them can be compelled either to contribute to the benefit of any other, or to the promotion of any public object, for the general benefit of the whole city? Does he know, by the by, that some such Commission as he desires to evoke in the case of the universities was issued some sixteen years ago, in reference to the municipal corporations of the city of London, and that no one of those corporations was compelled, or compellable, to answer a single question? What 703 may be the aggregate income of the eighty-nine companies of London—shall I call them the colleges—does not appear; some having refused, and many having only in part consented, to supply the information which His late Majesty's Commissioners sought to acquire, and sought in vain; but returns were received from three at all events—the Drapers' Company, for the year 1833, being 23,811l. 12s.; the Fishmongers' Company, for 1833, being 20,784l. 15s.; and the Pewterers' being tinder 1,300l. This furnishes a fair analogy to the case of the University of Oxford: the aggregate of the incomes of its colleges is no more to be added to the income of the university itself, than the income of the companies is to be added to that of the city of London; and least of all is the hon. Member entitled to say, "See the enormous wealth of the University of Oxford, and see how little that university does with it!" He might as well exclaim, "How much better would the city of London prosper if it could absorb, for city purposes, all the great resources of the separate and independent bodies which happen to be confederated within its walls!" He might, at all events, be equally entitled to ask, that the Drapers' or Fishmongers' Companies should help the poor Pewterers', or should contribute their wealth to the formation of a great library in Guildhall, as to require that any college in Oxford should allocate some of its superfluous wealth to some poorer college, or should furnish the university with another library.
The hon. Gentleman's second proposition—the second count in his indictment—is—That collegiate statutes of the fifteenth century occasionally prohibit the local authorities from introducing any alterations into voluminous codes, of which a large portion are now obsolete.Admitting the distinction between the statutes of particular colleges and the statutes of the university as such, and postponing for the moment the consideration of the charge in respect to the statutes of colleges, I state, broadly and distinctly to the House, that the University of Oxford has been a great self-reforming institution since the commencement of the present century. It has had the power, and it has exercised the power, of altering its own statutes. I am not called upon to defend in every particular either the system which existed up to the year 1800, or the system 704 which has existed since, or even the alterations which on this very day, Tuesday, the 23rd of April, are now under the consideration of the University. It is enough for me to say, that abler and more independent minds cannot be exercised on any subject. My object is to show that, so far from the laws of Oxford being such as may not be changed, they have been in a steady course of revision and reform for the last fifty years; and the statutes which at the close of 1799 occupied no more than 320 pages, now occupy 567—a sufficient proof that the internal authority of the University is neither unable nor disinclined to pay the fullest attention to the best means of self-government, and to adapt their institutions to the requirements of the present day.
I now proceed to the statutes of particular colleges. The hon. Member for North Lancashire said, as I took down his words at the time, "he greatest number of founders left their property for the souls of themselves and their predecessors;" as if thereby masses were prescribed by the greater part of founders. Now, I am willing to admit that one college, All Souls, was so founded; but the supreme authority of the State has not merely sanctioned the abandonment of that object by the college authorities, but has proscribed it, and has for 300 years rendered it illegal for them to celebrate mass. Under these circumstances, is it then a charge against All Souls that its actual occupants do not revive the service of the mass?
The hon. Gentleman's coadjutor extends, as I have already implied, the list of our misdemeanors. He says—All founders enjoin that the Bible should be read during dinner-time, a practice which is utterly disregarded. They no less strictly enjoin that no language but Latin should be spoken in the college.Now, amongst the gross and almost countless mistakes—I will not use a harsher term—with which that pamphlet abounds, this conclusion is obvious to the most cursory reader—to the one who may know the least of the foundations in Oxford, that the writer has confounded the truth, it may be, in respect to three or four, or, at the most, five colleges, with that which is not the truth with respect to the far greater number of the colleges. In the face of the House I deny the accuracy of these allegations. I state, further, that they are mistakes of a character so gross and palpable, that, if the writer had 705 taken the ordinary pains to inquire, he could not have them; and as I have reason to know that the pamphlet, even before its publication, was not wholly unread in Oxford, the writers and their confidential readers before such publication, may divide the blame between them.
The third charge, in the mere words of the hon. Member for North Lancashire, does not represent his real meaning: those words are, "that better laws are needed to regulate the ceremony of matriculation." The hon. Member, I suspect, really means to alter all that passes at matriculation, so far as it is a security either to the Church or to the University. At all events, his coadjutor, while noticing the admission of a young man into the University, refers us, in stern language, to "the whole mass of obsolete, absurd, yet unrepealed statutes, which disgrace the Statute-book of the University. Whether absurd, ludicrous, or in the present times impossible to be enforced, the student yet promises to obey them all." And that this promise is meant to be a promise by oath is proved, first, by expressions in the same page, namely, "the oath of obedience to observe the Statutes," and, secondly, by the words in direct context, in a solemn appeal to my noble Friend the Prime Min ister:—"Surely, my Lord, universities are not the places where we can afford to teach young men to trifle with the sacred obligations of an oath!" Now, will the House believe, that no oath whatever is taken by any young man on his matriculation to observe the Statutes? Is it possible that the reformer of the University of Oxford at the present day should be ignorant of that fact? Does it entitle him to credibility in his other statements, that he should not know that, since the year 1837, no such oath has ever been administered to any young man on his matriculation? But such is the case; and while the Oath of Supremacy is tendered and taken, an admonition—as a substitute for an oath—to obey the Statutes is now addressed by the Vice Chancellor to the applicant for matriculation; and this in consequence of a formal change in the Statutes of the university. So much for "solemn oaths to obey impossible Statutes"—one of the grievances, which, it seems, "constitutes a valid reason for an appeal to the Supreme Legislature."
"The oath (qu.) of obedience," says the hon. Gentleman's fellow-labourer, "to obey the Statutes will bring us to the sub- 706 ject of subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles, in force at Oxford alike for graduates and under-graduates." Without entering at this moment on the great question of maintaining subscription as the test of Churchmanship, and, therefore, justifying its use in the University of Oxford—as promoting, so far as any human means can promote, the unity of the faith amongst us—it is obvious, that, if we require, as in ordinary charity schools we require, boys and girls to give Scripture proofs for the statements in the Catechism, there is a consistent propriety in a Church-of-England institution, in requiring that young men admitted into the University of Oxford should be prepared, by their own knowledge, to subscribe the Articles. I have it on the authority of a most experienced tutor in one of the colleges, a gentleman to whom I am otherwise much indebted, that, previously to the signature of the Articles by young men, he had himself tested their knowledge, and that the large majority of them were as well prepared to answer in reference to the Thirty-nine Articles as many of those who were candidates for Holy Orders. Another tutor made and published a still more striking statement, some years ago:—In the college to which I have the honour to belong (Balliol), it has been for a long time past the practice to examine the candidates for entrance in the history of the Bible and in the leading doctrines of the Church of England as contained in the Catechism. To these subjects of examination we have within the last few months added another in the Thirty-nine Articles, with a view to the subscription to be made at matriculation. We hare found that, even without previous knowledge of any such intention on our parts, the candidates had, almost without exception, read and considered the Articles, and were able to give a satisfactory account of the loading doctrines contained in them.I do not mean, that, in every college, such preliminary examination takes place; but I do mean, that the statements, which I have already made in reference to two colleges, justify the hope that the young men who enter the University of Oxford through the other colleges, exhibit generally the same acquirements; and that I have furnished some evidence to show that the conclusions of our opponents are not probably true; and that the "laxity" with which subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles is proposed on the part of the governing body in Oxford, and "the ignorance and the recklessness" with which, on the other part, the act is adopted by the young men, do not in fact exist, and cannot, 707 therefore, constitute a sufficient or even a plausible ground for compelling us to abandon this test of our Churchmanship.
This leads me to notice—though out of its order in the formal list of charges—what I believe to be the real and ultimate object of the hon. Member's Motion; to which all its other points are merely subordinate; and without which we should have heard little of any one of them. I refer to his proposed remedy for the eighth evil existing in our system; that remedy is "to facilitate the registration of electors for universities." It may not perhaps at first occur to every Member whom I am now addressing, that, under these simple and apparently guileless words, is concealed the great design of the hon. Gentleman, the admission of Dissenters into the University of Oxford from the beginning, and the admission of himself and of other Dissenters into the governing body of the University of Cambridge. The hon. Member is excluded by his own conscience from being one of that body; and he endeavours to enlist your sympathy, Mr. Speaker, in his privations, by telling you, that, if they had been removed, he would have voted at the last election for your distinguished relative; and he endeavours to flatter my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. Goulburn) by saying that, if he had enjoyed the privilege, he would have voted for him also. It appears, then, from the hon. Gentleman's own account of himself, that the subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles is the great and effectual bar to the admission of Dissenters; in other words, to a new registration of electors. It would have been bolder to have said at once, "This is my real object; give all the rest, and you will leave me and mine discontented; grant this one boon, and the subordinate objects will take care of themselves."
I do but justice to the hon. Member, when I say, that he makes no "demand." I recollect, on a former occasion, when the case of the Dissenters was under our consideration, that a petition was presented from a congregation of their body at Bradford in Yorkshire, claiming, as a common right, to be admitted to all the colleges, of either University, with the exception, perhaps, of one college; though they did not condescend to specify it. It may be, that those who are members of the Church of Rome might ask for admission to some colleges more plausibly than they can ask for admission to others; more plausibly in respect to colleges founded in Papal times 708 than to colleges founded since the Reformation. I hold, that they have no right of admission to any, whether to colleges which for more than three hundred years have been devoted to the service of the Established Church under every sanction which law can give, or to colleges founded specifically for anti-Papal objects since the Reformation. But as to Dissenters, what claim can they pretend to urge in reference to foundations which were never disconnected with the Established Church of the times; which were founded, almost all, before dissent was either tolerated or in being? As to the colleges founded in Papal or in anti-Papal days, it is true that in Oxford twelve were founded before the Reformation, and only seven since; but the liberality of Protestants has so enlarged the older foundations, that the proportion of property is greatly altered in Oxford, and quite reversed, as I understand, in Cambridge. The number of fellowships and scholarships in Oxford also is much in favour of Protestants, if we looked to nothing but the creed and the intentions of the actual founders.
I return to the regular series of counts in the indictment against us. The fourth charge of the hon. Member assumes "that better laws are needed to regulate the granting of degrees;" and the fifth, "that better laws are needed to diminish the exclusiveness of the University libraries;" and the sixth, "that better laws are needed to provide for a fairer distribution of the rewards of scientific and literary men." Whether on reconsideration, the hon. Gentleman did not think that the charges were worth any trouble on his part to prove, I know not; but I appeal to the House, whether he uttered one word in support of them; and, therefore, with the mass of other matter which lies in my way, I feel, in like manner, justified in passing on to the next charge, against the existing system of the universities of England.
The evil here complained of is the forced celibacy of the tutors at Oxford; and though he postponed it as a charge to six other matters in his resolutions, it came very prominently forwards in his speech. "The first thing," said he, "which would strike a stranger on arriving in Oxford is, that so many tutors are unmarried. "The fact, whatever be its value, would not strike me at least with wonder. Tutors are generally selected from resident fellows; and every fellow knows on his election as such, and has known it from his own entrance into 709 the University, that marriage vacates a fellowship; and that he cannot therefore enjoy the two incompatible advantages. The same rule applies to other institutions as well as to colleges in Universities. Take, for example, Dulwich College, the founder of which, while he stipulated for all posterity that the Master and the Warden of his college should always bear his own name of Allen, however variously they might spell it, provided also that they should forfeit his endowment, if they married. The late Lord Holland brought in a Bill to enable the master, I think, the late Mr. John Allen, to marry and yet to retain his office; but Charles, Duke of Norfolk, resisted the Bill successfully, on the ground not only that, without due cause, it set aside a founder's will, but that it almost rendered the office hereditary in families of the actual master and warden; all other Aliens losing their chance of succession in the too probable nepotism of the reigning chiefs. In point of fact, however, all tutors of colleges are not necessarily unmarried, inasmuch as all are not necessarily actual fellows. I had a letter this morning from a distinguished man, a tutor and formerly a fellow of one of those colleges which the hon. Member's "stranger arriving in Oxford" might first espy; and who is the father of "two charming children;" and who, though possessed of ample means, continues to reside at Oxford, not merely labouring in actual tuition, but contributing also to the general usefulness of the place.
It would seem, from the hon. Member's speech, that the restrictions of which he and his precursor severally complained, had had the effect of preventing the existence or the succession of a competent race of tutors. First, there was their forced celibacy; then, there was the limitation of fellowships to the natives of particular dioceses, counties, or even parishes; and then, there was the unfairness of the elections even in these limits. I have already said and proved, that, as all tutors need not be fellows, so they need not be all unmarried; next I may say, that in some colleges which may not at the time contain one willing as well as able to undertake the office of tutor, another gentleman is invited from another college; in the third place, I am prepared, with my papers here, if the hon. Member had brought the subject before the House, to defend, as I believe, thoroughly, the two elections in Exeter College, to which the pamphleteer has 710 largely adverted, and fully to explain the election at Queen's College, which also he has noticed; but as the two former cases involve personal character, I will not needlessly force them upon the House, where the hon. Member has himself been silent.
But, on the more general system, it is said, that it is fatal to the production of eminence. Now, postponing, for the present, the consideration of the relative merits of the tutorial and the professorial systems, I am prepared to show, that in Oxford the tutorial system works well. I hold in my hand a list of the tutors of every college, as they stood last year; I take the colleges in seniority. The first is University College: there are four tutors, each a first-class man; the junior is Mr. Donkin, double first-class, mathematical scholar, and professor of astronomy; the senior tutor is Mr. Stanley, son of the late Bishop of Norwich, but himself indeed requiring no light from others—known as in the first class in classics, Ireland scholar, Latin scholar, prizeman for the English essay, as well as the Latin essay, and author of the Life of Arnold. The next college is Balliol: its four tutors were each in the first-class; two, in different years, were prizemen; one was Latin scholar. The three tutors in the next oldest college, Morton, had each a first-class place, two in classics, the other in mathematics. The fourth senior college is Exeter: there are six-tutors; one was a wrangler introduced from Cambridge—a proof that colleges are not restricted to their own members in the selection of tutors; of the five others, one is Mr. Sewell, who, besides being in first class in classics, as well as having gained the Latin Essay and the English essay, has also been elected by a special board in the University to one of its professorships. Three of the other four tutors were also first-class men; but, in saying this, I do not mean that such a position necessarily implies any pre-eminence in the power of teaching others. All I mean to say is, that the most obvious and popular test of distinction, as applied to relative attainments within the university, would prove the utter inaccuracy of the accusation that the existing system of selecting tutors has failed to enlist in that profession, the most eminent talents of the place. I should weary the House, though not myself, by continuing the list: I have taken the four senior colleges; I will close with the junior college in the university. Wor- 711 cester college has five tutors, who have all taken a first-class degree—one of them, the friend to whom I have already alluded, a double first-class. I have said enough, I am sure, to satisfy the House that those to whom the actual superintendence of the studies of each college is committed, have themselves shown that they possess the prerequisite for the office, in the great acquirements of which their own degrees are the full and sufficient evidence.
I am, perhaps, justified in submitting these statements to the House by the hon. Gentleman's own reference to the duties of the burgesses of the universities, whom he reminded, in the course of his speech, that King James I., when he first empowered those universities to send their representatives here, required, and expected, that the said burgesses should, from time to time, report to this House the state and progress of the said universities. However incompetent I may be to discharge the duties of that requirement, my Friends before whom I now stand, the Members for the Universities of Cambridge and of Dublin, and my right hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. Gladstone) will assuredly be able to make such a statement to this House, in respect to all three universities, as ought to satisfy this House, and even the hon. Member for North Lancashire himself, as to all the facts of the case, without the intervention of any Royal Commission of inquiry.
Individually, I happen to be acquainted with one circumstance which, as it has not been publicly mentioned by friend or by foe, and as it relates to a college which has frequently been assailed, I venture to give on my own authority. I refer to Magdalen College in the University of Oxford. That college was founded for forty fellows, thirty demies, and a certain number of subordinate members. A gentleman, recently educated in that college, but not on its foundation, bequeathed, on his death, 20,000l. to the college, for the purpose of adding four fellowships to their number. The college declined the legacy, alleging, though not as its single reason, that their founder had constituted his college for forty fellows, and no more. This, at least, was no proof of their grasping covetousness. It was said that the numbers in that college were few compared with their resources; whatever be their numbers, their list of honours and prizes, in the university calendar, authorises me in asking, are their distinc- 712 tions unworthy to be placed in comparison with those of any other college?
An incidental charge brought out against the universities by the hon. Member, and not contained in his formal indictment, was, that the young men, as well as the fellows, "did nothing but eat dinners, go to chapel, and read books." Why, I should have thought, that to read books and to go to chapel were the proper objects of a university life; and that to eat dinners was a necessary requirement of our nature, whether in college or elsewhere.
Another charge, which also has been brought out in the speech of the hon. Gentleman, though not contained in his Motion, or, in truth, substantiated by a single fact—its value resting on an absolutely unsupported allegation—is, that Archbishop Laud meddled so grievously with the whole system of education in Oxford, that the university has not yet recovered from the effects of that interference two hundred years ago. For myself, I have never heard such a charge before till now, when made in this House. But I know that some great authority once held that the Laudian statutes were unalterable; and if that opinion had prevailed, I can well conceive that the imposition of such statutes in the reign of Charles I would have been a serious burthen in the reign of Queen Victoria; but, as I have already had occasion to state, the whole progress of the University of Oxford, from the commencement of the present century, has been marked by changes in those and other statutes.
Nothing will satisfy the hon. Member. He has already complained that young men are required to subscribe the Articles. He now complains that they are subjected to an examination in those Articles. Surely it is not unreasonable to require that those who, by subscription in the first instance, have enrolled themselves as members of the Church of England, should further, when they are candidates for a degree, which is generally essential to admittance into Holy Orders, be required to show by examination that they duly understand the Articles of the Church of which they either profess to be members, or aspire to be ministers. What would the hon. Gentleman have said, if the University of Oxford had permitted its younger members to seek for holy orders in the Church without first testing their knowledge in its fundamental truths? The hon. Gentleman says that it is "mean and degrading" in the Univer- 713 sity of Oxford, to tempt, by requiring, any man to sign the Articles at all: surely, it is more "mean and degrading" to the man himself, who, without a belief in the doctrines of the Church to which he professes to belong, shall, nevertheless, for any human object, subscribe what he does not recognise as truth. No, Sir; while I leave here untouched the question of subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles at matriculation, which act, as I have already shown, is very far from open to the charges against it, I can still less conceive, that any man, who recognises the connexion between the Universities and the Church—a connexion never yet severed—can reasonably object to the examination which alone enables any one to enter the ministry of that Church with intelligence and fidelity.
But the most extraordinary of all the charges brought by the hon. Member for North Lancashire against the Universities, is not what they do, but what they have left undone. He thinks that "a substitute for the dogmatic theology of Oxford should be provided." He complains (I took down his words at the time) that "clever and able men are not employed to teach the great discoveries which have been made in theology since the days of Queen Elizabeth." Discoveries in theology! The subject is too serious to notice further than this—that all the truths of religion are to be found in the blessed Bible; and all "discoveries" which do not derive from that book their origin and foundation, their justification and their explanation, are worth neither teaching nor hearing. In juxtaposition to this charge, though in no conceivable way connected with it, in the hon. Member's speech, is, the tenth of his formal charges, namely, that college lands ought to be better let; and he told us a story of one of his friends who has a most beneficial lease in Lancashire under one of the colleges in Oxford, Christ Church. Whether he means to benefit his friend or the college, by calling this public attention to the easy way in which they have hitherto dealt with each other, I know not: but I receive the general statement and the particular illustration of it, as some evidence that the rights of property are not graspingly exercised by the Universities to which those rights belong. The hon. Gentleman proceeded to specify, as chiefly requiring alteration, the liberal way in which the estates of Trinity College, Dublin, are leased. The general answer 714 to all is, that, by long usage in both divisions of the empire, ecclesiastical property and the property of colleges, have never been let at a rack rent; and that, whether the proprietors may or may not complain of the custom, the tenants and their friends have certainly no grievance.
The next charge of the hon. Member is the compulsory taking of the Holy Communion, particularly in Trinity College, Dublin. What may be the fact there I know not: but I do know, that at my own college there was no compulsion of any kind or degree. Having deliberately made this assertion, I pass on to another charge.
Oxford, it seems, "is much more monastic than "Cambridge;" and requires, therefore, increased reformation. The hon. Gentleman has not only not proved his charge, he has not even explained it. I have heard, indeed, of the "monks of Magdalen,"—an expression of one of the most unhappy of its members, Gibbon, who never, I trust, will be reckoned one of the ornaments of Oxford; since his talents and acquirements have only rendered his writings more injurious; but whatever might be its accuracy in the day of Gibbon's youth, it is most inapplicable to the existing race connected with that college, the younger members of which have had, as I have already noticed, their full share of University honours; and the venerable President of which, in the ninety-fifth year of his life, retains all the freshness of memory and mind which would render remarkable a man of half his age.
The great charge, however, against Oxford is one which is equally applicable to Cambridge also; and therefore I cannot defend my own University without presuming to defend its sister likewise. This charge has now been made for more than forty years. It is, that the ancient and original system of all the Universities of Europe, the professorial teaching, has been changed in those of England to the tutorial; that tutors in private and independent colleges have superseded the professors in the great body of each university; and that it is our duty to restore the professors to their ancient functions with at least ancient vigour. On the general question I cannot but think that the admirers of the old system mistake the age. I do not deny that the professorial teaching was once essential and inevitable; and I admit that it is still necessary in some sciences, and is in many advantageously combined with the tutorial system. 715 But I contend that these gentlemen who, whether from the north or from the south, now clamour for the revival of professors as the authorised teachers of all which is to be taught in Oxford or in Cambridge, mistake the infancy of education for its maturity. Professors taught in the universities of Paris or Bologna, where colleges like those of England never existed; or they taught in the English universities before the foundation of distinct colleges therein for the regular reception and training of their several members. In either case the whole relation of teachers and learners was absolutely different from its actual state. It is so obvious to me, that I am sure it must have occurred to hundreds, though I do not recollect the explanation elsewhere, that the professorial system was introduced when there was no printing; that it was not merely excellent but indispensable when there were no printed books, and few manuscripts, wherein young men could study for themselves and by themselves, and when, therefore, thousands came from every part of Europe to seek learning from the lips of its almost sole depositories—the Abelard or the Peter Lombard of the day. But the foundation of colleges led naturally to instruction within the walls of each; and the invention of printing made each pupil comparatively independent within the walls of his own college. That which was inevitable six centuries ago has become less necessary or less useful now, in reference to moral truth, history, or ancient languages. At the same time it is equally obvious that, in experimental philosophy, or in the mixed sciences, where an apparatus is essential, the student can derive advantage from professors alone. Here, then, the professorial and the tutorial system can go on well together; and the young man, with his faculties trained and prepared in his own college for the fit reception of truths which can only be advantageously taught and exhibited in the lecture room, goes forth into the university, well qualified to combine the advantages of both systems. I hold in my hand abundant evidence that the professorial life is not extinct in Oxford: here are the notices of some dozen professors opening their courses for the last and present term: for the use of these notices, as well as for many far greater favours, I am indebted to a reverend friend whose life is spent in the service of the University of Oxford. Now as 716 one of the incidental charges of the hon. Member for North Lancashire was, that the modern languages are neglected at Oxford, it ought to be a satisfaction to him to hear, what I now proceed to read, that "the teachers of French and German will begin their lectures on the 22nd and 23rd of April respectively; these lectures are free of admission, and are open to all members of the university."
I have said enough to prove that the tutorial and professional systems do go on hand in hand together at Oxford: it is, indeed, impossible to compel young mea to attend a lecture in the same way in which a boy is compelled to attend a class in school; and I am quite willing to admit, that the lectures of the most eminent professors in Oxford are very scantily supplied with pupils; and that the same fact is, perhaps, not less apparent at Cambridge also. The hon. Member for North Lancashire, while he admits our improvement, says, that "they are futile, unless the progress of the young men in subjects taught by professors be tested by a public examination." Without entirely recognising his conclusion, I do not deny, that a public examination, if itself compulsory, would test the proficiency which pupils attain in a lecture room: but the life of a young man in either University is short, seldom exceeds three academical years, and never exceeds four years; the requirements of the University of Oxford in classics, in mathematics, and in theology—without competent acquirement in theology, no other knowledge will ensure success—are almost every year advancing. Health, if not life, is continually sacrificed in the attainment of honours; and every year, perhaps, one-sixth of those who seek an ordinary degree are unable to attain it, If then, under the actual system, one out of every six is "plucked," in the technical language of the place, beware how you inflict that consequence on a still larger proportion; you not only injure alike the parents and the young men, who are the immediate sufferers, but you injure the University itself, by extending such a result to so many, that it ceases to be a disgrace to any one.
Before the increased rigours of the University examination, many more had leisure to attend the lectures of professors in those subjects which are not directly connected with that examination. A late eminent man, whose works and whose name must be familiar to most of those 717 around me, Professor Smyth, explained this result well. In his return, dated January 1846, in obedience to an order of this House, he states—The number of pupils that used to attend (my lectures) were for some years from seventy to ninety; but when the examination called the 'little go' was instituted, I lost a considerable part of my audience, one-fourth at least. My audience afterwards dwindled down to about eighteen or twenty, in consequence of the multiplicity and intensity of the college and public examinations, of the universal system of private tuition that of late years had been introduced into the University, and the strict impartiality with which the honours and emoluments of the place are conferred on the merit that is so accurately tested by these examinations.I assure the hon. Gentleman that I am not one of those who would undervalue the importance of modern history, modern languages, or modern sciences; but the question is, whether they can be adequately taught at the Universities, while the pressure is so great and so increasing, in respect to the peculiar and severer studies which belong to the place. While the hon. Member has complained that modern literature is neglected both at Oxford and at Cambridge, he has not condescended to use the vulgar phrases which depreciate the study of the works of the master minds of the ancient world. I wish both in their turn; but both cannot be competently acquired together: and the English universities are not intended so much to complete any man's education as to enable him to complete it for himself. The Universities are means, not an end; they are levers, raising men to the level from which they are fitted to diverge with vigour in every direction and to every profession; and they have been such not for the last two or three generations only, but systematically from their first organisation. Three centuries ago, the same description of their objects and tendencies was given by one of the greatest and wisest men of the Church of England, Archbishop Parker. In a paper drawn up by his own hand, referring to the manner how the Church of England is administered and governed, he says—Moreover, this realm of England hath two Universities, Cambridge and Oxford; and the maner is not to live in these as within houses that be inns, or a receipt for common guests, as is the custom of some Universities; but they live in colleges under most grave and severe disciplin& Every one of the colleges have their professors of the tongues and of the liberal sciences, as they cal them, which do trade up youth privately within their halls, to th' end they may afterward be 718 able to go furth thence into the common schoole as to open disputation, as it were into plain battail there to try themselfe.Archbishop Parker has here marked, in his time, three centuries ago, the distinction which even then existed, and which still exists, between the English universities and those in any other land. Our universities are not German universities; and, I hope, never will be; they combine domestic with public life in a way unknown even to the other universities of our own land. Colleges, in the English sense of the word, are all but non-existing, whether in Scotland or in Ireland; I mean that neither Scotland nor Ireland has an institution wherein there is a common religious service, and a common refectory for all their members; and in which all the younger members—this is emphatically the case in Oxford—sleep under the same roof. At one time, indeed, the English universities were something like great schools: Lord Bacon entered Cambridge at thirteen years of age, and the discipline of Milton's day in the same university was adapted to a school rather than to the university. But for much the larger part of the interval since the Reformation the English universities have remained, as they are now, places in which the Church of England has trained her youth for every liberal profession and for every generous occupation.
The design and the tendency of the Universities to fit men for the study of their future professions, rather than within their own walls, so to teach law or medicine, for instance, as to supersede any further and more distinct application, may be especially illustrated in the case of the eminent lawyers whose names adorn the University of Cambridge. The study of mathematics there so requires close and patient application, and so strengthens intellectual acute ness, that we trace in the most eminent candidates for honours at Cambridge the elements of that success which has placed on the highest bench of justice so many senior wranglers.
The hon. Member for North Lancashire must not, then, confound the means with the end: he must not assume that all men, or any man, can be sent forth complete for any profession from an English University. The age at which they enter, the age at which they leave, Oxford or Cambridge, alike forbid it; but the Universities, as now administered, faithfully and successfully discharge their duties by qualifying all, who rightly employ the 719 means entrusted to them, to apply their talents and their acquirements to the just objects of every profession. Each college may be said to have the means within itself of carrying forwards education to this end. Oxford, indeed, is not so much one University, as a federation of twenty-four universities in its separate colleges and halls, bound together by the public examination common to all. Each college, as I have already said, can exhibit a list of distinguished men as its tutors; the whole University, as I prove by the list which I hold in my hand, can exhibit a list of distinguished men as its professors; whether nominated by the Crown, or elected by the University itself, or by independent boards within it. The author of the pink pamphlet, indeed, sneers at all alike; and though the hon. Member for North Lancashire has not here adopted his language, I feel bound to say, that systems which have placed at the service of the University men of such undoubted eminence, however they may differ from each other—as the professors whose names I here exhibit—cannot be said to have failed in bringing into full prominence great and active talent.
At this moment I am informed by my right hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. Gladstone), that the result of the discussion which I have already mentioned as this day in progress at Oxford has arrived in London; and that the new statute with respect to the studies of modern history and jurisprudence has been carried by a majority of 127 to 74; an instance of progress, arising from the development of the internal powers of the University of Oxford, which ought alone to stop the Motion of the hon. Member for North Lancashire.
I was stating how much the professorial system is co-operating at Oxford now with the tutorial; and this leads me to notice a charge against one of the ablest and most conscientious men who adorns a chair in that University; even though the charge has not been repeated here in debate. The pink pamphlet has called upon Dr. Ogilvie, the Regius Professor of Pastoral Theology, to resign his living at Ross, as inconsistent with the duties of his professorship. Now, if there be any professorship which requires an habitual acquaintance with the duties of the pastoral care, it is the professorship of pastoral theology; few, indeed, will deny that he, whose function it is to teach pastoral duties, ought him- 720 self to be a pastor; and I have good reason to know that while Dr. Ogilvie devotes six months in every year to his lectures, he acquires new means of adequately supplying them with the fruits of personal experience by residing the other six months among his people at Ross; and this, not by six months' continued residence in the one place and in the other, but by six months distributed over the year in his parish, and including the three great festivals of the Church. In Oxford he has been attended—since my right hon. Friend Sir R. Peel recommended him to that Regius Professorship, in 1842 to the present year 1850, by 940 students—diligent attendants, who have subjected themselves to such questioning and examination in the matters read and conveyed to them as have imparted to their intercourse with the professor, the character of catechetical instruction. It is due to such a man, attacked anonymously as he has been, to bring the truth forward when the working of English universities is the subject of discussion.
Another professor, whom my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister (Lord J. Russell) may well take pleasure in having recommended to the favour of the Crown, the Rev. Dr. Jacobson, the Regius Professor of Divinity, is, I believe, rendering the most essential service to the Church and to the University by the mode in which he discharges his important duties. The Margaret Professor, the Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History, and the Professor of Exegesis, have all their regular classes.
It is due to all parties to state that other professors are in like manner faithful and diligent in their several functions. That they are seldom attended as their own zeal would desire, is not the fault of themselves or of the young men. I have already called the attention of the House to the exhausting nature of the studies which the competition for degrees requires; more cannot be compressed in the same space of time; and, though the remedy is obvious, of enlarging the time of study, and extending it to another year, there are counterbalancing evils which, I think, ought to check any change. I mention one only, namely, the increase of the aggregate expense of an university life by one-fourth or one-fifth; a result which would be almost fatal to many parents.
Before I quit the subject of professors, and the means of profiting by their lectures, I avail myself of the temporary absence of my hon. Friend the Member for 721 West Surrey (Mr. Henry Drummond) to call to the notice of the House the fact, that at his own private expense he founded and endowed the chair of political economy in the University of Oxford: and in that chair, the monument of his liberality, have sat such men as Archbishop Whately, Mr. Merivale, Dr. Twiss, and Mr. Senior.
These are professors elected by convocation; by certain great officers of State have been elected Mr. Johnson and Mr. Donkin, to the Savilian professorship of Astronomy; by convocation and by the Royal College of Physicians, Dr. Daubeny has been elected to the professorship of Botany; by convocation also, Mr. Keble was elected to the chair of Poetry, and Mr. H. Wilson, a European name for oriental literature, to the Boden professorship of Sanscrit. Other professors have been elected by boards of trustees; and when I mention that they have chosen two such men as Dr. Hampden and Mr. Sewell, it is evident they have taken, however they may differ, two of the most eminent men of their day in the university. At all events, it is clear that the charge against the University of Oxford, of passing over its eminent men in the choice of professors, is refuted by the very names which I have enumerated. However admirable may be those whom the Crown has appointed to the great professorships, I cannot but rejoice that there are modes of obtaining chairs in the University of Oxford, distinct from the favour of the Minister of the day; and I am more than content, therefore, to let the elections flow, as they do now, from three distinct sources.
With regard to the election of fellows also, I am prepared to defend the maintenance of the restrictions which the founders severally imposed on such election. None of these restrictions are immoral, or necessarily injurious to the well-being of the several colleges, or of the university itself. All have been sustained, not only by long practice, but by decisions of law. Many are limited by no unreasonable feeling to the natives of the founder's diocese; some, by a natural sentiment, to the natives of his own county, or district, perhaps to his kinsmen, either cœteris paribus, or absolutely, if they exhibit competent acquirements. This is so natural that, in the very last benefaction tendered to Oxford, but not yet accepted by any college, a preference is thus given to the founder's relations. I may add also, that while each 722 college has its own peculiar visitor, it is by a strange coincidence that all the visitors of colleges in Oxford are, I think, with one exception, Cambridge men, or rather, are not Oxford men. They cannot, therefore, be suspected of a bias, which might otherwise exist. The Bishop of Winchester is the visitor of five of our colleges; the Bishop of Lincoln, of three; the Archbishop of Canterbury, of two; the Archbishop of York, of one; the Crown, of three; the Duke of Wellington, as our Chancellor, of six. Of the noble Duke I take this opportunity of saying, that, in his great career, he had never done anything which became him better than in owning himself to be wrong on a recent occasion connected with Pembroke College, and in withdrawing a judgment which he had given as visitor.
I now come to a subject on which the hon. Member for North Lancashire has dwelt at some length; and the importance of which fully justifies the attention which the House has already given to it. I refer to the expenses of young men at the universities. Some Members may, perhaps, have read a statement in a pamphlet, by "An anxious Father," who says that he has seen the college bills of fifteen young men; and that the average excess of their expenditure above their income is 850l. The particular facts I do not, of course, deny. I know nothing of the names of the parties, of their colleges, or even of the period at which they had passed through the University; but I hold in my hand statements which are quite conclusive as to the fact that such expenditure is not only not necessary, but utterly improbable in the vast majority of cases in the University of Oxford. I assume the same of Cambridge also. The first case which I will mention is that of a young man in one of the most distinguished of our colleges, who, having a county scholarship of 60l. per annum, and another exhibition of 40l. per annum, and no more, went to his degree without debt. I also hold in my hand the accounts of three young men, which have been furnished to me by those who supplied the costs of their education respectively, in the last year, 1849: this was the annual expense of each; I have their names, but, of course, do not give them: No. 1. 85l. 4s. 4d.; 2. 92l.; 3. 91l. 6s. 5d. I have the accounts of a fourth educated at Oxford, and who has now taken his degree; and the aggregate expense of whose Oxford life, from his entrance to his 723 degree, was 330l. 4s. 5d., for his whole collegiate course. I have, likewise, the accounts of the aggregate expense of five Cambridge men, furnished to me by the same source; and from my personal knowledge of that source I can pledge myself to the accuracy of that which proceeds from it. No. 1. 355l. 10s. 6d.; 2. 333l. 7s.; 3. 334l 1s. 5d.; 4. 464l 8s. 2d.; 5. 398l. 8s. 7d. I may add that the last in this list is a very estimable clergyman, whom I have the pleasure of knowing individually. The friend who conveyed these last statements to me, himself an invaluable clergyman, told me that his own expenses, from his entrance to his first degree, amounted only to 233l. 11s. 4d. All this satisfies me, that my noble Friend Lord Harrowby, when, as Lord Sandon, he placed his name first to a certain statement, I think in 1844, complaining of "the scale of expenditure at present prevailing among the junior members of the University of Oxford," and my other Friends who followed his signature, confounded the actual expenses of some foolish and prodigal young men with the necessary expenses of an University education. The real fault is in the parents, who cither in the first instance supply the extravagance, or subsequently recognise and allow it by discharging the debts so incurred. I deny the fact, that any such outlay as that of which the "anxious father" complains, is required in any college by any well-regulated man; and I further deny, even if the fact were so, that a Royal Commission, or even a resolution of this House, or, to speak more seriously, an Act of Parliament, or any sumptuary law, could ever prevent it. The heir of a rich man will always command riches, or the objects for which he may desire riches. The fault is in his parents, or in the education with which they have sent him to Oxford. The fault is of course, indeed, not unshared by the young man himself; but the local authorities can do little to restrain it. I have recently had the opportunity of seeing, separately, with the heads of two distinguished colleges in Oxford, the accounts of the college-kitchen; and one of them made this remark:—"Eating and reading are in the inverse proportion to each other. I never find a young man exceeding in his weekly charges at the college kitchen, without telling his tutor to watch him."
The accusation against us, that we do not make education in the Universities "accessible to the middle classes," is, 724 then, utterly groundless: the maximum, which even the writer of the pink pamphlet would permit, namely, 70l. or 80l. per annum, has not been exceeded in one of the cases which I have quoted, and is only slightly exceeded in others: the average of the annual battels at Pembroke College, Oxford, is 81l.; and if you add 19l. for medicine and clothes, you raise the aggregate expense to no more than 100l. per annum. But, even under the existing system, the distinguished head of one of the most eminent colleges in Oxford told me that his own expenses, when a young man, were no more than 1302. per annum; and I hold in my hand a letter from one of the most eminent of living men, whom I will not further particularise, lest I should identify him; the statements in which are sufficiently interesting to justify me in asking the attention of the House to his very words. I will only add, that every one who knows him (and there are many such here) will believe the literal accuracy of the case:—When I was at college, we were in the midst of the war, and at that time, as you know, money was far less effective than now—that is, whatever one bought was at a much higher nominal price. The mere college charges were, I think, the same as at present. My expenditure for every thing, including not merely tuition, rooms, commons, and other college expenses, but with them every kind of personal expenditure, such as dress, journeys, and the like, was exactly 140l. per annum. I was a strict but not a severe economist; for I had even then a great pleasure in riding, and often hired horses; and, as my acquaintance were generally rich young men, I occasionally imitated them, by giving entertainments; yet I left college without a shilling of debt, as well as I can now remember. At present, I think the expenses are higher, chiefly because the competition is greater, and the outlay for private tutors far more considerable. I think that, under this head,——, who is now at——, spends upwards of 60l. every year.My Friend reminded me that a year in the university does not consist of fifty-two weeks; sometimes not half; but the young man is generally at home for the remaining period; and, above all, the accounts which I have already given include the dress and the journeys for the whole year; as well as all the expenses, both of the college and of the University, for the entire period.
Before leaving this subject, I wish the House to recollect two circumstances: first, that every instance of profligate expenditure in a young man at the University is brought forward in every newspaper—as he passes through the Insolvent Debtors' 725 Court, or stands the brunt of an action; while there are hundreds who pass to their degrees prudently, honourably, and noiselessly, without charge or debt;—in a number of young men, varying from 1,600 to 2,000, there may well be expected to be the exceptions which we find; the second circumstance is, that the same extravagance is not impossible, I say no more, in the case of the young guardsman; but as in that case there is no opportunity of attacking any one except himself, we hoar little of his bills with a jeweller, or a tobacconist, or a tailor.
But the hon. Member says, and his deputy has said it bitterly before him, that "the colleges were meant for the poor; "and that, after all, our present system, though I may have proved that it is not necessarily so expensive as has been sometimes alleged, is still too expensive for the poor. On what authority is it said, that the existing colleges were at any time intended for paupers? Some thirty years ago, Lord Brougham, a name always to be identified with the great cause of education—though now assailed on every side—certainly made a memorable mistake on this subject. He talked of colleges intended for pauperes et indigentes: he omitted the word which was essential to the meaning; those who were to be admitted were not pauperes et indigentes in the sense of English paupers, but they were to be scholars also—pauperes et indigentes scholares—a qualification which implied the previous possession of the means of education. If there could be any doubt on this subject, it would be removed by the fact, that when William of Wykeham founded his two magnificent colleges, he provided for his own kinsmen, indeed, immediate admission to their benefits; but in respect to others who were to be elected to New College they were not to receive for two years any of the pecuniary benefits of his endowment; they were, in other words, to maintain themselves, and therefore were not to be, in any eleemosynary sense, "the poor" whom the pink pamphlet patronises. There remains behind, however, a most important consideration. If the poor as such, if, in other words, paupers are to be admitted to our colleges, or if, making every allowance for the habitual exaggeration of the anonymous writer, a class of men be to be admitted who have not had, and could not have, the advantages which those ordinarily sent to college under the present system now enjoy, one of two consequences must 726 follow: either you must lower the standard of the University examinations, or you must repel from a degree a young man whom you have invited impar congresssus, utterly unfit to contend with those who have had greater advantages. Even now, with improved education in every school—with increased advantages of private tutors in the Universities, the difficulties of acquiring, not honours, but degrees, are annually increasing. Do you mean to mock these new associates by "plucking" them? or do you mean to lower the general standard of education, so that they may pass?
The State has given to the Universities the monopoly of the higher class of education. I do not use the word in any invidious sense; but, practically, the higher professions are continuously supplied by the Universities. How do the Universities repay this boon on the part of the State? how do they discharge the confidence with which they are entrusted in reference especially to the Church? Considering that the Universities have always been the great, if not the exclusive, nurseries of the Church, they do the State great service by passing, as through a sieve, those who are intended for the Church. A degree is all but essential to a candidate for holy orders; a degree cannot be obtained by an idle man; an idle man is almost a convertible term for a reckless or vicious man; and, therefore, the Universities discharge a most important function by requiring such proof of general steadiness, of moral conduct, as habits of study imply. I do not mean, of course, that there are not far too many examples to the contrary; but the principle has, I am sure, worked well; and—out of the 16,000, or at all events 13,500, men educated in the English Universities for the ministry of the Church, though painful cases will always occur—has prevented any very frequent exceptions to the general efficacy of the rule. I should, therefore, deeply regret any alteration which lowered the standared of education in the Universities, and thereby facilitated the admission into holy orders of those who had given less evidence than at present of their steady prosecution of their preparatory studies. But the Universities are not only the nurseries of the Church in respect to her ministers, but they have supplied, with scarcely an exception, all the great statesmen of the last century; and all these were from their youth connected with the Church of England, And this is the real secret of the hon. Gentleman's Motion. 727 His object is, not the reform of the Universities, but the admission of Dissenters to them. He feels the value of an education connected, as that in Oxford has been for three centuries, with the Establishment; and he feels that the men who are thus sent forth, have given their pledges to the Church. He desires to deprive the Church of this strength. With the exception of my noble Friend now at the head of Her Majesty's Councils, every Prime Minister of England for more than a hundred years has been brought up at one of our Universities. Among the Prime Ministers educated at Oxford have been the great Lord Chatham, Lord North, Lord Sidmouth, Mr. Fox, Lord Grenville, and my right hon. Friend Sir Robert Peel, who is not now in the House. In his absence, I may add, that he was the first individual who ever gained a double first class in the examination. My right hon. Friend and Colleague, Mr. W. E. Gladstone, gained a similar honour; so did my right hon. Friends opposite, the First Lord of the Admiralty (Sir Francis Baring), and the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir Charles Wood). I might quote similar honours in the University of Cambridge, whose list of Prime Ministers contains, as all men know, the name of William Pitt.
Such are the results of the education of the English universities. I shall unfeignedly deplore as a fatal measure the adoption by Her Majesty's Government of the attack now meditated upon them. My noble Friend, whom I regret to be unable to claim as a member of either university—talus cum sis—must still know so well both the importance of the universities, and their easy exposure to injury, that I persuade myself that he will not sanction the present or any similar measure, uncalled for by the country, and, above all, rendered more than ever needless by the evolution of reforms through the intrinsic will and energy of each university. This is not the first occasion on which the hon. Member for North Lancashire has led an attack against us. I trust that he will fail as entirely now as heretofore. In 1845, the hon. Gentleman presented a petition to this House, praying for reform of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and purporting to come from certain gentlemen "resident." [Mr. HEYWOOD: Resident in London: it was a mistake.] I hold the petition in my hand, and will at once submit it to the hon. Member himself; but, as printed by the House, 728 he will see at once that it conveys the effect of coming from members of the two universities resident therein; whereas my own knowledge of the names enables me to recognise many of them as habitual dwellers in London; but as the hon. Gentleman says that the heading is a mistake, I will pursue the subject no further than to say, that such a mistake deprives the petition of all the value which it might derive from its being the expression of the judgment and of the wishes of those who, being themselves resident in Oxford or in Cambridge, carry on the educational system of those universities.
I again call upon my noble Friend to pause before he commits himself to such a Motion as that of the hon. Member. Again I tell him that the universities of England are unlike any other institutions bearing a similar name in the world. Their colleges owe their origin not to Kings or Parliaments; but, with one exception in either university, to the piety and benevolence, and enlarged and far-seeing liberality of private individuals. They are the distinctive and characteristic glories and lights of England; they are to be dealt with reverently, recollecting alike what we owe to them for the past, and considering what they are fitted to supply to us for the future. The manner, it is true, of the hon. Member for North Lancashire is in this House as courteous as can be desired; but nothing can be more uncourteous, or more exaggerated, than the reports which he has been the means of circulating elsewhere.
Two points only remain to be noticed: one relating to an eminent man, to whom I am much indebted, and whom I have the honour to call my friend, the Dean of Christ Church, Dr. Gaisford; the other in some degree relating to myself. The Dean has been accused of reading no lectures as Regius Professor of Greek. He admits the charge such as it is: he accepted the office, with its salary of 40l., on the terms on which his predecessors, for at least 100 years, have held it: no Regius Professor of Greek has read any such lectures for more than a century. Lectures in Greek were very important in the revival of classical learning; but in the multiplication of books, and in the facilities of private study, that which might have been desirable three centuries ago, would now be a comparative waste of time. But has Dr. Gaisford done nothing for Greek literature? Has he not well earned the honour of his appointment? 729 Is there a name superior to his name in Europe for extent and depth and variety of classical attainments? and do not his editions of Greek authors supply, not to Christ Church only, not to Oxford only, but to the whole world of letters, greater advantages than could be derived from any viva voce exposition on any points in the language?
The other matter I should not mention, if it concerned myself only. A right hon. Gentleman, not now present, is represented to have said on a former occasion something so inaccurate about me, that I may be pardoned for wishing the correction to appear where the inaccuracy has already appeared. I am not violating, Mr. Speaker, any rule in referring to a former debate. The matter is in an old volume of Debates; and my defence, even if the matter were in the newest volume, is that I am not referring to what was said in any debate, but to what was not said, and could not have been said, at any time in this House in my presence. The right hon. Gentleman was doing me the honour of answering me; and he said, that I was, as he understood, an excellent canvasser; that no one knew my opinions (I had hoped that, at all events, my opinions were sufficiently known); that, as I went round the different colleges to solicit votes, I was a Calvinist with the Calvinists, and an Arminian with the Arminians. The truth is, that the right hon. Gentleman, in correcting or improving his speech for Debates, was captivated by the contrast between Cal vinists and Arminians, and by the possibility of connecting me with both; and could not resist the temptation as he was writing or rewriting his speech. I did not see it for years afterwards. By accident I opened the page of Debates, and my cheeks glowed as I read on: not one word of the passage was uttered in this House. My ears would have tingled, indeed, if I had heard it. What is the fact? No one who aspires to represent the University of Oxford is ever permitted to canvass at all; he is not even permitted to be present; he is not even permitted to be a candidate; his friends, indeed, propose him, but he takes no personal part in the matter. If the question concerned myself only, I would not add another word; but it concerns the University also: and the House ought to know, and perhaps other constituencies might profit by the example, how elections are conducted in the University of Oxford. I have now sat during eight Parliaments 730 for the University. When I was originally elected—after a struggle not of persons but of principles—not of persons, for the kindness which for twenty years before I had experienced from my right hon. Friend (Sir R. Peel) did not forsake me then—(and differing, as we have done frequently since, has never yet forsaken me)—I say, when I was then elected, the messenger who was sent to announce the result to me was not allowed to receive the most ordinary hospitality in my house; I not only was not allowed to pay the expenses of his journey, but not even to give him meat and drink after it. On another occasion my election was not even announced to me.
I thank the House most gratefully for their long and indulgent attention, and sit down with the most determined resolution to oppose the Motion for an Address to the Queen.
§ MR. C. S. FORTESCUE
was a member of Oxford University, and had its interest as much at heart as any other Gentleman in that House, but he should nevertheless support the Motion of the hon. Member for North Lancashire, for he believed that that Motion was not conceived in a hostile spirit to the universities, nor did he think that it need be supported in any such spirit. It was not necessary, in order to the justification of the vote he was about to give, that he should enter into a detail of cases of abuse or corruption. He did not believe that the inquiry which it was the object of the present Motion to occasion, would have the effect of degrading the two great educational institutions of this country from the exalted position which they now occupied, nor that it would cause the funds now devoted to their maintenance to be diverted into other channels. If he could believe this Motion would have any such effect, he would be the last man in that House to support it. He believed that such an inquiry as that proposed to be instituted, would disclose very little of which individuals need be ashamed. It would only exhibit some of the ordinary indolence and selfishness of persons in pos session—some effects of long habit, and some terror and alarm of change. It could not he questioned that in bygone and now remote ages the Crown had too frequently and too violently interfered in the management of the universities, for it was on record that that interference had in some instances extended to the course of studies, and even to the selection of the precise books that were to be read. It would have 731 to be acknowledged, however, that no reasonable fault could be found with the occasional interference of the State or the Crown, when had recourse to in order to make the universities conform to the spirit and requirements of the times. There had been but little interference on the part of the State or the Crown since the end of the seventeenth century; and from the evil effects of that laissez-faire system both universities were now suffering. During the whole of the eighteenth century both institutions remained in a torpid and languid state; but there could be no question that since the commencement of the nineteenth century a spirit of improvement had progressively manifested itself, both with respect to internal reforms and the extension of the courses of study. Still, however, there were retained on the statute-books of the colleges many obsolete institutions which were of no possible service, but which, on the contrary, were exceedingly injurious. No doubt there was to be seen in the constitution and administration of our universities much to admire and much to commend; but, nevertheless, there was also much to deplore and much to lament. The universities, although they effected much good, did nothing compared to what they might do under a freer and better system. There were many of the college statutes which, being totally unfitted for the age we lived in, were not, and could not, be observed in their original intention, and yet served to fetter the operations of the university; such statutes called loudly for revision. Under the present system there was a body of no less than 550 fellows, who shared amongst them 116,000l. a year in Oxford. And of them the majority did not necessarily owe their fellowships to superior learning. They were elected from the accident of having been born in a certain parish or diocese county, or of bearing a certain family name. It was time that some change should be effected in this system, and they had seen enough to prove that no corporation could effect any great reform in itself, without the aid of public opinion brought to bear on it through the agency of that House. Some would support the present Motion with an eye to the religious exclusions of the universities, and that was an evil, to which he confessed he was not insensible. Some would maintain that it was neither rational nor politic that boys of nineteen should be compelled to sign the Thirty-nine Articles, 732 and to subscribe to a long and elaborate system of theology which they could not understand. Some would protest that there was injustice in the idea that great institutions, founded for the good of all, should only be opened to a particular class, and would argue that it was an outrage on common sense that persons should be excluded whose religious doctrines could not differ more widely from the doctrines of the men who had founded the universities than did those of the very persons who were permitted to enjoy their privileges. It could not be questioned that much remained to be done with respect to the nature of the subjects to be learned, and the extent of the education to be given. An exaggerated prominence was still given to the ancient languages, and Sidney Smith's remark that there "was too much Latin and Greek" was still applicable. The conviction of the necessity of reform was every day becoming stronger and more general; but the universities were shackled by ancient statutes and foundations, which rendered it impossible for them to carry out the necessary improvements without the intervention of that House. Many of the so-called professors received an emolument so ludicrously small that it was not to be expected that they should perform any valuable academic duty for it, nor did they. The present constitution of the colleges too often limited the choice of tutors to a particular diocese, county, or parish; and surely it could not be contended that that was a system which was calculated to secure the appointment of the very best teachers that could be procured. But the fact was, that the whole system was a perversion of the intentions of the original founders. These foundations were instituted to enable poor clerks to educate themselves, but it never could have been the intention that these men so selected should themselves become the teachers of the University. If a commission were appointed—such a one as the first Ecclesiastical Commission—an expedient would probably be devised for remedying these and all other abuses. Between the theoretic and actual conditions of the universities there was a great and most anomalous difference. Statutes were sworn to be obeyed which could not be obeyed, and professors pretended to teach all branches of human knowledge, which they did not teach. He was happy to say that in Oxford, at all events, there was a spirit of reform, fresh, young, and vigo- 733 rous; but in the present state of the statutes and foundations, that spirit was so shackled that it could accomplish but little good without the assistance of the State. Without binding himself to agree with the string of abuses which the hon. Member had placed at the head of his Motion, he would, nevertheless, say that he cordially approved of the spirit of the resolution; and believing that it would be of eminent service to the universities themselves, he would not hesitate to give it his cordial support.
§ MR. W. FAGAN
said, the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford, in the course of his address, stated, that in his opinion Roman Catholics in this country had no right whatever to receive education at the universities of this country. Now, he might remind the hon. Baronet that the university that he himself represented was a university, every one of the colleges of which, or nearly all the colleges of which, had been founded by Roman Catholics. And let him further remind the hon. Baronet, that if the conditions attached to the foundations of some of these colleges were carried out, he could almost venture to say that at the present moment none but Roman Catholics ought to be educated there. But he felt that he was not the individual to treat on the universities of this country. He would leave them, and go to one of which he was in some degree competent to speak. He should confine his observations to the subject of Trinity College, Dublin, planted in the midst of a population, seven-eighths of which professed the Roman Catholic persuasion, placed there with an income of some 70,000l. or 80,000l. a year, with the rents of 230,000 acres of land at their disposal, and placed there, to use the words of the Lord Lieutenant of the day, at the period when the charter of Elizabeth was granted, for the purpose of giving a liberal education to the people of the country. Well, in the anomalous condition in which that university was, he defied any man in that House to say that it had afforded anything like adequate education to the people of that country. It was quite true that since 1793, or rather since 1794, the Roman Catholics had been admitted into that university, and could take degrees there; but at the same time they were nearly altogether excluded from the honours and emoluments of that great establishment. It was calculated that no 734 more than one seventy-fifth of the honours and emoluments of that institution were within the reach of the Roman Catholics; and the natural consequence was, that the Roman Catholics did not go in any numbers to that university. The number of Roman Catholic students there in a Roman Catholic country, did not amount to more than thirty in each year. They could not gain a fellowship or a scholarship. He could understand why they could not gain a fellowship. It was because all the fellowships but two were intended for those who intended to enter the Church; but why they should be precluded from scholarships he could not understand. And what was the consequence? He was ashamed to acknowledge it; but he understood it was the constant practice for Roman Catholics to conform for five years for the purpose of obtaining these scholarships. Now, he contended that there was nothing in the original charter of Elizabeth, and that there was nothing in the more exclusive charter of Charles I to prevent Roman Catholics from obtaining these scholarships. When the King's letter was issued in 1793, opening the college, the college authorities passed a by-law that no one should have a scholarship who did not take the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. And now it was stated as a reason for all this, that Trinity College was exclusively intended to educate youth who were to take orders in the Established Church. He knew that that was the original intention, but from the moment that they admitted Roman Catholics into the institution that argument fell to the ground. Now, he had no objection that there should be an exclusive college for young men who intended to take orders in the Established Church, because there was a similar institution for young men entering the Catholic Church; but at the same time he was opposed to the enormous emoluments arising to Trinity College. Let there be other colleges instituted. It was the intention of Queen Elizabeth that Trinity College should be but the commencement of other colleges. He knew it would be alleged that the Roman Catholics had no great cause of complaint, in consequence of the institution by the Government of the provincial colleges in Ireland. He was one of the first who advocated those colleges, and he still adhered to that principle, because he believed that those colleges would eventually be of great value; but at the same time, while he admitted all this, he 735 thought that was only an additional reason why there should be a reform in Trinity College. In reference to the land held by Trinity College, Dublin, he was aware it was a complicated question; but he might be allowed to say that it appeared to him monstrous that 230,000 acres of the finest land in Ireland should yield a rental of only 35,000l. a year, and that the greater part of that sum should be appropriated to the senior fellows. But that was a subject he would rather not trouble the House upon. He only hoped that the House would reform these great universities, which were capable of being made extremely useful, and that the intentions of their founders should be carried out.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, he really was not surprised, when he heard the mass of misstatements that were put forward in that House, as to the institutions of Ireland, especially as to the Church and the University, at the opinions many persons entertained with regard to those institutions. He believed the best answer that could be given to many of the arguments urged by Gentlemen on the other side of the House was simply to state the true facts. Let him, in the first place, state that the land revenues of Trinity College were less than the sum that was annually voted to Maynooth College. And the revenues of Trinity College arose partly from private endowments, because they were composed as well of grants made by private individuals from time to time, as from the bounty of Sovereigns. And then the Roman Catholics retained the exclusive use of their own college for training ecclesiastics in their own religion, while their laity made use of Trinity College, and now they (the Protestants) were accused of illiberality, and they were called upon to address Her Majesty to ask Her to make a great and fundamental change in the constitution of Trinity College. He would say that the peculiarity of Trinity College in allowing Roman Catholics to participate in the education given there, was of great advantage. It was not true that they could not participate in the honours and emoluments. They participated in every honour and emolument, save those connected with the foundation—namely, the fellowships and scholarships, and one professorship, which the will of the founder, Erasmus Smith, required should be given to a Protestant, and a medical professorship, which, by an Act of Parliament, was also SO confined. But all the other honours 736 and emoluments were as open to a Roman Catholic as they would be to himself. Then this was not an institution which was created and founded in a period before the Reformation; in which case the Roman Catholics would say they were the persons that founded it, and it had been transferred to the Protestants. But Trinity College was founded by Elizabeth. True it was there were some efforts to found universities before the period of Elizabeth; and it had been suggested in that House on a former occasion by some Gentlemen more learned in history than himself, that Elizabeth, by way of compensating for the loss of these universities, established Trinity College. But Trinity College was founded to maintain the Protestant religion in Ireland. Whether that was right or wrong, was another matter. It continued to admit only Protestants till the year 1793, in which year an Act of Parliament was passed for the purpose of enabling Roman Catholics to enter the university and take degrees, and that Act of Parliament carefully provided that they should not be members of the corporation. Now, as he said before, so far it had worked well. He thought it a great advantage with regard to the Protestant religion to have the clergy and laity educated together. He thought an exclusive system—a system by which the ecclesiastics were shut up from intercourse with their lay brethren—was an evil. He thought it was an advantage that Roman Catholics seeking education, should be admitted along with their Protestant fellow subjects. He had been educated with some Roman Catholics at the university; he had been afterwards on terms of the happiest intercourse with them; and he thought that such a system was calculated to soften some of the asperities that would otherwise embitter society. Several of these Roman Catholics had taken honours there, and distinguished themselves, and he was sure he did not grudge them any fair reward for their talent and industry. But the university being founded to maintain the Protestant religion, and having found that it could be liberal without detriment to its own proper purposes, and admit Roman Catholics to the general advantages of that university, while it could not let them into all without committing suicide—if that were the case, how was it to be brought forward as a grievance? And by the way, he thought that formed an effective argument 737 to the English universities, who could say, "The Dublin University allowed Roman Catholics and Presbyterians, and Dissenters, to be educated in their college, and though you allowed them to be educated in that way, they pressed in upon the very foundations. You have your reward." He was sorry to see such an argument put into the mouths of his friends on this side of the water. Of a land revenue of something under 30,000l. a year, very nearly 4,000l. was open as emoluments to the Roman Catholics. The hon. Member for North Lancashire sought to appropriate the scholarships also; but by whom were those scholarships founded? Not by Elizabeth, but by Charles the First. Perhaps the best answer which could be given as to the nature of those scholarships was to be found in the statement of the late Mr. O'Connell, who, when examined before a Parliamentary Committee in 1825, and asked if it would not very much tend to conciliate the Roman Catholics by throwing open these scholarships to both religions, said, "that as Trinity College was constituted it was intended for the education of the Protestant clergy, and he did not think it would be a wise thing to give the scholarships to Catholic young men. He said his notion was, that it was the intention to leave these scholarships to young men who were intended for the Protestant Church, who had distinguished themselves, to give them the means of supporting themselves till they obtained a degree; and he considered that no other parties ought to interfere with them." Allusion had been made to the small number of Roman Catholics who availed themselves of the advantages of Trinity College. If any class availed themselves of these advantages, it would be the middle class; and, looking at the proportion which Roman Catholics bore to Protestants in respect of property, he found it almost exactly to correspond with the proportion at the University, which was about one-tenth of the whole number. It happened that some of the Gentlemen opposite who were his fellow-countrymen came over for their education to this country—to Oxford; and thus a college, which was charged with bigotry, was preferred to one which admitted Roman Catholics. Another misstatement was this—that a by-law was passed after the Act of 1793, to compel young men to take the sacrament as a condition of obtaining scholar-ship. Something of that kind had been 738 stated in a book, published, as he understood, at the charge of the hon. Member who introduced this Motion, which contained as large a number of untruths as any book he had ever met with. What took place was this: the Board stated that they were in the habit of inquiring whether the candidates for scholarships received the sacrament on Trinity Sunday; and if they found that any had not done so, further inquiry was made as to their religious principles, and this had led to the discovery on a recent occasion that one was a Roman Catholic. It was said there had been many instances of Roman Catholics remaining five years in the college repudiating their religion for that time, and afterwards taking it up again. He had never heard of many such cases; but if they were true, what did it amount to? That when a Protestant university opened its doors and freely admitted others to come in and partake of its advantages, those advantages were such as to tempt them to forsake their faith. Either the Roman Catholics must complain that they were shut out, or that this temptation was thrown before them. But the great organ of the Roman Catholics of this country said that they only regarded the scholarships as a step—they had always considered the monopoly of the colleges as a gross injustice; they wanted a breaking up and a recasting of the constitution of the university altogether; and they would never consent to any system which did not provide Roman Catholic students with Roman Catholic instruction as well as Roman Catholic worship and supervision. What kind of place would they make of Trinity College? Would they build a Roman Catholic chapel within its precincts? How could such a system be carried out? According to this argument it was impossible to have an institution founded on a Protestant basis, for the purpose of maintaining the Protestant religion, and having the clergy and laity educated together, and allowing the Roman Catholic laity to share the same advantage. He had been told by one of the students in Trinity College, that the system of admitting Roman Catholics at present, worked very well, and all was harmony, but that if they were let in upon the foundations, they would be regarded as an aggressive body, and jealousies would spring up. If the Roman Catholics would go the whole length, and not be content without getting on the foundations, he would go the whole 739 length of exclusion rather than uproot the system. On the other hand, he should be sorry to disturb an arrangement which had hitherto worked so well. The Roman Catholic students admitted that no attempt whatever was made to interfere with their religious tenets. Then, with regard to the academical course, he saw no cause for complaint on the score of adherence to antiquated usages. The subject for the graduates' prize for the summer commencement 1849 was this:—"That the perfection of political wisdom does not consist in a preference for abuses sanctioned by time, without any regard to the progress of public opinion, but in the gradual and prudent accommodation of established institutions to the varying opinions, manners, and circumstances of mankind," founded on the sentence of Tacitus, Morosa morum retentio res turbulenta est œquè ac novitas. The subject for the year before—namely, 1848, was—"The influence of education, secular and religious, in repressing crime," a good subject for graduates of a university. At the summer commencement 1848 the subject was, "The influence of free trade in promoting the peaceful relations of States," not a bad subject either. Subjects like these offered opportunities to young men to give their sentiments, not in speeches set off by a little flippant fluency, but in good sober composition, which would tend to secure clear sound opinions in after life. And, by the charter given to Trinity College, Dublin, in 1637, the provost and senior fellows were empowered to make all changes and regulations which might not be already provided for by the statutes, provided they were approved by the visitors; and the provost and senior fellows were empowered from time to time to modify the education of the students. What was the result? In 1833 a considerable change was introduced, embracing all the improvements up to that time, and in this present year a further alteration had taken place; and he would venture to assert that a more complete, sound, and liberal educational curriculum could not be presented in any university in the world. Every branch of useful knowledge was taught. The subjects of the last year of the course were divided into five sections, two of which must be followed out by every student, and of the remaining three the professional students were at liberty to select one. No branch of learning was neglected. Something had been said about modern lan- 740 guages. In Dublin University they had examinations and professors in German, Spanish, Italian, and French; and they had honours for them all. A very important school had been recently established, that of civil engineering; about seventy students attended it, which they could do for about 10l. over the expense of keeping their names on the books, and thus obtain a most perfect education in a course of civil engineering. There were professors who gave lectures in these different departments; and there was not a single branch of useful knowledge which was not duly cultivated. He challenged the hon. Member for North Lancashire, or any other hon. Member, to point out a single blot or defect in the course, to show that there was a single matter of sound and useful science or of modern learning which was not provided for in the most ample manner in the university of Dublin. The light of knowledge and of religion was brought to bear upon the whole plan of education. The hon. Member for North Lancashire had described the board of senior fellows as old superannuated clergymen; one of them had been his (Mr. Napier's) class-fellow—others in the full vigour of matured manhood; and the oldest was a man of vigorous mind, and who was engaged in prosecuting the deepest researches. The Roman Catholics had an opportunity of getting the best education on the same terms as any Protestant had; but the emoluments were the sore point. The common income of the senior fellows was 1,300l. a year; of the junior fellows, whose previous exertions to obtain a fellowship were such as often to require them to peril the whole success of their lives on the attempt, and then they might be disappointed, the utmost income was 600l. or 700l. a year. Surely these were not exorbitant sums—the former attained only at the end of a long life of toil; and no class of men ought to be more honoured and respected than those who devoted themselves to the purposes of education. But the hon. Member wanted to get the tutors married. He ought to know that marriage was not interdicted in Dublin University. Lord Coke had somewhere said that there was a synod in the time of St. Patrick which allowed the Irish priests to take wives. As to the library, no doubt the undergraduates had not the use of it—and this was not an unwise regulation; but strangers who were recommended, were admitted with the greatest facility. The only other question 741 was with regard to the landed property. There was no doubt that the college lands were let very considerably under their real value. The consequence was, they were sub-let, and there was all that minute subdivision of land, and multiplication of the people, and that squatting, which had been going on so long. But how could this evil be cured by any commission? The facts connected with the university were all known; the college had never refused any information. There were many other properties similarly circumstanced; and it was notorious that in Ireland the property in the very worst condition was that held at low rents, or by leases for lives renewable for ever. The real question in the case was the intention of the founder. If the property had been applied in accordance with that intention, if the advantages had been liberally shared, and if the education afforded was in the spirit of the present time, no necessity whatever had been shown for interfering in any way, especially by a Royal Commission. Her Majesty had visited Ireland not long ago. She had seen the university, and answered with peculiar grace the address presented to her. She had alluded to its long list of honoured names, had expressed Her intention to protect its rights, and suggested the importance of its going on in the liberal and enlightened course which it had hitherto pursued. They should be happy to see Her Majesty again amongst them, in the same spirit, rather than to be subjected to the intrusion of a Commission unconstitutional and unnecessary.
§ MR. SADLEIR
said, he had been disappointed by the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down. He had recently perused a remarkable address from that Gentleman, in which he very pompously declared that Christianity was his creed, and his country was his party. He had hoped from that declaration the hon. and learned Gentleman had recanted the opinions for which he had been before somewhat notorious, and that he had forgotten the political tendencies which marked him out as the secretary of a Brunswick Club, created, in 1829, to oppose the will of both Houses of Parliament, and to resist the inclinations and predilections of the Sovereign. He at one time thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman was about to demonstrate that Trinity College was a seat of great liberality, and open to every class of 742 the Irish public; and that he had become at least as liberal as Claudius Beresford, a kinsman of the hon. Member for North Essex, who in 1794 brought forward a proposition that Trinity College should be thrown open to the Roman Catholics of Ireland; but at the close of the hon. and learned Gentleman's address, he disappointed his (Mr. Sadleir's) expectations. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that everything in the university of Dublin was open to Roman Catholics, except fellowships and scholarships. Why, what remained? What were the advantages of the university after deducting the fellowships and scholarships? What were the inducements held out to Irish Roman Catholics to undergo there two years, at least, of mental anxiety, and of the most unexampled labour? What distinctions could they attain? Were there any to be compared with the enjoyments of a fellowship? Certainly not. If there had been instances of Roman Catholics in Ireland labouring to obtain distinctions at the University of Dublin, but labouring in vain, such efforts redounded, not to the credit of the establishment, but to the honour of those gentlemen who had made such efforts. Then, as to the extent and management of the territories of Trinity College. It appeared they possessed no less than 230,000 acres of land in Ireland, and the House was told that their annual revenue did not exceed 29,000l. a year. What could be a stronger inducement for the House to desire inquiry than those circumstances? Now, it would appear that if the lands were lot at a moderate rent—computed at about 10s. an acre, they would yield an annual revenue of 115,000l. The House ought also to bear in mind, notwithstanding the plausible speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that there was a sum of about 6,600l. a year, exclusive of fellowships and scholarships—from which Irish Roman Catholics were excluded altogether—and that the advantages available for both Protestants and Roman Catholics did not exceed 1,350l. a year. Those were facts which called for strict inquiry, and he hoped the House would not be contented with plausible speeches, or vague declarations, but that they would call for a clear rebuttal of all the facts on which he relied. With regard to the proportion of Protestants and Roman Catholics who entered Trinity College, although the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin stated that it was open to all 743 classes of Irishmen, irrespective of their religious opinions, it appeared upon an average, while only 30 Roman Catholics entered annually, there were 350 Protestants. The hon. and learned Gentleman laboured to induce the House to believe further, that although Roman Catholics were admitted to Trinity College, it was an exclusively Protestant establishment, to which Roman Catholics had no just claims at all, and from which they might be properly excluded. Upon that subject he would beg the attention of the House to a very short paragraph which showed the principles upon which the Dublin University was founded. In 1592 it was founded by Queen Elizabeth, and endowed out of the confiscated estates of the Earl of Desmond. The college itself was built on the site occupied previously by the Roman Catholic monastery of All Hallows. When his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Middlesex brought forward the subject in 1845, he adverted to a letter of the lord deputy, dated in 1591, the words of which were the same as those in the charter to which the hon. and learned Gentleman had so triumphantly referred. [The hon. Member here read a quotation from the letter, to the effect that the college had been founded in order that learning, knowledge, and civility should be increased among the Irish, their children, and their children's children, especially if they were poor, and that it was to diffuse education more freely, with more ease and at less expense, than other universities.] What allusion, he would ask, was there in those general and comprehensive words to any religious sect? What right was set up in favour of an exclusive religious education by that letter, which was, he repeated, in the same words as the charter? It was clear, therefore, from the very terms of the foundation charter granted by Queen Elizabeth, that the object was to supply education, "especially to those that be poor," Were not the majority of the Irish poor of that day, as at present, Roman Catholics? There was no priority of precedence given to Protestants by the charter. What right, then, had they to claim anything of the kind? Notwithstanding the hon. and learned Gentleman's opinion, it would be found extremely difficult to show that this university was established for the benefit of the very small number of Protestants at that time in Ireland, and to the utter exclusion of the Roman Catholics. The hon. and learned Gentleman omitted 744 to remind the House what the object of the charter was, namely, to diffuse education amongst all the inhabitants of the country. The fact of fellows having been allowed to marry was referred to; but the hon. and learned Gentleman forgot to state that from the relaxation of that wise rule the greatest abuses had sprung up. It led to a total violation of the original design. One of the results was, that fellows became located and fixed in the university, instead of being, as was the original object, scattered throughout the country. That was a gross, palpable, and indisputable abuse, which it was the peculiar province of that House as speedily as possible to inquire into and abate. There was no such abuse in any of the universities in England. Inquiry was called for, and he hoped the House would sanction that part of the Motion which proposed to deal specially with the University of Dublin. In referring to the statements made before Committees of both Houses of Parliament with reference to the management of the college estates in Ireland, he must say that nothing could be more lamentable than the extent to which wretchedness, poverty, and immorality, existed upon those properties. Men upon whose evidence the utmost reliance could be safely placed, had been examined upon those points, and the testimony of one and all of them amounted to this, that there was no system more calculated to repress industry and prevent the cultivation of the land, than that pursued with reference to the collegiate estates by the provost and fellows of the Dublin College. Those facts were deposed to by Mr. Griffiths, Mr. Collis, Sir M. Barrington, Mr. Pierce Mahony, and many other practical men well acquainted with the system and the general condition of the country. The college received nothing like the value of their lands, but no benefit accrued to the country. The system was most detrimental to the well-being of the tenantry. The land was let at a rent equal to half its value, and a fine equal to the other half was paid by the tenant. Instead of making any effort, or holding out any inducement for the cultivation and improvement of the soil, the course pursued was one which no reasonable or sane man would adopt in the management of his estate. Every offer made by an occupier was uniformly refused, the provost and fellows preferring some half-sirs or squireens who as middlemen obtained all the advantages that should belong to the occupying tenant. 745 One of the greatest curses and misfortunes connected with the land system in Ireland was the lamentable prevalence of the middleman system in that country. It was the most pernicious and absurd system, and no one could be found to approve of it except the provost and fellows of the Dublin University. Last year when the leases of certain portions of their estates terminated, they rejected the offers of the occupying tenants, and let the lands for a less annual rent to middlemen. The result was that the occupying tenant was in some cases obliged to pay 50 per cent more than he had previously paid, and (as we understood) 75 per cent beyond that amount which the middleman (the new lessee) had agreed to pay to the college. The House should remember that such a system as that, injured not only the cultivation of the collegiate estates, but was detrimental to the interests of every owner of land in their vicinity. To demonstrate the opinion entertained in Ireland of the system, he might refer the House to a statement lately made by the board of guardians of the Listowel union, in the county of Kerry. The college estates extended over one-eighth of the surface of the entire county, and in the Listowel union comprised one-third of its area. The guardians besought the attention of Grovernment to the system pursued by the College of Dublin, and attributed to it principally the destitution and misery which pervaded the whole district. All the objections which were properly alleged against the management of Irish estates by the Court of Chancery, applied with tenfold force to the Trinity College system of management. They disregarded the suggestions made by the Devon Commission, and selected a class of persons for their tenants who would not descend to the position of occupying tenants, and who were incapable of discharging the duties of landlords, and could not enable the occupiers of the soil to have a fair interest in it, and perform their duties. Upon these grounds he hoped a strict inquiry would be made, and that the rights of the occupying tenants of Irish collegiate estates may be respected.
§ MR. G. A. HAMILTON
was unwilling that this discussion should assume the character of an Irish debate. But it was his intention to advert only to one point which had been particularly alluded to by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He meant the management of the college estates. A short time ago, when the right 746 hon. Gentleman opposite the President of the Board of Trade was Secretary for Ireland, the Board of Trinity College made a proposition to the Government to be enabled to carry out the recommendation contained in the Devon Commission; difficulties, however, presented themselves to the mind of the Lord Chancellor of England in the attainment of this object, and consequently the Bill that was then projected was abandoned. There was, however, at present a communication pending with the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on the same subject; and he trusted that the result would be a Bill introduced into Parliament, which would obviate the objections that had been so much dwelt upon by the hon. Member for Carlow. He did not wish to occupy any further the time of the House in discussing a question which had been so ably handled by his hon. and learned Colleague.
was bound to thank the hon. Member for the University of Oxford for bringing up before his eyes those Dissenters of Yorkshire whose name he had introduced into this debate; because it removed some difficulty which he should have otherwise experienced in determining what vote to give on this occasion. He should have felt a difficulty in supporting the Motion if he thought he should have been judged as giving a harsh vote against the University with which it was his boast and happiness to be connected, and of which he could never speak without the most friendly sentiments. But there were flaws in that University, and one was the exclusion of Dissenters from participation in the advantages it gave to the public. He did believe that this was a point on which, without the smallest unfriendliness, he was justified in saying the Universities must in the end give way, simply because it was not just and in accordance with the events that were taking place in the world. To the Dissenters, if they would take the opinion of an old member of the University, he would say, that if they were desirous of obtaining the advantages of a collegiate education, the most likely way to advance their object would be to take measures for endowing and establishing a college of their own within the University of Cambridge. In no other way would they be so likely to get over the obstacles which would be opposed to their taking degrees. He could not allow one dictum of the hon. Member for the University of Oxford to pass, without at 747 all events expressing Ms disagreement with it. The hon. Gentleman had said, that no right existed on the part of that House of Parliament—meaning thereby the whole Government of the country, of which that House was a component part—to interfere with the decisions or doctrines of the Church named of England. That dictum could not be passed over, because he (Colonel Thompson) knew that it was contrary to the opinion of a large portion of the Members on his (the Ministerial) side of the House. They believed that a compact existed between the Church of England and the State. If the Wesleyans or the Society of Friends chose to make their doctrines anything they liked, they were at liberty to do so, because they held no revenues by compact with the State. But his side of the House maintained that there was a compact with the Church of England, and that it was not from any abstract merit or desert that its revenues were given to it, but because its doctrines coincided with the opinions of the great mass of the inhabitants of this country; and if ever unhappily it should come to pass, that the doctrines of the Church of England should cease to coincide with the opinions of the majority of the people, then there would exist a right on the part of Parliament to write Tekel, Upharsin, on the present Church, and declare its revenues departed from it, and given to any the Legislature might appoint.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Mr. Speaker, I feel very sensibly that I am at a great disadvantage in rising to offer a few remarks to the House on the subject now before us, in having had no personal knowledge of the merits as regards those two great Universities which are mainly the subjects of this Motion. It is, however, a subject upon which it is proper, when brought before the House as it now is, some Member of the Government should state the views the Government are disposed to take, and it is with that purpose I now address the House. Let me say, in the first place, that I do not think it would be possible for me to agree to the Motion as it is now placed before the House, combining, as it does, a great number of questions, and placing them in a form which has induced my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford to say that the hon. Mover had framed a bill of indictment against the Universities. In whatever way I view this subject, I should say at the outset that I can see no case made out for 748 adopting any course that should wear the shape of a bill of indictment, or that there is any case for considering that these Universities are objects of accusation by a majority of this House. In considering the subject also, I should say that there is another portion of it which I think must be kept apart from the main object of the Motion. I do not think that that question, important as it is, of the admission of Dissenters to the Universities, should be considered together with the question of any improvement in the plan of education. Whether Dissenters should be admitted to study in the Universities, whether they should be admitted to honours, and how far any further admission should be given to them—these appear to me to be questions of principle, which, as my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford says, were debated several years ago at great length in this House, when my noble Friend Lord Stanley made an able speech in favour of the admission of Dissenters to the Universities, which I think has never yet been answered. That is a question, therefore, upon which I do not think there is any need of a Commission. I think it is quite unnecessary to ask a body of gentlemen to consider a question which is really one for Parliament to decide, and one upon which the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin has informed us that the Irish Parliament decided when they avowed that Roman Catholics should be admitted to degrees. I do not, then, think that we should take into consideration the question of the admission of Dissenters to the Universities. But when I proceed to the further and more important question with respect to the education which is given in our English universities, approaching that subject with all that care and respect which are due to the Universities, I must in the first place say that I do not think there can be any objection—and I do not think that even my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford would make any objection on principle to the appointment of a Commission to consider the state of these Universities in regard to the education they give. There are numerous precedents for such a proceeding. There has been, with all due respect to the Archbishops and Bishops, a Commission of Inquiry into the state of the Church of England. There has been also a Commission to inquire into the Scotch Universities, and an inquiry has 749 been instituted into the endowed schools for the education of the poorer classes, under Lord Brougham's Act. All these are precedents which show that there is no objection on principle to the appointment of a Commission in this case. And I think they show still further, that those who are holding positions of authority in the Universities, ought not to consider it any disparagement to them if a Commission were appointed to inquire into a subject so important to the people of Great Britain. Having stated what is my opinion upon the question regarded as a matter of principle, I will now proceed to consider whether there is any cause or ground of reason or expediency why such a Commission should be appointed now. In dealing with this subject we must consider the changes which these Universities have undergone during late years. Let me first say what I think must be agreed to by all who approve of those changes—that the education given in our Universities some twenty years, or even as lately as ten years ago, was not adequate to the education and wants of the present day. I have had stated to me in a letter from a person engaged in the task of education at Oxford the following observations. The writer of the letter says—I have stated, that our studies were almost exclusively dialectical. How limited the range of reading has been of late is seen when we reflect that mathematics, though encouraged by the offer of high honours, are but little cultivated among us; that an acquaintance with the elements of natural science is rare; that law, though we give degrees in that faculty, has long been neglected; that modern history has never formed part of our system; that political economy is looked upon with fear and aversion—nay, that the knowledge of ancient history exhibited by the ablest students seldom goes beyond the contents of Herodotus and Thucydides, and the first decade of Livy, with the addition of a small portion of Tacitus. It is confessed by all that the art of writing Latin well is possessed by few, and Greek was never well written here. But what will perhaps surprise your Lordship, neither Homer, nor Cicero, nor Demosthenes, nor Plautus, nor Quintilian, nor Terence, nor the minor Greek orators, nor Lucretius, are read by any large portion of even the most diligent young men; and that it is seldom indeed that they are presented at the public examinations.My correspondent goes on to state, however, that in the last few years these defects have been corrected—that the University was no longer open to that reproach—and that these subjects have received attention and study—that the very authors referred to in the letter from which I have quoted are now read. But 750 in making the claims I have stated, there has been still evidently a great defect—a defect which I think must be admitted by all who candidly consider the subject. But by a decision lately made, both at Cambridge and Oxford, these important subjects of modern history, and others, have been admitted as questions for examination, and have therefore become subjects of study in the colleges. But then the question arises how to combine that which had been hitherto the distinctive characteristic of our universities, namely, the study in the colleges by tutorial instruction and instruction by lectures, from the professors who are named to teach those important sciences. Upon this subject those to whom I have spoken who were educated in those universities, and who have, or some of them, taken an important part in education, say, that there is a very considerable defect, consisting in the restrictions which are imposed by the original foundations and deeds of endowment of separate colleges. It appears to me that, unless this defect can be completely remedied, the great changes that have been introduced both at Oxford and Cambridge can never give the full proof that you ought to expect from them. What you ought to expect from the introduction of lectures in modern history, from the introduction of lectures on chemistry and political economy, is, that young men shall have, in the colleges, sufficient instruction upon these subjects to enable them to derive all the benefit of the lectures which they would hear from the professors. With regard to this subject, there are these two reasons of sufficiency—the one, that the professors cannot obtain the attendance of the young men sufficiently often, and with a sufficiency of attendance, to enable them to derive all the benefit they ought to derive from their lectures; and, in the next place, the colleges having been instituted with a view to another mode of instruction—to a mode of instruction more favourable to classical learning at Oxford, and to mathematical learning at Cambridge—you have not, in those colleges, fellows able, or inclined, from their studies, to carry the young men on in those parts of learning which the two universities, of their own accord, have declared are necessary to a good education. In speaking to a gentleman, who is at present Professor of Modern History in the university of Cambridge, I mean Sir James Stephen, 751 and inquiring from him what lectures he was giving, he told me he was only giving lectures once a week, and that they were of an hour's, or an hour and a half, or they might be of two hours' duration. Now that instruction of itself, of one hour, or of one hour and a half in a week, and that only during term time, I cannot say would be sufficient instruction for the young men whom you expect are to be instructed upon so great and important a subject as modern history, I therefore think it is necessary to combine that education which is to be given by professors according to the system which has been adopted with the ancient collegiate manner of teaching which has prevailed in the universities of this city, and which system I, for one, should be very sorry to see destroyed, or even diminished. But then I think it should be your object, not wishing to introduce anything beyond what the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have themselves introduced, by the steps they have taken from time to time, the last of which we heard of only within these two or three hours—not to carry them in this direction further than they are themselves disposed to go, as I think it is most important to combine that species of instruction with the collegiate instruction, which is the ancient and established mode of teaching in our universities. An obstacle to this again is, as I have stated, the manner in which, by various acts, and by the wills of the founders, in many instances, the fellows must be taken from a certain family or from a certain county, with other restrictions of the same kind. It seems to me, therefore, that it ought to be the object to combine these two educations in such a way that the fellows of the colleges should be among the men who are the best instructed, not only in classics or mathematics, but also in these various branches of study; and that they ought to direct the attention of young men, not solely or exclusively, to those branches of study in which they have hitherto taught them, but that they should be able to assist and guide them in their attention to those professorial instructions which, without their assistance and attention, would, I fear, be very much lost in their effect. I own it does not appear to me that there is any such very great difficulty in attaining this object; but at the same time it is an object which cannot be obtained by the universities themselves; for except in some very rare instances 752 which have occurred from time to time, where, with very great pains, the colleges have been able to discover they had the power, which they might exercise, of altering and reforming their statutes, they have not the power of making the changes to which I have alluded. Now, Sir, supposing it is desirable to make these changes, is there any conclusive reason why they should not be attempted? I own it does not appear to me there is any such conclusive reason. The only reason that can be alleged is, that you ought to pay such respect to the wills of the founders, that you must not interfere with them, even for a great and important good. I think that that principle can hardly be contended for by my hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford, because he must allow that the change to which he alluded in his speech, in the desirableness of which I agree with him, and disagree perhaps with some other Members of this House—the change which took place at the Reformation—was a change entirely setting aside the will and intention of the founders. Though devoted to purposes akin to the intentions of the founders, the change was, at the same time, an entire diversity in the application of funds which the founders, in various instances, had directed to be applied to purposes justified and ordered by the Roman Catholic religion. My hon. Friend says, and says very plausibly, that the Church of England reformed itself upon that occasion. But we know that the State had a great deal to say to that reform of the Church, and a great deal to say to the reform of the universities; because if any one will look at the lists of heads of houses and masters of colleges, he will find that a certain master was appointed in the reign of Edward VI.; that in the time of Mary, another master was put in; and again that, in the time of Elizabeth, the former one was forcibly ejected, and a new master and a new head put in his place. My hon. Friend may claim that the Church of England reformed itself; but it was, in fact, a very strong interference of the State with all that will and determination which characterised the two sisters—Mary and Elizabeth. Then, Sir, what is there, if we have a great object in view, to prevent an interference so far with the wills of the founders, as to enable the colleges to place in the situation of fellows, and thereby to assist in the education of the youth of the two universities, the most capable men whom they 753 can find in the universities or elsewhere. I find in a report made upon the subject of the University of Aberdeen, two of the members of which commission were doctors of divinity, the heads of colleges in Aberdeen, this statement against such an objection:—One objection, which was very strongly urged, was, that the union of the two independent universities necessarily involved a violation of foundation charters and deeds of endowment, as well as an infringement on the vested rights of individuals. Considering that the foundation charters of both universities proceed on the narrative of its having been the object of their founders to promote religion and sound learning in the north of Scotland, we were not disposed to attach much importance to this objection as directed against a plan which was clearly calculated to further those ends. We were, moreover, disposed to think that where the rights of present incumbents are preserved entire, such an argument against legislative interference for the public good, with trusts constituted for the public benefit, was not entitled to any weight.I must say, if the object could be accomplished without any interference whatever, that that certainly would be the preferable mode of obtaining it. But they state here what is the sound principle; and if you keep in view the intention of the founders to promote religion and sound learning in the north of Scotland, so if the object be to promote religion and sound learning in these two universities, I think you are entitled to interfere to promote it. I own it appears to me, with regard to the two universities, that the argument of my hon. Friend applies only to three, four, or five, out of the whole number of colleges at Oxford; and though it may apply to no greater number, yet, with regard to some of the most richly-endowed of those colleges, there is what, in mechanical phrase, would be called a waste of power to a great extent. That is, where you have endowments upon which the most learned persons must be maintained, and employed in the education of great numbers of young men, and you have not that object attained owing to the manner in which the foundation deeds, though liberal, have been departed from; if this be the case, how is the object to be accomplished? Some I know say, "Let a Bill be at once introduced for the purpose of enabling the universities or the colleges to make these changes." But I own, it appears to me that with regard to a question of this kind, and to some other questions akin to it, that an inquiry by a Royal Commission would be eminently serviceable; and that it would tend to make those changes which have 754 been introduced by the universities themselves more complete and efficient. It is my intention, therefore, not to vote for the Motion introduced by the hon. Gentlemen the Member for Lancashire, which I hope he will not press upon the House; but it is certainly our intention to advise the Crown to issue a Royal Commission to inquire into the state of the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. I am glad no such commission was issued some eight or ten years ago, because, seeing the state in which the studies at the universities were—seeing how inadequate they were to the then state of knowledge, there would have been some appearance of hostility in issuing a commission of inquiry at that time; but at present, if persons are appointed who have belonged to those universities, who have themselves been educated at them, and who maintain regard and reverence for those seats of education, and if the inquiries they are directed to make are made in a friendly spirit, I own I can see nothing but advantage from such inquiries. It is therefore my intention to propose such an inquiry, and my own belief is that it will be of the utmost importance to the education of the people of this country. We are told there are 1,600 young men who are being educated at Oxford. I own I think that the advantages of an education at Oxford might be extended to a much greater number. I think the people of this country—without entering at all into the question of churchmanship and dissent, generally have the greatest interest in seeing that those funds are applied to the encouragement of sound learning, and the instruction of the youth of this country, at the most moderate rate at which that education can be afforded. I believe such was, in effect, the intention of the founders of the greater part, if not the whole, of those colleges. I believe in the times when those colleges were founded there was the greatest desire among men of wealth and property, and among the sovereigns and princes of this realm, to promote education in its largest sense, according to the best of the knowledge that could be procured in their day. My belief is, that if we promote education in its largest sense, combining with it religion and morality, which these great institutions are sure to maintain in this our present day, we shall be adding another security to the others for the maintenance of our institutions; that we shall be teaching a larger body of the people to look at the universi- 755 ties as places where their sons may obtain the best education that can be given, and fitted for the purposes of life to which they may be called. Nor am I in the least deterred by the consideration that my hon. Friend has put forward, that the universities have educated, in the course of late years, and in former years, the most eminent men in this country. If young men of talent were sent to those universities, and were given objects of study, no doubt those young men of talent would afterwards rise in Parliament, and in the councils of their Government; but the question is, whether you gave them, at that time, all the education which you could give them during their youth, to enable them to fulfil, nobly and magnificently, as it is said by Milton, the offices and duties to which they might be called. I should therefore hope, while the House need not come to a decision upon the Motion that is now before it, that the commission which will be appointed, with the view of aiding and assisting the universities in the noble object of reform which they have before them, would be received by them as a token of the interest which the Crown takes in their welfare, and in the means of making them still more useful and still more learned than they have ever been before.
§ MR. GOULBURN
said, although he cordially concurred in the commencement and some other parts of the speech of the noble Lord who had just resumed his seat, yet the satisfaction he had experienced had been more than diminished by the concluding announcement which he had made to the House of his intention to advise the Crown to issue a commission to inquire into the revenues and the system of education pursued at the universities. He agreed with the noble Lord, that with regard to the present Motion, it would have been impossible for any man who regarded the honour or interest of the universities to give it his support. He agreed with the noble Lord, that, if the question were one respecting the admission of Dissenters to the universities, it ought to be decided by Parliament, and not by a Commission issued by the Crown. He did not, however, agree in the propriety of the issue of such a Com mission—he was not prepared to enter into a discussion of the legal rights of such a Commission, because, if the object in view was the benefit of the universities, he was quite certain that, independent of any 756 question of legal right or principle, a Commission was not the proper mode of proceeding. He was quite satisfied that as great improvements had been made, even on the admission of the noble Lord, in the mode of teaching, and as the circle of knowledge to which the students were introduced had been much extended without the aid of a Commission, all these improvements would be controlled, thwarted, and probably defeated, by the issue of a Commission. Everything might be done with the universities. If the Crown would deal with them in the mode in which they had hitherto been treated—in concurrence with the leading members of those communities, by conciliation, and confidence in them—they would, without doubt, adopt such improvements as might be suggested. The noble Lord expressed his joy that the Motion for a Commission, on a former occasion, was defeated. If the noble Lord would postpone his present intention, he would, ten years hence, equally rejoice; but if his intention should be carried into effect, he would tell the noble Lord that ten years, nay ten months, would not elapse before he would repent of the step he was now taking. Let the House look at what had been done by the Universities in concurrence with the Crown during the ten years which had elapsed since the former Commission was in agitation. When Lord Monteagle, then Mr. Spring Rice, was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the noble Lord was his Colleague, and when the question arose whether Parliament should address the Crown for the issue of a Commission, doctrines similar to those now advanced by the noble Lord were propounded; and it was said, that although Parliament could not interfere, the Crown could and would undertake the issue of a Commission upon its own authority; but now the noble Lord rejoiced, after the lapse of ten years, that that step was not taken. Now, what would be the necessary effect of a Commission which did not carry with it the complete concurrence of the body into whose conduct it was intended to inquire? The House was aware of the improvements which had taken place in consequence of the adoption of a totally different course. It was stated that there were great objections to the mode in which business was transacted in the university—that the statutes prescribed particular forms of examination, and particular branches of study, which had since become antiquated, and were not thought 757 adequate to the wants of the community. Had there been any difficulty on the part of the university which he had the honour to represent, in making, with the concurrence of the Crown, wise and necessary alterations? Had they not, in many cases, abolished the restrictions which previously existed, and left the course of study as open as it could possibly be under any arrangement which could be justly made? He would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department whether the authorities concurring with the Crown had not, at a very recent period, submitted to his consideration the most valuable amendments of the college statutes? And now what was the noble Lord's reason for adopting a different course of action? The noble Lord admitted that the universities had done a great deal in the course of the last ten years. That was perfectly indisputable. The noble Lord said the professor's lectures were open to all, and that those new branches of study had been introduced which were essential to a good education. But, said the noble Lord, under the present system of the universities, the time allotted to the lectures of the professors of modern history was so extremely short—being, as he said, only one hour or two on some one day in the week—that it was totally impossible that progress could be made in the particular science in which he was the instructor. Now, he begged the noble Lord to recollect, that under the system recently adopted, it was not merely the professor of modern history who was required to give lectures to pupils in that particular branch of study; but that there had been imposed upon a variety of other professors duties of a corresponding character in the sciences which they respectively profess; and if men were to be instructed in the many branches of knowledge contemplated by the noble Lord, it was impossible to assign to each that full measure of instruction which it was the object of the noble Lord that the students of modern history in the university should receive. But the noble Lord was entirely misinformed with respect to his facts, for Sir James Stephen was at this moment engaged in giving three lectures a week on modern history to a numerous audience, from whom he was receiving that tribute of applause to which his talents pre-eminently entitled him. If the noble Lord thought it necessary to send a Commission for the purpose of ascer- 758 taining whether modern history received its due proportion of time, he might save himself the trouble. But the noble Lord said he must have a Commission, because he wanted to engraft upon the tutors a knowledge of the sciences taught by the professors. He (Mr. Groulburn) did not deny that, having made one great change in the university, by introducing new branches of learning, and assigning to proficiency in them a new class of honour, some changes in the subordinate arrangements might be necessary. But the authority that made the great change, was surely competent to make the minor one contemplated by the noble Lord. They had acted not rashly, or without due consideration of the consequences of the step which they had taken. It was not imputed to them that they had any design to overthrow the object of the noble Lord by any underhand hindrance. But the noble Lord set up some new theory of statutes which no man who had read college statutes could entertain—namely, that the colleges impose a prohibition upon the election to fellowships of men who are competently informed upon the new branches of education which have been introduced into the university course. Now, he would tell the noble Lord that there was not a college in the University of Cambridge whose statutes prescribe the mode of examination by which a fellowship was to be obtained. The reason given by the noble Lord for the appointment of a Commission was, therefore, altogether unsatisfactory. But would the Commission be of any value? Did the noble Lord suppose that the sending of five, or six, or seven Commissioners down to Cambridge would not arrest the progress of improvement on the part of those who had hitherto so sincerely dedicated themselves to the promotion of education? Did the noble Lord suppose the Commission could bring before them the heads of houses, and tutors, and subject them to long and perhaps captious examination, without interfering with the progress of what was going on—without perilling the efforts of those who were labouring in the cause which he wished to support—or without casting an imputation upon their conduct and motives? He trusted that the noble Lord would now, as his Government did in 1836, reconsider the announcement which he had made. This was not the occasion on which he could enter into discussion with the noble Lord as to the best mode of education to 759 be pursued in the universities of England. It was a most important subject. This, however, he would say, that he should be sorry, by the introduction of new studies, to divert the minds of the young from that pursuit of mathematical studies and classical literature which he believed to be the foundation of future eminence; for he was convinced, that of all the advantages which a man could derive from education, that which he obtained from a combined knowledge of mathematics and classical literature surpassed every other, so far as advancement in the world was concerned. He was prepared to admit the advantage of having extended the circle of knowledge to the moral and physical sciences, yet he hoped that they would not be pursued to such an extent as to interfere with the other; and that it was no part of the scheme of the noble Lord so exclusively to favour those new studies as to eradicate the taste and affection for the old, on which the fortune of the individual educated, his future usefulness, and the prosperity of the country, so much depended. He would not stop to argue the legality of the issue of such a Commission as that contemplated by the noble Lord. If the object which he had in view was deserving of the attention of the university, the noble Lord would have no difficulty, without a Commission, in securing the concurrence of those with whom he was desirous of acting; but if he should attempt, by a violent exercise of authority, to send down a Commission, the legality of which he (Mr. Goulburn) considered doubtful, but which some great lawyers considered quite illegal—he would involve himself and the bodies whom it was his object to benefit, in a course of contentious hostility which would be anything but favourable to the accomplishment of his wishes. He trusted the noble Lord would not place these learned bodies in the position of coming into collision with the Crown, but that he would rather endeavour, by conciliatory approaches towards them—by profiting by their experience—to facilitate the continuance of those improvements which they had spontaneously begun, and which would be pursued by the heads of the university with which he was connected, with every disposition to give them effect to the fullest extent compatible with the maintenance of those duties which belonged to them—the advancement of a religious education combined with sound learning. The noble 760 Lord had referred to the Scotch universities; the question with respect to them was entirely and totally distinct, for the Crown had a legal power of interfering with the Scotch universities, which did not apply to those of England. The principle might be correct that the Crown was justified in uniting two Scotch colleges for the purpose of making better provision, by diminishing the useless waste of power which two institutions, instead of one, was there likely to cause; but, if the noble Lord attempted, upon the same principle, to unite two or three of the colleges in the English universities, with the view of effecting a similar object, he would tell the noble Lord that he would act in direct violation of the law, and would call down upon himself the deserved hostility of all who had any regard for the sacred principles of property, or who viewed the rights of founders as entitled to consideration. He considered the appointment of a Commission worse than useless—he believed it would be thoroughly mischievous, and should take every opportunity in his power of giving it his most uncompromising opposition.
§ MR. SCULLY
regretted that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had not said one word about Trinity College, Dublin. If the noble Lord had listened to the speeches made by the hon. Members for Cork and Carlow, or if he had borne in mind his own speech in 1846, he (Mr. Scully) thought that he could not have come to the conclusion of leaving Trinity College, Dublin, out of the Commission. The Roman Catholics of Ireland were a majority of the people of that country, and they ought to have a share of that which was intended for the benefit of the people. He would therefore request the hon. Member for North Lancashire not to withdraw that part of his Motion which related to Ireland. If he did withdraw it, he (Mr. Scully) would move that the inquiries of the Commission should extend to Trinity College, Dublin.
§ MR. HEYWOOD
said, that as the proposal of the noble Lord was an important step in advance, he was quite willing on his part to withdraw his Motion. He agreed with the hon. Member for Tipperary that it was important that the Commission should be extended to Dublin, and he should be happy to support a Motion to that effect.
§ MR. ROUNDELL PALMER
said, the course which had been taken rendered it 761 very important that more time should be given for a full discussion of this question. The intention of the Government had not been announced till half-past 10 o'clock, and the previous course of the debate could not have given an idea to those interested in the Universities of the proposition which the noble Lord was about to make. That proposition involved questions not only affecting education in the Universities of the greatest importance, but also legal questions of the greatest importance; and on that account he deemed it necessary that the debate should not now close. With regard to the Commission, he conceived that it would be an illegal one. It appeared to contemplate the very thing which King James II. had attempted. The resistance offered to that movement of King James by the college to which he belonged, exhibited their faithfulness to their statutes and laws; and he had no doubt, if a similar visitation were forced on the Universities, contrary to the law and their statutes, that it would at this day be met with a resistance such as it met with then, and on that ground he moved that the debate be now adjourned.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the debate be now adjourned."
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
expressed a hope that, as the hon. and learned Gentleman wished for an adjournment, the House would not object. He admitted that until he rose in the debate, the House had no intimation of his intention to propose the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry in regard to the Universities, and therefore he thought the suggestion of an adjournment reasonable; but he believed the hon. and learned Gentleman was mistaken in supposing that it was not competent to the Crown to issue a Commission, not to alter the constitution or regulation of these Universities, but simply to take evidence voluntarily from those who might be willing to give it as to the nature of the education given, and whether the usefulness of these institutions might not be extended, though there might be some difficulty in forcing parties to give evidence whether they were willing or not; but that was not what he proposed.
§ MR. LAW
thought the noble Lord was confounding two things—the issuing of a Commission to inquire into the state of the University as such, and an inquiry with the view to interfere with the foundation of these institutions, and the specific purposes for which they were established. 762 The adjournment now proposed would give the noble Lord the opportunity of consulting with the law officers of the Crown as to how far the powers of the Crown extended in this matter; but it appeared to him that the noble Lord would find it a matter of considerable difficulty to force such an inquiry upon a reluctant university. He contended that when the visitor had not failed in his duty—and there was a special visitor to these colleges—there was no jurisdiction in the Crown to issue a Commission to inquire, or power to enforce the attendance of witnesses, or, when the information was obtained, to effect any alteration in the foundation. They might as well attempt to disturb every charitable foundation in England, as to seek to interfere with these institutions. They could not alter the original foundation, or appropriate the fellowships to any particular study other than those to which they were now directed, without an Act of Parliament; and with regard to a Commission of Inquiry under such circumstances, he was sure the noble Lord would not go through the farce of sending such a body when the parties would not have the power to enforce the attendance of witnesses, or to take any other steps to obtain information, or carry out the object for which they were appointed. He trusted the noble Lord would reconsider the matter, and that if he found himself wrong he would have the manliness to recede from the intention he had expressed that night, and trust to the efforts of the University, which had shown every desire to adapt its system of education to the altered state of society for carrying out its objects.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
would not have desired to trouble the House with any observations, had it not been for the doubt thrown out by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Plymouth, and which seemed to be participated in by the hon. and learned Recorder. He (the Attorney General) begged the House to understand that it was from no doubt entertained by his noble Friend, or by those with whose concurrence he acted with regard to the legality of the proposed commission, that he had assented to the adjournment of the debate. He believed that it proceeded from a simple misconception of the nature and character of the proposed commission, that doubt was entertained of its legality by any one. If it had been an executive commission to enforce an inquiry, to insist upon the pro- 763 duction of documents, to compel the examination of witnesses, to alter statutes and make regulations, he concurred with those who thought that it would be illegal, and that they could not attempt to assert any authority in such a case as the present, unless the commission were founded upon an Act of Parliament. But the noble Lord had not, for a single moment, suggested a commission of that nature. In reference to a remark made by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Plymouth, that there might be resistance to the production of evidence, his noble Friend had merely said that, in that case, the commission could not insist upon the information requested. If any hon. Member really had a doubt of the legality of a commission of the kind proposed, he would remind him of the precedents recently adopted by former Governments. What was the difference, for instance, between a commission such as was now proposed for the purpose of examining willing witnesses, and documents willingly produced, and that commission issued by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth, to inquire into the constitution of the deans and chapters of England? There was also the case of the commission which inquired into the municipal corporations of England and Wales. In each of these cases the object of the commission was, not to make regulations or enforce opinions, but to collect information from parties willing to afford it, with the view of inducing the Legislature to found upon that information, if necessary, a future Act of Parliament. Upon the information so collected on both these subjects, the Legislature were ultimately enabled to found valuable measures, and it was with the same view—namely, to facilitate the improvements which were in progress in the universities—that the noble Lord had suggested the proposed commission.
§ MR. BEST
said, he had ever considered the universities as the primary schools of the Church of England; and in spite of hon. Gentlemen who sat on the opposite side, and who belonged to all sects, creeds, and denominations, would support those universities through thick and thin on which depended the essential principles of the Church of England. He hoped that no Member on his side would ever sanction anything which would do away with that right which had so long existed, that the universities should have free rule and regulation within their proper precincts. He 764 should, therefore, oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for North Lancashire.
§ MR. HENLEY
thought that the news of this commission being issued would not be very consolatory to those on whose behalf it was said to be about to be issued. It would be a perfectly voluntary act to give any information, as it was not to be an executive commission; but they were told immediately afterwards, that it was to be like the commission which sat on the municipal corporations and the deans and chapters. Was it meant to follow up this commission in the same way? because if it were, he should think those learned bodies would be very careful as to what information they might give. With many bland and civil words. Ministers, as in the former cases, would try to send their victims to the right about, after they had got all the information they could from them. The hon. and learned Attorney General had most distinctly alluded to the course taken in those two instances; therefore he (Mr. Henley) thought it would be well that all parties should know the object and intention of this commission so announced. It was very well in the noble Lord to say that he would separate from this question that of admitting Dissenters into, the universities; but he believed this would not help him in the accomplishment of his object. With the small end of the wedge once inserted, it was easy to predict what would be the next move.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
tendered his most cordial thanks to the hon. and learned Member for Kidderminster for the manly course which he had stood forward to take in that House on this the first occasion when he had had the pleasure of hearing the hon. and learned Member. As often as the hon. and learned Member protested against the arbitrary acts of corrupt Ministers, so often, he hoped, it would be his good fortune to accompany the hon. and learned Member. The noble Lord had adopted, on the present occasion, as usual, an evasive mode of proceeding. He was now going to issue a commission, paid or not, he (Colonel Sibthorp) did not care; but he knew that it was a commission which boded evil, and could by no possibility be productive of good to those universities in which the noble Lord professed to take so deep an interest. It was, as he had said on a former occasion, a shuffle—another base Ministerial trick. He hoped the House would divide, and compel the abandonment of the transparent dodge. If 765 the noble Lord had not placed himself in a position to court the good graces of what was called the Peelite section, he would not now be enabled to aim at that dominion over the House he was trying to exercise. For himself, he was unchanged and unchangeable in his political course. If those who had changed, and had truckled to the other side, had taken a different and a straightforward course—such a course as the hon. and learned Member for Kidderminster adopted—they would not now have afforded the noble Lord this opportunity of creating another dirty commission.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
was understood to say, that he doubted whether it would be convenient to include that University.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 273; Noes 31: Majority 242.
§ Debate adjourned till Wednesday, 1st May.