§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair,"
§ MR. TREFUSIS
I hope, Sir, that the great importance of the Bill, the details of which we are now asked to discuss, the great difference of opinion which existed at the time of the second reading, and the different views which were taken by the principal supporters of this measure as to its bearing and effect upon the University of Oxford, will be reasons sufficient to justify me in asking the House once more to consider, whether it will assent to its further progress during the present Session. The arguments against the Bill have already, on a former occasion, been very fully stated, so that I can promise to be brief. I shall endeavour also, in the few observations which I shall address to the House, to imitate the fairness and moderation with which the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Sussex has conducted the discussion on this Bill, and which have contributed so much, in my opinion, to raise a question which might easily be made the subject of angry controversy, far above the level of a mere party conflict, and to place it in such a position before the House that its merits and demerits may be calmly and temperately discussed. The question itself is necessarily one of those the discussion of which is attended with some inconvenience in this House, because it involves allusions to those differences of religious opinion which it is never desirable to bring prominently forward; but when these questions are forced upon us, it is necessary to 1003 meet them boldly and to argue them without reserve, and at the same time to meet them, as I feel sure they may be met and argued, without anything approaching to ill feeling or animosity towards those with whom, on such important subjects, we may happen to differ. Now, Sir, this Bill has been recommended to the House partly on the ground that it introduces no new principle, but that it is merely a completion of the work which was commenced at Oxford in the year 1854; but I maintain, and I shall endeavour to show, that it does seek to introduce an entirely new principle into the constitution of the University of Oxford, that it takes a step far in advance of the legislation of that year, and makes an important alteration which Parliament at that time distinctly refused to sanction. For when religious tests were abolished in the case of those who sought admission to the University, and of those who took the first degree of Bachelor of Arts, this alteration was supported by an argument of this kind: it was said that inasmuch as, since the repeal of the Tests and Religious Disabilities Acts, public offices and places of all kinds in the State were open to all persons irrespective of their religious opinions, the State had a right to demand that the University should give to all who chose to avail themselves of it, the benefit of the best education the country afforded; but this argument ceased to have any weight when it became a question of the abolition of tests in the case of the higher degrees. This step Parliament refused to take, and for this obvious and, as I think, sufficient reason; that when a Member of the University has passed his B. A. degree the educational course as far as he is concerned is concluded. On taking the M. A. degree he ceases to be in statu pupillari; he is admitted into Convocation, the body which passes the laws and appoints to nearly all the offices in the gift of the University: so that if you abolish the existing tests at Oxford you introduce this new and, as I think, objectionable principle, that you give a share of the government of the University to those who are not members of the Church of England. But it has been one of the complaints against the present tests, that it is unjust to exclude any one from the benefits of an academical education on account of his religious opinions; and to sustain this complaint it is necessary to assume that the University education is not complete until the degree of M. A. has been taken; whereas the truth is, that 1004 the very fact of an Undergraduate becoming a Bachelor of Arts is a proof that his education is completed, and the degree of Master of Arts is not a mark of any greater proficiency, but merely a sign of some additional academical standing. Now I confess I think that unless there is some very strong necessity and some very urgent demand founded on very good reasons, it is not desirable that Parliament should interfere to make a compulsory alteration in the regulations of our Universities. I do not deny the right of Parliament to interfere in these matters; that right has been exercised already on more than one occasion, but I do think that it ought to be exercised with the greatest caution, and only with the authority and on the responsibility of the Government. I cannot think that the necessity has arisen; nor can I find, judging from the petitions which have been presented to this House, that there is any demand for this Bill, either on the part of the University itself, or of those most likely to be affected by a measure of this kind. There is one important petition against this Bill, to which I think due weight has not yet been given in the discussions on this subject—namely, that from the University of Oxford, presented by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which the petitioners (the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University) say, thatThis Bill would destroy to a great extent the existing securities that the government, teaching, and discipline of the University and of its Colleges and Halls shall be intrusted to members of the Church of England: that, as to the Colleges generally, it would remove the most important of these securities, whilst with respect to the University as a whole it would abolish them altogether.Such a petition, coming from those who would be principally affected by the passing of this Bill, is entitled, I think, to some attention from this House: on the other hand, I find petitions in favour of this Bill from various Educational Establishments in the country not connected with the Church of England, namely, from the Professors and Students of Spring Hill College near Birmingham—from the principal Professors and Students of Manchester New College, London—from the Professors and Students of the Countess of Huntingdon's College, Cheshunt, in the county of Hertford, and from Professors and Students of the Independent College in the county of Brecon. Now, Sir, it would be interesting to know 1005 whether any religious test or qualification is required from those who receive their education in these and similar institutions, or are admitted to their government or the management of their affairs; because, if there is, I think that they are not justified in coming to this House and endeavouring to force upon the University of Oxford a system which in their own case they are unwilling to adopt. But there does not appear to be a single petition from those who are said to be especially aggrieved—namely, those who having taken their first degree of Bachelor of Arts are prevented from proceeding to the higher degrees by the necessity of subscribing the Thirty-nine Articles and the three articles of the 36th Canon. Now this is somewhat remarkable, and can only, I think, be accounted for in one of two ways: either there are no persons in this position, in which case the grievance is a mere theory and has not yet assumed a practical shape, or else those who are in this position do not sympathize with the objects of this Bill; they are satisfied with the benefits of the education they have received, and they feel that their prospects in life are not marred by their exclusion from the privilege of writing M. A. after their names. I am aware, Sir, that there was a petition presented last year in favour of the abolition of religious tests at Oxford from certain Professors and others at that University, which was the subject of debates both in this and the other House of Parliament; but I believe that the most that could be said for that petition was, that it was signed by a few eminent men, but it was in no sense a petition from the University, and did not represent the opinions of even a considerable minority of the resident and non-resident members of Convocation. If then there is no demand for this Bill, and if persons of all religious persuasions are admitted to the educational advantages of the University, I must consider for a moment an objection which has been urged against the tests themselves. It has been said that they tend to provoke religious disunion, and add fuel to religious discord, and that if you remove them peace and harmony will be restored, We are told that the tests are useless because they have failed to produce unanimity of opinion on religious subjects—that there are theological differences already at Oxford, although those who have been admitted to full academical privileges must have signed these tests before they could obtain them. Well, Sir, that may 1006 be true to a certain extent, and no one can lament it more than I do; and it is precisely because I do lament it, and because I do not wish to see these evils aggravated, that I oppose a measure which will admit persons of every shade of religious belief and unbelief (for the Bill makes no exceptions) to the control of the studies, education, and government, and may place them in positions of authority and influence in the University and in the Colleges. At this stage of the progress of the Bill, it is important to consider whether, in the event of its becoming law, we may hope that we have seen the last of the demands which will be made upon our Universities in this direction. Our former experience on this subject is certainly not encouraging. First of all, in the year 1854, we had the Oxford University Act, by which the education of that University was thrown open to all persons irrespective of religious distinctions. Then, two years afterwards, came the Cambridge University Act, which abolished oaths or declarations for admission to the higher degrees, but coupled with the important restriction that a declaration of bonâ fide church membership should be signed before a Master of Arts could become a Member of the Senate, and so take part in the government of the University. Eight years pass, and we have the Bill now before us, seeking to abolish all tests, and to give to all admission to the higher degrees, and a share in all the powers of government and discipline at Oxford; and, as if that were not enough, we have hanging over us the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie), by which he proposes to abolish the necessity of subscription to the Liturgy of the Church of England by those who become Tutors or Fellows of Colleges. But let us; suppose that this Bill is passed into law; we know that it will not satisfy its principal supporters, who think, with my hon. Friend the Member for the City of Oxford (Mr. Neate) that "this measure will be useless unless it pave the way to a full; admission to all emoluments and professorships both in the University and in the Colleges;" still less, if it pass, in the modified form which has been suggested, will it, satisfy those petitioners in its favour, who pray for "equal rights to participate in the honours, offices, government, and emoluments of the Universities."
But, Sir, argue as we may on the provisions of this Bill, as it is presented to 1007 the House, there can be no doubt that there is a far more important question at issue than the mere abolition of a religious test. By our decision on this Bill, we shall decide whether the University of Oxford is to continue any longer in connection with the Established Church; whether it is to hold out to the country the advantages of a definite system of religious teaching. There are some persons, no doubt, who think that our Universities would be better without a religion; but I cannot understand upon what principle of reason or of justice they would force them to abandon that connection with the religion of the country, which has been the cause of the confidence which is felt in their teaching, and the source of the infinite blessings which they have conferred, and are still conferring upon the whole country. In these days, too, when the principle of religious liberty is so thoroughly established, and the right of all sects and denominations to hold the religious opinions which may be most agreeable to their feeling and conscience is so fully recognized, will those who dissent from the doctrines of the Church of England deny to the University of Oxford that privilege which they claim so loudly for themselves? Is the University of Oxford—a national institution charged with the instruction, not of the laity only, but of the clergy also, for service of the National Church—not to be allowed to profess a definite creed, and to fence it round with those safeguards which it considers necessary to preserve it in its purity and its integrity? We live, Sir, in times when doubts and difficulties are raised on the most sacred subjects, and when scepticism and infidelity are openly avowed. It will not tend to allay doubts nor to check infidelity, if the University of Oxford, which should be a guide in these matters, show itself indifferent in questions of doctrine, and becomes indistinct in its religious teaching. I do hope, Sir, that the House will consider seriously the tendency of this and similar measures; and if it appears that this Bill, introduced as it is by private Members, who have not yet agreed as to their own wishes and intentions with respect to it, is an undue and uncalled for interference with the University, that it will lead to a severance of the connection between the University and the Church of England, and that, in whatever shape it may be passed, it is merely an instalment of farther and more extreme measures, I trust that a majority of the 1008 House will support the Motion which I now beg. Sir, to place in your hands—"that the House will, on this day six months, go into Committee on this Bill."
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee," — (Mr. Trefusis,)
§ MR. LEATHAM
said: Mr. Speaker, the objection of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Trefusis), which relates to that portion of this Bill in which as a Nonconformist I feel more especial interest, is comprised in the assertion that if passed it will sever the connection between the Church of England and the governing body of the University. I have listened attentively to the speech of the hon. Member and to those which have been delivered on previous occasions by hon. Members opposite, and I find the same reiteration running through them all, but without any very formidable attempt to justify it by an appeal to reason, and without even the rudiment of an attempt to support it by an appeal to fact. But hon. Gentlemen seem to think that they can make up for the disuse of reason by the abuse of a sister faculty. They have made powerful appeals to the imagination, and have told us, that if this Bill should pass it will be necessary to establish another University with "cardinal and fundamental features of exclusion which shall shut out the sons of Dissenters." Now, Sir, I am aware that hon. Gentlemen, when they discuss Church questions or quasi-Church questions, have by long usage established for themselves something like an ancient right of being as courageous and nearly as illogical as they please; but I do think that the use of such an argument as this amounts to an abuse of even the right which they have of being illogical. It seems to me to be all of a piece with the argument of the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord R. Cecil), who, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock brought in his Bill last year, assured us, with a gravity befitting the occasion, that it was calculated to lead to the election of a Jew Vice Chancellor, and afterwards proceeded to argue that when the Jew Vice Chancellor was elected, the 1009 University would cease to pay, because the upper classes would cease to frequent it. Now when the noble Lord made this astounding communication to the House, I cannot say that I experienced much surprise, because we are not unaccustomed to hear that kind of argument from the lips of the noble Lord; nor was I much surprised when the hon. and learned Member for the University (Mr. Selwyn) indulged in his great flight of imagination the other day, because there seems to be something about these questions which, when they are discussed by hon. Gentlemen opposite, however logical or candid or able they may be at other times—just in proportion as it excites the irritability of their belief—impairs the vigour of their understanding. Take, for example, their opposition to this clause. It is opposed on the ground that it will sever the connection between the Church of England and the University, and yet in the same breath every speaker of eminence who has addressed himself to that side of the question has told us, that nineteen-twentieths—some go so far as to say ninety-nine hundredths—of those whose social position enables them to avail themselves of an University education are members of the Church of England. Now is this logical? How can this possible sprinkling of Dissenters destroy the supremacy of the Church at the University? And yet this is a very fair sample of the kind of argument with which hon. Gentlemen are content to discuss these questions, and to which a long and melancholy experience has inured, I will not say reconciled, this part of the House. Why, Sir, the history of religious freedom in this country is the history of the systematic disregard of these sepulchral prophecies. What was it that was said when it was proposed to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts, to admit the Jews to Parliament, or to emancipate the Roman Catholics? Was it not said that you were polluting the pure stream of legislation at its source, that you were severing the connection between the Church of England and the Legislature, that you were inaugurating in this House a conspiracy against the Protestant religion of this country? And how was it that an enlightened Churchman of that day dealt with these delusions? "If all the seventy members," said Sydney Smith, "were of the Catholic persuasion, they must still plot the destruction of our religion in the midst of 588 Protestants. Such terrors," he proceeds, and his words seem strikingly 1010 applicable to the present terrors of hon. Gentlemen opposite, "such terrors would disgrace a cookmaid or a toothless aunt; when they fall from the lips of bearded and senatorial men, they are nauseous, anti-peristaltic, and emetical." And, Sir, when this clause is passed (and it will be passed, whether you pass it to-day or not), the Dissenters who will be admitted to the Senate will have to plot (if, indeed, Dissent and conspiracy be convertible terms), will have to plot the downfall of the supremacy of the Church at the Universities (by hon. Gentlemen's own showing) in a minority of twenty to one—some of them say of a hundred to one—and such is the estimate which you have formed of the ability and the vigilance and the constancy of those who constitute this vast majority, that you dare not intrust to these tremendous odds the maintenance of your system; but the moment the Dissenter is in imagination within the walls of the Senate House, that moment you propose to haul down the flag, to abandon the University with all her rich spoils and her immemorial renown, and build elsewhere another University possessing those "cardinal and fundamental features of exclusion," which shall satisfy the anxious minds of the fathers of families, that the fragile and exotic faith of their offspring shall not be blighted by the breath, I do not say of scepticism, for you have that already in abundance, and you do not talk of abandoning your University on that account, but of that other pestilential thing which is so much more formidable than scepticism—Nonconformity. But, Sir, I feel as though I were abusing the patience of the House when I treat seriously such arguments as this. And yet if they cannot he treated seriously why are they advanced? What are they worth? What possible harm can come of our disregard of them? What harm has ever come of our habitual disregard of them? Dissenters, Catholics, Quakers, and Jews sit in Parliament, hold offices of trust all over the country, and the Church of England still exists; the Church not only exists, but the repeal of every intolerant statute which you have repealed has served to consolidate her power, and every grievance which you have removed or abated has been an element of danger taken out of her path, and yet with all this experience at our command we are still hesitating and deprecating and prophesying and romancing; we sweep the whole horizon for danger whenever it is proposed to take a single step forward in 1011 that path along which we have been treading with safety and confidence and with immeasurable benefit now more than thirty years? But, Sir, the real reason why we hear these remarkable arguments, and why the opponents of this and every other measure tending in the same direction make all their forced marches on behalf of intolerance, is because without them their line of defence has become no longer tenable. The moment that Dissenters were admitted to the Universities free of tests, their flank was turned. You have either done too much or too little for the Nonconformists. So long as you excluded them from all emoluments, and all honours; so long as you ignored their presence at the Universities, so long was it competent to you, perhaps, to assert that the Universities, and all they possessed, were the indefeasible inheritance of the Church. But when you opened the door to them, when you admitted by so doing that the Universities did not exist for the exclusive benefit of the Church, you recognized the principle that the Nonconformists were there not on sufferance, or by accident, but by right; you returned to the principles and the practice of the times of Queen Elizabeth before the miserable scribble of a monarch, whose memory is one of unmingled derision, dictated the emasculation of the University. And having recognized the position of the Nonconformists at the Universities, it is no longer competent to you to go back, and say "these things are the exclusive property and privileges of the Church;" but if you will be logical, if you care to be just, if you mean to act in accordance with the spirit of English fair play, you will take another step forward (the step you took nine years ago, but which was reversed elsewhere, where the decisions of this House in a liberal sense frequently are), you will take another step forward and say, "these men have a recognized status at the University; they bear our degrees and hold our scholarships, how long can we persist in excluding them from the body corporate of the University, of whose life's blood they already form a part, jealous of her honour, proud of her traditions, and ambitious to assist in their own persons in upholding her renown?" Look at the working of your invidious test. You have admitted the fact that this man, although a Nonconformist, has a right to study at the University, to be examined, to prove his competency, his 1012 merit, his genius. Up to a certain point no one could tell the difference between the black sheep and the white; but when your first-class man, having achieved the position for the recognition, and a reward of which your Universities themselves were made, presents himself, among hundreds of others his inferiors, as a claimant for the very humble distinction of an admission to the Senate, at that moment, armed with all the intolerance of an age when religious freedom did not exist, you step in and say "No; that man is under a cloud." Bishops may believe pretty much what they please—at all events, the colonial variety may. They may disbelieve, if they like, in Noah's ark, but the man who believes resolutely in Noah's ark must be kept at all hazards at arm's length, the University must put her black mark upon him—and why? Because he does not believe in bishops. And so it may be, the man of superior ability, and of indefatigable application, is told to stand down, while men of inferior intellect and merit pass in in shoals; and all that is narrow, and bigoted, and timorous in the Church exults over the paltry triumph of fifth-rate Conformity; and all that is sectarian, and violent, and pugilistic in Dissent chuckles when it sees the man of great but unrewarded intellect, whom a little conciliation would have won to friendship with the Church for ever, whom a little justice would have satisfied, turn his back upon her and go away armed with his great genius and his great indignation to join the ranks of her enemies. Now, what is the real objection to this Bill? Is it not that it is a concession to Nonconformity; and whatever is a concession to Nonconformity is taken for granted to be a blow to the interests of the Church? But I deny altogether that this measure will be a blow to the interests of the Church, and that not upon the ground that it will be inoperative. On the contrary, the Church should hope that it will be powerfully operative, that it will tend to cause Nonconformists to flock to the University; for rest assured that, should this be the case, it is not the Church but Nonconformity which will have cause to fear. For what are you in effect doing? You take the flower of the youth of Nonconformity at an age when the mind is peculiarly susceptible of new impressions, and you plunge them into a society profoundly saturated with Church notions — everything the young Dissenter sees around him is calculated to 1013 efface his attachment to Nonconformity; and, when to all these allurements you add the removal of those disabilities which at present rankle in his mind, keeping up the irritation with which lie regards the pretensions and exclusiveness of the Chinch, and which is the true safeguard of his Nonconformity, the temptation is complete—the trap is baited with an art and a power which will enable you to capture nine out of ten of those who enter the University as Nonconformists. Well, then, it may be asked—and it is a very fail question—why do I, who am a Nonconformist, support this Bill? Because, Sir, there are some things which, to my thinking, are greater than Nonconformity. What is it that underlies all Nonconformity? What is it that redeemed all its uncouth-ness and extravagance 200 years ago, when the prisons were full of it? It was the protest which it has ever borne to liberty of conscience—to the great and cardinal principle that the consciences of men are free—that you may swaddle them as you will in creeds and catechisms, you may bind them as you please with tests and Acts of Parliament, you may allure them as you like with emolument and honour; but there is something in the soul of man which refuses to be dwarfed, and bound, and tempted; there is something so high and so free that it laughs, not only your tests and your Acts of Parliament, but, if need be, your prisons and your scaffolds to scorn. And, Sir, it is because this Bill touches, although it may be only the very edge of this great principle, that whatever may be its effect upon Nonconformity, I am for the Bill of my hon. Friend.
§ MR. C. C. CLIFFORD
said, it was erroneous to suppose that those who supported the Bill were inimical to the University of Oxford He was peculiarly identified with that University; and, so far from considering the Bill was prejudicial to it, in reality he believed it would he of great strength and advantage to it. He had no wish to be relieved from his subscription to the Articles. He believed few men had taken more oaths than he had himself, and he could assure the House his conscience was perfectly easy on that score. It had never been his wish to promulgate any doctrine contrary to the Church; and, indeed, the peculiar emphasis with which he had pronounced the words "horrible and damnable doctrine," and the sternness with which he had regarded the Proctor, who at that day was supposed to be in- 1014 clined to recreancy, had induced the Vice I Chancellor to request him to act as his fugleman in putting the oath on other occasions. There was no manner of doubt that the multiplication of these tests at a time of life when young men were most inclined to lose themselves in theoretical speculations often drove into the ranks of Dissent men who might otherwise have become zealous defenders of the Church. Nothing could be more absurd than to attempt to check in such a manner the free progress of opinion. In secular matters it had been found impossible to stop the growth of opinion, and in spiritual matters not all the councils, synods, universities, or boards in the world would have any effect. He had read with very great, and at the same time painful, interest, the Apologia pro Vitâ Suâ, by Dr. Newman. Dr. Newman was, perhaps, the man of all others who had inflicted the most deadly stabs upon the Church of England, and had caused the largest number of persons to secede from that Church, and so far from saying one word against his character he (Mr. Clifford) would bear his public testimony that he believed him to be an honest and conscientious man. He had; referred, however, to this work for the purpose of showing how absurd and ludicrous it was to try to check the growth of opinion at Oxford, even within the walls of the University, and amongst its teachers. It was impossible to prevent the growth of opinion within the walls of the Church, and Dr. Newman left it, not on account of having subscribed the Articles, but on account of the Donatist controversy, of which no one was more ignorant than himself. The hon. Member who had moved the rejection of the Bill bad said, that it was time for the Church to take a decided line. One party in the Church had moved and taken a very decided line, and he was glad that there was a House of Commons, and that there were courts of law ready to stand against the narrow-minded bigotry of a certain party in the Church, if the question was asked, who wrote the most distinguished work in defence of the Christian religion, the answer would be "Paley." That writer admitted that there were certain discrepancies in the memories of a time antecedent, and ho relied upon those discrepancies for the purpose of showing that the books were written without concert or conspiracy, and that they were genuine. He compared them with the events of profane history, and stated that 1015 mention was made of a Duke of Argyll having been beheaded on a Monday, whilst another account stated that he was hanged on a Tuesday, but no one doubted the fact of the execution having actually taken place. Although there was some discrepancy in point of time relative to the action recently fought off Heligoland, no one doubted that the action had taken place. According to the new creed, Paley was a heretic. But Paley and all his followers were branded as heretics by the extreme party of the Church, and were exposed to what the right hon. Member for Bucks had once called very aptly "the humdrum persecution of Oxford University." Nothing in his opinion could be more fatal to the interests of the Church and the interests of true religion than to lay down the proposition that the truths of religion and the course of science were at sharp issue, if on the one side there should be all the intellect and genius of the University, and on the other numbers should be called up at the boatswain's whistle. He objected to all attempts to stigmatize science as being opposed to religion. He did not care from what party the attempt came—whether in a pastoral letter from Cardinal Wiseman or a Protestant bull from the Earl of Shaftesbury. It had been stated that the passing of the Bill would not conclude the question, and that the Dissenters would ask for more—that this was merely an attempt to drive in the thin end of the wedge. Now, if it should be found necessary, he was prepared to go further. He was disposed to act on the broad principle that all our legislation for many years had been in the direction of civil and religious liberty, and if any one blot, any fancied disability which acted as a stigma on the Dissenters could be pointed out, he should be glad to see it wiped away as a disgrace to our present age and civilization. The arguments by which the hon. Member for Devon endeavoured to persuade the House to reject this Bill were those of antiquated fear. They were very much those which Dryden, in his poem The Hind and the Panther, placed in the mouth of the "spotted beast," who represented the Church of England. The poet made her sayOur penal laws no son of yours acquit,Our tests exclude you from all benefit.And then the Panther went on to talk of the great ocean of rebellion, which,—with resistless sway,Would sweep the pastors and their flocks away.1016 These words, which were put ironically in the mouth of the Church of England by Dryden, were much the same as those used by the hon. Member for Devon and his friends. He certainly was not a friend of any ocean of Dissent coming to sweep away the tower and spires of Oxford. He believed that that great ocean would prove but an insignificant driblet of a stream, and he treated the fears which existed as a mere idle chimera. It had been truly said by the hon. Member who had moved the rejection of the Bill that these were critical times. That was an additional argument for the passing of the Bill. If the Church had to enter into a warfare with rationalism and scepticism, let her not enter into the contest clogged with these tests and formularies, which provided no security for true religion. Let her not go into the battle with one arm shackled, but let her rely on the truth, and fight the battle fairly and honestly.
§ MR. MORRISON
pointed out that after the Bill had been deliberately discussed on the second reading, and affirmed by a majority, it rested with those who opposed it again at that stage to state what new reasons had arisen for inducing the House to change its opinion. As, however, the supporters of the Amendment remained silent, it must be presumed that they confessed that the weight of argument rested with the supporters of the Bill, and that they meant to rest solely on the vis inertiae of numbers; in fact, to use a phrase which had become historic, "to fight it out on that line if it cost the whole summer." The principle of the Bill was not novel. As had been stated by the hon. Member for East Sussex (Mr. Dodson) it was contained in one of the recommendations of the University Commission, and it was a necessary supplement to previous legislation. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had in fact long since given up the substance, and were now fighting only for a mere shadow. But the principle of the Bill had more than that to recommend it. It formed part of a movement which had been going on for some time past. Time was when the word clerk was synonymous with an educated man, and the education of the community, not only in this country but abroad, was entirely in the hands of the clergy, and it was well known that they kept it to themselves. Gradually a change took place, inaugurated by the Reformation; but it was not until lately that laymen were permitted to hold professorships at Oxford. Until very recently 1017 a lay classical master of any pretensions was the greatest rarity, and no layman would ever have thought of opening a private school for higher classification. That feeling had had great effect in retarding the progress of opinion in this country; for there had always been a tendency among the clergy to set themselves against freedom of thought. It was not for the advantage of the Church of England, or of the clergy and youth of the Church of England, that these theological considerations should be allowed to prevail for the future. Every one must admit the defects that exist at Oxford even in classical learning, and as to modern history and law the number who qualified themselves to take high places was very limited indeed. He did not mean to say that all this was to be ascribed to the exaction of the subscription; but no one acquainted with the position of affairs at Oxford could be ignorant that it was not a mere theoretical grievance which this Bill sought to remedy; and as far as the remedy was concerned, no member of the University of Cambridge would say that the course which had been adopted there had injured the Church of England. It had been said that one part of the Bill was a very small question, and, perhaps, the right to put M. A. after one's name instead of B. A. was not a very large one. Still, the great mass of mankind did think much of such distinctions, and there were very few people indeed who did not believe that M. A. meant some very superior degree of learning, and not merely some additional payments. The question whether Nonconformist Masters of Art should have a share in the Government of the University was of more importance. But how many Nonconformists were there at the University now, or what appreciable number was there likely to be for years to come? What was the reason he could not say; but it was certain that both in this country and in America the great mass of the upper classes belonged to the Church of England, and when Dissenters rose in the world there was always a tendency among them to join the Church. Why, then, should any sharp line of demarcation be drawn which would make it almost a point of honour with them not to go over to the Church. By granting this concession they would do away with a grievance, For a number of years to come the number of Dissenters or Roman Catholics obtaining a vote in convocation would be very small indeed. If a majority of con- 1018 vocalion should ever consist of such persons, it would imply that a great change had come over the people, and that the great bulk of the intelligent, wealthy, and influential classes of the country had become alienated from the Established Church. The true policy for the Church of England to adopt was, he contended, that of concession, and those he believed to be in reality its worst enemies who would hedge it round with an artificial system of protection. For these reasons he should vote in favour of going into Committee on the Bill.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House had stated that the principle of the Bill had been accepted by the House on the second reading on the 16th of March, and that they ought not to attempt to reverse the decision at which the House had then arrived. But he (Sir Stafford Northcote) contended that the principle of the measure had not been accepted by the House on the 16th of March. The fact was that the Members who then voted for the second reading were not agreed among themselves as to what was the nature of that principle; and many of them had declared that they would not support it if it were really what it had been described to be by those Members who had gone out with them into the same lobby. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary had stated upon that occasion that they should regard the Bill as an objectionable measure, and would vote against the third reading if they thought it to be of the character which the hon. Member for Huddersfield had just described. They added that if certain Amendments were introduced into the Bill they should continue to give it, their support, and it was expected that in the interval which had since elapsed the Government would have made up their minds as to the plan upon which they would recommend the House to proceed, and would have placed upon the notice paper the Amendments which they deemed to be necessary in order to make the Bill what it ought to be. Instead, however, of that having been done, the House stood exactly at the present moment in the same position in which it was placed on the second reading, no indication having been made from the Government or any other quarter as to the Amendments which it was expedient to introduce. Now, considering the im- 1019 portance of the subject, the matter was one, in his opinion, in which the Government ought to have taken the initiative with the view of guiding the action of the House. The question, he might add, was one winch went beyond the mere points of detail which had been dwelt upon by the speakers who preceded him. It raised the issue whether Parliament was prepared to go on continually tampering with our Universities whenever the salary of a Professor, a vote in Convocation, or similar occasions for comment arose. Was that House to be perpetually endeavouring to rectify every mistake into which the authorities at those great establishments might be supposed to have fallen in the discharge of their minuter duties. That was not the policy on which they had hitherto proceeded in legislating for the Universities, and, in his opinion, it was a policy which they ought not to adopt. They had some time ago entered into a general review of the whole condition of the Universities; it was very right that they should from time to time undertake such a task; but were hon. Members, he would ask, prepared to go back again and to re-open questions which it was supposed had then been settled. The hon. Member for Huddersfield, indeed, was anxious to move on in the interests of the Nonconformists, and the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight seemed to think that whenever any difficulty arose in the Universities about a matter of faith it should he made the subject of discussion in the House of Commons; but, if their views and those of the hon. Member for Plymouth were accepted, there was no reason why persons not being members of the Church of England, having been admitted to the degree of M. A., should not turn round and say, "Why shut us out from Convocation and all the honours and emoluments which the Universities can confer?" That being the state of the case, it was extremely expedient that hon. Members should know the exact nature of the measure for which they were asked to vote, for the only principle decided on the second reading of the Bill was that most mischievous principle, that it was desirable to keep moving. It was most important, too, that it should be borne in mind, that it was a great fact in the constitution of this country that we had an Established Church, and that that Church was intimately connected with our Universities, so that they were not simply lay but to a great extent Church Universities also. In conclusion, he would observe 1020 that he objected to the restless action of the promoters of the Bill, who, while refraining from showing their whole hand, raised questions of enormous magnitude, and for those reasons he thought his hon. Friend (Mr. Trefusis) had done quite right in giving the House another opportunity of expressing its sense upon the principle of the Bill. They took the principle of the Bill as they found it, and in justice to themselves they must refuse their assent to going into Committee.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he for one had no objection to show his whole hand. The proposition before the House was to do away in certain cases with the use of tests. Now he objected to the use of such tests, and he would state the reason why. A test was the means to an end, but what was the end sought—to preclude the admission of persons to the privileges conferred by the great Universities who were not members of the Church of England. But did the test in question, he would ask, effect that purpose? It was true it excluded some persons, but it was a sort of cobweb which let through the large flies and caught only the small. There was a large body of educated men in this country who did not believe in the Church of England, but who said to themselves, "We will not incur the imputations which are invariably cast on men not of the orthodox creed, and, as we do not much care about the matter, we will conform." Could one single man of that class be excluded under the operation of the test? He would, in illustration of his argument, advert to two cases which just occurred to him. There were two men well known in English literature who, as everybody was aware, had not a particle of faith in the doctrines of the Church of England—he alluded to Gibbon and Hume. Could Gibbon have been excluded by the test—he did not mean when he was a boy, and might have some conscientious scruples on the subject, but when he became a man? Could Hume have been excluded? Not a bit of it. He would have laughed at the test, and said after his own fashion that it was a bigoted contrivance which he would cast to the winds. The case, therefore, stood thus, that while the most thorough infidel and sceptic might obtain admission into Oxford, conscientious persons like the hon. Member for Huddersfield, who might be influenced by scruples, were kept out. And what harm, he would ask—seeing that into that House Jew, Infidel, or 1021 Christian might come—could there be in surrendering at Oxford the petty obstruction which it was sought to remove? Oxford would change, and all our institutions might change, but as there was no danger of change in the people of England, and as the obstacle in question hurt the feelings of a large number of estimable men, he would entreat the House not to refuse to comply with their wishes.
§ SIR WILLIAM HEATHCOTE
said, when the hon. Member for Plymouth (Mr. Morrison), in his able and temperate speech, observed that all the arguments; on the subject of this Bill had been exhausted, he was disposed to concur with him. But the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had imported into the consideration of the question an argument which he believed had never occurred to any other Member. The hon. and learned Gentleman had fallen into a transparent fallacy in losing sight of this fact, that all human legislation would break down at some point or another if they did not give mankind some credit for honesty. It was true, as he had argued, that there might be persons entirely without honour whom it was in vain to hope to exclude by any test whatsoever; but that argument, he was happy to think, was not applicable to the case of all men. The tests, he might add, were imposed in the particular instance under discussion not to preclude those who were not members of the Established Church from being educated at the University, but for the purpose of maintaining there on the whole a certain current and tone of religious teaching. He should not, however, have risen to speak on the subject, but for the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down. He wished to press upon the House what had been already put by the hon. Member for Stamford (Sir Stafford Northcote), that they were not taking any unusual or unfair course in asking the House to re-consider the decision they had taken on the second reading. He would place before the House the actual position in which they now stood. On his side of the House they were contented with the present state of the law; nevertheless, some hon. Gentlemen said that if the Bill were amended in certain directions they would, though unwillingly, be disposed to assent to it. On the other side, the hon. Mover and some of his Friends repudiated entirely the amendments suggested. They certainly said they would consider them, 1022 but they never gave the slightest intimation that they would assent to them. Then another most important section of the House, who supported the Bill, stated disinctly that they would not accept the measure if it were amended as proposed in respect to the exclusion of the governing body from its operation. It was not for he opponents of the measure to be content with the alternative of rejecting the Bill, or of waiting for the amendments and reject them. The amendments had not been proposed, and the inference was that they found the Bill was not one which they could amend satisfactorily. Either they could not produce the security they desired for themselves, or if they did so it would be unacceptable to those who brought it in, and they did not think it worth while to try it. He called upon the House to reject the Bill.
§ MR. SCULLY
said, he had an Amendment on the paper to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, and he trusted the hon. Gentleman who had moved that the House go into Committee on the Bill that day six months, would accept his (Mr. Scully's) Amendment, because if he did not he would be prevented from taking the opinion of the House upon it. If the hon. Gentleman's Amendment was carried, the Bill would be done with, and if it was not carried the House would at once go into Committee, and he would thus be prevented from moving that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee. In his opinion the Bill promised but a miserable instalment of privileges to which the great bulk of the people were entitled to admission. It was not reasonable, he contended, that the bonâ fide members of the Church of England, who did not constitute one-third of the population of the United Kingdom, should monopolize all the advantages of our Universities. The evidence given before the Oxford Commission in 1853 by a gentleman who was now a senior Fellow at Balliol, showed that it was from the admission of students into the University without being connected with any college or hall, that the greatest good to the University itself, the Church, and the country, was, in the opinion of one of its own members, to be expected. The spirit of the University Reform Acts, which were passed in the years 1854 and 1856, was that Dissenters and Roman Catholics should be admitted to both the Universities; and in accordance with that spirit all the emoluments and offices of those seats of learning ought to 1023 be thrown open. The Bill only asked for a small instalment, which would not satisfy the Dissenting body, and in his opinion it would he better if they were to demand at once all to which they were entitled. The scheme for the establishment of licensed halls unconnected with the Colleges had entirely failed. Only one had been established at each University. That at Cambridge, which was intended for the benefit of medical students, had only three pensioners, while in that at Oxford there was only one gentleman commoner. But even if that scheme could be carried out, and if halls were established, the Colleges ought to be opened; and that opening ought, in his opinion, to be provided for under this Bill. The objection to the existing system of tests was, that it excluded two-thirds of the people of the United Kingdom, and at the same time it admitted many who were not bonâ fide but only professing members of the Church of England. The evidence taken before the Commission and the Report of the Commissioners both stated that the test was accepted by persons without consideration and without study. Without discussing the doctrines contained in the Thirty-nine Articles, it was clear that there were many things in them to which some tender consciences might object; and certainly there were portions to which no Roman Catholic or Dissenter could subscribe. The Bill proposed to substitute a test to which some consciences might still more strongly object. Subscription to the Articles might be submitted to with a mental reservation, but there could be no mistake about the declaration that a person was a bonâ fide member of the Church of England. That would shut out even more persons than did the existing test. The only way to avoid the evil was to do away with the tests altogether. Why should not an accomplished Jew participate in the emoluments of the Universities which were unconnected with the Church? Some of the most distinguished members of the University of London were Jews, and one of them, Mr. Solomons, had just gained the Inns of Court studentship. Why should that gentleman have been excluded from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge? In his opinion, the only way in which these difficulties could be met, and the Bill could be satisfactorily dealt with, was by referring it to a Select Committee. If they went into a Committee of the Whole House upon it, there would be sure to be a great deal of wrangling about clauses crudely 1024 framed and as crudely opposed. Mixed education was forced upon Ireland, but how could any one believe that it was intended bonâ fide, unless it was also introduced into England, and carried out in these Universities? The people of the United Kingdom were divided into a great number of religions, which appeared in a great measure to follow the distinctions of race. The Scotch were Presbyterians, the Welsh or ancient Britons were Methodists, the Irish were Catholics, and the English were Protestants; the governing classes, who might be taken to represent the conquering Normans, were Government Protestants, and the other classes who represented the Saxons were Methodists or Nonconformists. ["Question!]
§ MR. SPEAKER
intimated to the hon. Gentleman that he was passing away from the Question before the House.
§ MR. SCULLY
said, that he should cheerfully submit to the authority of the right hon. Gentleman; but, for his own part, he thought that the differences of religion which prevailed in the United Kingdom and their origin were matters which were closely connected with the Question. It was true that the best and highest education was to be obtained at the Universities, but it was equally true that the worst and lowest education was also to be acquired there. The late Mr. Thackeray was strongly convinced of the necessity of University reform, and said in one of his works—I should like to know how many scamps"—Mr. Thackeray used a stronger word—"I should like to know how many scamps our Universities have turned out, and how much ruin has been caused by that system which is called in England the education of a gentleman.'He desired the admission of the body of the community into the Universities, in order that they might be reformed, and that the evils to which Mr. Thackeray referred might be abolished. He was anxious that the Universities should stand upon the highest pinnacle of greatness and efficiency. If they were not reformed, however, they would go from bad to worse, and if their doors were not opened by that House, they would be opened by the public.
§ MR. MOOR
said, that although he was unwilling to intrude himself on the attention of the House, yet, in the position in which he was placed, he could not give a silent vote. He had voted for the second reading of the Bill, because he conceived that it was time that the Roman Catholic 1025 and Nonconformist should be enabled to enjoy the privileges and rights of obtaining a degree at Oxford. But in his own mind he felt that it would not be right that those Masters of Arts should have a voice in the governing power of the University; and he was confirmed in that opinion by the observation that was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that unless some restrictions were placed on those Masters of Arts with reference to the governing power, he should vote against the Bill on the third reading. Well, he (Mr. Moor) had looked into the paper to see if any Amendment had been proposed in that direction. He had listened to hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, but he had found no indication that such restrictions would be introduced by way of Amendment. The supporters of the Bill had stated that day that there was to be no restriction on the privileges of the Masters of Arts; and, under these circumstances, much as he should regret that Dissenters should be prevented from obtaining that degree, he should feel it his duty to vote against the further progress of the Bill. He made that statement in order to explain to the House the course he was about to pursue in voting at present in opposition to their going into Committee, although he had on a former occasion supported the second reading of the measure.
§ MR. NEATE
said, he must admit that there was a primâ facie case for the opposition of the hon. Member for the University to the further progress of the Bill at that stage. Still he thought that the Amendments ought to come from the other side, and that the promoters of the Bill could not be fairly expected to mutilate their own measure. The principle of the Bill, and the only one which the University had a right to insist upon, was, that the religious teaching and the religious worship of the University should be those of the Church of England. Whether those objects would be best secured by a test was a very doubtful matter. He thought that the University would not greatly object to an Amendment which he had intended to propose, giving to all nominal Masters of Arts the power of opening halls without taking a test. Every hall must be conducted by a Master of Arts, and, as the statutes now stood, every Master of Arts must have subscribed the Thirty-nine Articles. The Amendment to which he referred would be a great relief to those who, like his hon. Friend beside him (Mr. 1026 Scully), wished to send their sons to the University. His hon. Friend was going down to Oxford with him (Mr. Neate) next Saturday to find the most convenient place for his son, and he was therefore surprised to hear him speak of the University in such a tone. He should be happy, however, to help his hon. Friend to place his son where he would receive the least detrimental education. With regard to the Parliamentary franchise, he thought it only right that those who had passed three years in the University, and had obtained a degree, should have a voice in the representation of the University, and he believed there would be very little disposition on the part of the University to contest this privilege. He believed it would be a great advantage to have a more liberal spirit introduced into the politics of Oxford. He did not know whether the attention of hon. Members had been directed to a recent banquet in that city, at which the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) had been a conspicuous speaker. ["Question!"] If there was any Member of that House who was particularly well qualified to take care of himself it was the noble Lord the Member for Stamford; and he would, perhaps, be regarded with something like compassion while he stated that he was about to make what might be called an attack upon that noble Lord. But hon. Members need not fear that he would in any way exceed the limits of Parliamentary courtesy upon that occasion; and he was sure the noble Lord would feel that in anything he might say he would not treat him with personal disrespect. The noble Lord and his friends in order to stir up the dormant Toryism of the University, had held a sort of politico-theological revival. He confessed, however, that when he first saw the speeches in the newspaper account of that meeting he was excited to a feeling of considerable indignation. That indignation, however, before long subsided, and at present he only looked at the matter with a feeling of satisfaction in contemplating a decided failure on the part of his polical opponents. A more deplorable failure than that banquet, in which the noble Lord the Member for Stamford took so conspicuous a part, he never recollected. [Cries of "Question!"] There was never any occasion on which the absence of those who alone could give value and importance to such a meeting was more conspicuous. ["Question!"] He was speaking within the limits of the Question, because it was 1027 an illustration of the sort of education which those who opposed the moderate Bill wished to instil into the minds of the youth of Oxford. They often had occasion to admire the political and moral courage of the noble Lord, which would not allow him to shrink from expressing himself in somewhat strong and dictatorial language. He (Mr. Neate), however, wished to call attention to one statement made by the noble Lord, which he never would have the moral courage to utter within the walls of that House. The noble Lord told the youth of Oxford that a good Conservative was a good Churchman, to which sentiment he (Mr. Neate) would offer no objection; but the most perfect Conservatism was that which promoted every reform in ecclesiastical as well as in temporal affairs. He might have doubted the fact that every good Conservative was a good churchman, because he believed there had been a great many distinguished men in the Conservative party whom the Church could not have looked upon with such admiration and faith as the noble Lord. [Cries of "Question!"] He submitted that he was speaking to the question when he was calling attention to that singular specimen of the noble Lord's teaching. When the noble Lord went on to say that every good Churchman was a good Conservative, and that no good Churchman would vote for that Bill, he told the noble Lord that he used language which he dared not utter within the walls of that House. Would the noble Lord say that there were not many men on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, who were conspicuous for their attachment to the faith and worship of the Church of England, but who were nevertheless not to be considered good Churchmen unless they were prepared to vote with the noble Lord. If the noble Lord would not make such an assertion in that House, why did he go down to the country for the purpose of using such language to the inexperienced youth of Oxford? Why should he have taken advantage of his great talents to instil into their minds the poison of such political doctrines—doctrines which were formed from a combination of religious intolerance and party animosity? What might be the result of the noble Lord's visit to Oxford, and how far his hopes and prospects might be promoted by his movements on that occasion, no great distance of time would reveal. It might be that the noble Lord would succeed in his object; it might be that that sort of combination which the 1028 noble Lord supported might succeed in driving from his seat the present distinguished representative of the University of Oxford. If the noble Lord and his party should succeed in driving the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in sheer weariness of spirit to renounce the honour which he had so long and deservedly enjoyed — the honour he had so long conferred—if he should succeed in driving the right hon. Gentleman to transfer to some constituency the lustre of his name, the right hon. Gentleman would carry with him the regrets of all those gentlemen who were conspicuous in the University for their learning and piety. He was, however, one who, by no means, gave up the hope of retaining the accomplished Gentleman in his present position. Where-ever the right hon. Gentleman went he was quite sure that he would carry with him those same principles which he had so long advocated, and which had so long recommended him to the confidence and affection of those whom he might have left, but would not have deserted. If the difficulties that now threatened the Church should increase in their menacing aspect—and they would increase, if the Church should be persuaded to add to its difficulties the damage of the noble Lord's disastrous advocacy; if the time should come— and he believed the time would come—when the Church should be in danger, who was it that the true sons of the Church would look to in their time of need? Was it to the noble Lord the Member for Stamford? Was it to the hon. Member for Durham, or the hon. Member for Northamptonshire? Was it to the hon. Member for Leominster? He singled out those Gentlemen because he regretted to say that they took an active part with the noble Lord at the recent meeting at Oxford. Or was it to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire? He took the liberty of mentioning the name of the right hon. Gentleman, because it was imputed to him by the party with which he was associated, that he was the great champion for the maintenance of those principles enunciated by them. No, it was not to the noble Lord or his friends that the Church would look for advice and assistance when the time of danger should really arrive. The Church would look to one who had always kept religion apart from politics. She would look to that right hon. Gentleman who had always kept religion a sacred thing apart from politics, who had always loved and 1029 respected the Church too much to make her the instrument of a party, who had given to her that which no political combination could give—the assistance of a great intellect humbly submitting to her doctrines, and who, more than any one in connection with that Church, had a right to say of himself—Si Pergama dextraDefendi possent, etiam hac defensa fuissent,
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
Sir, I received last night, by the courtesy of the hon. Gentleman, an intimation that he intended to attack me to-day about our late visit to Oxford. Well, I am tolerably familiar with the word "attack," but I confess I was utterly puzzled to think what possible connection there could be between the question of this Bill and the harmless, simple, and obvious Conservative truths which I had uttered at Oxford; and I was still more puzzled to know how any attack upon me in reference to the late meeting could possibly be introduced upon the Motion for going into Committee upon this Bill. Still, as the hon. Gentleman has thought fit to take this occasion for announcing the strength of his own party in Oxford, which he thinks requires an advertisement of this kind, and as he has composed for the occasion a sort of political epitaph for the Chancellor of the Exchequer in anticipation of the dissolution which he evidently sees in more than one sense to be impending, I suppose it is necessary for me, though I feel it is somewhat irregular in discussing the question immediately before us, to notice the hon. Gentleman's remarks. In the first place, I beg to assure the hon. Gentleman, that if he was present at the meeting to which he refers he would not have talked of the dormant Toryism of the University of Oxford—he would have seen with his own eyes that the Toryism of Oxford was as wide awake Toryism as any he had ever seen in his life. The hon. Gentleman says that the banquet was a failure, because the people with whom he sympathizes were not present at it. I am afraid that if they had been present and had expressed such opinions as those which have fallen from the hon. Gentleman, their persons would not have survived the banquet, inasmuch as that dormant Toryism of which he spoke was in that condition that I do not think it would have endured without some very practical manifestation of vigour the presence of those with whom the hon. Gentleman sympathizes in opinion. But, Sir, I 1030 am happy to find that the banquet is not such a failure as the hon. Gentleman thinks, as I gather from his speech, and for two reasons. In the first place, he thinks that the founding of a Conservative association in the University of Oxford is a thing likely to have so much influence on the future political course of that body, and likely to produce so much effect on those on whom its influence is brought to bear, that he has thought it necessary to take this course to add his little mite to contribute to its defeat. In the second place the hon. Gentleman appears to anticipate with no doubtful eye, that the result of the founding of this association will be to make the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer a fit subject for the epitaph which he has pronounced upon him. I can only say now that the right hon. Gentleman's name has been introduced into this debate, that I had no intention of entering into the merits or demerits of the right hon. Gentleman. Personally I admire him very much, but politically I am opposed to him. I consider it is highly indecorous and unadvisable to make this House the arena for discussing the electoral contingencies of the University, and therefore I pass over that question; but the House will understand that I do not do so for the purpose of shrinking from any subject of discussion, but because I believe I shall not be consulting the dignity and honour of this assembly in following the example which the hon. Gentleman has set. The hon. Gentleman rather startled mo when he stated that I had said something somewhere else which I dared not say here. Now I do not think I have impressed upon any hon. Member that my fault is reticence of my opinions; but if the House desires from me a confession of opinion, in the most formal manner, I repeat that I do not think a man can be a good Churchman who is not a good Conservative. But it is possible that the hon. Gentleman and myself may differ as to what a good Churchman means. The Church to which we are attached is an Established Church, and he cannot be a good Churchman at the present day who does not support the Established Church and he cannot be a good supporter of the Established Church unless he is a good Conservative. [Cheers and counter Cheers.] Well, the test is before you. From what part of the House come the cheers which accompanied the hon. Gentleman's speech? 1031 Who are they that sympathize with him? Who are they that sympathize with the great example of Liberal Churchmanship to which the hon. Gentleman appeals? Are they in the ranks I see before me? Is that where I am to look for the supporters of the Church who are not Conservatives? Is that the style of opinion which the hon. Member desires to present to the House as that which unites advanced Liberalism with devoted attachment to the Church? If that is what the hon. Gentleman and his friends call Churchmanship, I feel that not only is a Churchman not a good Conservative, but he cannot be a good Conservative if he is a Churchman of that kind. The hon. Gentleman knows that the battle which the Conservatives of the present day have to fight is for the Established Church, which our forefathers have handed down to us, and which is the foremost of the institutions of this realm. That Church the Conservative party are banded together to support. And there is no point to which its efforts are more consistently directed, or by which it has more thoroughly deserved the allegiance of the Conservatives of the country than in the efforts it has directed, and mainly so, to the maintenance of the Established Church. I had no intention of addressing the House on this question, having expressed my feelings on the subject on a similar occasion last year, and I should not have done so had I not been called up by the hon. Member; and in passing away from what the hon. Gentleman has said I hope I have sufficiently convinced him that in our opinion our demonstration at Oxford was not a failure, but that if he is still of opinion there is anything like a failure in it I call on him to consult the future for an answer. You cannot judge of the quality of the seed until you have reaped the harvest, and you cannot tell what the result of your political organization will be until it has borne its legitimate fruits." Let not him that putteth on his armour boast as he that taketh it off." Let the hon. Gentleman not boast of the failure of that organization which, I freely admit, has come forward to oppose, and, if possible, to exterminate from the University the opinions which the hon. Gentleman entertains, until he has learnt by events that its failure is a reality.
Now, this Bill contains two parts. One part of it changes the tests of the Articles and the Prayer Book to a declaration of 1032 bonâ fide membership of the Church of England. The other part of the Bill is that which relieves all members of convocation forming part of the governing body from any test whatever. Now the first part, which is looked upon as a liberal measure, and is advanced by hon. Gentlemen opposite as such, is in reality a measure of a very exclusive kind. You are asked to relieve them from a test which they say is an embarrassment and a snare to tender consciences, because these tests contain propositions which some interpret one way and some another way. It is said these tests are vague, but it is proposed by this Bill to substitute for them another test so absolutely vague that I defy any hon. Member to tell me what it means. What, for example, is a bonâ fide member of the Church of England? And in considering it do not approach the question merely as men of the world, but fancy yourselves for a moment to possess one of those scrupulous consciences of which you have heard so much. Some men will think that a bonâ fide Churchman is a man who not only holds all the belief of the Church of England, but who also obeys her precepts, holds himself bound by her canons, fulfils her directions, and is a sharer of her communion to the full. That I grant is the natural interpretation of the word, and many of those who assent to the test put that straightforward common sense view upon it. But you profess to be legislating specially for the relief of tender and morbid consciences; but I assert that the test you offer is more ensnaring, because more vague and undefined than the one you are going to take away. There is another objection to this test. Many petitions have been presented from Scotland on this subject. Now, in Scotland, they say that as Presbyterians they can sign the Thirty-nine Articles with a perfectly good conscience, but they cannot declare themselves members of the Church of England, and the consequence will be their entire exclusion, if this Bill passes, from the University of Oxford, to which before they had the power of belonging. Therefore, I consider we ought to wait for some further information before we so hurriedly adopt the change offered to us. We have no information to go on, for we have had no inquiry into these morbid consciences, and do not know what they would like. The tests we are using have succeeded very fairly for two centuries, whilst the tests proposed in their places have only 1033 had a limited experience at Cambridge of four or five years. What is thought to be the most liberal part of the measure is in reality one of restriction, and such as the House ought not to adopt. This is not the moment for carefully examining the great question of tests. It has been referred to a Royal Commission, and, there fore, it will come before us in a larger manner, and then will be the time for us to examine it; but you must bear in mind that in opening the door of the governing body of the University to all Dissenters and people of all religions, you are putting into their hands the power of regulating absolutely the studies of the University. We have heard from the hon. and learned Member for Cork that an accomplished Jew and persons of all religions might find their way into Convocation under the provisions of this Bill, and regulate the examination. The whole of the collegiate system of education is necessarily moulded upon the subjects which are prescribed for examination, and therefore you are producing by this Bill an entire revolution. You are absolutely severing the connection between the University and the Church. You are turning what for centuries has been an institution for the education of youth in the principles of the dominant religion into a simple instrument for grinding Latin and Greek into young brains. If that is your intention, and you believe that in that way you best fulfil the objects the founders of the University had in view, and promote the moral and spiritual welfare of those over whom you are appointed to watch, then you will support the Bill; but if you desire to promote amongst the upper classes as you do amongst the lower classes a religious education, no man who votes for the existing system of education amongst the lower classes ought to vote for the Bill.
§ MR. SCULLY
said, he had not intended to make any imputation upon the University. He had not interfered, because he did not wish to spoil sport; but as he had himself been called to order, he wished to know whether that disorderly discussion was to be continued.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that if the hon. Member for Cork had thought there had been anything out of order, it was his duty to have called attention to it at the time.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he thought that the hon. Member for the City of Oxford had done good service by alluding to the speech of the noble Lord at Oxford. If it 1034 were said that the hon. Member for the City of Oxford had dragged the banquet into Parliament, it had been because Parliament had been dragged into the banquet. If Churchmanship was to cover the same ground as Conservatism, what would the noble Lord say to the Roman Catholic Members who sat behind him? [Lord ROBERT CECIL said he had confined his observations to members of the Church of England!] He (Mr. Groschen) was glad the noble Lord had retracted his statement, but he had seldom heard a broader statement made. He maintained that on that (the Liberal) side of the House as staunch friends of the Church might be found as on the other side. If the cry was raised on the other side, "The Church is in danger!" the same cry might be raised on that side —"The Established Church is in danger—the National Church is in danger!" because everything was done that was possible by hon. Members opposite to denationalize the union between Church and State. It was only the other day, when the constituted authorities of the Church made a declaration unpalatable to certain members of that Church, that those who professed to be the only true Churchmen circulated a new and unauthorized test distinct from that sanctioned by the constituted authorities. While they claimed to be an exclusively National Church, they repudiated that nationality and the connection with the State where it did not suit themselves. One of the questions connected with the Bill was certainly this—whether the Universities were clerical seminaries or Universities for the education of youth in the true sense of the word. He believed that there ought to be a religious education at Oxford, as well as at every other educational establishment. But he did not regard Oxford as a clerical seminary, and he did not think that the lay majority ought to be sacrificed to the clerical minority. It was not only priests and clergymen who were educated at Oxford, but English gentlemen and statesmen; and everything should be done to keep the education at Oxford in harmony with the spirit of the age and the nation. They had no Universities in the true sense of the term, unless Oxford and Cambridge were Universities for laymen as well as for the clergy, and therefore he did not think they were acting for the interests of the Church when they acted in the intolerant spirit of which the noble Lord had set them the example. The noble Lord had said that 1035 it was impossible to hear at Oxford opinions different from those of his friends, and that any persons that might have expressed them would be exterminated. But the point was this — if Oxford would not reform itself, it must be reformed by the Legislature. It had been said that the promoters of the measure advocated it from different motives. As his name was on the back of the Bill, perhaps the House would allow him to explain what he considered to be its principle. The principle was to abolish all tests for academical degrees, and with respect to the offices held by Churchmen, to substitute one test for those which were in existence. That principle was affirmed on the second reading. Incidentally the measure might give to Nonconformists a certain part of the management and government of the University. But that was not the principle though it might be the effect of the Bill. They would be members of the University in the same sense that other members would be members of the University. He did not advocate the measure because it would give a portion of the government to the Nonconformists. The noble Lord opposite said that the introduction of members who did not entirely agree with the doctrines of the Church of England would be to hand over the government of the University to the majority. That might be so, so soon as the intellect of the nation was no longer in the hands of the Church of England—so soon as the whole spirit of the nation was so far changed as to render such a change possible. But he had so much confidence in the Church that he believed that would never be the case. So long as the Church of England maintained its majority, its supremacy, its hold upon the intellect of the people of England, so long would there be no danger of admitting Nonconformists into the government of the University. The fact was, that in all cases only so many persons would be able to avail themselves of the admission as to give a fair representation of the different denominations, and therefore no danger was likely to arise. But there was a complete safeguard in the hebdomadal board. So long as the Church of England maintained its exclusive power over the authorities and officers, so long the terrible danger which was apprehended would not arise. The noble Lord had talked of "morbid" consciences. He (Mr. Goschen) did not wish to ask any personal question, but he perhaps might be allowed to ask whether the 1036 conscience of the noble Lord was a "morbid" one. When he used the expression "morbid conscience," he applied it to those who did not wish for honesty of declaration. What could be said of a man who declared that he was going to study a subject for the purpose of coming to one particular conclusion? What would a tutor reply to such a "morbid" conscience? Why, he would say, "Give up your studies, or try to study conscientiously." It was not a fair argument to speak affirmatively and disrespectfully of "morbid" consciences. Surely that ought not to be encouraged at Oxford. They ought rather to encourage the pursuit of truth, and it was in opposition to the spirit of truth to impose tests on all occasions. It discouraged theological studies to do so; but there appeared to be many hon. Members who would stifle those studies. Those who were good Churchmen, however, must hold that the more the doctrines of the Church of England were studied, the more people would be convinced of their truth. He trusted the House would go into Committee on the Bill.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he thought he could point out to the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Moor) an easy mode of escape from the extraordinary difficulty in which he found himself involved. The hon. Gentleman had voted for the second reading, thereby affirming the principle of the Bill; but since that time he had discovered from those who sat around him, that there was a portion of the Bill from which he, as a Member of the party opposite, was bound to differ, and he thought there was no possible mode of escaping the difficulty except by refusing to go into Committee. But if in Committee, where Amendments might be properly made, a proviso was introduced in the first clause, to the effect that the degree of Master of Arts would not constitute a qualification for being a member of Convocation, or holding any office formerly held by a member of the Church of England, the object of the hon. Gentleman might be attained. As an affectionate member of the University of Oxford, he (Mr. C. Fortescue) thought he could not give a better proof of the sincerity of his conviction as to what was the principle of the Bill than by saying that it was as a Churchman that he thanked his hon. Friend for having introduced the Bill, and for having given them an opportunity of getting rid of the bond- 1037 age of subscription to the body of dogmatical doctrine contained in the Prayer Book. It seemed to him a tyrannical wrong to require the young laymen of this country to declare that they subscribed ex animo to every tenet of controversial divinity that was contained in the formularies of the Church. It was bad enough to require the subscription from clergymen of the Church. But nothing but hereditary habit could have so blinded our minds and hardened our consciences as to induce us to impose such a test upon the laity—a test not required by the Church for participation in her most sacred rite. The movement which was going forward in the Church had not originated in indifference to religion, but, on the contrary, was occasioned by the increased tenderness of conscience, by the growth of religious thought, and by the difficulty of swallowing, as a mere form, those dogmatic propositions which our forefathers accepted without thinking much about the matter. It was because he wished to see the members of the University of Oxford relieved from those tests, which were not required from other laymen who were in communion with the Church of England, that he should support the Motion for going into Committee.
I hardly intended to take part in this discussion; at all events, I do not mean to say much. After the strange statement of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, I must allude to it. He has told us that he speaks as a Churchman when he says that it would be of great advantage to us to be relieved from the bondage of the Prayer Book and Articles. That is a strange statement. I cannot understand one, who, at a mature age, boasts of being a Churchman and speaks of the bondage of the Prayer Book and the Articles. The question now before the House is, whether we shall go into Committee on the Bill; but, indisposed as I generally am to take part in second discussions upon almost the same thing, I feel bound to say that the course taken upon the second reading by the authors of the Bill, what they stated and still more what they denied, gives me the strongest grounds for thinking that the moving of the Amendment was nothing more than fair and prudent Parliamentary action. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) told us unmistakably that the Bill does not go far enough. The hon. Member for the city of Oxford (Mr. Neate), in equally plain terms, said that in his judgment the 1038 governing body of the University should be thrown open to Dissenters and Catholics. The hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen), whose name is on the back of the Bill, said that be would have no compromise, and that Conformists and Nonconformists ought to be members of the governing body. The Bill on its second reading received the support of some solely on the ground that amendments would be introduced in Committee. But it is not for those who are opposed to the Bill altogether to attempt to amend it. That is quite contrary to Parliamentary practice. It is quite plain from the course of the debate to-day, and the arguments of the hon. Member for London, that the friends of the Bill mean to accept no compromise. I do not wonder at that, for they know that a great majority of the supporters of the Bill support it only as an instalment. If we were to make it what the hon. Member for Oxford city calls a harmless measure, the support of those Gentlemen would cease. Therefore it is that the hon. Gentleman the Member for the County of Devon was justified—no Amendment having been put on the paper—in raising the Question which he has done. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke told the hon. Member for Brighton that the introduction of a very few words in the Bill would do all that he wished. It is a pity that kindness was not known beforehand, and that some hon. Member was not instructed to give that notice, without which upon a question of so much importance persons acquainted with Parliamentary practice like the hon. Gentleman must, know there is no chance of success. I am one of those who think that the Government of the University ought to be secure in the hands of the Church. The analogy raised between this great assembly and the governing body of the University is not a correct one. I cannot conceive a more certain way of leading to no religious teaching at all than to have conflicting elements in the governing body that has to regulate the studies of the University. We are not without experience in this matter. The common school education in America, as every one knows, was originally a religious education. Those who established it were men who would have a religious education and no other. Well, in the course of time differences crept in, and the result was they were obliged to give up altogether religious teaching in the schools. The same thing will take place in any body where security is not taken with respect to 1039 the governing body. That is a matter I should be sorry to have any hand in bringing about in our Universities; and for that reason I shall certainly support the Motion against proceeding further with this Bill.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, as to the subject which had been discussed by the hon. Member for the City of Oxford and the noble Lord, he should like to say just one word. The noble Lord had fully vindicated his character for plain speaking in that House, without the possibility of being subjected to a charge of reticence, when he announced that no man could be a good Churchman unless he shared the political opinions of the noble Lord. He had the misfortune to differ from the noble Lord, and their difference, he believed, consisted in this, that they totally dissented from one another as to what constituted a good Churchman. He (Sir George Grey) believed that man to be a good member of the Church who, while listening to argument, was not opposed to improvement; who showed his attachment to the Church not by a blind adherence to everything that existed, but who advised, counselled, and was ready to make concessions when by concession a practical grievance might be removed; and who by conciliating the goodwill of those who were outside the pale of the Church invited them to come within its fold, while he firmly resisted every innovation that would tend to impair its stability. Having said so much as to the doctrine laid down by the noble Lord, he came to the subject immediately before the House. Having voted for the second reading of the Bill he felt bound to vote for going into Committee. The only ground upon which the Bill had been opposed on the second reading was this, that its principle was the severance of the connection between the University and the Church, because it would admit into the governing body of the University persons who were not members of the Church. But would his hon. Friend who made use of that argument, and who said but for that he would have hesitated to oppose the Bill, or would any other hon. Member, maintain that such a declaration as was now required ought to be exacted from a layman upon taking a Master's degree? It had been stated upon the second reading by those who had charge of the Bill, that it was perfectly competent for those who saw danger in the measure to give notice of Amendments. He (Sir George Grey) stated upon the second reading, and he would re- 1040 peat it there, that the author of the Bill would do wisely in not pressing it in the form in which it stood. The principle upon which Parliament had hitherto legislated was this, that the governing body should be connected with the Church, and it would be unwise now to attempt to interfere with that principle. At the same time, he agreed with his hon. Friend the Member for the City of Oxford, that there were some powers now exercised by members of Convocation which might be safely confided to persons who were not members of the Church of England. He thought it would be a great advantage to the University if such persons were permitted to open halls—those who presided over those halls not being subjected to the test which was now imposed. He should be willing in Committee to consider any Amendments with a view to remove objections to the Bill, and he was, therefore, prepared to repeat the vote in favour of the Bill which he had given on the second reading.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that since the second reading of the Bill it had been represented to him that the test of bonâ fide Churchmanship which the Bill proposed to substitute for lay masters was liable to a construction which would render that test stringent in a far greater degree than the test which at present existed. Her Majesty was temporal head both of the Church of England and the Kirk of Scotland, and held that position on that ground. The profession of faith held by the two Churches was the same. The members of the Kirk of Scotland could subscribe to the Articles of the Church of England, and he admitted to the governing body of the University of Oxford; but if this test of bonâ fide Churchmanship were introduced it would involve, he had been told by those who had carefully examined the subject, an adhesion to the discipline as well as doctrines of the Church of England, and would thereby exclude the whole of the members of the Kirk of Scotland—a Church of which Her Majesty was as much the temporal head as she was of the Church of England. That was an illustration of the danger of those loose generalities. It showed that the hon. Gentlemen who proposed the Bill, in trying to escape from the tests which had hitherto constituted membership of the governing body of Oxford equally for laymen and ministers, were lending themselves to the purposes of a section of the Church whose ideas were directed towards the Church of Rome. The Bill, therefore, was liable to 1041 the imputation of introducing into the governing body of Oxford a distinction between those who were equally attached to the great truths of the Catholic faith as embodied in the formulas of the Church. That showed the danger which that House would incur of inflicting clerical tyranny if it were to adopt the proposal of the Bill, instead of maintaining the freedom of the laity, by maintaining a test of religious opinion clear from all questions of discipline — a discipline which might be rendered as tyrannical as was the discipline of the Church of Rome. The Church of Rome exacted no test of dogmatic belief, but she did exact obedience to an arbitrary discipline. For that reason he should resist the Bill, as tending to establish an arbitrary discipline such as had never yet been recognized in the Church of England.
§ MR. E. P. BOUVERIE
said, he wished to set the hon. Member for North Warwick shire right on one point. The Bill was not regarded with disfavour by Scotchmen, as the hon. Gentleman seemed to think. They did not believe that the operation of the Bill would be to exclude them from the privilege of taking degrees at Oxford, which they now possessed. In fact, the academical body of the Universities of St. Andrew's and Glasgow had petitioned in favour of the Bill, and what they deprecated was the introduction of the Amendment suggested by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Chichester Fortescue), and by hon. Members on the other side, which, they said, if introduced, would make the governing body of the University more exclusive. He wished to enforce again upon the House to the best of his power, the point which had been so well put by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth, that this was not a question between Nonconformists and the Church of England, it was rather a question of the liberty of the laity of the Church of England, upon whom, by the present regulations of the University, not of the State, a test was imposed, upon the attainment of academical degrees, which was imposed upon no other layman within Her Majesty's dominions. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) that nine-tenths of the laity of a certain age in tlie Church of England would decline to take that test if they weighed every word of it, He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman had lately refreshed his memory with the tests, but one of them, which was 1042 taken by a Master of Arts, was a declaration that the whole of the Prayer Book contained nothing contrary to the Word of God, and that he himself would use that book, and no other, in public prayer. Now, wag there any layman in the Church of England who would voluntarily take that test if taken in all its weight and force? He might approve of the Prayer Book as worthy of the greatest respect on the part of the Church of England, and of everybody who regarded true piety properly expressed, and true devotional fervour; but to ask him, as a man arrived at a certain age, to maintain as a dogmatical position and to assert his solemn belief that the Book of Common Prayer, composed by a number of uninspired men like themselves, contained throughout the whole of it no one thing contrary to the Word of God, that wag a test to which he, for one, would decline to subscribe. He took leave to say, in spite of the definition of the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, he did consider himself as warm, as attached, and as true a Member of the Church of England as the noble Lord himself, and when at Cambridge he took his degree he was not required to subscribe to that wide abstract declaration of belief insisted upon by the University of Oxford, but he did declare himself a bonâ fide Member of the Church of England; certainly not in the sense of the noble Lord, that he was a true Conservative. The truth was that the objects for which those tests were originally imposed had entirely failed, and a new object had been set up in modern times, which was never contemplated by those who framed the establishment. The test when first introduced, nearly 300 years ago, was part of one great system, the enforcement of uniformity of worship and doctrine upon all Her Majesty's subjects in England. It was attempted to be enforced by imprisonment, and by means of the Court of High Commission, but the system entirely failed. It had cost the country three Revolutions, and two changes of dynasty, to discover that to compel uniformity of belief and worship was impossible. It was evident that the enforcement of these tests had not secured uniformity of opinion at Oxford, or prevented religious discord. Within the last few years, the Tractarian controversy had originated at Oxford, resulting in a great schism from the Church of England. Had the tests secured religious harmony? The scenes which took place a short time back on the proposition to 1043 remunerate a distinguished Professor of the University of Oxford afforded a proof that the present system had not secured religious harmony. Let, then, another system be tried, and let an attempt be made to see whether the removal of exclusion would not, by introducing freedom of opinion and unfettered liberty of discussion, tend to promote the cause of truth, and thereby serve the best interests of the Church of England.
§ MR. DODSON
said, that he understood some hon. Members to state that they took the unusual course of opposing the Bill going into Committee because they did not now why they voted against the second reading. It was also urged as an objection to the measure, that its promoters had given no notice of any Amendments with regard to it. The promoters introduced the Bill in the form which they approved, and it was not for them to give notice of Amendments, but for other persons who desired to see changes in the Bill. The hon. Member for North Warwickshire seemed to have discovered that there was some danger to the Church of England in the proposed declaration that the person making it was a bona fide member of the Church; but he was unable to follow the hon. Member in his views on that subject. For nearly 100 years that had been a test at Cambridge, and none of the effects which the hon. Member for North Warwickshire prophesied would result from the present Bill had been experienced at Cambridge. It was said that the declaration in the Bill was vague; but he was of opinion that a declaration of bona fide membership in respect to the Church of England was in the nature of a profession of allegiance to that Church, and was more in conformity with practical Christianity than a declaration of assent to a mass of theological dogmas. As to the assertion that the proposed declaration would be more exclusive than the existing tests, all he could say was that the Universities of Scotland did not think so, because they had petitioned in favour of the Bill. In reply to the question which had been asked, as to what the principle of the Bill was, he replied that the principle was the abolition of subscriptions at the University, subject to the preservation of the religious character of the teaching; and when a test was necessary for securing that object, the simplest test was employed. It was said that the Bill would sever the connection between the Church of England and the 1044 University. He emphatically denied that that was the object, or that such would be the effect of the Bill. Of this, however, he felt assured, that the extortion from a layman of an obnoxious test created dissension among the members of the Church, and needlessly irritated those who were without its pale.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 236; Noes 226: Majority 10.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again on Wednesday, 29th June.