Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [14th June],
That, in the opinion of this House, the Rules sanctioned by the Commissioners of National
Education in Ireland on the 21st day of November, 1863, are, so far as regards their operation on the aid afforded to Convent and Monastic Schools, at variance with the principles of the system of National Education."—(Sir Hugh Cairns.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
THE O'CONOR DON
said, he trusted it would be unnecessary for him to remind the House of the condition in which the Question stood. He regretted not to see the hon. and learned Member fur Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns) in his place, because having proposed a Question, he thought that he ought to have been present when it was called on. He (the O'Conor Don) did not propose to enter into the general subject of national education in Ireland. There was only one particular phase of the Question to which he would endeavour to confine his observations. At the outset he found a difficulty in understanding the object of the Resolution proposed by the hon. and learned Member. The Motion was—That in the opinion of this House the rules sanctioned by the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland on the 21st day of November, 1863, are, so far as regards their operation on the aid afforded to convent and monastic schools, at variance with the principles of the system of National Education.Meaning thereby of National Education as first established. But the House must bear in mind that the rules sanctioned by the Commissioners in November, 1863, were not any particular rules, but the general rules of the National Board. They comprised not only new rules, but all the rules that had at any time existed. But when he came to examine the speech of his hon. and learned Friend he found quite a different interpretation put upon the Resolution; and his hon. and learned Friend had assured the House that he had the sup port of several members of the National Board, such as Dr. Henry and the Bishop of Derry. But did his hon. and learned Friend mean to tell the House that he had the support of the Bishop of Derry in con derailing all aid from the Board to convent and monastic schools? The Bishop of Derry said he became a Commissioner under the rules of 1855, but the Resolution before the House was equally condemnatory of the rules of 1855 as of the rules of 1863, and of all others. The hon. and learned Gentleman said it was contrary to the principle of National Education to grant aid to voluntary efforts. 178 He maintained, on the contrary, that the system was expressly designed by the Earl of Derby to aid and assist the voluntary efforts of the country. The hon. and learned Member's Resolution appeared to condemn the appointment of monitors, except in State schools, and to be opposed to help of any kind being given to conventual or monastic institutions. He was at issue with the hon. and learned Gentleman on both these points. A discussion took place at the outset on the question, whether these convent schools would come under the rules laid down by the Earl of Derby equally with all other schools. The result was that they received the same amount of aid, and in the same way as the ordinary schools, on compliance with the usual conditions. Up to 1839 the grants were given by way of capitation on the number of pupils on the rolls. It was then thought desirable to alter the mode of allocation; but no alteration took place in the principle on which assistance was given. It was discovered that some of the school teachers were very incompetent, and it was determined that the teachers should be classified, and a higher amount paid according to the classification. There existed, however, some schools to which it was unnecessary to apply the classification. There was, he maintained, no essential principle altered in the alteration which had been made in 1839. If the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member applied to all aid given to convent and monastic schools, it was one which the House could not adopt. It was, however, perhaps to the conjunction of the establishment of monitors and of additional assistance being granted to those schools that he objected; but if that were so, he could not see how, when taken separately, neither one nor the other was contrary to the principles of the system, they could fairly be said to be so when united. And from whom, he would ask, did those complaints against the alteration in the rules, which the hon. and learned Gentleman had urged, come? From the Presbyterians of the North of Ireland, who had shown themselves to be the friends of the system established by the Earl of Derby, by refusing to join the National Board until alterations were made which were an essential departure from the principles which that noble Lord had at the outset laid down. Nothing was more clearly expressed in Lord Stanley's letter than that in every school there should be combined both secular and religious in- 179 struction; that, on a certain day in each week, and at a certain hour, time should be devoted to religious instruction; and that the pastors belonging to the faith of the minority should have the right to enter the schools in order to teach the children of their own flock. Yet these vital principles had been departed from by the clients of the hon. and learned Gentleman himself. The hon. and learned Gentleman was, in short, the spokesman of that very party which had brought the National system into that state of disrepute in which it was at present placed, and it seemed to him, he must confess, somewhat extraordinary that, having gained all the privileges which they had claimed for themselves, the Presbyterians of Ulster should come forward and object to any sort of additional aid being given to the schools of other denominations. Now, he was at once prepared to admit that if the convent schools were not satisfactorily conducted, any rule which had for its object to extend aid to them ought not to receive the sanction of the House. But the hon. and learned Gentleman himself had stated at the commencement of his speech that he was ready to acknowledge that these schools were conducted in a satisfactory manner in many instances, although that view did not appear to be quite consistent with that which he had enunciated before he sat down. Indeed, the hon. and learned Gentleman had devoted more than half of his speech to running down those establishments. He asked the House to believe that the teachers in them were inefficient, and that it would be a great error to extend to them any further assistance. Those statements the hon. and learned Gentleman based on the Report of one of the Inspectors—Mr. Sheridan; the only Report, so far as he (the O'Conor Don) could see, which he could find to bear out his views. The fact, however, was, that Mr. Sheridan passed his judgment on those schools before inspecting them; and what, he would ask, were the charges which he made? They were shortly as follows:—That the teachers did not possess a technical knowledge of the method of teaching; that through their over-impatience of competition they destroyed other schools in the districts in which they were established; that, in consequence, the population in those districts were to a certain extent inadequately supplied with the means of receiving education; and that, in consequence of the competition and the overcrowding of chil- 180 dren in the schools, there was not sufficient teaching power in proportion to the number to be taught, and the education was of a very inferior description. Such were the three charges which were brought against the convent schools by Mr. Sheridan. It must be recollected that Mr. Sheridan had not inspected these schools himself. Now, with respect to the first charge, the want of a technical knowledge of the method of teaching, he should like to refer to the Report of Inspector Sheehy, of the Cork district, who said that success in teaching depended chiefly on practice and a thorough knowledge of the subject taught. If the teachers read well, wrote well, and spelt well, they would produce infinitely better scholars than those who, while possessing technical knowledge, were deficient in the higher qualities of teachers. Mr. Sheridan stated that the convent schools showed great impatience of competition, so that the ordinary schools were shut up, and the population left without adequate means of instruction, and he named Killarney as an instance. But, on referring to the Reports of the Killarney district Inspector himself, he found that that statement of Mr. Sheridan was far from being borne out. In fact, it appeared that the number of schools was quite adequate to the wants of the district. The third charge brought by Mr. Sheridan against the convent schools was, that the teaching was inefficient. But he found in the Reports that the Inspectors over and over again complained that reading, writing, and the other branches of education were taught badly in the ordinary schools, and whenever any particular school was pointed out as excellent, it was sure to be either a convent school, a model school, or one of the workhouse schools. Therefore, without going outside the four corners of the Report made by Inspector Sheridan, it could be shown that the charges which he brought were not borne out by the reports which he himself had received. A Report had been made by Inspector Mahony, in which he said that while in the ordinary schools the poorer classes had to pay at the rate of 2s. 9d. for each child, in the convent schools they had to pay only 11¼d. Mr. Mahony looked upon that relief to the poorer classes as a disadvantage, because he found that though at those convent schools the attendance of the children was 60 per cent as compared with 51 per cent at the ordinary schools, yet at some convent schools, 181 where the payment was more regularly enforced, the attendance was 80 per cent. Now, as to the question of cost, the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Hugh Cairns) had made use of an argument which, if examined, would be found not to warrant the conclusion drawn from it. It appeared from the Report of the Commissioners that the total cost of the education of a child in the convent schools was something like 7s., whereas in the ordinary schools it was 14s. Inspector Sheridan stated that (he great majority of the children in the con vent schools never reached the higher classes, and therefore the hon. and learned Gentleman concluded that 4s. 6d., or, correcting his estimate as it should have been, 7s. a child was paid for half education. But, in order to prove his case, the hon. and learned Gentleman should have proved that a better education was obtained at the higher cost, or, he should have proved that the children in the ordinary schools were more than half educated. But, according to Inspector Sheridan, the State was paying 7s. a head for half education in the convent schools, and 14s. for something less than quarter education in the ordinary schools. That was exactly what resulted from the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument, because it appeared that only 18 or 19 per cent of the children in the ordinary schools reached the higher classes. And what was the remedy proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman? He objected to the new rule on the ground that it would favour the convent as distinguished from the model or training schools. But what was the cost of educating children in the model schools? According to the Report of the Education Commissioners it was no less than £1 16s. 6d. per head, so that the hon. and learned Gentleman wanted to have the children educated in the higher class of schools at that enormous expense.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
THE O'CONOR DON
resumed: He would, therefore, ask the House, whether it was prepared to condemn schools which gave education at a cheap rate, and which the people of the country favoured from religious motives? The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin objected to the convent and monastic schools because they had a religious tendency, 182 and were consequently in contradiction to the spirit of the system adopted by the Board. If so, then it must be admitted that the system of education established by the Board was on irreligious education. But Lord Stanley's letter laid it down that religious as well as secular instruction should be given in the schools. Under all these circumstances, he could not conceive what argument could be urged against the rules recognized in 1863, on the ground of the aid afforded to convent and monastic schools. The hon. Member for the King's County intended to move the omission from the Motion of the words referring to convent and monastic schools, so that the Motion would then declare that the rules sanctioned by the Commissioners on the 21st of November, 1863, were at variance with the principles of the system of National Education. He admitted that there were among the rules some, introduced at the instance of the Presbyterians of Ulster, which were contrary to the principle contained in Lord Stanley's letter; but he thought that a general Resolution, such as the hon. Member for the King's County desired, rather dangerous for the House to adopt, and it would have been better if the hon. Member had stated in his Amendment what were the particular rules which were objectionable. On various occasions he had stated his views respecting the general principle of education which he would wish to see adopted. The principle established by Lord Stanley's letter had failed to meet the views of all the parties in the country, and had in practice broken down, and he would be ready to support a system for Ireland similar to the one existing in England, if he saw the means of establishing it there. He could not, however, support the Resolution moved by the hon. and learned Member for Belfast, because it was opposed to the principle laid down by Lord Stanley's letter. He had no hesitation in voting against the hon. and learned Gentleman's Motion, and as to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite he should prefer before deciding to hear his explanation of it. He agreed with him that there had been departures from the rules, but he should like to hear at what departures his hon. and learned Friend pointed, for the hon. and learned Member for Belfast had the other evening mentioned departures from the rules which he believed could not be so characterized.
§ MR. BLACK
said, that in times past 183 there had been much discussion in Scotland on the subject of education, and they had arrived at the conclusion that the system of National Education which had been adopted in Ireland was infinitely better than that which existed in England. The English system was disliked in Scotland because it was sectarian, and they hailed Lord Stanley's scheme because it had a tendency to tone down religious animosities, and to bring up children of different sects together, so that they might learn to love and respect each other. It seemed, however, that for thirty years they had been under a delusion in thinking thus of Lord Stanley's system, for they were now told that the system in Ireland was in a great measure sectarian. Some blame had been thrown upon the Presbyterians, as though they were the first to try to break down the unsectarian system; and, if they had done so, he must say that they were wrong. All he asked was, that fair play should be given to Presbyterian and Roman Catholic alike, and that the spirit of Lord Stanley's proposals in that respect should be adhered to. It was obvious that one of the fundamental rules of that system—that no minister of religion or member of a religious order should be a teacher in one of those schools—had been departed from. We have been told that in the model schools the instruction was of the very best description, and that the pupils were there made effective teachers; but we have reason to believe that the priesthood in Ireland have denounced these model schools, and have done their best to prevent them being well attended. The percentage of Roman Catholics attending all the National schools in Ireland was eighty-one, whilst the percentage of Roman Catholics attending the model schools was only forty-three. It was plain, therefore, that some means must be used to discourage attendance at the model schools. He could easily conceive that in convent schools young ladies of earnest minds, who had renounced the world and devoted themselves to doing good to their fellow creatures, made zealous and kind teachers; but the question was not whether these ladies taught well or ill, but whether there had been a departure from the fundamental principle upon which the National schools were originally founded; and the hon. and learned Member for Belfast had proved this beyond a doubt. The system which the 184 country wanted was that which had been established by the Earl of Derby when Lord Stanley; and that system could be carried out if those who had the management of it only acted honestly, and did not give any one sect an advantage over the others. The other schoolmistresses were required to have been trained in a model school or to have passed an examination; but these conditions were dispensed with in the case of the nuns. He did not object to this advantage being given to them because they were nuns. He should object to it equally if it were granted to Presbyterians. The rule laid down by Lord Stanley was a good one, which in Scotland they were anxious to see carried out. Under it all schools were to be on the same footing—there was to be a common literary and a separate religious education. The experiment had been tried successfully in Edinburgh, where both Protestants and Roman Catholics were taught in the same school receiving secular instruction, sitting together on the same benches, and receiving religious instruction, and reading the New Testament, under teachers of their own faith in separate rooms. So long as the system was carried out honestly it would succeed, but if either party attempted to secure advantages for itself the system would break down. They ought to take their stand on the rules, and not allow them to be broken through; but if pupil-teachers were to be trained under nuns they would have all the feelings of the "nunnery" about them, and would not act in training children upon the same principles, and with the same unbiassed sympathies, as the teachers brought up in model schools under persons not confined to one sect. Now, it was not because the deviation was allowed to Roman Catholics that he offered objections; he would lay down the same if Protestants sought it. If the Government has already yielded to pressure from without it ought to go no further in this direction, and for that reason he should support the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Belfast.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, that the hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland told them the other evening that the present agitation was an attack on the system of National Education in Ireland. If so, by whom was it made? From the papers laid on the table he gathered that the right hon. Baronet the Chief Secretary was one 185 of the leading promoters of the attack. [Sir ROBERT PELL: No!] The right hon. Gentleman in a letter dated the 30th of January, 1864, said—The attention of the Irish Government has been drawn to certain contemplated changes in the fundamental rules of the system of National Education in Ireland, the effects of which will be seriously to imperil the principle upon which the system is based.And the right hon. Gentleman added that the Bill had "no power to change any fundamental rule without the express permission of his Excellency the Lord Lieutenant." It was a remarkable fact that on the preceding day, the 29th of January, language almost identical was used by Dr. Henry, a member of the Board and President of Queen's College, Belfast, who expressed his opinion that "the recent changes of rule seriously interfere with one of the fundamental principles on which the system of National Education was founded," and desired that his solemn protest should be communicated to the Government. He presumed that the protest had been communicated, and the next day it was followed by the letter of the right hon. Gentleman. It also appeared that a deputation on the subject waited on the Lord Lieutenant, headed by the Protestant Bishop of Down and Connor; and among those who entered protests were the Bishop of Derry and Mr. Gibson, who was also a member of the Board. These were the gentlemen who promoted the attack, and every one of them, with the exception of the Chief Secretary, was a member of the Whig party. The two bishops were both stout Whigs, and Dr. Henry and Mr. Gibson were tried servants and consistent placemen of the same party. The present assault on the Government system was made, therefore, by the supporters of the Government in Ireland. It was not, however, the first time that the institution had been attacked in that Parliament. In 1859 the Roman Catholic Members raised an opposition to it, and in the same year the Roman Catholic Bishops published a pastoral against it, and recommended that the English system should be adopted in Ireland. Dr. Henry and Mr. Gibson, to whose protests he had referred, were leading members of the Presbyterian party, for whom the hon. and learned Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns) also spoke; and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Whiteside), who might be regarded as the 186 representative of the Established Church, had on more than one occasion attacked the system. Thus, then, the three denominations were arrayed against the institution of National Education in Ireland. In England the system which prevailed was satisfactory to the various religious parties. Why should the reverse be the case with the system in Ireland? It was because the principle adopted in England was different from that in Ireland. The recent attack on the Irish system was of great importance, because it disclosed among the opponents not merely adherents of the three denominations, but even members of the Board, The fact was that the Board was divided against itself, and one section was fighting the other. The Motion set forth that the rules sanctioned on the 21st of November, 1863, were, as far as regarded their operation on the aid afforded to convent and monastic schools, "at variance with the principles of the system of National Education." What was an Irish Catholic gentleman to say to that assertion? He was bound, on consideration, to say that he believed the rules were at variance with the principles of National Education. He was also of opinion that they were most unjustly oppressive to convent and monastic schools. The Attorney General said that those institutions received aid like other schools, That was not the fact.
§ MR. O'HAGAN (THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND)
denied that he had ever said anything of the sort. He distinctly explained the difference as to the subvention in the case of convent and other schools.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, he did not refer to the subvention. The point to which he desired to draw attention was that, while the promoters of an ordinary National school might establish another in the same town, and receive aid for both, there was a rule of the Board which provided that one school only attached to any conventual community should receive aid. In England, if there were two schools connected with a convent both would receive aid. Thus, in Blandford Square, there was a community of nuns with two convent schools attached, both of which received aid. In Ireland, only one in connection with any single community would be assisted. Thus in Limerick the Sisters of Mercy had several well-conducted schools, but they only received a grant for one.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, that was a mis- 187 take, for aid was given by the National Board to several schools of the Sisters of Mercy at Limerick.
§ MR. HENNESSY
The Report of the National Board did not corroborate what the right hon. Gentleman said. He did not, however, deny that such a rule was in existence.
§ MR. MONSELL
I am aware of this particular rule, but it does happen that in Limerick the Sisters of the same community have several schools, and receive assistance.
§ MR. HENNESSY
The rule told them one thing, the blue-book told them another thing, and the practice told them another thing. The practice of the Board was at variance with their own rules.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, he thought it would be better for the right hon. Gentleman to explain after he had concluded his remarks. The rule, he believed, existed, and if so, only one school in connection with one community could receive Government aid. That was the rule passed in 1855, and he thought it would be found to be as he had stated. But there were other rules which struck mainly at convent schools. One was that the children should not make the sign of the cross, and another rule was that no crucifixes, no religious pictures or emblems of religion, should be exhibited in the school in school hours. Was it possible that such rules should be enforced in a convent? Speaking as a Catholic, he said it was utterly impossible to do so, and it would be unwise for any Government to attempt to enforce them. At a late meeting in Dublin, presided over by the Lord Mayor, and attended, among others, by the Bishop of Saldes, the Rev. Mr. Kirby said that a certain individual had visited a school in Cork kept by the good Sisters of the Presentation Convent, but under the Board of National Education. The children had been taught to make the sign of the cross whenever the clock struck, but the nuns told the children not to make the sign while the visitor was present, he being an Inspector of the National Board. When the clock struck, however, the custom overcame the injunction, the tiny hand of every child in the 188 school was raised, and the sacred sign was made, while the poor nuns were filled with trepidation. The fact was that ladies who devoted their lives to the service of God could not be tied down by such straight-laced rules. A French abbé, who, upon a recent visit to Ireland, noticed the rule of the Board, that no crucifixes or religious pictures should be exhibited, said—However, in many of the schools I visited, these objects are kept in a little recess in the wall at the end of the room, and are hidden by a curtain.Here were ladies bound by religious vows, and performing religious duties, and it was attempted to make them hypocrites. The fact was that the Board of Education, anxious to conciliate the multitude of its enemies in Ireland, was willing to make concessions to all parties, under a false impression that by doing so the Catholic party could be conciliated. Now, the one thing which would satisfy Catholics was the same justice that they received in England. He agreed that there was not a mixed but a separate education in the convent schools, and he did not expect that a zealous Protestant or Presbyterian would consent to send his children to those schools. On the other hand, assuming a convent school and a common National school to be not far from each other, a Catholic would prefer to send his children to a convent school. But if it were true that the aid given to convent schools was opposed to the whole system of mixed education, why, it might be asked, should he not agree to the Resolution? He sought, however, by his Amendment, to make the Resolution a general one. He would declare the opinion of the House to be that the rules sanctioned by the Commissioners of National Education in Ireland on the 21st day of November, 1863, were at variance with the principles of the system of National Education, instead of saying that these rules were only at variance "so far as regards their operation on the aid afforded to convent and monastic schools," He, and those who thought with him, desired to mark their sense of the fact, that owing to the changes which had taken place in the system of National Education in Ireland, all its vital principles had altered. In 1840, one of these changes attracted the attention of the Catholic Bishops in Ireland, and was commented upon in another place by Lord Derby so lately as 1858. In 1834, a rule was issued, securing to the clergy liberty to as- 189 semble the children in the schoolroom, if they saw fit, for purposes of religious instruction. That rule was acted upon for many years, the Board providing that one day in the week should be given for religious instruction, and various parish priests regularly assembled their children in the schoolroom. In 1840, however, a serious change was made by the adoption of a rule to the effect, that the patron of a school might prevent any clergyman from giving religious instruction in the schoolroom—a rule which drew from the Earl of Derby an expression of regret that in the great bulk of the schools, contrary to the intention of those who had proposed the National system, there was not only no religious education given, but no facilities were afforded for separate religious instruction by the ministers of different persuasions out of school hours. According to the evidence of the Rev. Mr. Carlisle before the Commons' Committee of 1837, the Board itself had no power to alter the original rule, and yet three years afterwards it was changed, he presumed with the sanction of the Government of the day. The Rev, Mr. Trench explained how the alteration was introduced. He stated that his sole objection to joining the Board was the rule which allowed Roman Catholic priests to go into the schools to teach error, but he added that when that point was conceded to the Presbyterians in 1840, and the rule altered, the Board saying they would be satisfied if children were permitted to go to their respective teachers elsewhere, his objection to the system was at once removed. In 1847, the Roman Catholic Bishops met, and passed the following Resolution:—That notwithstanding the explanations so kindly given, we are still of opinion that the changes introduced in the National System of Education are most serious and dangerous, and incompatible with the safety of the religious principles of our Catholic children.It thus appeared that two important rules had been altered, and that the present system was different from that established by the Earl of Derby. There was a third variation to which he would ask the attention, of the Government. When the system was first established, the Earl of Derby said it was of vital importance that it should command the confidence of the Roman Catholic bishops and priests, and that it should exclude even the shadow of proselytism. Accordingly, it was provided that when a clergyman of any denomina- 190 tion chose to give religious instruction, he should tell the children of other denominations to retire from the school, unless their parents had specially directed them to attend. The Presbyterians, however, declined to be guilty of what they thought the sin of driving Roman Catholic children from the school when they were about to teach the Word of God, and they would I not join the Board till the rule was altered. At that time, however—1833—the Board was firm, and the Rev. Mr. Love, a Presbyterian minister, was informed that the Holy Scriptures might be read in his school, provided that such children only as were directed by their parents to attend were allowed to continue in the school. Before the Committee of 1837, the Rev, Mr. Carlisle and Mr. Blake, both members of the Board, gave important evidence on that point. The latter said he considered it particularly necessary that the rules should require the approbation of the parents, for otherwise tricks might be played, perhaps on both sides; and he added that he should not regard the absence of dissent on the part of the parents as a I sufficient justification for allowing their children to receive religious instruction from the clergyman of another denomination. Nevertheless, in 1855, the following rule was published by the Board:—Patrons, managers, and teachers, are not required to exclude any children from any religious instruction given in the school; but all children are to have full power to absent themselves, or to withdraw from it.It would thus be seen that while the old rule compelled children of other denominations to leave the school when religious instruction was about to be given by a Protestant or Roman Catholic clergyman, as the case might be, the new rule merely provided that they should not be forced to remain. Archdeacon Stopford, when examined before the Lords' Committee in 1854, frankly stated that the rule was altered to meet the views of his party, those views being that it would devolve on the parent to withdraw his child, and that he would not claim the right of having the child told by others to leave the school. Mr. M'Creedy, one of the head Inspectors at the time, told the same Committee that the modification of the rule had generally satisfied the Protestants, at whose instance it was made; but that he did not think it was perfectly satisfactory to some Roman Catholics. The effect of the change was stated by Archdeacon Stopford, when he 191 said that all the children in his National schools, of whatever religious persuasion they might be, attended the religious instruction as they did any other lesson. Dr. Henry a member of the Board, stated that in many parts of the North of Ireland, the Roman Catholic children read the Scriptures with the Protestants and Presbyterians; and, in fact, at the present moment, there were great numbers of Roman Catholic children receiving a Protestant education in National schools. He might be told by the Chief Secretary, that a notice was given to parents before their children were taught by a clergyman of a different denomination, but that notice, according to the words of Inspector Keenan, an able officer of the National Board, was a sham, and had no effect whatever. One would have thought that the National Board would have been satisfied with what had been done. They had destroyed their system in the case of convent schools. They had destroyed their system in order to obtain the support of the Presbyterian party. The Commissioners, however, had granted a concession at the instance of the Presbyterians, and had allowed their fourteen class books to be interwoven with religious teaching. Mr. Carlisle, a Presbyterian member of the Board, in a letter which he was injudicious enough to write to The Times in 1854, said upon that subject—This concession considerably altered the original proposed system. It rendered it, instead of being a rigid system of exclusion of all religion from the common education of the people, an experiment how far Roman Catholics and Protestants could proceed together with perfect unanimity in introducing Scriptural light among the population generally, an experiment the most interesting and important, but the most delicate and difficult ever intrusted to any Commission.Now, of the fourteen literary books used by the children by the direction of the Board, he believed thirteen to have been written by English or Scotch Protestants, and one only by an Irishman, who was also a Protestant. These books were imbued, he did not say it offensively, because he thought it was but natural under the circumstances, with a strong anti-Catholic, and, he might also add, with an anti-Irish spirit. As an instance of the latter fact, he might mention the circumstance that Irish children were called upon to sing a hymn, one of the lines of which ran—And thus I am a happy English child.That was a sentiment that Irish children did not approve, and they ought not to be 192 called upon to sing it. They might say with much more reason—We are unhappy Irish children.He believed that there occurred in the same hymn a delicate reference to the fact that—We do not worship stocks and stones.The fact was, of course, true enough, but every one was aware of the meaning which the, phrase was intended to convey. He would contrast the practice pursued by the National Board with that followed by the Committee of Council in England. The National Board had refused to sanction the use of the schoolbooks written by the Christian Brothers in Ireland, a number of Irish Catholics who had devoted themselves to the education of the people, and who in furtherance of that object had written some excellent educational works. The House would find, however, that every one of these publications were in use in England, not only in the Catholic schools, but that they were also largely ordered for use in the English Wesleyan schools. And yet these books, written by Irishmen and largely used in England, were excluded from the list of school works in Ireland by the National Board. He anticipated that when the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland rose that evening he would be prepared to withdraw his letter of January, 1864. [Cries of No, no!] It must strike English Members with surprise to find that so much of the public money was lavishly expended every year upon education in Ireland, when the system adopted had met with so much opposition in that country. The rules had been attacked by the Catholic party, and the Church and the Presbyterian parties had alike denounced them. He appealed to the House whether it were politic or just to force upon the people of Ireland a system of education, which the three great denominations in the country disapproved. Did the House deem it prudent to expend hundreds of thousands a year for the benefit of Ireland in a manner opposed to the wishes of the people themselves? The practice in this country was to educate the people in accordance with the wishes of the various denominations to which they belonged, and that was precisely the principle which Ireland had demanded, and which she had been refused. The time, however, was approaching when that demand would be granted. Although the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for 193 Ireland defended the system, it was only the other night that he dealt it a deadly blow. Baron Deasy, who formerly filled the same office as the right hon. Gentleman, spoke of the system as one of united education; but the right hon. Gentleman said that, however loudly agitators might talk of a united education, no such thing practically existed in Ireland. He would therefore conclude by moving, as an Amendment, the omission of the words which confined the expression of opinion upon the rules to their operation on the aid afforded to convent and monastic schools.
§ MR. BLAKE,
in seconding the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for the King's County, fully concurred in everything that had fallen from him, except the latter portion of his speech, where he expressed fears that the Chief Secretary for Ireland would withdraw the opinion contained in his letter to the Education Commissioners. However he differed in many things from the right hon. Baronet, he bad a better opinion of him than to apprehend he would do anything of the kind, because whatever his faults were—and he had not then the least intention of charging him with any retractation of what he avowed, or playing the hypocrite to his opinions, whether right or wrong—the habit of retractation could not be included amongst them. He congratulated his hon. and learned Friend for the bold and straightforward course he had adopted in moving the Amendment. It was better that the truth should be admitted, and that every man should declare his opinions and the course he would take on this most important question. He was prepared to do both, and would lay in plain terms before the House what be believed to be the real facts of the case, and his own reasons for his change of opinions, and the course which he had taken, and would adhere to, on the Education question. He was for denominational grants and for combined religious and secular education, which necessarily involved the separate system, which he sincerely believed was best to insure sound moral training, which was a consideration of the greatest importance; and he had no doubt pupils would acquire worldly knowledge all the better for the combination, and in order to accomplish what sincere religionists on both sides rightly desired—the power to educate their youth in the manner they deemed best calculated to promote their temporal and eternal welfare—he thought it better that the truth should 194 be neither concealed nor evaded; and he, for one, declared his belief, notwithstanding all the logic and eloquence of the Attorney General in attempting to prove the contrary, that the separate system was really in operation in nearly every successful school under the Board, excepting of course the model schools, which were not successful; and he made this avowal in order that the House might see the utter uselessness of expecting that any other I system would succeed, and assist to compel the Government to do that which they must do sooner or later—sanction the denominational system in all its integrity, and thus put an end to subterfuge and dissension. Theoretically, National Education in Ireland was on the mixed system, but practically it was denominational, and if it were not so the Commissioners would I have very slender returns to show as to the number of their pupils. Attending the schools were upwards of three hundred thousand Roman Catholics, sixty-four thousand Presbyterians, and about thirty-nine thousand Protestants. Now, he dared to assert that if the National system was carried out in its full integrity as originally; established by Lord Stanley, there would not be one quarter of any of these religious denominations attending the schools. ["No, no!"] Well, he would give them the best proof of it, but would first define the main principle which Lord Stanley laid down as the one which was to guide the administration of the system, and that was, that the religious element should be entirely eliminated from the instruction and conduct of the schools, and that a secular instruction, bare of religion, was to be rigorously pursued. Now, could the Attorney General for Ireland honestly say that such a system was everywhere carried out in its integrity? He was quite sure I the right hon. Gentleman could not. Wherever there was a Catholic patron of a school, and they were usually the Catholic clergy, they, of course, appointed the most zealous Roman Catholics they could get, provided they were otherwise competent; and, no doubt, the Protestant clergymen or landlords provided staunch Protestant masters in their schools. Now, amongst the other duties imposed by the patrons on the teachers they appointed was to give their pupils religious instruction at the times allowed, and very faithfully they performed that task. He had often visited schools, and found the masters and mistresses explaining the sacred Scriptures, teaching 195 catechism, or engaged in prayers with the children, and a very edifying and gratifying sight it was. Now, he asked hon. Gentlemen, was it rational to suppose that the teachers who thus gave religious instruction at one period of the day could so completely dissever themselves at another from their religious bias and feelings as not to tincture their secular instruction with it more or less? He believed such to be a moral impossibility; and the sooner the fruitless attempt at restraining them from obeying their natural and legitimate impulse to give a religious colour to their teachings the better. Some of the Commissioners had tried their hands at writing books of instruction for the pupils which should not trench on their religious belief or prejudices. He would not deny but that they had intended to discharge their task honestly; but the strong and just complaints which the Catholic bishops and clergy made against many of these books, proved it was impossible for any man having a religious belief to write on even the most ordinary topics in a strictly neutral spirit. When such was the fact, would it not be infinitely better not to attempt to place a curb on the introduction into the educational system, without which it was necessarily poor and imperfect; and instead of the system of repression, evasion, subterfuge, and angry recrimination which was perpetually going on, would it not be infinitely better for the sake of peace, as well as the interests of the pupils, to leave to each denomination their own people in conformity with their religious views, the Government reserving to itself sufficient control to insure secular instruction being properly carried out? He could bring forward no better proof of the fact of the denominational system being practically in existence than the failure to carry out the mixed system in its full integrity in the model schools. There were, he believed, upwards of twenty of these schools in operation. It would be tedious to give an account of each of these schools; but he would adopt the one he was best acquainted with, that at the city he represented—Waterford—which would afford a very good illustration of the entire. Nevertheless, the fact was that this school had failed, because it was not denominational, and was carried out on the mixed principle, and no doubt consistently with that, had been honestly and impartially conducted. There were many favourable circumstances about the school calculated 196 to make it a success. Excellent masters and mistresses had been appointed; there was every appliance for instruction, which was of the best kind for the class for whom it was intended; and no attempt, so far as he had hoard, had ever been made at proselytism. But the greater portion of the Catholic and Protestant clergy were opposed to it, not being allowed to have any voice in its management. The Roman Catholic Bishop, a most learned and zealous prelate, discountenanced it, as he felt he could not give his approval to an institution in which he was precluded from exercising any control over the appointment of the teachers, the selection of the books, and the course of instruction; and he therefore forbade his flock from sending their children, which holiest was almost universally obeyed. The right rev. Dr. Daly, the Protestant Bishop of Cashel, equally earnest in his own way, discountenanced the school because the Scriptures were not allowed to be read there. So that, owing to the opposition coming from honest and zealous men, (though entertaining very opposite views on religion,) this school, in point of obtaining the number of pupils contemplated, had undoubtedly failed. Elsewhere the Catholic prelates had discountenanced the model schools in their dioceses, and with the same result as at Waterford; and latterly, he believed, they directed their clergy not to appoint masters to the schools in their parishes who had been trained in them. The Catholic bishops unquestionably had it in their power to prevent the mixed system being extended to those over whom they had ecclesiastical control, and it was equally manifest that they were resolved to exercise that power, believing, as they did, that they were bound to do so. And the Protestant clergy, on the other hand, were equally determined, unless the Protestant version of the Scriptures were read in the schools, to discountenance them. Each side, if they believed themselves right, ought to act on their convictions. For his own part, he sided with those who were for having religion as far as was practicable and judicious interwoven with nearly every kind of instruction. The bishops and clergy of the Catholic Church in Ireland had taken their stand on the question of the denominational system against the mixed system, and would undoubtedly have their flocks with them—for one, he certainly would take the side of the hierarchy of his Church in a matter which 197 they were best entitled and qualified to pronounce. The great majority of the Protestants and Presbyterians also wished to educate their co-religionists their own way. It was, therefore, difficult to understand why the Government resisted what was manifestly the desire of the great majority of the Irish people of every denomination. When separate grants were not only given in England, but that subsidy would not be given to a mixed school, and that it was absolutely necessary for a school to belong exclusively to some known religious denomination before it could obtain assistance from the State, it was incomprehensible why the very opposite practice should be pursued in Ireland, where religious feeling on the part of Catholics was much stronger, and where, unhappily, no religious animosities were much more bitter. It would probably be urged, that if the denominational system was sanctioned by law that many poor children would be left without education, as in many districts of the North of Ireland the population were almost wholly Presbyterian, and in the county Deny Protestants, and that there would not be numbers enough for exclusively Catholic schools, so that Catholic children should go to the Protestant or Presbyterian denominational schools, or remain uneducated; whilst, on the other hand, Protestants would be subject to the same inconvenience in the southern and western provinces, where they were thinly scattered about. It must be freely admitted that such inconveniences would occur, and that some Catholic and Protestant children would be placed at a disadvantage; but the numbers who would thus suffer would be very few indeed in comparison to the thousands upon thousands who would be benefited by having a sound religious education combined with the secular one; and in this, as in all other cases, it was the advantage of the vast majority which should be looked to. Besides, he thought arrangements might be made by which Protestant or Catholic children might receive secular instruction from the master or monitor where they were too few to have a distinct school of their own. In conclusion, he repeated his belief that not only had the fundamental principles on which the National system was founded been violated in favour of Catholics, Protestants, and Presbyterians, but that if it had not been done, the Commissioners might shut up their schools. In order to keep up the number on their rolls, they had 198 to make concessions to all parties in violation of the principles laid down by Lord Stanley. Wherever that principle was sought to be maintained the schools had failed. When, therefore, everyone knows that monastic and convent schools, and also those having Catholic and Protestant patrons in connection with the Board, were virtually denominational, why, in the name of candour and common sense, not let them become to all intents and purposes so? For all parties concerned it would be the best course. As things stood now, the Board of Education, patrons of schools, and the officers connected with them, were all in a false position. The whole affair bore a sort of half fish half flesh character, that was not pleasant; and certainly the angry debates which it provoked in that House were neither agreeable nor creditable, and no good purpose could be served by recriminations and charges and counter charges as to concessions made to convents or Presbyterian schools. No one knew better than the Chief Secretary for Ireland that the fundamental rules of the Board had been violated, or he would not have written the following very remarkable letter:—Dublin Castle, 30th Jan. 1864.Sir,—The attention of the Irish Government has been drawn to certain contemplated changes in the fundamental rules of the system of National Education in Ireland, the effects of which will be seriously to imperil the principle upon which the system is based; and I am to remind you, as Resident Commissioner, that the Board of Commissioners, as incorporated by Royal Charter, has no power to change any fundamental rule without the express permission of His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant.I am, &c.(Signed) "ROBERT PEEL.Right Hon. Alex. Macdonnell, &c. &c. &c.Now to withdraw from the statement which, as a Minister of the Crown, he could not have made without reflection, he hoped, for his consistency sake, he would not attempt to do, but would follow it up by voting in the same division with him on the Amendment which he had seconded. He hoped all parties who felt with him (Mr. Blake) in this matter would continue to press on Government the necessity of conceding to the wishes of the great bulk of the Irish people in the matter, and allow every denomination to educate their youth in the manner which would make good Christians, at the same time that they acquired scholastic knowledge under a right system, Both ought to go hand in hand together. He earnestly trusted, as one 199 anxious for the advancement of his country and willing to concede to every other creed what he claimed for his own, that whether under this or another Ministry, a system of education for the poorer classes in Ireland would obtain the sanction of Parliament, more acceptable to the wishes of the people and more suited to the peculiar circumstances and wants of the country.
To leave out the words "so far as regards their operation on the aid afforded to Convent and Monastic Schools."—(Mr. Hennessy.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
After the direct appeal that has been made to me, it is necessary that I should address a few remarks to the House, and I think before I conclude I shall be able to convince the two hon. Gentlemen who have last addressed us, that the letter which has been so frequently referred to was not altogether unjustifiable. Before going to that particular subject, I am anxious to allude to one or two remarks which fell from the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Hennessy). I have often heard him make good speeches in this House, but I do not think his speech on this occasion was worthy of him. The National system during its existence has had many difficulties to encounter and many fiery trials to go through. It has had antagonists from all quarters; but I rejoice to think that it still works for good, when I know that there are more than 6,000 schools in operation, with an average number of children on the rolls for the year of more than half a million. Therefore, I think that no one will be inclined to give his assent to the sentiment of the hon. and learned Gentleman, when he almost rejoiced that the National system was, as he said, upon its last legs. That is not the belief I entertain. It is true that since 1831, when the Whigs of that day to their immortal credit established the system which now prevails—no doubt since then, many changes have been made in the rules and regulations of this National institution, but deliberately in every instance with the approval of the Government of the day. But, referring immediately to the question before us, I must, in the first instance, notice the remarkable speech of my right hon. Colleague the Attorney General for Ireland. But if I am desirous of supplementing the remarks which he then made, 200 it is not for the purpose of being hypocritical—as the hon. Gentleman said I would not be—in regard to the opinions I entertain, but to show that my right hon. Friend and myself hold identically the same views on this subject. The principal reason then why I wish to address the House is first of all to show that the letter which I, as Chief Secretary for Ireland, sent to the Resident Commissioner, does not imply that there is that very great difference of opinion which some have inferred, and in the next place to express again in this House, as I have done on former occasions when the system has been here attacked, my firm and abiding approval of the National system as established in Ireland, and which I now do after three years of close observation and experience of its working. Therefore, whatever minor, whatever partial differences of opinion may exist, or may be supposed by some to exist, as regards the rules and regulations of that great National institution, for my own part, speaking candidly and honestly, I say that if I have called in question anything connected with that institution, it has been solely from a desire to see it maintained in its integrity, and on the basis which its founders laid for the social regeneration of the country. I think the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) in his able speech rather misinterpreted, in common with some others, what fell from the hon. and learned Member for Belfast, thinking that the hon. and learned Member had attacked both the Commissioners as also the whole system of the convent schools. I listened attentively to the hon. and learned Member for Belfast's speech, and I did not understand him to cast any imputations upon the Commissioners. He spoke of them with praise, and, if I caught his meaning correctly, he did not impugn the motives which influenced them in the conduct they had pursued. Again, as regards the convent schools, he did not, as far as I can recollect, attack the convent schools which are prepared to abide by the rules; and therefore the hon. Member for Roscommon went too far in saying that he did.
THE O'CONOR DON
I never meant to imply that the hon, and learned Member for Belfast meant to attack convent schools, except so far as Mr. Sheridan's Report was concerned. I, however, hold that his Resolution in effect attacks all convent schools.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
The hon. and 201 learned Gentleman said that the fundamental alterations in the rules which were contemplated would strike at the root of the system and tend to raise a serious antagonism to it. The hon. and learned Member is not the only person in Ireland who has expressed the same opinion. First of all a very remarkable article in a London paper, the Daily News, attracted my attention. The writer, evidently a very able man, felt that the contemplated changes would affect the fundamental principle of the system. I do not, of course, wish to quote the whole article, but its aim was to show that encroachments are being made in the National system in favour of schools which offer gratuitous education to the poor, but which, as schools of a particular character, ought not to receive exclusive aid, because children of only one denomination attend them. That article was copied into a great many of the Irish papers, and previous to its appearance there had been strong protests against the contemplated changes from various denominations in Ireland, and from parties entitled to the greatest consideration. The hon. Gentleman has sneered at the Presbyterian body, a body which, at all events, has been conspicuous for moderation and for its loyalty, and which has certainly been instrumental in bringing about an improved state of things generally in the North of Ireland. It was therefore, I think, hardly worthy of the hon. Gentleman, whatever may be his own religious opinions, to sneer at and cast a slur upon that body. But while these regulations were in course of consideration, I, as Chief Secretary, received communications from certain of the members of the Board who dissented. I have in my hand a letter from one of those Commissioners—I mention this as a justification of the step I took as Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant in drawing the attention of the Resident Commissioner to what I believed was a source of dissent in the counsels of the National Board. The Bishop of Derry, one of the members of that Board, in a communication which I received from him, I may almost say officially, wrote—I deprecate the introduction of rules eminently calculated to bow the seeds of discord, and to subvert one of the noblest institutions of our land.I received the protests of four distinguished men, including Dr. Henry and the other gentlemen mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for Belfast, and, under 202 the circumstances, I think I was bound, without expressing any opinion of my own, to direct the attention of the Resident Commissioner to the opinions of important individuals and bodies in Ireland. I am quite satisfied the course I adopted had the approval of my right hon. Colleague in the Irish Government, and certainly it was not disapproved by the Lord Lieutenant. Well, that letter was written on that account, and on that account only. There is no hypocrisy in it, no variance of opinion with others; it was written because I felt that important bodies, the Presbyterians and others, were objecting to the contemplated changes, as being, in their view, fundamental alterations of the system. The Presbytery of Derry passed a resolution to that effect, and a similar resolution came from the Presbytery of Belfast. The latter body also petitioned Parliament on the subject, distinctly alleging that they viewed with alarm the proposed change in the rules and regulations, as calculated to place the training of the future teachers of the Irish people in the hands of the religious orders of the Church of Rome. At a meeting of the Ulster National Education Association, the Bishop of Down and Connor also said he looked on the new rules as tending to effect a fundamental change in the system. In the face of all that, it was difficult for me to follow any other course than I did; and I think every impartial man in this House will see that I expressed no dissent from the opinions of my right hon. Colleague in writing that letter, but that as Chief Secretary I felt it my duty to lay before the Resident Commissioner the views entertained by the authorities I have mentioned.
A great deal has been said about the administration of the Board, and the hon. Member seemed to imply that it has been the root of much mischief in Ireland. When first established it was intended to take the place of the Kildare Place Society, which, no doubt, did an immense amount of good, and had 1,100 schools connected with it when it ceased to receive grants. But that society would not adopt the principle of combined secular education with religious instruction, and then the celebrated letter of Mr. Stanley appeared, which inaugurated a system that has, I must say, conferred great and substantial blessings upon Ireland. During the first twelve years of its existence that system received the sanction, not only of five sue- 203 cessive Cabinets, but passed through the ordeal of three Select Committees of Parliament, one in 1835, and two in 1837. In the constitution of the Board, Mr. Stanley and the Government of that day endeavoured to embrace men of different denominations, men of high personal character and exalted station in the Church, but professing different religious principles. Dr. Whately, the late Archbishop of Dublin, acted upon it in perfect harmony with Dr. Murray, a distinguished Roman Catholic prelate. But it is wrong to imply with regard to the constitution of this Board that it cannot be changed. It has been changed. First of all it consisted of seven, then ten, then fifteen, and ultimately it was in 1860 increased to twenty members. But that increase to twenty did not, I admit, satisfy every one. The Cork Examiner, which ought to understand the feelings of the Roman Catholics, and represents the views of the Member for Dungarvan, candidly admits that it is not satisfied with a Board of twenty members, adding, however, that National schools are only tolerated because, under Roman Catholic patrons, the principles of the system are not carried out.In three provinces" says that journal, "it is very well known the system of mixed education does not exist; in nearly all the schools the Roman Catholic clergy have almost unlimited discretion as regards religious instruction; were it otherwise, the National system would be intolerable; it lives, in fact, upon the false pretence of being what it is not.And Dr. Cullen distinctly stated last year that he would not be satisfied unless there were seventeen Roman Catholics and only three Protestants—five to one—on the Board. That shows there is still a great difference of opinion on the subject. Recently it has been said that a Board of three or five paid Commissioners would be better. That is not a new idea. I was myself very much impressed with the advantages of a paid Commission. When the Earl of Derby appointed the Board, he admitted the difficulty of calling upon its members to give their full attention to the business, and therefore he appointed one paid Commissioner, the Rev. J. Carlisle. Even Archbishop Whately, when a member of the Board, was in favour of that system. So was Mr. Cross, the secretary of the Board. Lord Eglinton also before a Committee of the Lords in 1854 advocated the payment of four paid Commissioners, who should be laymen and responsible to the Lord Lieu- 204 tenant. All this shows that the idea of changing the constitution of the Board is not a novel one, and that those who advocate it do not imply blame on those distinguished persons who constitute it.
I have already remarked that the Board has had to encounter a great deal of opposition. Almost all the Protestant bishops in times gone by have attacked the system. Petitions were also presented against it signed by both clergy and laity; the Presbyterian body also, the Synod of Ulster, decidedly opposed the National system. In spite of all that, the system has worked well. The difficulties against which it has had to contend have been of no ordinary character, and I am sorry to think that even now, after the acknowledged benefits it has conferred, it is open to question. The principal charge against it now arises from the money that is given to these conventual establishments—that by these additional grants you are interfering with the model school system. No doubt you are. It must be admitted, however, the convent schools have, for the most part, done their work well. Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, members of the Established Church, all have been appointed to examine into the constitution of these schools, and I am bound to say frankly and fairly that the great majority of the Reports which will be laid on the table on Monday or Tuesday next, in accordance with the Motion of the hon. Member for Limerick, are most favourable to these convent schools. But then I say they are of a denominational character, and I should be sorry to see a strictly denominational policy pursued as regards these grants. I think if that course were adopted it would strike at the very root of the system. No doubt when the National system was introduced, in 1831, the Government of the day had to consider whether convent and monastic schools should be associated with the Board; and although they were unfavourably reported on in 1832 and 1833, it was decided that but for that they should be established in union with the Board. But certain exceptions were made. What I fear is that the grants now about to be given may affect the model school system, which is certainly wrapped up in the National system. From the 4th and 7th Reports you can see what advantages were expected to attend the working of model schools. Wherever there is a model school there you find the schools in immediate contiguity conducted on a very excellent 205 system. Now, if you destroy the model schools you will give immense extension to the conventual system. I think there is a limit here beyond which you ought not to go. When the Board was established there were 42 convent and monk schools in connection with it. Their numbers have very considerably and rapidly increased of late. I believe there are as many as 145 attached to the Board at present. Last year the number was 133; the year before, 128. Now, although each convent establishment can only have one school in connection with this Board, there is, from the figures I have just given, a very considerable extension to the conventual system in connection with the Board which I think ought to be checked. I do not think it good for the country that an extension of that kind should take place, particularly if you affect the model schools. Now, a model school is for the purpose of preparing teachers and giving an example to the surrounding country of what a good teacher should be. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh observed that these model schools have been the subject of very serious attack on the part of the Roman Catholic Church. We must all regret that in Clonmel, Galway, and Limerick, in consequence of attacks on these establishments, Roman Catholic children have left the schools. That cannot be for the general good of the system, and I do hope, the times of strong religious animosity having passed away, these attacks on the National system will cease. We have heard to-night what takes place in Edinburgh, where there are schools in which Roman Catholic and Protestant children can meet; together and in harmony learn the simple Scripture lessons they are taught, and why should not this be the case also in Ireland?
It is of the greatest possible importance that teachers should be educated on some: fixed system—that they should have practical elementary instruction, Now if these convent schools send out a great number of pupil-teachers to become teachers of National schools, what I fear is that they may affect the teaching of the National schools. No doubt the instruction given by the nuns is of the kindest and most considerate description; the affection with which they treat the members of their community is fully acknowledged; but if you throw too much the education of teachers of the National schools into the hands of the conventual schools you will lower the standard of their teaching, and 206 ultimately inflict a blow on the National system. What I hope to see carried out is a system of education such as exists in Bavaria and in Prussia, where the children of different denominations meet together, the Roman Catholic and Protestant ecclesiastics act in harmony, and no sectarian feelings are evolved. I speak in this way because I am a firm friend of united secular education. It has worked immense good in Ireland, and we ought, therefore, to be careful how we listen to attacks against the Board which has carried into execution the designs of the framers of so great a work. You must recollect that the Commissioners have a very difficult task to perform. Some persons say that they are ambitious, prone to make changes, and impatient of control and Government interference. I do not believe that. I am one of those who think that the Commissioners are not likely to make changes which will prejudicially affect the working of the system; and I think that it is but fair that the voices of those persons who approve the system should be raised in this House in praise of the ability and character of the members of the Board. We ought to recollect that they render gratuitous service. There is only one paid Commissioner, Mr. Macdonnell, who has been connected with the Board, I think, since 1837. My right hon. Friend the Attorney General spoke of that gentleman as a colleague at the Board and a personal friend. I have had three years' experience of this system in Ireland, and I wish to speak of him, as a public servant, in the sincerity of my mind and without any varnish whatever. Mr. Macdonnell, in managing this system, has an immense task to perform. He has the direct superintendence of more than 6,000 schools, which have over half a million of children on the rolls. He must always be at his office; he must never be absent from his duty, and he is almost overwhelmed by the responsibility which weighs upon him in the discharge of his duty. [An hon. MEMBER: Not a bit of it.] The hon. Gentleman says "Not a bit of it," but I venture to say that no one who knows that gentleman, and knows the zeal and spirit with which he discharges his duties, will deny that he is entitled to the gratitude of the country for what he has done. Then do not let us fall into any error as to the benefits and blessings which this system has produced in Ireland. I do not know that any higher eulogy can be pronounced 207 upon the men who founded it than that they have by means of these 6,000 schools sown broadcast in Ireland opportunities of education which were before denied to the people, opportunities of obtaining instruction which they certainly had not before, and opportunities of sharpening that natural quickness of intellect which is so remarkable and which is so conspicuously displayed under the influence of this system. If that is what the National system has done in Ireland, I hope that the House will not agree to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Belfast, because I believe that convent schools are a part of that system. They have been connected with it since the year 1835, and now contain 20,000 children. [Mr. MAGUIRE: 40,000.] 40,000! That makes the case stronger. There are then 40,000 children in daily attendance in those schools, and I think that it would be a very serious thing if we were to attempt to separate them from the National system. [Sir HUGH CAIRNS: I do not want to do it.] The hon. Gentleman says that he does not want to do it, but he says that the aid afforded to convent schools is at variance with the principles of the National system.The rules sanctioned by the Commissioners of National Education, so far as regards the operation of the aid afforded to convent or monastic schools, are at variance with the principles of the Board of National Education.That I deny, and I believe that the House will agree with me. I hope that the House will not adopt either the Motion or the Amendment; because I am sure that this is an insidious attack upon the National system; and if you adopt this Resolution, and approve a censure upon a charge involving no sacrifice of principle, Parliament will be lending itself to an attack upon the Commissioners which will seriously affect a system which, so far from being, as the hon. Member for the King's County asserted, contrary to, is working in entire harmony with the wants, the wishes, and the feelings of the great bulk of the people of Ireland.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that he was sorry that an English Member interposing in an Irish debate should be thought out of place. ["No, no!"] He should not detain the House long, but he thought it right to reply at once to the speech of the right hon. Baronet, the conclusion of which was so entirely inconsistent with its commencement. The right 208 hon. Baronet had told the House that the convent schools were essentially denominational, and he ended by saying that they contained 40,000 children, and therefore fell within the purview of the National system and ought to be kept within it. There were other denominational schools which had more than 40,000 children in them. Was the right hon. Baronet prepared to admit them too? [Sir ROBERT PEEL: The convent schools were recognized so far back as 1835.] No one had in that debate found fault either with the convent schools or with the ladies who managed them so admirably. The point was, these ladies having entered upon a religious life, and being surrounded by emblems of denominational character, the children in these schools were as much brought up under a denominational system as if the schools were maintained specially as denominational schools. That had been recognized and condoned by Parliament, because it had gone on voting grants for education since the existence of these schools was brought to its knowledge in 1854. But the Commissioners were now introducing something which was entirely new, and which was giving rise to great dissatisfaction. Not only were the children to be educated in these convent schools, but teachers also, who were to go out and teach children in other schools; and the right hon. Baronet had admitted that the effect of that would be to destroy the district model schools, which were an essential feature of the system, and in which alone united education was carried out to any extent. The right hon. Gentleman said he wrote his letter before he knew what were the rules which the Commissioners proposed; and he received from the Commissioners a reply which was most insulting to him, which pooh-poohed him as a person who had no influence or power to affect anything which they did. They referred him, as a servant might be referred to his master, to the Lord Lieutenant, in terms which he should have thought might have kindled some little indignation in his mind. [Sir ROBERT PEEL: Will you read them?] He was speaking of the tone of the letter, but as the right hon. Baronet wished him to read the Correspondence he would do so. In the letter which the right hon. Baronet wrote before he knew what the rules were, he said—The attention of the Irish Government has been drawn to certain contemplated changes in the fundamental rules of the system of National 209 Education in Ireland, the effects of which will be"—[not "I am told"]—"will be seriously to imperil the principle upon which the system is based.That was what the right hon. Gentleman wrote to the Commissioners, and now he told the House that when he wrote it he did not know what the rules were. [Sir ROBERT PEEL: I entirely deny that assertion.] He did not wish to imitate irregularities, but he should like to ask the right hon. Baronet whether he had seen the rules when he wrote his letter?
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
said, that he had not seen the written rules, but he had received verbal information from the Bishop of Derry, Dr. Henry, and other Commissioners as to the changes which were contemplated.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
Four Commissioners told the right hon. Gentleman they had done so or were about to do so—[Sir HUGH CAIRNS: Had done, three months before]—and informed the right hon. Gentleman against what points these protests were levelled. The right hon. Gentleman thereupon wrote to the resident Commissioners, and from the Commissioners received a reply denying that a change in any fundamental principle of the system would be affected by the new rule, should it be carried into operation, or could have been contemplated by the Commissioners when they framed the proposed regulation, Until that evening it had always been supposed that the right hon. Gentleman objected, in the spirit of his letter, to the mode in which the rules had been dealt with; but now he found fault with the hon. Member for the King's County for having, as he said, blamed the Commissioners. Why, who began the blame? The right hon. Gentleman himself. Of the Commissioners some had protested against the acts of their colleagues; the Bishop of Derry—according to the right hon. Gentleman, one of the oldest friends of the system—declared that the fundamental rules had been altered. The right hon. Gentleman himself showed that the schools had been changed practically into denominational schools, and therefore it was idle to say that the system had not been departed from. It was the inevitable tendency of systems of education to fall into the hands of persons zealous as to religious matters. Except in the model schools they had always found great difficulty in carrying out the joint system. From the beginning there had been comparatively few schools under joint management. Rules 210 had been made from time to time which were intended to check denominational education, but there had been a steady advance in that direction. After all the system of denominational education was that which had been the most successful. When they came to the question of educating the teachers they found themselves involved in something more material than the mere education of the children. As had been said by a great authority on this question of mixed education in Ireland—One of these religious persons in giving instruction will not only give it after secular education has been supplied, but will give it in conjunction with literary instruction.It seemed to him a most remarkable thing that the Chief Secretary for Ireland should have sat down without intimating in any way the remedies which ought to be applied to cases that he admitted. Taking a great interest in the subject of education both in England and Ireland, he had read nearly all the Parliamentary papers issued on the subject, and thought it abundantly clear that the system originally established by Mr. Stanley had been departed from in many particulars. An atmosphere existed in the convent schools which must make them essentially places of religious instruction, and the same observation applied to Presbyterian schools. For the Presbyterian clergy in their evidence given before the Committee of 1854, admitted that when they gave religious instruction, although children might absent themselves if they thought proper, they would never desire them to leave, and everyone knew that, except acting under express direction, children in such matters were altogether helpless. The question for the House to determine was, whether the system of combined secular and separate religious education had been carried out as originally intended; had children of all denominations been brought together—in short, had the system succeeded or failed? The tight hon. Gentleman held that it had succeeded, but seemed to stand nearly alone in that opinion. In fact, it was natural that persons, where they got a pretty good school, conducted according to their own principles, should prefer sending their children there than to a mixed school. In one small place, Castlecomer, he had heard of as many as eight schools being founded to accommodate the peculiar views of the parents, when one would have sufficed to do the work. In Ireland thirty scholars seemed to be considered sufficient 211 to found a school, whereas in England small rural schools of less than one hundred were discouraged, it being one of the recommendations of the Committee of Council that small schools should as much as possible be combined with a view to getting better teaching. He had not spoken of any denomination with disrespect; his wish was that all should have fair play, and that education of the people should be made the paramount object, and not the advancement of any single denomination. But if it turned out that the working of the system was unsatisfactory, if nominally united it was practically a denominational system, then he thought that inquiry should take place, not, perhaps, by a Parliamentary Committee, but by an independent Commission. It might then be seen how much of the results complained of were attributable to the constitution of the Board, and whether twenty men living in different parts of Ireland, who could not be brought together with certainty at any one time, but some who might sit one day to reverse the decisions of their colleagues the day before, was not a system tending to throw too much power into the hands of a resident Commissioner. Of that gentleman he should speak with the highest possible respect; but he thought the charge devolving upon him was too great for a single mind, weighed down as he was in addition by the distracted counsels of a dissentient Board. The rule now introduced was essentially new, though it appeared from official documents that the payments it was intended to sanction had been made in past years without the sanction of any rule. Wherever a convent school was established, there, according to Mr. Sheridan's Reports, a secular school was put down; and under all the circumstances it appeared to him that inquiry must take place before the system could be put upon a basis satisfactory to Ireland, intelligible to that House, and worthy of the money voted by Parliament.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, that as a Roman Catholic Member he might be supposed to know something of the class of schools that had been attacked by the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Hugh Cairns). He would do that hon. and learned Gentleman the justice to say that he dealt with every question in the spirit of a gentleman, with great calmness, courtesy, power of logic, and arrangement of his subject. But the hon. and learned Member for Belfast was in that 212 instance the representative and organ of a body which had been the most bitter assailants of the National system, so long as that system was carried out on terms that were acceptable to the Roman Catholic people of Ireland. ["Oh!"] If he wanted to know the object of the Resolution he had only to listen to the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had been carried away by his excitement to use expressions that were not creditable either to his good sense or his political tact. He did not say it to the disparagement of the National Board, which had been of late very much improved, but he would assert that practically the mixed system in Ireland was a mockery and a sham, and the House must come to the same conclusion. To show that he did not indulge in mere claptrap, he would refer to the latest Report of the Commissioners. That Report, which came up to January 1, 1864, showed that the so-called mixed system never had, and had not now, any practical operation in Ireland. He was in favour of the existing machinery—of the central authority—of the assistance of the State in aid of local efforts—and of a system of inspection which would justify the State in giving that assistance; but he believed that the mixed system had practically failed. The opposition manifested between the Chief Secretary and the Attorney General for Ireland and the divisions in the Board showed that the machine was not working well, and that if Parliament did not change the machinery it must change the essential spirit of the system. He would prove his point by a few figures. Leaving out Ulster, he would take the three provinces of Leinster, Minister, and Connaught. In the last quarter of 1863 there were, within a fraction, 400,000 children on the rolls of the National schools in those three provinces. In county Clare there were 20,043 on the rolls, but only 144 Protestants and 7 Presbyterians. The rest, 19,892, were Roman Catholics. In the county of Kerry there were 24,367 on the rolls, and only 337 Protestants and 5 Presbyterians. In Carlow there were 6,006 on the rolls, of whom 86 were Protestants, and only one a Presbyterian. In Kilkenny there were 15,984 on the rolls, and only 293 Protestants and 8 Presbyterians. The total number on the rolls in 213 those three provinces was 397,000. In the entire province of Munster there were only 2,827 Protestants on the rolls, and 262 Presbyterians. In Leinster there were 4,448 Protestants and 576 Presbyterians. In Connaught there were 3,164 Protestants and 485 Presbyterians. The total number of Protestants on the rolls in those three provinces was 10,639; of Presbyterians 1,323. After that statement would any one tell him that the mixed system was not a sham. He believed the time was coming when the advocates of the denominational system in Ireland would triumph. That system existed in England, and no Minister of the Crown would change it. The scheme of Lord Stanley was conceived in the most admirable spirit, and for years faith was kept with the Catholics of Ireland. But why were the Catholic prelates and people alarmed? In consequence of the increasing attacks that were being made, some of them by insidious foes, others by open and aggressive enemies. The hon. Member for Roscommon had admitted that many of the safeguards of Lord Stanley's system had been broken down, to the injury of the Irish Catholics. He maintained that it was the duty of the Commissioners to do as they had done, and that it befitted the wisdom of the House to sustain them in what they had done. He had been astonished to hear the right hon. Gentleman the representative of the University charge the Commissioners with having lent themselves to further the machinations, ends, and objects of the monastic institutions. The right hon. Gentleman became animated by a most extraordinary frenzy when he spoke of nuns, monks, friars, and Jesuits. His hon. Friend (Mr. Hennessy) made a remarkable statement, on the best authority as he conceived. It appeared in a report of a meeting held in Dublin a few days ago, when the Rev. Mr. Kirby, one of the fathers, made a statement which had been answered and refuted by the Roman Catholic Dean of Cork. The story was that when the Inspector of the Board visited the Presentation Convent at Cork the children received instructions not to make the sign of the cross. When the hour struck, however, the instinct of the children was too strong to be repressed, and they made the sacred sign, the nun being in a state of trepidation, and afraid that the school would lose the grant. The answer of the Dean of Cork was, that there was but one Presentation Convent 214 in Cork, of which he was the ecclesiastical superior, and he denied in the most explicit manner the statement that the Catholic children had at any time been directed not to make the sign of the cross, or that the nuns made use of any such words as had been attributed to them; nor did he believe that there were any nuns in Ireland capable of conduct which would have been a combination of meanness, deception, and dishonesty, and he regretted that Father Kirby should have been deceived by such a falsehood. Now, the attack which had been made on the convent schools—for everybody in Ireland believed that it was an attack—had been justified by quotations from the report of Mr. Sheridan. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) no doubt read the Mail, and, if so, he might have seen a letter from Mr. Sheridan explaining his report, and denying the inferences which were sought to be drawn from it. He had the letter of Mr. Sheridan in his hand, it was dated the 2nd of May, 1864, and in it Mr. Sheridan said, that so far from being dissatisfied with the extension of the convent schools he viewed it with the greatest satisfaction, and he hoped to live to see the day when such schools would be found among the mass of every Catholic population in Ireland, because he knew that it was only by means of those schools that the blessings of a sound literary and religious education could be given to those whom the National schools could never reach—namely, the homeless, outcast children who were sought out by the good men and women who conducted those schools. That was the deliberately recorded opinion of one of the head Inspectors of the Government, vindicating his Report from the interpretation sought to be put upon it by hon. Gentlemen. It was true that Mr. Sheridan had said that there was not sufficient teaching power in the convent schools. But that was in 1860, and since then there had been a great change, and the monitorial system, which had risen and expanded against the will of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House, had given that teaching power, so that the fault found by Mr. Sheridan in 1860 no longer existed. There were convent schools in his own city which educated from 3,000 to 4,000 children, and which were admitted by the Protestants of Cork to be a blessing to the community, for this reason, that they gave a good literary as well as sound moral education. They 215 taught cleanliness, industry, honesty; nor was the solicitude of the nuns confined to the school, but it followed the scholars into the world, watching over, directing, and advising them. At Kinsale there was a school of 800 girls, at the head of which was Mrs. Bridgman, who had followed Miss Nightingale to the Crimea, and with her band of sisters had been among the most successful of the nurses of our soldiers. That school had cost £2,200 in its erection; it was large, spacious, and commodious as any of the model schools which had been built at such vast expense to the State. In Middleton there was a school which contained 800 children, and which cost £1,300 or £1,400 in building. Some of the best teachers came out of those schools, and they were even the means of supporting families by the industry which they taught the pupils. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University had laid great stress on an unhappy phrase which had been used by Mr. Sheridan, who happened to say that the nuns were intolerant; but Mr. Sheridan's explanation was that he ought not to have used that word, because it was objectionable in itself and was liable to misinterpretation. He went on to say that he used the word intolerance, as was obvious in the context, simply to imply impatience of competition, and that he never meant it to signify religious intolerance, apologizing at the same time for employing a term capable of so offensive an interpretation. After that explanation, the charge of intolerance would, he hoped, never again be brought against the nuns of Ireland. It appeared, he might add, from what had been stated by the Commissioners, that so far from any favour having been extended to the convent schools, the very contrary was the fact. So far as pupil-teachers were concerned, any large and efficient school might have them as well as those which were attached to a convent, while the nuns, the Commissioners said, now received only one-third of the average sum paid to teachers of all classes. After an authoritative statement of that kind there ought, he thought, to be no alarm on the part of the Presbyterians of Ireland, whose memorial for an increase of the Regium Donum he had not long since signed on the principle of religious freedom. The Roman Catholics, he might add, asked for no assistance from the State for their Church or their clergy, and when men came from Ireland and sought for aid in 216 the way in which the Presbyterians had done from Irish Roman Catholic Members, it was, he thought, scarcely right of them to urge two distinguished Members of that House to come forward to make an attack on institutions which were dear to the Roman Catholic people of that country. Seeing, he would further observe, the difficulties which existed in reference to the question of education in Ireland, the time must, in his opinion, come when the denominational system must be substituted for the mixed. The Archbishop of Canterbury was in favour of the denominational system, and Archbishop Cullen did not go one bit further in Ireland than the right rev. Prelate did in England. They were, he contended, both right, and Earl Russell was right in the view which he took on the subject. The Roman Catholic Church had made great efforts and sacrifices in the cause of education. All she asked was fair play and equal justice, and if that could not exist under a mixed system, it must be sought under that which solved all difficulties—the denominational system.
§ MR. BUTT
said, he thought it unfortunate that they had been carried away into a general discussion of education in Ireland. He must confess that there never had been so much agitation raised about so small a change. In the month of November last the Commissioners republished their rules, and in one respect did they make a material alteration, which the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Hugh Cairns) invited them to declare was at variance with the principles of National Education, and thus practically asked the House to pass a Vote of Censure on the Commissioners. Now, in 1831, immediately on the establishment of the system, the question arose whether the convent schools should receive aid; and it was found that the Kildare Place Society, which the system was intended to supersede, did give a large number of these schools assistance. The lending of support to them, therefore, was no new thing, nor could he understand how any person anxious to bring education and civilization to the lower classes in Ireland, could deliberately reject the services of those ladies who were so well calculated to effect those objects. The whole ground of the Vote of Censure which the House was asked to give was this, that the Commissioners had agreed to give in some schools of greater efficiency a little higher salary to first class monitors; and it was supposed that many of 217 these would be convent schools. Had it been alleged that the convent schools had in any case injured the Presbyterian population? Yes; one solitary case had been raked up, but so far from establishing anything against the convent schools, it did quite the reverse. It appeared that at a school in Youghal two Protestant children remained there after the prescribed hours, and while certain prayers were pronounced. A great deal of correspondence took place, a special Inspector was sent down, and a Committee of the House of Lords was occupied in investigating the case. The consequence was, that the school at Youghal was separated from the National Board, and was afterwards supported by the people without National aid. That was the one solitary instance of anything like an approach to interference with the religion of Protestant pupils, and it showed that such a vigilance was exercised that any attempt to interfere with the religion of Protestant children in Catholic schools was almost impossible. It was objected that teachers would be educated in these, but that was not a departure from the principles of the National Board, for one of the first rules of the Board was, that patrons were to be at liberty to select their own teachers without government interference, if no special objection, arising from want of educational ability, were advanced. There was no reason why war should be made on these schools. The convent schools were not antagonistic to the educational system. If a denominational school meant the preponderance of any particular religious feeling, there was an end of the educational system; but the educational system did not contemplate that contingency. Peace and harmony would not be promoted by declaring that Catholic parents should send their children to schools presided over by a Presbyterian schoolmaster, or vice versâ. With regard to the Question before the House, he trusted that in common honesty the Amendment would find no support. He believed the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Belfast to be very mischievous, and that it would be understood in Ireland in a sense the hon. Member did not mean—as representing, not his own views, but the bigotry which had forced the proceeding upon him. With regard to the Amendment, he asked whether the hon. Member for the King's County joined in the attack on convent schools, and upon priests, friars, and Jesuits, for whom the House 218 had been told the money of the State was voted. He believed that the hon. Member rather tried to get rid of that special attack, by involving the House in a general discussion, and converting the Resolution into an attack on the system of National education. But was that a fair way of dealing with the question? A distinct issue had been raised by the hon. and learned Member for Belfast—namely, whether the House should sanction a trifling concession to convent schools, and it was not fair to the House to attempt to evade that issue. He trusted that the Amendment would be rejected, and that a distinct decision would be come to on the issue raised by the hon. and learned Member for Belfast, so that the people of Ireland might have the satisfaction of perceiving that the unworthy feeling of bigotry of those who had induced that hon. and learned Member to bring forward the Motion could not find many supporters in that House.
§ MR. LEFROY
said, he regretted that the hon. and learned Gentleman had introduced into the debate a tone which hitherto had been entirely strange to it. He did not think that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Belfast (Sir Hugh Cairns), in the able and powerful speech which he made on the question, ever intended to make the attack attributed to him by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken. The argument of the hon. Member for the King's County in support of his Amendment was, that the rules of the Board had been changed to meet the views of the Presbyterians, although their schools remained in connection with the Board. The foundation upon which his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Belfast rested his Motion was that the rules relating to convent schools had been a breaking in upon the original system of National Education. The concession to convent schools showed how much the original system had been changed. His objection was that the system was thus made denominational, and that the change tended to give convent schools the command of the education of the country. He (Mr. Lefroy) honestly avowed that he felt considerable difficulty in refusing to support the general Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for King's County, while he was prepared to support the particular Motion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Belfast; but his hon. and learned Friend had supported his 219 case by such plain and urgent reasoning, and facts, that on the whole he did not see why his support should be diverted from the Motion by a general Amendment. In giving his support to the Motion he stood in a different position from his hon. and learned Friend, who was a supporter of the National system. He himself never had been a supporter of that system, and in supporting the Motion he did so not so much from a desire to bring that system back to its original plan, as from a disinclination to see a denominational system established in Ireland. It was a hard thing for the clergy of the Established Church in Ireland that while, by changes in the rules, the Presbyterians and the Roman Catholics had been enabled to avail themselves of the benefit of the system, they were the only body who had been deprived of its advantages. However unjustly he might be attacked for avowing it, he believed the clergy of the Established Church had done themselves great credit by the consistency and firmness with which they had stood aloof from a system which did not allow them to teach the children the simple Word of God.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I do not think there is any one who has listened to the speech of my hon. Friend (Mr. Lefroy) who will complain of its temper or tone, nor can any one charge him with disingenuousness in regard to the motives which govern his conduct in this matter; but I must confess I cannot understand the difficulty he feels in rejecting the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for King's County for the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Belfast. It appears to me that the Motion and the Amendment are ostensibly in diametrical opposition to each other. In fact, the Amendment is hardly within the limits of Parliamentary Amendments; it is a complete inversion of the Motion, and it is such an extension of its scope as entirely to change the character of the debate. The hon. and learned Member for Belfast, assuming the language of the straitest sect of those who support the National Board, complains of an undue deviation from the original system; and the hon. and learned Member for King's County picks out of his Motion the very words on which its pith depends, and substitutes for it a Motion of a totally different character, assailing the very institution which the hon. and learned Member for Belfast professes to uphold. It is another question whether we may not find 220 that there is a latent sympathy and concurrence in the object of the Motion and the Amendment; but on the surface they are like two valorous knights tilting against each other in mortal combat. I begin by declining to discuss the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman, whose abilities will always entitle him to the attention of the House, provided his Motion is made in the manner usually required by the rules of our proceedings. The question of the vital principle of the National system is of such vast importance to the internal condition, that if it is discussed it should be in a substantive Motion, and not by the introduction of an Amendment at a late period of a debate which seems to contemplate quite a different object. The system of National Education was devised in a spirit of political benevolence, and also of no small practical wisdom, and the very last object of its founders was either to wound religious feelings or to impair the efficiency of religious education. If we take the system in its principle, it is one of united literary and separate religious education; but we find from the first moment it was launched that it was, to a certain extent, out of harmony with the feelings of the country. It was thus far out of harmony with the feelings of the country that a series of adaptations were required to be introduced, beginning with the first establishment of the system, and coming down to the present time, none of which tended to subvert the essential principle of the scheme, but all of which have been departures from the abstract rigour of the theory. In the first place, the different Administrations of this country were most desirous to promote the principle of united education in Ireland. It appears, too, that in a large proportion of the schools there has been an admixture of pupils of different religious denominations; and I do not know, therefore, that we have any reason to suppose the effect of that admixture has been any other than what was contemplated by those who founded the system. The principle is one of united literary education; but, on the other hand, respect had to be paid to a fixed, and, with those who entertained it, a sacred feeling prevailing in Ireland, by separating, in regard to religious education, the creeds into which the people of that country are divided. My hon. and learned Friend fairly said that the mass of the clergy of the Established Church have not found it consistent with their religious feelings to avail themselves of the Government aid by ac- 221 cepting the National system. Well, whatever one may think of the abstract merits of the opinion held by those rev, gentlemen, no one can deny that the fact to which I have just referred bears evidence of their highmindedness. One may regret their decision, but all must admit that the fact of their willingness to suffer the loss of the contributions of the State is evidence of the highmindedness of the body. This is, however, certain, that the members of that body—I do not mean to say all, but the mass of them—represented in this discussion by my hon. and learned Friend, have put themselves in conflict with the principle of the National system by insisting on instruction from the Holy Scriptures being given in the schools, irrespectively of the desire of the children and their parents. Therefore, as far as regards those who are outside the limitations of the system, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Belfast in bringing forward and supporting this Motion does not want to have that system made more strictly in keeping with the original intentions of the founders, because he has disapproved it—disapproves it and will continue to disapprove it as long as the system lasts. Heretofore the administration of the system has been characterized by successive modifications. But has there been any inequality in these modifications? If there has been a departure from the strict theory, has not that departure been in favour of all? Can it be said that exceptional favour has been shown to those conventual schools? I apprehend that cannot be said. I think it appears from the Returns that the amount of pecuniary support—which may be taken as the measure of the favour of the State—is less in the case of the convent schools, regard being had to the amount of work done by them than in that of other schools. It is true they enjoy an exemption, inasmuch as the teachers are not required to be examined or qualified in a model school; but in escaping from the ordinary regulations on that head they have lost a privilege much greater than that which they have accepted, because they lose the increased remuneration. Now, when we look at the Motion of the hon. and learned Member, what is it? He complains of a certain regulation of a certain date. And what is this regulation? Why, really those who do not look below the surface would find it difficult to understand why this regulation should be made the ground for an attack on the system. 222 What is there suspicious in permitting schools of a larger and more important class to have monitors of a more advanced age than those who are admitted in other schools? For nearly twenty years we have been engaged in developing and encouraging the monitorial system of education by means of subsidies from the State; and to retain the services of monitors who are not considered sufficiently advanced in age to become teachers, you have decided that in a more important class of schools monitors may be retained and trained for two years longer. Is there anything unjust and improper in that? It is found that convent schools obtain a considerable share of the advantage arising from that relaxation of the rule. And why is this the case? Because those schools are large, which testifies to the confidence which the people have in them; and because they are efficient, which is proved by the fact that they receive the benefit of this new arrangement. It is not because they are Roman Catholic; it is not because they are conventual, but because, on the grounds to which they have just referred, they become entitled to the favour of the State. If the hon. and learned Member for Belfast holds that the new rule deviates from rigid impartiality in favour of the conventual schools, that is no reason for attacking a plan which aims at giving perfection to the monitorial system. If any conventual school deviates from the rules of the Board, by all means visit it with corrective measures. It is stated that not long ago a conventual school at Carrick-on-Shannon was struck off the list because the use of the sign of the cross was practised during the hours of united education; but I think the scope and object of the Motion of my hon. and learned Friend are a great deal wider than its words. Why object to having three classes of monitors if you do not object to having two classes? Why is it right to train them up to eighteen years of age, when in the opinion of many persons they are not fit to take charge of schools, and wrong to train them up to the age of twenty, when they are fit to do so? The real scope and animus of the Motion seem to be to break up the original rule which let those convent schools in, for I find in a pamphlet put forward by the Ulster National Educational Association this statemeut—"Those conventual schools are institutions which, by their very nature, are of a sectarian character." Well, if by their nature they are of a sectarian cha- 223 racter, why did the Earl of Derby admit them to receive aid from a non-sectarian system? They were admitted by him, for in 1836 the Commissioners, alluding to an attack made in a pamphlet, stated that they had been in communication with Lord Stanley, and that he thought it desirable that those schools should be brought under the National system. In my opinion the Earl of Derby would have committed a gross error if he had taken any other course. How was it possible to take any other course when those schools had received aid from the Kildare Place Society? How was it possible to take any other course when those schools had on their side the dearest religious feelings of the country? The Commissioners were right to grant them aid, though they could not expect men to be free from a strong religious and even ecclesiastical feeling. All that could be expected from them was, that they would conform to the rules of the Board; and it has been shown that any of them which do not conform to those rules and afford protection to the creed of the minority will not continue to receive the assistance of the State. Then see what was done after the admission of these schools. Are they the only ones which have got the benefit of the rule? I grant that the clergy of the Established Church have not extensively availed themselves of it, but the Presbyterian body have obtained the benefit of it. The Commissioners held that schools in connection with Presbyterian meeting-houses stood in the same position as those connected with communities of the Roman Catholic persuasion, and have, with impartial justice, granted to Presbyterians the privileges already given to Roman Catholics, on the ground that the special definite religious character of a school ought not to exclude it from the aid of the State, provided there is conformity with the rules of the Board. That is a broad, intelligible, rational principle, and having been announced, it ought to be acted upon fairly. It has been said that the effect of the regulation would be extremely injurious to the model schools, and that, in fact, the source and secret of it is hostility to these establishments. It seems to be held by some, that these model schools have a sort of exclusive claim to provide all the schools in Ireland with teachers. Now, from a very early period in the history of the system, when a distinction was introduced between vested and 224 non-vested schools, it was resolved to allow very large scope to the discretion of local patrons and promoters. If that scope is to be allowed, if you expect the local patrons to give that vital aid to the schools which no mere money grant can supply, and to animate them with a spirit of religion and order, you must leave to them considerable latitude in the selection of masters, and must not confine them exclusively in their choice to those trained in institutions under the control of the Government. My desire would certainly be in dealing with such a question, as far as the difference of the circumstances permit, to apply the same principle of equity and consideration to the feelings of our fellow-subjects in Ireland as in England. Well, has the Government in England ever dreamt of monopolizing the supply of teachers for the primary schools? On the contrary, the first attempt of the Government in this country to establish an institution for the preparation of teachers was regarded with jealousy, and although it was conducted with judgment, although no charge was ever made against the training school at Knellerhall, yet it has been deemed a better and wiser course to allow the primary schools to depend upon voluntary agency, as far as the provision of teachers is concerned. Nay, more; the Government, while liberally furnishing the training colleges with funds, has left to the managers, an almost absolute discretion as to the mode of administration. When such consideration has been shown in England to the feelings of the clergy, not merely of the Established Church, but of all religious denominations, is it wise or just, is it even decent, to go to Ireland and say, "Here is so much money for your schools, but we insist on your coming to the shop of the Government and no other, in order to obtain the commodity of a teacher?" I am very friendly to the principle of competition. I will not now discuss the question of the Government model schools in England; but I say that very considerable advantage would arise in Ireland from healthy competition between different nurseries and training grounds, under different auspices, for the preparation of teachers for primary schools. The Irish model schools, moreover, are not capable of turning out a sufficient number of teachers to meet the demand. ["Oh!"] Some men take their own opinions to be facts; but the fact is, I believe, as I have stated. At any rate, I will not contest 225 the matter any further. But if that point be conceded, I do not scruple to say that it is not desirable to exclude that class of teachers who receive their education in schools which possess the undivided confidence of the great religious persuasions of the country. I see an hon. Friend opposite looking rather startled at that declaration; but, if the schools were all those of the Church of England, or of the Established Church in Ireland, would he be equally astonished? He would then, no doubt, take another view of the reasonability of giving free scope to the religious feelings of the managers of these institutions. It is only right and proper that the patrons of schools, as long as they adhere to the rules of the Board, should be at liberty to seek for teachers trained in establishments in which they themselves repose the fullest confidence. Allusions have been made to the approaching downfall of the National system, and a Board of three paid Com-missioners has been proposed as a substitute for the present Board. I regard that proposition not as Chancellor of the Exchequer, considering the salaries involved, but on far higher and broader grounds; and I say that it inspires me with serious apprehensions. The existing Board is by its constitution and numbers something like a fair relative representation, and is, therefore, better calculated to maintain the system in the confidence of the people of Ireland than any scheme devised in a bureau for intrusting the distribution to three paid Commissioners. We know what the result would be—one would be claimed by the Presbyterians, another by the Established Church, and the third by the Roman Catholics. [Sir HUGH CAIRNS: I did not propose such a scheme.] I did not attribute any detailed scheme to the hon. and learned Gentleman. With a Board of three Commissioners there could not be nearly so fair a distribution of influence as with the existing Board. It seems to me that the very narrow scope of the hon. and learned Gentleman's Motion is a reason for supposing that he has some larger object in view. On what ground does he object to this third class of monitors? Why does he seek to disparage the rule of the Commissioners, and to deprive them of any discretion in this matter? In terms the Motion is narrow; in spirit it is broad. Whatever may be the motive with which it has been brought forward, its tendency would certainly not be very different from that of the proposal 226 of the hon. and learned Member for the King's County—to undermine and overturn a system which, upon the whole, has been accepted by the people of Ireland as a benefit and as a proof of confidence and kindly feeling on the part of this country, and which, if it continue to be administered as hitherto, in the same liberal spirit in which it was conceived, will not lend itself, under whatever pretext, to any considerations or proposals less broad and comprehensive than those upon which it was originally based.
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
Sir, I think the House has reason to congratulate itself both as to the substance and the tone of the greater part of the debate upon this subject. If I might take leave to refer to one particular speech, I would say, with the permission of the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don), that I never heard a question of this importance argued with greater fairness, ability, and point than by the hon. Gentleman, though I do not agree with his argument. If I might make an exception, I would say that I think the hon. and learned Member for Youghal (Mr. Butt), in his speech, brought into the debate an asperity and an acrimony which I hope he did not intend to evoke, and from which, fortunately, up to that time, the debate had been free. Finally, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had obviously heard extremely little of the debate, and still more obviously had studied very little of the question, has made it necessary that I should set right some misrepresentations which he has—of course, unintentionally—made. It has been said that the form of the Motion which I have submitted to the House is really an attack upon convent schools, and a demand that convent schools shall be deprived of any aid from the Education Board. Now, I thought that in opening the discussion I had prevented any such apprehension. But I now repeat that not only would I not advocate any proposition for depriving convent schools, educating as they do some 40,000 or 50,000 children, of aid from a Board which calls itself National, but I would go further, and say that a Board of National Education would not be worthy of the name unless it applied itself to the question of how schools which educate such a body of children should be brought within its reach and supplied with aid by its means. I say now, as I have said in this House before, that in like manner the Board has to some 227 extent deprived itself of the right to the name it bears, because, with regard to another large denomination in Ireland, educating a very large number of children, it has not in my judgment made all the exertions it might have made to bring them within the reach of its operations. Well, then, it was said I had expressed an opinion which must be considered a reprobation of convent schools as regards their mode of teaching and their general conduct. Sir, I expressed no opinion upon the merits of convent schools but one—namely, that, so far as I had heard, I believed the ladies presiding over those schools deserved every praise; that the industrial training of the children was excellent, and that the literary education was in many respects extremely good, though it was subject to some observations which I afterwards particularized. I say further, that it is impossible not to echo what has been said to-night in praise of the devotedness, the single-mindedness, the charity and benevolence of the ladies who conduct, and to a great extent support, these schools. All these matters are foreign to the question before the House—a question which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not fully apprehended. We do not desire to deprive convent schools of any Parliamentary aid, or to cast any reflection upon the conduct of them. I read the Report of Mr. Sheridan, the head Inspector of the Board, and I founded upon it a charge against the Board, because I say that if the Board had performed its duty properly, that Report would have been upon the table of the House, in order that we might see what Mr. Sheridan's opinions were, and might have controverted them if they appeared to be untrue, or acted upon them if they were well founded. I have not heard any justification for what the Board did in withholding the Report. And now that I am on the subject of the Board let me make another observation. With many members of the Board I have the pleasure of being acquainted; among them there are some valued friends of mine, and none more so than the resident Commissioner. But I must say that if the Board expect to command our confidence in this matter of reports they must not act upon their present system. With regard to Mr. Sheridan's Report, they concealed it from the House—I can use no other term. Perhaps they did not consider the matter as they ought to have done. Then, after this question had arisen at the Board between the Commissioners themselves as 228 to the mode in which convent schools should be dealt with, and after the majority of the Board had announced their opinion upon the point, they next, as soon as Mr. Sheridan's Report finds its way to the light, call for new Reports from their various Inspectors. We have heard from the right hon. Secretary for Ireland that in a few days these Reports will be in the hands of Members. But this morning there came into the hands of hon. Members a circular or instructions to Inspectors as to the mode in which they are to make these Reports. I should like to call the attention of English Members to this point. A general form is given, twenty or thirty queries are put, and appended to them are four circular letters of instruction, issued in hot haste, one after the other, within a week. The first says—The Commissioners of National Education have directed us to call upon you to make a special inspection of and report on each convent or monastic school in your district. We are, therefore, to instruct you to suspend at once the discharge of every other duty, no matter what its character, in order to carry out the wishes of the Board on this important business. We have, accordingly, to request that you will spend a day or so in the study of the queries and headings contained in the special form, on which you are to make your report on each school, and we cannot possibly doubt that, after an inspection based upon an intelligent apprehension of these queries, you will be able to give such an honest, thoroughly impartial, and comprehensive report of each convent or monastic school in your charge as will assist in the elucidation of truth in respect to a controversy which you can scarcely have failed to observe is going on in reference to convent schools.That is, a controversy one party to which were the Commissioners themselves. They had pronounced in the most solemn way their positive and distinct opinion upon every one of those points on which they were asking for a Report; and, I ask, is it right after that to send out a circular telling the Inspectors that the object of the information they are to supply is to prove which of two parties is right in a particular controversy, the Board themselves being one of the parties? Two days' reflection leads the Board to think that a little more instruction was necessary, and what do they tell the Inspectors?—That suggestions, technical details, &c, appropriate in ordinary reports, are accordingly to be avoided. Should the consideration of this Report suggest any points of an important nature for the improvement of these schools as to organization, &c, such points can be made the subject of a special communication to the Board at some future period.229 So the Inspectors are told—"Go and examine the schools; answer the queries put to you; if, however, you see anything in the schools which requires improvement, do not tell us of it in this Report, which is to go before Parliament in order to settle the controversy, but supply the Board with private information on the subject at some future periods." Now, I see opposite to me one of the Commissioners, and I ask, was he a party to the settling of those instructions, or, if not, does he approve them? I feel satisfied as to what his answer must be. Far be it from me to suggest that there is any ground for an attack upon the convent schools as regards their mode of teaching; but I do say, if anything could lead the public to believe that there was such a ground, it is the issue of such a circular, with such special directions. The Chancellor of the Exchequer says, the true explanation is that from the very beginning the rigid theory of the system had to be adopted from time to time in order to make it suit the various strong religious feelings and sentiments which were found in the country; and the first instance of this, he says, is when the Earl of Derby, as Chief Secretary for Ireland, approved the introduction into the system of convent schools, they being sectarian schools; and he adds that my Motion is a covert disapproval of that step. Now, I have had the honour of a seat in this House for a number of years, and although during that time we have had many discussions on National Education in Ireland, I do not remember that we were ever before favoured with one sentence from the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
Well, for ten; or twelve years, although there have been many debates, I have never heard him open his mouth before upon this subject. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has no right to say, I having on scores of occasions expressed my opinion in favour of the Board generally, that under cover of this Motion I am seeking to undermine it; but let us see whether the Board has always shown itself so very anxious to conciliate persons of religious feelings in Ireland by softening the rigid theory of the system as it originally stood. I could mention several cases, but let me take the most recent one, In 1860 the clergy of the diocese of Deny, who were desirous of putting their schools under the Board, said they were willing to 230 allow any child whose parents objected to leave the school-room during religious instruction, but they did not like to appear as if they were driving children away when religious instruction was about to be given. They accordingly asked to be allowed to make a slight alteration in the notice to be put up, be that they might not appear to be urging children of other denominations to go away, but rather to be encouraging them to stay. A proposal to that effect was made to the Board, but that body, so anxious to soften the rigid asperity of the original system, flatly and even rudely refused the request preferred to them, and in a curt answer declined to sanction any alteration whatever. Again, the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that a large alteration has been made in the rules, to meet the views of the Presbyterians j but the truth is there never was any printed or published rule altered on behalf of that body. I admit that a degree of facility was given to schools taught and conducted as the Presbyterian schools were which led to their placing their schools under the Board; but nothing whatever was done with respect to the Presbyterians or their schools which was not freely offered at that time and since to all denominations in Ireland. The modification in question was not made exclusively on behalf of the Presbyterian body, but embraced all schools under the guardianship of the Commissioners—a fact which marks the difference between the case of the Presbyterians and such a case as the Motion before us would deal with. But to come to the precise point of my Resolution, the Chancellor of the Exchequer asks what objection we can possibly have to a third class of monitors, there being two classes in existence already. The right hon. Gentleman is evidently not aware that, so far as the printed and published rules went, up to November, 1863, it was not lawful for convent schools to have any kind of monitors, either senior or junior, not, to speak of that class now invented for the first time, and to be called first-class monitors or pupil-teachers. In the original letter of Mr. Stanley, it was laid down as one of the essential principles of the Board, that the teachers should be trained in a model school under the sanction of the Commissioners. Every one knows that the model schools are at this moment, and have been for some time, the objects of special enmity and attack by a certain body of great numbers and influence, whose aim is to have teachers who shall be trained, not in the model 231 schools, but in schools under the direction and exclusive government of themselves. The Board has established rules by which, under the name of monitors, teachers can be trained in those exclusive schools, and the consequence must be that the teachers so trained will be selected for all the schools of the same denomination throughout Ireland. It seems the Chancellor of the Exchequer likes a healthy competition, and he wants to see such a rivalry between the teachers trained in the model schools and those trained in the convent schools; but the fact is the competition will be confined to the Government themselves. They have built model schools for the purpose mainly of training teachers, and upon those schools they spend a very large sum yearly, and now we see them encouraging a system which is to withdraw all the children from the model schools in the first place, and, in the next, to put an end to all the demand for teachers from institutions founded and maintained at such great expense, because, of course, the teachers trained in the exclusive convent schools will be chosen by the Roman Catholic body for their general schools throughout the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer talks of my hostility to the Board, and yet in the same breath he rings the knell of the model schools, which, I venture to say, cannot survive the system inaugurated and approved by the Government for the space of two years. One word with respect to the speech of the Chief Secretary and I have done. I was under a delusion during almost the whole of that speech. I thought the right hon. Baronet was supporting my Motion with great vigour and effect. He said it was a mistake to suppose that my Motion was intended to cut off the convent schools from the Board, or was meant to cast any imputation upon the teaching of the convent schools. No person could deny, he added, that the convent schools were in direct competition with the model schools, which he thought must be seriously damaged; and he said, moreover, that it was necessary the convent schools should be checked. He also told us that the teachers should not be trained by those who, like the ladies in convent schools, were not able to train them upon fixed and scientific principles; but he concluded by assuring the House that the Attorney General for Ireland and himself were quite "synonymous"—I think that was the word he used—quite synonymous in their views. Not only does the right hon. Gentleman 232 the Chief Secretary hold these opinions, but they are those also of the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General, for their opinions are "synonymous." I fully expected, after hearing those opinions, that the right hon. Gentleman was prepared to support my Resolution; but, on the contrary, he has told us that he intends to vote against it, and that he believes such a course to be perfectly inconsistent with his letter of the 30th of January, 1864. Now, what was the opinion that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary then held, and which he holds still? He said that when he wrote the letter he had not seen the rules of November, 1863. He said, however, that he had received remonstrances from the Presbytery of Derry and the Presbytery of Belfast. Both those bodies had seen the rules, and not only adverted to them, but stated their opinion and argued upon them. Does the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary mean to say that at the time he wrote the clear and definite letter of the 30th of January he had no distinct knowledge of the nature of the rules?
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
I had not seen the rules myself; but, as I have already stated, I had been told by four Commissioners what they were.
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
The House will, no doubt, be glad to hear if the business of the Government is always conducted in the same manner at Dublin. Would the right hon. Baronet be content, on the strength of a simple assurance, and without examination, to write, "The attention of the Irish Government has been drawn to certain contemplated changes in the fundamental rules of the system of National Education in Ireland, the effects of which will be seriously to imperil the principle upon which the system is based?" But the matter does not rest upon that. He had those two remonstrances in addition to what he might have been told by the four Commissioners, and it is impossible to avoid seeing that the Chief Secretary believed them to be, as he affirmed, "fundamental rules of the system of National Education in Ireland." The right hon. Baronet said that the convent schools were in direct competition with the model schools, and that they ought therefore to be checked.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
What I did say was, and I gave it as my opinion only, that the convent schools had increased so much of late years that they would soon destroy 233 the model schools altogether, and that they ought therefore to be checked.
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
The right hon. Baronet has repeated in stronger terms still the very expression which I endeavoured to put down in writing. He says that it is his opinion, but it is something more. It is the opinion of the Attorney General, for they are "synonymous." And then the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer says that in England you have separate training for teachers—why not, therefore, adopt the same practice for Ireland? The right hon. Gentleman's theory appears to be that the system is to be defended in one country because it exists in another.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I said no such thing. I said that, so far as circumstances would admit, the same principles would be applied to the two countries.
§ SIR HUGH CAIRNS
It is the Chancellor of the Exchequer who has pronounced the doom, if that doom has been pronounced, of the Irish system of National Education. To him and the Chief Secretary and the Attorney General belong the honour, if honour it may be, of destroying a system which, if carried out in the spirit in which it was originally designed, without the alterations introduced since, has bestowed, and is still bestowing, inestimable benefits upon the people of Ireland.
§ MR. O'HAGAN (THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND)
said, he could not but complain of the unfounded insinuation which the hon. Member for Belfast had urged against the Commissioners—that they had perverted the truth. The extract from the instructions to the Inspectors, which had been quoted by the hon. Member, ought not to be read alone, but ought to be accompanied by the two previous clauses. The Commissioners desired to receive every information and suggestion about the schools which could possibly be of any advantage; but as those statements were too long and wearisome for the public generally, another form had to be filled up, confining the Report to the bare statement of facts. He would only say further, in reference to some humorous observations which were made by the hon. and learned Gentleman, that many things might be said in the course of debate by one Member, which another Member could not approve; but, as far as his own opinions were concerned, they had been stated perhaps at 234 too great length, and possibly with too great elaboration, on a former occasion, but he was quite willing to stand by his own opinions and by nothing else.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had asked why the clergy of the Church of Ireland did not avail themselves of the advantages offered by the Board, and he declared that a man of his great understanding could not comprehend why they did not. He would tell him why. Because they belonged to the Church of England, which the right hon. Gentleman was supposed to represent, and he referred him to a petition signed by 5,000 of the clergy of the Church of England to that House, in which they said they approved that decision. They were the founders of the Kildare Place Society, and he spoke truly when he said that that society did give aid to convent schools, but they did so upon the condition that, in the schools receiving aid, the Scriptures should be read. He thought Lord Stanley was right in directing that aid should be given to those convent schools, and he also thought the convent school of Youghal should receive aid, but not under false pretences The point for the House to consider was, whether there was any solution but one—to let the religious element free, and to provide a good secular education available for all classes. He knew no other solution but that. The hon. and learned Member for Youghal had declared that the Motion proceeded from bigotry of gentlemen in the North of Ireland. Was the House aware that the promoters were strong supporters of the Government, that Mr. Gibson, who was returned for Belfast by the Catholics and Presbyterians, had signed the protest? If the Attorney General for Ireland had read the names of the eminent merchants of Belfast who were strong supporters of Roman Catholic emancipation, he would find those names amongst those who were now protesting against these changes; and it was, therefore, unwise of the hon. and learned Member for Youghal to attack some of the most acute and intelligent men to be found in all Ireland.
§ MR. HENNESSY
said, he would not press his Amendment if the hon. and learned Gentleman would withdraw his Resolution.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, the Government would vote against the Amendment, and then the division would be taken upon the original Resolution.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided;—Ayes 112; Noes 8: Majority 104.
§ Main Question put.
§ The House divided;
§ Notice being taken that Sir George Bowyer, the Member for Dundalk, having given his voice with the Ayes, had voted with the Noes, Sir George Bowyer was called to the Table by Mr. Speaker, and stated that he had given his voice with the Noes, but had called out "The Ayes have it," in order to force a Division; whereupon Mr. Speaker directed his Vote to be recorded with the Ayes.
§ Ayes 59; Noes 91: Majority 32.