, in rising to move—That an Address be presented to Her Majesty, representing to Her Majesty that conscientious objections to the present system of University education in Ireland prevents a large number of Her Majesty's subjects from enjoying the advantages of a University education, and praying that such steps may be taken as will remedy this grievance,said, that he made his Motion with the greatest confidence, because he believed there never was a period when legislation was so little influenced by mere party and sectarian prejudice, and his experience had led him to the conclusion that there was a growing anxiety on the part of the Legislature, and also on the part of the great mass of the English people, to establish equal laws throughout the Empire, and place all Her Majesty's subjects on a footing of perfect equality, as the best means of preventing sectarian divisions and attaching all classes of the people to the Throne and Constitution. If he showed that the effect of the present system of University education in Ireland was to 542 prevent a great number of Her Majesty's subjects from availing themselves of the advantages of University education, he should have proved the existence of a great grievance, and one which it would be the duty of the House to assist in redressing. It was the great boast of England that she furnished the brightest example of toleration, and that nowhere were the rights of conscience so scrupulously guarded. He therefore did not expect to be told that the Legislature was bound to give to members of the Established Church and to Presbyterians what it was bound to refuse to the Roman Catholics. He was confident it was the opinion of the House that all sects and classes were entitled to full and equal justice, and that all ought to participate in all the rights and privileges which it was possible for British subjects to enjoy. The Legislature could not confer exclusive privileges upon one class without producing discontent among others, and thus imperilling the peace and safety of the Empire. The members of the Establishment and the Presbyterians would not submit to be deprived of educational or any other advantages enjoyed by others; and he would say, on the part of his Roman Catholic fellow-subjects and co-religionists, that they refused to admit the exceptional treatment to which they had hitherto been exposed in regard to University education. Their position was one of grievous inferiority. The relative position of the three religious denominations had been described by Sir John Gray in a speech before the Dublin Corporation. He stated that while there was a University for 600,000 Protestants, and special arrangements for the Presbyterians, the Roman Catholics, numbering 4,500,000 of the population, had as Roman Catholics no recognized University and no educational institution of a high order of which, as Roman Catholics, they could avail themselves. The Roman Catholics had no wish to deprive their fellow-countrymen of any advantages they enjoyed—they only asked to be placed on a footing of equality with their fellow-subjects and coreligionists in England, in Canada, and Australia. He thought that the experience of the past ought to have convinced every reasonable man that the Roman Catholics entertained conscientious objections to the present system of University education in Ireland, and that these objections were insuperable. They had persistently refused to avail themselves of the present 543 system, and this ought to be accepted as a proof that it had failed to satisfy their just claims and requirements. He took it for granted, of course, that no one would be foolish, impolitic, or wicked enough to tell the Catholics of Ireland, "You must overcome your scruples or do without University education." Every one was aware that Trinity College was, and always had been, essentially Protestant, and that no one was admitted either to the teaching or governing body who was not a member of the Established Church. Now, it was not likely that the character of Trinity College would be altered in order to meet the wants of the Catholics. Then, as all knew, educational experiments had been tried by the establishment of the Queen's Colleges; and among the peculiarities of their foundation were these two very remarkable incidents, as they were called— first that they were to be kept free even from the bare suspicion of having any pious or religious tendencies whatever; and, in the next place, that persons of any religious creed, or of none at all, might belong to the governing body. Now these extraordinary peculiarities, operating upon the minds of a people who had always invested the instructors of youth with certain indispensable characteristics and qualifications, had produced the miserable failure to which he would now call attention. He would first of all show the total number of students in each of the University Colleges in Ireland, including Trinity College, and then give the number of Catholics in each. In Belfast the total number of students was 405, of whom the Catholics were 22; in Cork the total number of students was 263, of Catholics 123; in Gal way the total number was 169, the Catholics 78; and in Trinity College the number of students was about 1,000, of whom the Catholics were 45. The total number of students in the legally recognized Colleges in Ireland was 1,837, of whom the number of Catholics was only 268. Now, it could be shown that while the number of Catholics attending the recognized Universities was but 14 per cent of the whole, the number attending the intermediate schools for superior education, of which there were sixty-seven under the clergy, was fully equal to that of all the other denominations attending the same class of schools. According to the Census Returns of 1861 the total number of pupils in the intermediate schools was above 14,000, of whom more than 7,000 544 were Catholics. That fact must be taken as a proof that but for the conscientious objections to which he had referred the number of Catholics attending the Universities in Ireland would be infinitely more than at present, and at least equal to the number of youths of every other denomination receiving a University education. Coming now to the number of degrees in Arts granted in any year to the students of the three Queen's Colleges it would be found, first, that the two Colleges of Cork and Galway were merely schools as far as Arts were concerned, a considerable number of the students being under fifteen, while those above that age were almost entirely professional students; and, in the next place, that the Belfast College was the only one of the three which was, properly speaking, the college of a University. But Belfast was to all intents and purposes a denominational institution. It was almost entirely in the hands of the Presbyterians. Among the Professors there was not a single Roman Catholic, and all except one or two were Presbyterians; and out of 405 students attending it there were only twenty-two Catholic students. In Cork and Galway the number of students in Arts scarcely exceeded the number of scholarships. In 1864 the degrees in Arts granted were of LL.B. in Belfast one, in Cork and in Galway none; of A.M. in Belfast nine, in Cork one, and in Galway one; and of A.B. in Belfast forty-three, in Cork nine, in Galway seven. Of all the degrees in Arts granted in 1864 Belfast took 71, Cork 14, and Galway 13, and of all the professional degrees in the same year Belfast took 35, Cork 38, and Galway 26 per cent. In short, Belfast College was the only one which fulfilled its natural functions, while the other two were simply employed in providing the country with third-rate doctors. The amount of professional education given in the Queen's Colleges might be judged from the fact that 57 per cent in Cork were medical students, and of 263 matriculated only 62 were students in Arts. He had shown that the number of Catholics availing themselves of University education in Ireland as compared with that of the Protestants was very small, while the number of Catholics who attended the superior schools for intermediate education fully equalled the number of those who belonged to all other denominations attending schools of the same class. The 545 inference was that the present University system of education in Ireland did not equal the requirements of the Catholics. He had also shown that the attendance of students at two of the three Colleges, not only in reference to Catholics but also to the whole community, was miserably small, and that two of those Colleges were nothing more than third-rate schools of medicine. It was quite clear that the number of Catholics attending the Queen's Colleges was never likely to increase to any considerable extent, because the intermediate schools, which would naturally supply the Colleges with students, were all under the control of the Catholic clergy, between whom and the Queen's Colleges there never could be any harmony or sympathy of any kind, since these institutions had been condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. What, then, was the remedy? It was a very simple one, and one which depended upon the Parliament and Government of this country to apply or not. Let a charter, conferring the power of granting degrees, as well as a charter of incorporation, be granted to the Catholic University which already existed in Dublin, though without a legally recognized existence. That institution had been founded by the Catholics, and was supported by them. A sum of £130,000 had already been contributed by the Catholics for its support. They did not come to the State and ask for a grant of public money. All they asked the State to give was those powers and that character without which a University could be of no practical benefit to the community. There was no doubt that their demand was founded upon justice and was supported by unanswerable precedents. The Members of the Establishment in Ireland had their chartered University; so had the Presbyterians. The Protestant Dissenters in England had theirs. The Catholics of Canada and Australia had their chartered Universities, their Colleges endowed by the State and governed by Catholic bishops. Then on what principle were the Roman Catholics of Ireland to be treated differently in this matter from all other subjects of the Crown? Why were they to be denied the right of free education? Why were they to be told, as they now practically were, "You must either avail yourselves of the University system which it is our pleasure to provide, or do without University education altogether?" The Catholics answered, and their answer 546 was practically and forcibly given by Sir John Gray, "We are excluded for conscience sake; we are allowed, but cannot enter." He would not weary the House by calling attention to the examination papers of the Catholic University, but competent judges had pronounced them fully up to the recognized University standard. He was authorized to say, on the part of the heads of the Catholic University, that they courted the fullest publicity, and earnestly desired that all their arrangements should be submitted to the most searching scrutiny. Among the Professors were many whose names were well known to fame. He would only mention two or three. The Professor of Chymistry was Professor Sullivan, who had been appointed by the Government to a similar position in the Museum of Irish Industry, and in connection with the National Board of Education. The Professor of Medicine was Dr. Lyons, who had been selected by Her Majesty's Government to go to Lisbon upon an important mission. The Professor of Natural Philosophy was Mr. Hennessy, who had also been selected by the Government to assist the late Admiral FitzRoy in his scientific investigations. It was unnecessary to discuss the advantages afforded by a University education, both to individuals and to society, or to say how seriously the want of such an education was felt throughout every grade of Catholic society in Ireland. That want had been well illustrated in a petition addressed to that House, praying for a charter for the University. The petitioners said—That as a University training is especially useful to all who propose to become professors or tutors in colleges and masters in grammar schools, more than one-half of all those who are engaged in the conduct of superior education in Ireland are accordingly unable to obtain that training, while Catholic students, who form the majority of those receiving superior education in Ireland, suffer the practical grievance that those professors, tutors, and masters are in great measure deprived, not only of the literary and scientific advantages which a University course of studies gives, but also of the social consideration which attaches to the possession of academic degrees.It was a fact that very few of the Catholic nobility, gentry, lawyers, and medical men had had the advantage of going through a complete University course, and this fact was attributable solely to the want of a legally recognized Catholic University, He contended, then, that it was no exaggeration to say that the want of a Catholic University was a great grievance, 547 and that it was trifling with the dearest interests of Catholics to tell them that this grievance must be perpetuated in order that a fanciful educational theory might be carried out. The Catholics had a conscientious objection to the present system, and, as was well known, had emphatically objected to it. On the part of the Catholics in Ireland, in the name of justice, as well as out of regard to the rights of conscience and the principle of according equal rights and privileges to all Her Majesty's subjects of different creeds, he asked the House to remove these educational disabilities from the Catholics, because they were not only objectionable to them, but also constituted a blot on the reputation of England, and were unworthy of that generous and enlightened spirit which governed her policy in the present day. He appealed to his Protestant Colleagues for support, and he did so with all the more confidence on account of their knowledge of the course which he and his co-religionists had taken in response to a similar appeal when addressed to them. He appealed to the Government, who already had given many proofs of the just and generous motives which governed their direction of public affairs, which he, for one, fully recognized and was deeply grateful for; and he asked them not to stop short in their career, but to persevere, intent only on doing justice to all by the establishment of equal rights and privileges for every class and denomination of Her Majesty's subjects. The hon. Member concluded by proposing, that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, representing to Her Majesty that conscientious objections to the present system of University Education in Ireland, prevent a large number of Her Majesty's Subjects from enjoying the advantages of University Education, and praying that such steps may be taken as will remove this grievance.
§ MR. BAGWELL
seconded the Motion, observing that the hon. Mover had, in a speech of singular moderation, nearly exhausted the whole subject. He thought that the hon. Member had, in the course of his speech, satisfactorily shown that the state of things in Ireland, with regard to University Education subsequent to the establishment of the Queen's Colleges, was by no means such as that House and the country, which paid so largely to these institutions, could desire. The late Sir Robert Peel—and he was not sure but 548 that statesman's distinguished representative in that House was of the same opinion —said that Ireland was always the difficulty of every Administration. That was true—and the reason simply was because successive Administrations had always refused to give to the people of Ireland the privileges they were entitled to, or because, when they gave them, they had not given them with a liberal hand, but had dealt them out in a niggardly way, and generally on account of the exigencies of party for the sake of retaining their positions on the Treasury Bench. They had, however, invariably refused, and still continue to refuse, to grant to the people of Ireland that measure of justice which had been so long and earnestly called for. It was melancholy to look back to twenty years ago, when the Queen's Colleges were first instituted. Sir James Graham was the Minister who carried that measure through the House, and perhaps no statesman in England at the time was more capable of taking the conduct of a measure of that description; but he was warned over and over again by the leaders of the Irish people that educational colleges founded without a religious basis would fail. Sir Robert Inglis denominated the measure a gigantic scheme of godless education. There never was in that House a man more eloquent or more possessing the confidence of the Irish people than Mr. Sheil, who took an active part in the debates of 1845, and he declared that mixed education for secular purposes ought to be combined with separate religious instruction provided by the State. If that advice had been followed, in what a different position would things have been now! Mr. O'Connell, who was most trusted by the Irish people, and by the heads of the Church of which he was a member, stated that religion must be introduced into the system, or it would not be received by the Irish people, who were essentially a religious people, infidelity being unknown in Ireland. Mr. O'Connell called on the Government to act manfully, and make religion the basis of their proceeding, letting there be Presbyterianism for Presbyterians, Protestantism for Protestants, and Catholicism for Catholics. Lord John Russell, then in opposition, saw what the consequence of the Queen's Colleges, as proposed, would be, and he further suggested the appointment of chaplains, observing that Trinity College should be thrown open, or religious instruction should be provided 549 for the Roman Catholics. That was the opinion of Lord John Russell, who was never looked on with favourable eyes by Catholics—but he believed that they were very much mistaken in their estimation of that noble Lord, who had always been a sincere promoter of civil and religious liberty. He entreated the Government, if they valued the good wishes of the Irish people and their own position and standing as a Ministry in that House, to look with favour upon the very moderate proposition now submitted to the House.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, representing to Her Majesty that conscientious objections to the present system of University Education in Ireland prevent a large number of Her Majesty's Subjects from enjoying the advantages of University Education, and praying that such steps may be taken as will remove this grievance."—(The O'Donoghue.)
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
Sir, the subject under discussion has been brought forward in a very temperate and able speech by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue), and has a very important bearing on the highest class of education in Ireland. It undoubtedly affects a large portion of our fellow-subjects in that country, and if it could be shown that they labour under any positive disadvantage with respect to University education, as compared with other classes of their fellow-subjects, they would be well entitled to have their case fairly and deliberately considered by this House. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Tralee has confined his Motion and his speech to University education, but I understood him to refer not only to the course of education and instruction in literature and science pursued in the Universities, but also to the results of that course in qualifying for academical degrees. Now, a degree is not merely a nominal distinction. However valuable in itself, as a test and proof of a man having obtained a certain proficiency in literature and science—valuable as the standard of intellectual improvement is high—it confers a substantial advantage in professional pursuits in after life. In some professions a degree is an indispensable condition of practice. In others it confers advantages when a man enters upon his profession. Thus, in the case of the Bar, I believe that a person who has taken his M.A. degree may be called two years earlier than he otherwise could be. 550 In Ireland, before the foundation of the Queen's University, a degree could only be obtained through the Dublin University—that is, Trinity College; and though Trinity College was liberal in its system of conferring degrees, so far as related to religious tests not requiring them with regard to lay degrees at all—yet, as the hon. Gentleman (the O'Donoghue) has stated, Trinity College is an establishment so essentially Protestant and so essentially connected with the Established Church, that we can hardly be surprised if comparatively few Roman Catholics availed themselves of the opportunity afforded by Trinity College of obtaining Academical degrees. It was under these circumstances that in 1845 the Government of Sir Robert Peel proposed the foundation of what are now known as the Queen's Colleges in Ireland. A new University, capable of conferring degrees, was not made an essential part of the scheme; but it was clearly in the contemplation of Sir Robert Peel and of the Government of that day that a University would follow, provided the Colleges took root in the country and promised to become permament. This was indicated in the speech made by Sir James Graham in moving for leave to introduce that Bill. The first step towards the foundation of the University was the establishment of those three Colleges, and the object—with which I entirely concurred at the time, and the importance of which I cannot underrate—was that of affording the best possible secular education for the youth of Ireland, irrespective of religious creed, no distinctive religious teaching being admitted into the system, but means being provided for voluntary religious instruction of students attending these Universities, by clergymen of the respective denominations to which those students belonged. I cannot but think that that object well deserved the attention of Parliament, and was dictated by a liberal and enlightened policy on the part of the Government which proposed it. The endeavour was to bring together young men of different creeds, hitherto separated by strong religious animosities, into friendly social intercourse and an honourable rivalry and emulation in the attainment of knowledge, and thus to fit them for the common performance, free from religious differences, of the duties devolving upon them as citizens of a common country. After 551 these Colleges had been established for six years, the Government of the day, in 1854, carried into effect the intention announced by the Government of Sir Robert Peel—of founding a University by which degrees should be conferred independently altogether of Trinity College, Dublin. A charter was therefore granted to the Queen's University in 1854. That charter enabled the University to confer degrees upon all persons who came up to the standard of examination fixed by the governing body of the University, and who had passed through a course of instruction in any one of the Queen's Colleges. Some not very material modifications have since been made in the charter, but substantially the University is enabled to grant degrees, only to students who have passed through one or other of these Colleges. That is the present state of the law in Ireland. In order to obtain an academical degree a person must either have studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and become a candidate for a degree in the Dublin University, or must have studied at one or other of the Queen's Colleges and be a candidate for a degree at the hands of the Queen's University. That being the state of the law, the question is, whether any large portion of Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland are debarred from obtaining a degree by any conscientious objection to the system of education pursued either at Trinity College or at the Queen's Colleges. And here, however, strong my own opinion may he in favour of mixed, or rather of united education— however much I may regret the decided opposition of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to that system—however much I may think Catholics mistaken in foregoing the advantages conferred upon them by that system—it is of no use to shut one's eyes to the fact that there are persons who entertain different opinions from those which I entertain, that these Colleges have not been received with the universal approval which it was hoped they might have met with, and that there are some Protestants, as well as many Catholics, who look upon the Colleges with feelings of aversion and distrust, with feelings amounting in many cases to a conscientious conviction that it is the duty of parents not to send their children to these Colleges, because they feel that there exists in them no sufficient guarantee for the inculcation of those religious principles which they 552 look upon as the foundation of their future welfare, and therefore as the primary object of any scheme of education. I believe that that feeling is an exaggerated and a mistaken one, but I cannot deny its existence, and I am not inclined to impose my views on other people, to dispute their right to their own opinion, or deny that that is a conscientious objection which leads men to forego for their children the advantages offered by these institutions. The extent to which this feeling exists may give rise to a difference of opinion. For my part, I had rather not enter into any statistical statements in order to meet the case of the hon. Gentleman; but, according to the information with which I have been furnished, I think he has greatly exaggerated the failure of these Colleges, in which I believe there is a large number of students of different creeds, living together in social intercourse and religious harmony, and without any conflict of opinion, thus to that extent realizing the intentions of the Government which founded the Colleges. I should deeply regret anything which should interfere with the progress of these institutions, or deprive Ireland of the benefit which I believe they confer, and of the advantages of a good secular education which they hold out. I may here observe that there is an important distinction between the effect of the present state of the law and practice on the highest class of education, and on popular education in Ireland. In the national schools an excellent education is given to the children; but if there exists any conscientious objection on the part of parents to send their children to them, there are other schools to which they may send them; and when boys leave these and the national schools, they start in life on a footing of perfect equality. A boy educated in a school where there is denominational religious teaching is liable to no disadvantage, as compared with the boy educated at a national school, provided the secular instruction is equal in both. But that is not so with regard to University education. A student leaving a Roman Catholic College in Ireland cannot obtain a degree, and he is therefore at a great disadvantage as compared with the student leaving Trinity College or the Queen's University. To that extent I think there is a reasonable ground of complaint, and it is one the justice of which the Government admit. In England some years 553 ago a degree could only be obtained through, the medium of our two great Universities. The University of London was afterwards established with a charter, which comprised at first two Colleges, University and King's Colleges, founded on diametrically opposite principles; University College giving no direct religious instruction; while King's College was in close connection with the Established Church, and gave religious instruction in accordance with the doctrines of the Church. The University of London comprised both these Colleges, and gave degrees to students of each, but it has gone much beyond that. Schools and colleges in different parts of the country have been affiliated to it, and degrees have been conferred on students educated in them provided they come up to the standard of examination fixed by the governing body of the University. The University of London has gone even further than this for, under its present regulations, it receives candidates for its degrees from any school, or from students educated at home, provided they have attained that degree of knowledge which is equal to the standard fixed by the governing body of the University. In England, therefore, there is a system of perfect equality as regards degrees. It has been in operation some time, the Roman Catholics have largely availed themselves of the opportunity of taking degrees in the University of London, nor is the province of the University necessarily confined to England. I believe that one or two colleges in Ireland are affiliated with it. At all events, it is ready to receive candidates from Ireland as well as from other parts of the United Kingdom; and it is also willing, on payment of a moderate sum to cover expenses, to send examiners to Ireland in order to examine students there. Therefore that is done now indirectly which the hon. Gentleman asks us to enable to be done directly. Speaking on the part of the Government I see no reason why, the principle being already conceded, circuitous and expensive means should be taken for effecting indirectly what might be done directly or why those of our fellow-subjects in Ireland who cannot avail themselves of the advantages of University education and obtain a degree under the present system should not be free to obtain those advantages which their co-religionists possess in England. The only question is as to the mode in which that 554 object is to be attained. In his previous notice of Motion the hon. Member for Tralee pointed to one mode—namely, the granting of a charter of incorporation, with the power of conferring degrees, to the Roman Catholic University of Ireland. He afterwards withdrew that notice and substituted his present Motion, and I am glad he did so, because to an Address to the Crown praying it to grant such a charter the Government could not have consented. Let me observe that that would not really meet to the full extent the inconvenience to which the hon. Member alludes, because there are Protestants as well as Roman Catholics who allege they have conscientious objections to the system of education in the Queen's Colleges. If a Roman Catholic University obtained a charter empowering it to grant degrees, that might be sufficient to remove the complaint of the Roman Catholics; but it would require to be supplemented by other measures before the inconvenience now existing in Ireland could be fully obviated. But there is also an objection to the multiplication of such bodies. By multiplying them you run the risk of having different standards of qualification for candidates, and the degrees lose much of their value. It is a different thing to have degrees conferred by individual Colleges and by a central University dealing impartially with all candidates and subjecting them to a uniform and searching examination to test their proficiency. Let me again refer to what was said by Sir James Graham in moving for leave to introduce the Bill for the establishment of the Queen's Colleges. Adverting to the future probability of a University growing up on the foundation of these Colleges, he observed—I think that the advantages in favour of a central University decidedly preponderate. I think a central University affords a common arena in which from all these Colleges the youth of Ireland may assemble, and contend in honourable and honest rivalry for those exhibitions and prizes and those honours which are consequent upon, and result from, superior intellect and superior attainment. I think the national character of such an institution can only be exalted by such fair and honourable rivalry and competition; and it is not in the power of Universities, whatever their number or excellence, if scattered through the provinces, to confer equal advantages upon the country with those which would result from such a central institution, nor could you hope to attain from them that great moral effect and that beneficial influence in after life, which would be produced by the youth of one academical establishment meeting at a central point the youth of 555 another and rival establishment, and thus contending (without reference to creed or party distinction) for those honours and those distinctions which great intellect, combined with great merit and great attainments, are sure to bring."— [8 Hansard, lxxx. 359.]I entirely agree in the opinion there expressed by Sir James Graham, and I think the House will not be disposed to sanction a scheme for multiplying the number of bodies conferring degrees. The Queen's Colleges were constituted a University to complete the scheme contemplated by Sir James Graham. There was a difficulty in interfering with the long-established system of Trinity College, Dublin, and therefore there are now two Universities in Ireland by which secular degrees are conferred. [Mr. WHITESIDE: Maynooth.] The right hon. Gentleman reminds me also of Maynooth, but that is a purely ecclesiastical institution. The hon. Member for Tralee said that members of the Established Church and the Presbyterians are both provided with distinct University education; but I am not aware of the existence of any distinct University for the Presbyterians. There is, indeed, the academical College at Belfast; but that is wholly of a clerical character. The hon. Gentleman is mistaken in supposing that there is any separate and distinct University for the Presbyterians, and I think it is undesirable that there should be such an institution. What is the mode, then, in which, upon the best consideration that can be given to the subject, the object to which the attention of the House has been, called, and which we are desirous of promoting as far as we can, should be attained? Her Majesty's Government think it would best be effected by an enlargement of the powers of the Queen's University in Ireland, by amending its charter, so as to remove the restriction which now prevents it from granting degrees to any students except those who have passed through the course of instruction in one or other of the Queen's Colleges, and thus adopting a system analogous to that found to work satisfactorily in the University of London. The particular mode in which that should be carried out may require some consideration. It may be that it should be done by affiliated Colleges, or by accepting candidates from wherever they come, provided they reach the required standard fixed for attaining degrees. Admitting, therefore, that there is a just 556 ground of complaint to a certain extent on the part of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and desiring to meet that complaint and place them on a perfect footing of equality with their fellow-subjects in England, we are prepared to consider the means by which the grievance to which the hon. Member has referred may be removed. I only hope that this course on the part of the Government may be met in a corresponding spirit by those for whom the benefit is intended, and that there will be absolute freedom allowed to the laity of all denominations to send their sons to whatever College holds out the greatest advantages, without undue favour or partiality to any. I trust that every ground of complaint as to obtaining University degrees being removed, there will be an earnest rivalry between these different institutions in Ireland in promoting the highest class of education, and I believe that those which confer the best education, which set up the highest standard of instruction, and which possess the ablest professors will in the long run receive most encouragement. I hope that the hon. Member will leave this matter in the hands of the Government, and if he does so I can only say it is our desire to deal with it in the spirit in which, on the part of the Government, I have met his Motion.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
Sir, the question now before us being one of very great importance, I think we ought clearly to understand what is the policy about to be inaugurated by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey). I concur with the hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue), that there can be nothing more interesting to the Parliament of a free country than the education of those who may hereafter direct the councils and frame the laws of the land of their birth; and I also agree that education does not consist in the mere reading of books, but in that instruction which strengthens the faculties and liberalizes the mind of youth, and brings it into harmony with the institutions on which the welfare and greatness of the country depend. When I saw the hon. Member's original Notice of Motion I understood it. It was a direct Motion for granting a charter to a Roman Catholic seminary in Dublin. That was an intelligible proposition. But when I read his re-modelled Motion I came to the conclusion that it was a substitute for a direct Motion, and designed to enable a Mi- 557 nister of the Crown to make a vague speech, not defining anything precisely or certainly, but which might be useful on the present occasion. If I were to choose between the indefinite conception of the right hon. Gentleman and the direct proposal of the grant of a charter, I should prefer the charter, for the reasons which I shall shortly mention. But, before the House sanctions this new proposal, I venture respectfully to offer a few observations. The hon. Gentleman (the O'Donoghue) declares in his Motion that objections are entertained to the present system of University education in Ireland by a large number of Her Majesty's subjects. This must mean that these objections are entertained by a large number of Her Majesty's subjects who desire to enter, and are fit to enter, a University. A mistake may be made on this point. A book lately published entitled An Analysis of the late Census of Ireland shows that, whereas the majority in the class of peasants and small farmers is largely on the side of the Roman Catholics, the majority in the other classes is almost equally large on the side of the Protestants. In the profession of the law the Protestants are as three to one; in the other liberal professions they are in the same proportion; among the principal merchants and manufacturers it is also the same; and I find likewise that it is so with the skilled artizans in Belfast. Now, the great body of the peasantry are provided for by that system of national education from which it has been found hitherto to be impossible to persuade the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues to depart. It may be asked, then, why should we have another University? There are, as the House has heard, three Queen's Colleges so called, and the University to which they are attached. There is, besides, the College of Maynooth, and also the University which I have the honour to represent. If they will look back a little the House will see presently what I think is the real object of this Motion. I do not complain of it in the least—I only wish it to be clearly understood what it is the House is asked to do. In my understanding, the proposal involves a reversal of the whole policy on the subject of education advocated by Sir Robert Peel, Sir James Graham, and by every person who has sat on the Treasury Bench for the last twenty years. It may be right to reverse that policy, but that it will be a reversal nobody can doubt. When I had the 558 honour of holding the office of Attorney General I remember Sir James Graham interrogating me very sharply as to whether I had it in contemplation to propose a charter of incorporation for a Roman Catholic College in Dublin. So sharp was the interrogatory that it almost seemed to insinuate I had entered into a plot to do something secretly against the institutions of the country or the prerogative of the Crown. I satisfied the right hon. Baronet that I had no intention of drawing up a charter. I had never heard of such a thing from Lord Derby, or anybody else— but the scrupulously conscientious view taken on this subject by the right hon. Baronet stimulated him to question me very closely as to whether I had such a dark design in contemplation. It will be well that the House should understand the nature of this question, and I will address myself to the Roman Catholic Members in particular. I wish to trace out for them how this question stands, and what will be the result of the inauguration of a new educational policy. When the University of Dublin, about seventy-five years ago, was opened to Nonconformists and Roman Catholics, a panegyric was pronounced upon the Liberal policy in the Irish Parliament by the late Mr. Grattan. Sir Fowell Buxton was educated in our University; and many gentlemen who could not at that time obtain a degree in this country did us the honour of paying us a visit. A question arose at that time in the Irish Parliament what should be done for the education of the Roman Catholic clergy; and a plan exactly similar to that which the right hon. Gentleman now contemplates was suggested—namely, the establishment of an institution in which members of that one religion only should be educated. The Roman Catholic laity of Dublin thereupon met and drew up a petition, which they sent to Mr. Grattan for presentation, and which seems by anticipation to answer everything that has been said to-night by the right hon. Gentleman. In it they declare, among other points, that in their opinion the greatest misfortune which could overtake the nation would be the separation of the youth of the country into two classes, one confined to one College and the other to a different one. Upon the presentation of that petition, and upon the arguments of such men as Mr. Grattan, the Parliament of Ireland refused to sanction the erection of a College in an exclu- 559 sive spirit. According, until 1815, lay pupils were admissible at Maynooth. By degrees, however, it became more and more exclusive, until, as the House is aware, it is now confined entirely to the clergy of the Church of Rome. Sir Robert Peel, in my opinion, most correctly arguing that the State has the most lively interest in the education of so important a body, increased the grant to the institution; so that there, at any rate, I presume there can be no grievance whatever. For some years past further improvements have been made in Trinity College, and I do not believe that it would be for the benefit of the Roman Catholics themselves that they should be prevented from sending their sons to that University. The late Sir Robert Peel and the late Sir James Graham, holding the opinion that University education ought to be further extended in Ireland, founded the three Colleges of which the House has heard, and at that time there was in the House a number of Roman Catholic Gentlemen of great ability taking part in our debates. The hon. Member for Tralee has fallen into a misstatement when he supposes that any special advantages were given to Presbyterians or to Nonconformists over the Catholics in these Colleges. There was no distinction made by the Government or the law between the Colleges of Belfast, Cork, or Galway. [The O'DONOGHUE said, the Presbyterians in Belfast controlled in that College.] It is true that a distinction has grown up as to certain results in the College of Belfast, as compared with Galway and Cork; but it is because the sharp-witted people of the North saw in the College the very thing which they wanted, and they sent their sons to it, instead of, as they formerly did, to Scotland. The Presbyterians in Belfast, I believe, built contiguous to the Queen's College a large hall in which they provided religious education, and what it has been possible for them to do would be equally in the power of the Roman Catholics at Cork or Galway. The Presbyterians of the North supplemented the endowment of the State, and they have simply reaped a rich reward of their own common sense. I am aware that these Queen's Colleges are now condemned by the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Cullen; but I am in a condition to inform hon. Gentlemen of an interesting fact connected with them. The Government of Sir Robert Peel, before it determined the sites of those Col- 560 leges, sent out two gentlemen, Sir J. Larcom and a friend of my own, Mr. Major, one of Her Majesty's Counsel, upon whose authority I mention the circumstance, to travel over the country and ascertain the places in which the colleges ought properly to be placed. They arrived at Armagh, and two persons appeared before them. One was the late venerable and venerated Primate of Ireland, who told them they ought to found a College at Armagh, and he was satisfied he could make it a valuable and useful institution. He had scarcely gone when Dr. Croly, the Roman Catholic Primate, appeared, who also laboured to persuade them to found a College there, being persuaded that it would be most useful to Roman Catholics. I put before the House, and before Roman Catholic Gentlemen, this instance of a prelate of the same rank and authority, equally eminent for wisdom with Dr. Cullen, advocating the establishment of the very Colleges which are now authoritatively denounced. Dr. Croly was one of the bishops elected by the native clergy, and lived among the merchants of Belfast, by whom he was greatly liked and respected, and when a vacancy occurred he was appointed Roman Catholic Primate. I quote his opinion regarding the value of these institutions as one that may fairly be borne in mind at a time when we are asked to overthrow them, for it is idle to disguise that the object of this Motion is to overthrow these Colleges. For my own part, I would rather consent to the straightforward proposal of the hon. Gentleman than to the course indicated by the right hon. Baronet. If the charter be granted, unless we are greatly deceived by what we have read in the papers, the threat uttered by the Legate and Archbishop Cullen will be carried out— a threat—namely, of withholding the sacraments of the Church from all who send their pupils to any other than that College, which will then be under his supervision. An interesting and instructive passage occurs in the evidence given before the House of Lords by the late Dr. Doyle, to whom I have formerly referred. Having given his evidence in a patriotic spirit, one of the Committee asked him, "How shall we always be able to secure Prelates as patriotic as yourself?" The answer was, "You are perfectly safe there; the Papal interference you dread is a myth; we are elected by the parish priests, and consecrated by the native bishops, and 561 what the Pope does is merely formal." But what happened? I am told that Dr. Cullen had not a single vote; and yet that eminent person, after a thirty-five years' residence in Rome, comes over and at once overthrows the liberal policy which had been adopted by such men as Dr. Croly, Archbishop Murray, and others. The House will remember that Royal Commissions were appointed for the reform of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Dublin, which effected very-considerable alterations. I remember having a conversation with the late Mr. Fagan, when he was Member for Cork—and he was a man who always talked on these matters in a spirit calculated to have great weight with Protestants. He said to me that though the University of Dublin had done much, it had not done enough; that the Roman Catholics desired to be brought into a more intimate connection with the University, to be enabled to enjoy its honours and degrees more fully. It is a mistake to suppose that inferior degrees only are given to Roman Catholics. Though all graduates at Trinity College cannot obtain fellowships or belong to the governing body, they take all degrees, they are electors, they vote, but they cannot form part of the governing body. I suppose I shall have a number of them supporting me at the next election—at least I trust so." Well, the first thing done consequent upon the Commission was to establish non-foundation scholarships which Roman Catholics can hold, and which are very good things. I have received a letter from the Bursar, in which he tells me there is no limit to the number; they are given as often as meritorious men present themselves for them. Mr. Pagan said that we had not done enough, that something more must be done. My noble Friend the Member for Cockermouth (Lord Naas) was at that time Chief Secretary for Ireland, and he sat down to work the matter out. A number of valuable studentships were established of £100 a year for seven years, beginning from the date of the Bachelor's degree. They are tenable along with the non-foundation scholarships, and the holder may travel or do what he pleases during his tenure. I am informed that several Roman Catholic gentlemen have defeated their classmates and obtained these substantial honours. Roman Catholics have now open to them at the University a number of important posts about the University. The Law Professorship is open 562 to them, the Natural Philosophy Professor ship, the two Mathematical Professorships, the History, Astronomy, Arabic, Civil Engineering, Geology, Mineralogy, French, Italian, Political Economy, and other Professorships. The Sizarships, thirty in number, are open to them, the non-foundation scholarships, which are unlimited in number, and the fourteen studentships also. The Roman Catholic gentry still enter the University in about the same numbers as ever. There have been educated some of the most eminent men who have sat in this House. Mr. Wyse, Chief Baron Wollff, Mr. Sheil, and Mr. O'Connell's sons were brought up there; and when was it discovered that their religion was in jeopardy? What shall we say of Mr. Justice Keogh, who, by the way, has just had the incredible folly to deliver a lecture on Milton, in which he described some of his prose works as being equal to his verse, and has been denounced for it by the head of his Church, who equally denounces those Colleges, and frankly avows his determination to put an end for ever to mixed education in Ireland? According to that authority no Roman Catholic is to enter our University again; and even as matters stand, it is doubtful whether the sacrament should not be withdrawn from those who have sent their sons to the University. Similar sentiments, I believe, have been uttered by other bishops in regard to the Queen's Colleges. And these are what are called liberal and enlightened sentiments! If I were asked what I would refuse to the Roman Catholics in the University, I would say, "Nothing." Let them come freely and enjoy the full benefits of the University: their religious opinions will never be interfered with, nor is it true to say that the heads of the University are intolerant men. I only wish that the Roman Catholic gentlemen should enjoy all the benefits of the University and that they should harmonize with it. I cannot see without the greatest pain the attempt which is being made to establish, as it were, a State within a State— to lay down the rule that the Roman Catholic and Protestant youth of the country shall be separated from their cradles to their graves. It is a proposal against which I shall never cease to contend. I ought to-night to have presided at the final debate of the Historical Society in our University. In that Society were first heard the eloquent voices of Burke, and Flood—there Curran, Grattan, Bushe, and 563 Plunket made their first oratorical essays, and there now Protestant and Roman Catholic youth mingle and interchange their sentiments in manly emulation. In the debate fixed for to-night I see that two of the speakers are Protestants and two Roman Catholics. Such societies as these Historical Societies, the athletic games of our youth, and the other amusements in which students mingle freely together, I call a most important part of education; and now we are told by the head of the Roman Catholic Church that it is highly wrong and immoral to send the Catholic youth of the country to places where they can mix with the Protestant youth, with whom, up to the present time, they have been in daily intercourse. Are the Roman Catholic youth to be driven from this University because they can get a better education somewhere else? Can you get a better astronomer than Sir William Hamilton? Can you have a better teacher of medicine than Dr. Stokes? I admit that it was wrong to debar Nonconformists from taking degrees at Oxford and Cambridge; but in our country we corrected that mistake half a century since. If, then, it is not to obtain a better education elsewhere, I ask what is the object of the Motion? I ask hon. Gentlemen in their consciences to answer whether the object is not this—to separate the youth of Ireland into two classes, and to send the Protestants to one College and the Roman Catholics to another, at the head of which was placed one whom I remember the late Dr. Whately saying he had known at Oxford—Dr. Newman? It is impossible to say that there is any necessity for such an institution. There is a College for Roman Catholic clergy; there are three Colleges for Roman Catholic laity; and, besides that, there is the other great University to which they have access. Before granting a charter to this new University, which I take to be the real drift of the Motion, I would wish the House to consider who are to be the visitors, who is to be the President, what are to be the powers of the Crown; because if, as I am told, there are to be no visitatorial powers and no right of interference on the part of the Crown, I do not understand what the college is to be. I am sorry that this Motion should have been brought forward on the eve of a general election. It would have been better to have brought it forward at an earlier period, when we could have had plans and details fully 564 stated, and when we should not have had the indefinite statement of the right hon. Gentleman as to what he may do when he consults the authorities and has asked the opinions of all those who are engaged in the great work of education. I hope he will not omit to inquire what is the real opinion, in the depths of their hearts, of the Roman Catholic gentry. Are they of opinion that there ought to be that line of separation now drawn which their forefathers so strongly denounced in 1795? I am asked how is that my affair? I contend that it is the affair of all of us. We are all bound to ask what is best for us and for our countrymen. In conclusion, I would remind the House and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Mr. Chichester Fortescue) that when a Motion was introduced from this side of the House which seemed to trench upon the sacred ground of mixed education, the right hon. Gentleman, speaking for the Government, declared he could never give his support to any system of sectarian education. Upon two subsequent occasions the same principle was vehemently asserted, and when we asked for a grant of books to the ragged schools it was refused because it was said, and truly said, that the Commandments were taught there. I admit there was a principle in those cases. But how is that principle reconcilable with what the right hon. Gentleman is going to do? Is the policy that which has been announced of endeavouring to separate the respectable, loyal, dutiful subjects of the Crown in Ireland who are Roman Catholics from their Protestant brethren, by confining them to one College, while their fellow-subjects of a different creed are to go to another? It seems to he inconsistent with the belief that all these young men can be actuated in after life by the same hope, and desire, of contributing to the good of a common country. Believing that to be a dangerous principle, I think the House should consider long and well before it assents to its adoption.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he did not know that he had ever heard a speech which caused him so much astonishment as that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University. Why, he had over and over again heard that right hon. Gentleman use all his eloquence to denounce a system of mixed education— [Mr. WHITESIDE: That is a mistake.]— and now he came forward to object to a 565 proposition which was substantially agreed to by the Secretary of State, to allow Catholics to obtain a Catholic education for their children. Taking the case of the Dublin University, he (Mr. Monsell) did not mean to say one word against the learning and the merits of the Professors of that body, which he admitted reflected credit upon the country; but every single educator of youth in that University must be a member of the Church of England, and most of them were Protestant clergymen. The right hon. Gentleman's notion of a fair system of mixed education for Roman Catholic youths was to send them to be taught by Protestant clergy in a Protestant University. How, after that, the right hon. Gentleman could presume to offer advice to Roman Catholic gentry or parents passed belief. He would just ask the right hon. Gentleman a question as a test of his sincerity. Would he vote for a measure to admit Roman Catholics to the governing body of the University?
§ MR. WHITESIDE
Certainly not, because it would be directly contrary to the foundation of the University.
§ MR. MONSELL
That, then, is the only reason—a scrupulous respect for the authority of law and the foundation statutes. Passing from the right hon. Gentleman's speech, he would ask the House to consider the practical working of the present system of granting University degrees in Ireland, All would agree that it was desirable to elevate the people, and he would test the present system by its results. There was, undoubtedly, among the great mass of Catholics in Ireland a conscientious objection against sending their children to the Queen's College or to Trinity College. They were, therefore, compelled to allow their children to forego the advantage of University degrees. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the class of persons in Ireland who would be likely to send their children to a University was very small, and referred to extracts from a pamphlet to prove his statement. A reference to the Census of 1861, however, showed that of the class which was composed of professional men, landed proprietors, and others of the proprietary classes, the proportion was 5,339 Catholics, 5,799 members of the Church of England, and 1,200 Presbyterians. Of those receiving superior education in universities, seminaries, and schools in Ireland there were 6,292 Catholics, 5,261 members of the Church of England, 566 and 749 Presbyterians. According to the best information he could obtain the number of Roman Catholics who took degrees in Ireland was not more than twenty-five or thirty a year out of a population of four-and-a-half millions. In the superior schools they would find that, of the pupils above fifteen years of age receiving education, 42 per cent were Roman Catholics, 30 per cent belonged to the Established Church, and 25 per cent were Presbyterians; these figures clearly leading to the inference that the number of Roman Catholics taking degrees would be largely increased—and, indeed, would exceed those of other religions—if parents could send their sons to the University without violating their conscientious convictions. He would now go to a subject which was well worthy of consideration. What was the object for which the Queen's Colleges were established? They were founded in order to get the education out of the hands of the priests as far as possible, to secure united education, and to raise the intellectaal standard. No one would suspect him of complaining that the priests were allowed to participate in the education of youth, but it could not be denied that those colleges had not succeeded in taking the education out of their hands. It must be rather startling to the advocates of the scheme to find that 78 per cent of the whole number of the Catholic youth were receiving education at the hands of the religious orders. He was afraid that he should greatly shock the feelings of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) when he stated that the Professors and Heads of the Queen's Colleges, and even Members of the Senate, were not altogether pure in this matter. He found that Sir Robert Kane, the President of the College at Cork, though his language might have led one to anticipate a different result, had sent his own son to be educated in a Jesuit seminary; and the same course had been pursued by other members of the governing bodies of those colleges. In the same way it would be found that those gentlemen who advocated in the loudest manner the system of united education would endeavour, when they had to decide in the case of their own children, to secure for them, in conjunction with intellectual advantages, instruction in that religion which they believed to be the true one, and educated them as well for the other world as for this. 567 During the last fifty years the Catholics had had much to do to provide for the absolute necessities of worship, and they had been unable to provide adequate means of education. He should be sorry to cast any reflection upon the superior schools in Ireland, but it could not be denied that the education imparted at these institutions was not of so high a character as could be wished. It was impossible it should be otherwise. In the case of Eton, Winchester, and other public schools in England, the masters of these schools themselves came from the Universities; and a keen competition was maintained between the pupils, not only at the schools, but also at the Universities. But the Catholic youth of Ireland had no such stimulus to emulation. He was informed, consequently, that at these superior schools the study of Greek was at the lowest possible ebb. Latin composition, too, was neglected; and even mathematics, for which the Irish youth had so remarkable a capacity, were taught in anything but a satisfactory manner. The higher system of education, therefore, introduced into Ireland by the institution of the Queen's Colleges, could not but be regarded as a complete failure, and he might mention that he recollected Earl Russell saying that he believed that unless the system were altered it would become not only "null but noxious." He then came to the question as to what was to be done, and here he might say he that could not concur in the opinion that the speech delivered by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department was indefinite. He believed that they ought to have a common University for the purpose of granting degrees, and they ought also to have colleges from which the students could come to compete for those degrees. In the case of the London University two Colleges were founded. University College was founded upon the principle of the mixed or secular system, and King's College upon the exclusive or denominational system. The students of those two Colleges competed for degrees and honours; but the secular system of the one College did not in any way interfere with the denominational system of the other. The proposal made by Her Majesty's Government with respect to Ireland was precisely similar, and he thought that such a system would, on the whole, be the best one, and it was the system that prevailed in most of the civil- 568 ized nations in Europe. Such a plan would not only secure to the students a high intellectual cultivation, but might also be accompanied by perfect moral control. He believed, too, that the day was not far distant when the system would be extended to Oxford and Cambridge, though the Colleges might still retain a distinct and definite system of religious instruction. He thought that by adopting such a course Her Majesty's Government had conferred the greatest blessings upon Ireland, and would conduce to the dissemination of a higher intellectual education throughout the country than at present existed. He believed that the results would not only be remarkable on account of the moral and religious training of the youth of the country, but also an account of the intellectual results of having a great national seminary belonging to that religion which the mass of the people professed.
§ MR. HENNESSY
wished to say a word or two upon what he considered the extraordinary statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin. The right hon. and learned Gentleman told the House that Dr. Croly was friendly to the Queen's Colleges.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, that what he had said in respect to Dr. Croly he had stated upon the authority of one of the Commissioners of Education, who had been sent round the country to ascertain the views of the bishops with regard to the best sites for the Colleges, and who had given evidence on the subject.
§ MR. HENNESSY
would refer to what the late Sir B. Peel said in respect to the sentiments of the Catholic bishops, including Dr. Croly. On the 23rd of June, 1845, when the question of the Queen's Colleges was under discussion in that House, Sir B. Peel noticed the fact that the Irish Catholic bishops were unanimously against the measure; and to a petition presented to that House declaring that the principles of the proposed colleges were contrary to religious faith and morals the signature of Dr. Croly, as well as the other Catholic bishops, was attached.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, that the examination to which he referred was subsequent, in point of time, to the events in question.
§ MR. HENNESSY
could assure the right hon. Gentleman that Dr. Croly never altered the opinion expressed in the petition. The Roman Catholic bishops had been from the beginning, and were now 569 unanimous against the Colleges, and when the right hon. Gentleman asserted that it was Dr. Cullen who had produced this change it was clear he was imperfectly informed on the subject. The Government had taken an extraordinary course. They had acknowledged the truth of the allegations of the Resolution, and so far the Roman Catholics were bound to thank them. The Home Secretary had suggested a remedy for removing the conscientious scruples of the Roman Catholic body, and had suggested that a Roman Catholic University should have an opportunity of sending students to be examined by the Queen's University for degrees. The students of Carlow College could come to London and be examined by the London University for a degree. The right hon. Gentleman now proposed that the Roman Catholic University of Ireland should be turned into a second Carlow College; but such a proposal would not find the same favour with the Roman Catholic body which it had found with the right hon. Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell). Such a proposal amounted to an assertion that the same conscientious scruples were still to continue, because such a proposition had been made over and over again, and had been invariably objected to. The Roman Catholic bishops were unanimously of opinion that the education given in such a University ought to be denominational. The University of Quebec was Roman Catholic. The examiners and teachers and the governing body were exclusively Roman Catholic; and so it must be in every University which hoped to satisfy the claims of the Roman Catholic bishops and laity. So long as any compromise did not satisfy the Roman Catholic bishops it was a failure. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State, proposed to give degrees to any well ordered school. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman that the compromise he had proposed would be a total failure—the only result of such a scheme would be to degrade the Queen's University, and would not satisfy the Roman Catholic body. The majority of the Protestant bishops of Ireland, like the Catholic bishops, were opposed to the mixed system of education, and the heads of all denominations shared in the same objection. The Church of England had Trinity College, and he should be sorry to see it thrown open. The mixed education party were powerful enough to be represented, and he should 570 like to see one or two colleges for them. Next came the Roman Catholics who wanted a denominational University, and if Her Majesty's Government really desired to meet their just claims, they would place them, in regard to the advantages of education, on precisely the same footing as all other religious denominations, and who would be satisfied by nothing less.
said, he desired to offer a few observations in order that his vote might not be misunderstood. He was sorry to hear the hon. Member who brought this subject before the House (The O'Donoghue) in a speech which had been justly commended, go out of his way to depreciate the Queen's Colleges and the Queen's University of Ireland. He (Lord Dunkellin) begged leave to differ from his hon. Friend in toto in that respect. He could not agree that these institutions were generally unpopular in Ireland, or that the education given by the colleges was not of a sufficiently high, good, and practical character. Nor could he admit that, tested either by the numbers upon the books, or the number of degrees taken by the students, the colleges were a failure. The Queen's University flourished in spite of the great opposition with which it had been encountered, and there had been a steady and marked increase in the pupils at the colleges. It was worthy of remark that as the Roman Catholic element had increased so did the Protestant. It was not altogether fair to judge of the usefulness of the Colleges by the degrees. A great many of the students belonged to the higher middle class, who were obliged to enter upon the duties of life without going through the full curriculum which would qualify them to take their degrees. The question was, did the Queen's Colleges afford a good, sound, practical education, suited to enable their pupils to fight their way through life with credit to themselves, and credit to them who educated them? He asserted, without fear of contradiction, that they did so. If they looked to the competitive examinations which had taken place within the last few years for the India service, for the civil service, for the army and navy, they would find that prizes had been carried off by those who were educated at the Queen's Colleges. He also differed from the hon. Gentleman as to the popularity in which these institutions were held in the country. The Galway College had flourished 571 in the face of all opposition, and was eminently popular. Turning to the more immediate question before the House, as to whether a charter should be granted to the Catholic University, he asked why was it required? He understood it was required because a great portion of the Roman Catholics of Ireland had conscientious objections to profit by the means of University education already existing. He should be the last to disregard the conscientious objection of any creed. If conscientious objections prevented them from going to Trinity College, Dublin— if conscientious objections prevented them from attending the Queen's University— let them have an University of their own. He thought what had been proposed by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department fairly met all objections, and placed Roman Catholics in a position with regard to diplomas and degrees to which they could not object. He was rather surprised to hear the hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy) take exception to the proposal of his right hon. Friend behind him (Mr. Monsell). The question of the charter was promoted by Roman Catholic gentlemen on the ground that at present their sons were debarred from University education. They objected to Trinity College, because the professors were Episcopolian clegymen; and to Queen's College, because the professors there might be of no religion; but at the Catholic University the sons of Roman Catholics would study under professors of their own creed, and be watched and fostered with all the care of a fond parent, and after going through a curriculum of intellectual labour and moral supervision they might compete with students brought up elsewhere. This would place them in fair, honest, generous competition with their compeers; and in this free practical nineteenth-century education it would be for Roman Catholic gentlemen, if they could, to distance their competitors. He would not support the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Tralee, if he thought that it would injuriously affect the Queen's Colleges; but, believing that no such consequences would ensue, he would vote in favour of the Motion of the hon. Gentleman, though he by no means concurred in the censure he cast upon the Queen's University or the Queen's Colleges.
§ MR. O'REILLY
said, he was not one of those who wished to have a grievance 572 for the sake of a grievance; on the contrary, he was always most anxious to meet any fair proposal to accede to the wishes of the Catholics of Ireland in a frank and cordial spirit, even if at first sight it did not meet his views adequately, to give every weight to the good intentions by which it was animated, and, if possible, develop it satisfactorily to all parties. It was with that view that he addressed himself to the consideration of the views expressed and the scheme sketched out by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Before doing so he would make one observation with reference to what had fallen from the hon. Member for the King's County. The hon. Member had truly stated that the Roman Catholic Bishops and the Roman Catholic authorities throughout the world had unanimously expressed an opinion that University education should be denominational, because they held that religion should be interwoven with every branch of education. But while they held that education, which meant instruction, teaching, developing the faculties, improving the mind, should be denominational, the tests of education need not be denominational, but might be united or mixed. That was the case in Belgium; and in 1851 the principle was formally approved in France. How far did the necessity for some measure such as that proposed exist in Ireland? Such a necessity did exist; for while, according to the statistics quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick, Roman Catholics embraced from 25 to 40 per cent of the better classes and professions they possessed University degrees in the proportion of only 14 per cent. Then came the question, How was the difficulty to be met? The one which he considered the most perfect and the most applicable to the condition of Ireland was, that as they had in Trinity College an University that was essentially Protestant, they should establish an University that should be essentially Roman Catholic. At the same time he was ready to admit that the whole course of modern legislation in this, as well as in other countries, tended to change those ancient institutions which existed when the whole country was of one religion, and to make the test of education applicable to all religious denominations. He owned, therefore, that there was a strong reason to induce the Government to declare that the test should be one for all denomi- 573 nations, and that there should not be any longer a denominational examining University. This principle had been adopted with great success by the University of London, to which he himself and other Members of that House belonged. There were two ways of constituting such a University as to embrace all parties and all religions. One was the system which had been adopted originally by the London University—that of affiliating colleges; and the other that which had ultimately been carried out by that University, by which the Senate was simply nominated in the first instance by the Government, and all students came up to be examined as units. If the latter plan were adopted in Ireland it would not be acceptable to the great body of the Roman Catholics, because this serious difficulty had been felt—the body which directed and controlled the examinations necessarily, although indirectly, directed and controlled the course of education, and, as the different affiliated branches were not at all represented on the Senate, the latter might unwittingly place on its examination lists subjects and books which might be objected to. In illustration of this, he might mention that the Senate of the London University having appointed Foley's Ethics as a necessary subject of examination, the Roman Catholic students positively declined to prove Paley's principle of utility as the criterion of actions, and a compromise was effected by the Examiners allowing the Catholic students to confute those principles. But the method which had been adopted in France by the law of 1852 on the subject of education was an excellent one. By that method the Senate of the French General University was made to consist of twenty-eight members, and every great body in the State was officially represented in it. The Government was represented by the Minister of Public Instruction, the Roman Catholics by a Bishop or Archbishop elected by his colleagues, the Protestants by a member elected in their consistories, the free colleges by official members, and so on. If that precedent, or something in the same spirit, were adopted in constructing the University body in Ireland, by whatever name it was to be called, he believed it would meet the wishes of nearly all who were interested in the subject. He spoke usually only his own sentiments, but he had some reason to say that in expressing that opinion he expressed the opinion of a large body of those who 574 might be considered to some extent to represent the Roman Catholics of Ireland. If the granting of University degrees and the framing of the course of examination necessary to attain them were to be the work of a body upon which all classes would be necessarily and adequately represented it would, he believed, give satisfaction to the Roman Catholics of Ireland; and he also believed that the proposal sketched out by the right hon. Gentleman contained the principles upon which that plan might be carried out.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
believed that the House had been taken by surprise by the evidently foregone conclusion on the part of the Government to found some institution in the nature of a Roman Catholic University. The question was being discussed without adequate information as to the plan proposed. Unless some further information was afforded, he should think it his duty, on the first practicable day, to move that the Government should furnish the House with the details of the plan they contemplated. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) had explained that there was nothing in the educational institutions of Ireland which either created or perpetuated the exclusion of which complaint had been made. As to the complaint of inequality, it was only just to preceding Governments and to Parliament to say that this inequality was not of their making, but was due entirely to the Papacy. The Roman Catholic Bishops in Ireland were instructed by the Papacy to object to the Queen's University, and forbid the youth of Ireland from availing themselves of the educational facilities offered by the University of Dublin. He was apprehensive that, unless great care was taken in the organization of the contemplated University, the same principle of exclusion which had been practised at Maynooth, by which the Roman Catholic laity had been excluded from that college, would be practised, and the contemplated university would become as exclusively Roman Catholic as Maynooth was now exclusively ecclesiastical—as exclusively Roman Catholic, and probably Ultramontane, in its teaching as the right hon. Member for Limerick had explained that the National Schools of Ireland had become, which he informed the House were now largely under the control of the regular orders of the Church of Rome. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman was a great admirer of the Jesuits and of the 575 other regular orders of the Papacy, and considered the laws of this country against the existence of these orders in the United Kingdom very absurd. The opinions of the right hon. Gentleman were well known. In justice, however, to preceding Governments and preceding Parliaments, he (Mr. Newdegate) must be permitted to observe that the modern history of Europe and the recent experience and conduct of European Governments, especially those of France and Italy, redeemed the conduct of preceding Parliaments of this country from the imputation of ignorance and bigotry in the safeguards which they had raised against the machinations and practices of these Roman orders, Roman Catholic Members themselves were full of complaints of the state of Ireland itself, though it was favoured by the presence of these orders. In this country the feeling would be that there was nothing to account for this change of policy on the part of the Government except the pressure which had been brought to bear upon successive Governments by an organization of which the authorities of the Church of Rome were cognizant. He believed that this announcement would be received with surprise by the country. He had on a former occasion adverted to a very remarkable document issued by the Papacy, and the circulation of which by Roman Catholic prelates had been forbidden in France; and he now begged leave to read some of the propositions which would be inculcated on those who, under the plan of the Government, would, by virtue of this Utramontane tuition, become candidates for degrees. The fifteenth Proposition condemned by the Pope in the Syllabus which was attached to the Encyclical Letter, dated the 8th of December, 1864, was—Every man is free to embrace and profess the religion he shall believe true, guided by the light of reason.Thus the Government were about to provide for granting degrees to those who should be thoroughly impregnated with the belief that the primary maxim of religious freedom is a damnable error. The eighteenth proposition condemned by the Papacy in the same document, was the opinion that—Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion in which it is possible to please God equally as in the Catholic Church.576 The converse of this proposition was another item of the religious instruction which the Government were about to declare a qualification for a degree, and this in the cause of liberalty and freedom. In connection with the propositions he had quoted, as condemned, no later than December last, by the Papacy, he would beg the attention of the House to the 77th—In the present day it is no longer necessary that the Catholic religion shall be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other modes of worship.78th: Whence it has been wisely provided by law in some countries, called Catholic, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the free exercise of their own worship.Now, let the House remember that the converse—the doctrines the exact opposite of these opinions he quoted—are emphatically asserted by the Papacy by the condemnation of these opinions, which are the opinions upon which the legislation of this country is founded and upon which the Government pretend to act. The 37th proposition, which is condemned by the Papacy in the Syllabus, is as follows—National Churches can be established after being withdrawn and separated from the authority of the Roman Pontiff.Hence the existence of the Church of this country as by law established will be treated as a moral offence in the religious teaching, upon proficiency acquired under which, the Government propose to confer degrees; and this is exemplified by the preceding proposition, the 36th—The definition of a National Council does not admit of any subsequent discussion, and the civil power can settle an affair, as decided by such National Council.By the condemnation of this proposition, the Papacy at once defies the power of Parliament, and exacts compliance from those of the Roman Catholic communion. Again, and in a higher sense, the 54th proposition is condemned—Kings and princes are not only exempt from the jurisdiction of the Church, but are superior to the Church in litigated questions.Thus are all condemned who maintain Her Majesty's rightful supremacy, and the independence of the Administrative power of this and every other country; while the 24th proposition, which is condemned, stands thus—The Church has not the power of availing herself of force, or any direct or indirect temporal power.Here is a direct assertion, by the condemnation of the converse proposition, of the 577 right of the Roman Pontiff to temporal power in this and every other State, and of the right to use force to establish and maintain that power. Such are the doctrines issued so late as the 8th of December last by the Papacy, for the inculcation of which upon the youth of Ireland, as matters of religion, the Government of Her Majesty are making provision, and for proficiency in which they are about to confer degrees; and this, I suppose, they will say, in the cause of Liberalism and freedom. It would appear strange to the people of England that so soon after these propositions were enounced by Rome, that, on the plea of liberalism, a step should be taken to afford an opportunity of educating the youth of Ireland in these most intolerent principles. The people of England would be inclined to believe that the Church of Rome already exercised a power on this country which rendered it impossible for any Government to resist for any length of time her decrees. What means the people of England might adopt for the defence of their own independence, and the freedom of their fellow subjects of Catholic faith, he knew not; but he felt that they ought to be informed that there existed a power in the United Kingdom capable of exacting first from one Government and then from another concessions, not in the sense of modern civilization and enlightenment, or in the spirit of progress—for all these the Pope had formally rejected and condemned in the same documents from which he had quoted— but in the sense of the exclusion and of the bigotry which characterized Rome in the Middle Ages. He lamented the decision which the Government had come to; but he would not in the present state of the House attempt to test its opinion.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Newdegate), seems, as is rather common with his speeches, intended to act on the nerves of the House. He has made a selection of most startling and alarming propositions from a document recently issued by the Court of Rome, but which appear to me to have very little relevancy to the question before the House. So far as the language of those propositions is applicable to the present discussion, it ought, as it seems to me, to be an encouragement to us to go forward steadily in the path in which my right hon. Friend (Sir George Grey) has announced that we mean 578 to tread, because the more harsh, rigid, and restrictive our measures may be towards the Roman Catholic community in this country, the more we leave them under the direct influence of Rome, and throw them into the hands of those in the Roman Catholic Church who profess extreme opinions. I so far sympathise with the hon. Member as to contemplate, in common with the great majority of this House, those propositions with great aversion, and I deeply regret their issue from any centre of religious authority. They have, however, on me an effect directly opposite to that which they appear to exercise on the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, and I would wish, as far as possible, to remove all tendency to look with favour on such propositions by endeavouring to attach our Roman Catholic fellow subjects more distinctly and more closely to Englishmen generally, and to the interests and habits of this country. The hon. Gentleman stated that he thought the declaration of my right hon. Friend must have taken the House by surprise. Now the first effect of our surprise is to produce attention; but surprise has not produced attention in the hon. Member, for, if he had listened ever so cursorily to the speech of my right hon. Friend, it would have been impossible for him to have described it as the announcement of an intention on the part of the Government that they are about to found a Roman Catholic University. The most pointed part of that speech was directed to this proposition—that the Government did not think it fit or expedient, so far as the intervention of the Government is concerned, to accede to any plan for the foundation of a Roman Catholic University. The right hon. Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Whiteside) did certainly seem to look on with some sort of qualified approbation at the proposition to found such a University. He greatly preferred that plan, he said, to the one proposed by the Government. Under these circumstances I hope that the right hon. Gentleman and the Member for North Warwickshire will employ some portion of the approaching recess in settling the difference which appears to exist between them in that respect. But although the right hon. Member for the University of Dublin said he looked with comparative favour on the idea of giving a charter to a Roman Catholic University, yet the whole of his agument was not only not in favour of a charter to a Roman 579 Catholic University, but it was distinctly to this effect—that the Roman Catholics were extremely well treated in the University of Dublin—that with that good treatment they ought to be content, and should desire nothing more. That was the pith of his entire speech. Let me not be supposed to speak with any disrespect either of the constitution or the administration of the University of Dublin. I believe its constitution is liberal according to the conditions of its foundation, and that its administration, as far as I may presume to give an opinion on that point, is conducted in the spirit of that constitution. Nevertheless it is one thing to be admitted individually into an institution founded upon the principles of a religious communion different from your own, and another thing to have your children educated within the walls of an institution founded upon the rules and laws of your own religion. I want to know what right we have to find fault with those Roman Catholics who prefer the latter system. The right hon. Gentleman himself prefers the latter system; and I am sure that if he lived in a country where the only choice offered him was that of sending his children to a Roman Catholic University, where they would receive their instruction at the hands of Roman Catholic teachers, he would say distinctly, and I think justifiably, "I greatly prefer to have, and I shall use every effort to obtain, the means of having my own children educated in my own religion from the mouths and under the influence of teachers belonging to my own Church." The right, hon. Gentleman put a pointed question to the Government. He asked us, "How can you possibly justify your refusal to make any concession to the Church Education Society conformably with the intention you have announced to-night with regard to the Roman Catholics?" Why, Sir, the intention announced by my right hon. Friend to-night is to remove from the Roman Catholics certain disabilities under which they at present labour—disabilities of a positive character; not merely the want of honorary distinctions, but the want of degrees, the absence or default of which subjects them either to a longer probation before they can enter a profession in which they are to earn their livelihood, or else involves their repulsion from that profession altogether. What does that state of things amonnt to? Disguise it how you may, it is the imposition of 580 civil disabilities on account of religious opinion—on account of religious opinion, which is not, I grant, perhaps universally entertained by Roman Catholics; there are, ! I rejoice, many Roman Catholics, and I wish there were many more, who do not object to the united education given in the Queen's Colleges; but there are many Roman Catholics, as has been distinctly proved, who either object absolutely to that system, or prefer a system which they think more perfect. That is an opinion which they hold as part of their religious belief and obligation, and for it they are at this moment subjected to civil disabilities. And what my right hon. Friend has announced is not that there is to be a Roman Catholic University, but that that civil disability is to be removed. Has there been any question raised tonight like that raised on behalf of the schools of the Church Education Society? No. What is demanded on behalf of that Society is a share of the public money; and if the present Motion had involved any such distinct demand upon the public purse, then, so far, the parallel sought to be established by the right hon. Gentleman would have had some show of justice. But, with regard to the Queen's Colleges, the right hon. Gentleman made a very broad assertion. He said that all those who belonged to the present Government were departing from the declarations, and attempting to reverse the policy of the last thirty years, Now, the Queen's Colleges were not recommended to Parliament nor adopted by Parliament as embodying a perfect system of education, but simply as the best arrangement which the circumstances of Ireland then permitted. Lord Russell distinctly stated at the time that in his opinion the plan, as far as respected positive religious teaching, was very defective. Another Member of the present Government spoke in somewhat the same sense, at the same time, however, giving his vote as Lord Russell also gave his, for the scheme proposed by Sir Robert Peel, on the ground that it was adapted to the peculiar circumstances of Ireland. It is quite a mistake to suppose that Sir Robert Peel pronounced these Colleges to be a system so perfect that nothing could be allowed to stand in competition with it. He pointed out the great want of academical institutions in Ireland, and then addressed himself in a practical spirit to how that want could best be 581 supplied. He said that if they were to have academical institutions in Ireland he saw no other mode of securing that advantage but by the establishment of Borne such system as that, and he justified it by the peculiar and unfortunate religious differences there existing. Again, Sir Robert Peel said, that upon the whole, he thought that, under the peculiar circumstances of Ireland, they stood a better chance of success by adopting a system under which the religious education would be placed on the footing that he proposed than by attempting to found separate theological establishments or by appointing separate theological professors for each College; and he went on to show that the view of the late Sir Robert Inglis, who denounced what he deemed the want of positive religious teaching in these Colleges, and who desired that there should be a full infusion of the religious element in its instruction, really came, when properly examined, to nothing less than the forcing upon a Roman Catholic community of the teaching of the Church of England! It would, indeed, be much against the will and desire of the present Government if it were to be supposed that, in acceding to the general wish expressed by the Motion of the hon. Member for Tralee, they were expressing any change of their intentions in regard to the Queen's Colleges. To those Colleges, before they were called into actual existence, an epithet was applied in that House the severity of which had never been mitigated, and no doubt the religious element was not included in their teaching directly and authoritatively. But I am sure that no one who recollects the nature of the discussion which took place in 1845 —I go further, and say that no one who knows the character of the illustrious statesman by whom the plan of those colleges was propounded—would for one moment dream that there ever was an intention to place them in opposition to the inculcation of religion in its most distinct and definite form. I believe that in the case of Belfast the facilities which he offered have been fully made use of, and that, practically, religious education has been given there in connection with these Colleges, I can speak not only on my own behalf, but I am sure also on behalf of my Colleagues, when I say that most happy shall we be to see a similar disposition to turn those facilities to account shown by the authorities of the Roman 582 Catholic Church, and likewise to find the Queen's Colleges not only flourishing as they do now, but striking their roots more widely and deeply in the affections of the Roman Catholic people of Ireland. But we have this fact before us—that, with these Colleges existing, there is a great gap to be filled up. There is a large portion of the Roman Catholic community which does not accept academical education on the terms upon which it is at present offered; and I believe we are acting in the spirit of the policy of 1845 by adopting the practical means we propose for supplying the existing lack. The hon. Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy), who presented an exception to the general tone of the speeches made by the Irish Members to-night, announced on his own authority that under no circumstances can there be the adoption of any offer less than that of the foundation of an exclusively Roman Catholic University—exclusive, I mean, not in the sense of shutting its doors against all pupils save those of that persuasion, but in respect to Government and direction. But that hon. Gentleman has been contradicted by other Irish Members, and particularly by the hon. and gallant Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly), who is, perhaps, not less accustomed or less authorized to speak on behalf of the communion to which he belongs. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Limerick (Mr. Monsell) and other Gentlemen from Ireland, have also accepted in the most kindly spirit the profers of my right hon. Friend, and given to Government every encouragement to proceed with the plan they have announced, by holding out the expectation, not only that it will be favourably received, but likewise that it will have great effect in meeting the existing want. One or two important points of detail have been alluded to in the debate. The hon. Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly) said he thought it would be most desirable that the different colleges which might he affiliated to the Queen's University under an enlarged charter should be represented in the Senate of the University, and that not according to the accidents of individual character, but by some fixed rules which should secure the permanence of that representation. No doubt it will be desirable that when the Queen's University undertakes the enlarged functions which my right hon. Friend has sketched out it should be under the government of a body proportioned to the 583 extent of those functions; but, at the same time, it would be premature now to enter into a detailed consideration of the manner in which the Senate of the University might be best made to harmonize with the work it has to perform. But I might venture to state that Her Majesty's Government are, as it is obvious they must be, open to the force of the general observation that has been made, and it is quite plain, in order to fulfil the usefulness it is intended to perform, that it must be so constituted and composed in its governing body as to possess the confidence of those who were to partake of it. The right hon. Member for Limerick has also referred to a similar matter to that referred to by the hon. and gallant Member for Longford, which is also one of great importance. I understood them to say that there must be a very careful selection of the colleges or bodies that are to be affiliated to the University, and of their power of sending up pupils for degrees; and his hon. Friend had made an allusion to the change that was recently made in the composition of the University of London. As it was originally founded it received no pupils except from a limited number of colleges, and the qualification of the colleges was much regarded as a condition previous to their being entitled to send up young men to the examinations. Now, I believe, the constitution of the University of London has been very much enlarged in that respect, and very little, if any, distinction is now drawn between one school and another. I understand my right hon. Friend the Member for Limerick and the hon. and gallant Gentleman to say that in Ireland such a system would be rather injurious than beneficial.
§ MR. O'REILLY
explained, that he did not mean to suggest that there should be any restriction as to the persons who might present themselves for examination, but only that different institutions should be represented upon the Senate.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Well, certainly my right hon. Friend the Member for Limerick expressed the opinion to which I have referred. That, of course, is a matter which it would be the duty of the Government to consider very carefully, because it must not be assumed that precisely the same regulations which are at any given time desirable in England must necessarily, at the same moment, be expedient in Ireland. I do not think that we shall see any fulfil- 584 ment of the prophecy of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), that great alarm will be produced in this country by the proposal of my right hon. Friend, which is, in point of fact, only to place the Roman Catholics of Ireland in the same position with regard to academical degrees as that which the Roman Catholics of England here occupied for many years, without any alarm or dissatisfaction, or any prejudice or injury, as far as I am aware, to any Member of this community. With reference to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy), I think that the speech of my right hon. Friend must have shown that the Government were not disposed to reject rudely and without consideration the direct proposal to found a Roman Catholic University. There are three classes of reasons which have mainly led the Government to the conclusion that it would not be wise to accede to that suggestion. One of them has been fairly and candidly stated by the hon. Member for Longford, who admitted that, whatever might be his own preferences, the course of legislation and of events is adverse to the foundation of exclusive Universities, and like a wise man he is not willing to place himself needlessly in opposition to the course of legislation which now prevails; and the second is, that it would obviously be impossible to raise the question of granting a charter to a Roman Catholic University with the power of granting degrees, without involving ourselves in many of those sectarian difficulties which there could be no advantage in raising with regard to such a subject. But my right hon. Friend dwelt strongly, and I think most justly, upon the reason which is, of itself, sufficient to determine the course which the Government ought to pursue. You have in Ireland already two Universities, and by granting a charter to a Roman Catholic University you would create a third. If you had a University of the Established Church and another belonging to the Roman Catholics, each with a power of granting degrees, the Presbyterians of Ireland would urge a plausible and probably a just claim to have a University to themselves. [Mr. WHITESIDE: Oh, no!] The right hon. Gentleman's opinion is, no doubt, entitled to great weight, but I doubt very much whether he has received credentials fully authorizing him to state in this House the views of the Presby- 585 terians upon this subject. I apprehend that when their representatives come to speak for themselves they may give a different opinion. At all events, it is a contingency which the Government were bound to keep in view, when they were asked to grant a charter for an exclusively Roman Catholic University. Would it, I ask, be desirable that Ireland should have four Universities? Is it desirable, in countries of limited population, to multiply Universities? I think it is not. In Belgium—a country than which, perhaps, none in Europe is more distinguished for sagacity in administration—it has been found necessary to combine all the local Universities under a central, with one fixed standard for the conferring of degrees. In Scotland there are four Universities. It is found that their existence is rather an evil than a good, and it is found so impossible to raise the examining standard to such a point as to give to the Scotch degree the credit which we should desire to see it enjoy, that many eminent men connected with the teaching body of the University of Edinburgh, if no other, would be prepared to accede to a proposal which would abate the nominal rank of the institutions with which they are immediately connected for the sake of establishing one national University for Scotland, and thereby raising the Scotch degree to the highest point of eminence to which it can possibly attain. That is a very important practical consideration. The real value of these honorary titles depends upon the efficient stringency of the examination, and it is exceedingly difficult to maintain that stringency, or to persuade the world that you do maintain it, when the University really means nothing but a college, and when those who have taught the young men afterwards examine them and certify to their efficiency. Oxford and Cambridge are able to contend against this difficulty, in consequence of the multiplicity of so parate colleges, which are only locally connected, and all of which have their separate traditions and separate regulations; but if in Ireland a charter were granted to a Roman Catholic University, which would be only a college, and, perhaps, a charter to a Presbyterian University, which would be only a college, instead of a large boon you would be granting only a very small one. The means would not exist of elevating the examination to a sufficient height to sustain the reputation of the degrees; 586 consequently, nobody would value them, and thus the vital principle of academical life, that stimulus to free education, would cease to operate within the walls of those institutions. It is a matter of gratification to the Government to perceive that there appears to be so general a disposition in the House to recognize the reasonableness of the plan which has been proposed by my right hon. Friend. I certainly am of opinion that it would not be right, on account of any possible injury which may be done to the Queen's College—and I hope that none will be done—to continue that which really amounts to the imposition of civil disabilities for religious opinions. The Queen's Colleges were wisely devised to meet a purpose; but we must admit that the colleges were made for the people of Ireland, and not the people of Ireland for the colleges. Our duty is to consider how consistently with the principles of wisdom and justice we can afford, so far as depends upon us, the best means of academic learning to our fellow subjects across the water. I believe that the plan explained by my right hon. Friend will have that tendency in a sensible and very powerful degree; and, so far from exciting alarm or apprehension, I am convinced that it will meet the approval both of this country and of Ireland.
said, the speech they had just heard from the Chancellor of the Exchequer contained some remarkable statements; and as he was unfortunately old enough to have taken part in the discussions which took place on the subject of Irish Colleges twenty years ago, he could not allow the question to pass without making a few observations on it. The right hon. Gentleman stated, with great force and truth, the difficulty that must be felt by many persons in sending their children to places where there was no religious education whatever; but he could not reconcile that statement with the strange praise the right hon. Gentleman bestowed upon the present system of education, which he said was the best possible system for the people of Ireland, from which such teaching was altogether excluded. The right hon. Gentleman might be able to reconcile these two conclusions, but he (Mr. Henley) was not. If there was one thing for which the 587 hierarchy of another religious persuasion was entitled to credit, it was for the strenuous manner in which from the beginning they had stepped forward and denounced the system of mixed or godless education—holding out as it did temptations for acquiring a good academical education—as fatal to faith and to morals. He had no intention of giving an opinion upon the scheme proposed, or rather sketched out, by Her Majesty's Government, as he would rather wait and see whether it fulfilled the reasonable expectations it had raised, before he bound himself to support it; but, all events, Her Majesty's Government appeared to think it would supply a large portion of our fellow-subjects with the means of obtaining academical degrees, which at present were out of their reach, except upon terms to which they could not conscientiously agree. He should be sorry to express any opinion as to whether or not the proposed Catholic University would turn out something more than the University of London had done—namely, a mere examination machine to ascertain the fitness of students who came up from different educational institutions to receive academical degrees; but he rejoiced that, after the experience of twenty years, they were now taking another step towards carrying out the principle that the people, whether in England or in Ireland, would not be satisfied with education which was not based upon religion. The admission which had been made on behalf of Her Majesty's Government was thoroughly in favour of denominational education as opposed to mixed education—which meant, in fact, education without religion. The time was certainly approaching, although he could scarcely hope that he should live to see it, when the system of mixed education would be altogether swept away, and denominational education substituted for it. It was every man's natural wish that his children should be brought up in the religion that he believed to be right, and not that they should acquire mere learning, unsupported by those religious principles which would render their education useful to themselves and to their fellow creatures. Experience had shown that the godless system was a failure, except in one instance in the north of Ireland, and in that instance, through the Catholic element withdrawing itself, the mixed College had become a Presbyterian, and, therefore, a denominational College. He 588 hailed the present discussion as a step in the right direction. Once establish a sound principle and it would soon spread. In the first instance it was, perhaps, well that the godless system—as it was called—had been tried. He thanked God that it had failed. He rejoiced in the course the debate had taken, for it was a great step towards advancing denominational education.
§ MR. BRADY
said, he believed that the debate of that night would be memorable in the House and the country, and that the proposition of the right hon. Baronet on behalf of the Government would find acceptance with the people of Ireland. He believed the people of Ireland were ready and willing to make a fair compromise, in order to get rid of a state of things which was the most unpleasant and unsatisfactory that had ever existed. He hailed the tone and temper of the House that night as most satisfactory, and considered that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) would go far to promote the success of the measure the Government intended to introduce, and to secure for it the due consideration of the country. He looked upon the exclusive system of University education as doomed.
§ CAPTAIN STACPOOLE
expressed satisfaction with the measure promised by the Government, and hoped that the suggestion thrown out by the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly) would be carried out.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
thought that the Government had made a step in the right direction. A great part of the speech of the right hon. Baronet opposite he had heard, not only with satisfaction, but with admiration. He should, however, be wanting in candour if he did not say that he thought the conclusions to which the right hon. Baronet had come were not entirely satisfactory—those conclusions were so vague that he found it difficult to deal with them. The right hon. Gentleman placed two alternatives before them—either to enlarge the Queen's University in Ireland, so as to enable persons wherever educated to go up for degrees to that University; or, secondly, so to affiliate what was now called the Catholic University in Ireland to the Queen's University, as to enable students of the Catholic University to go up to the Queen's University for the purpose of obtaining degrees. The former of these 589 alternatives appeared to him eminently unsatisfactory, as it placed the Catholic University, which had been formed by the heads of the Catholic body, and possessed the confidence of the great body of the Catholics in Ireland, on the same footing with every petty school in that country. This would not be fitting treatment of the Roman Catholics, who formed the majority of the Irish population. He believed that no system would give satisfaction to the bishops, clergy, and laity of Ireland but that of a Catholic University, and he hoped the Government would grapple with the difficulty and see whether they could not make up their minds to give them such a University. The observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire were worthy of attentive consideration. What had been called the godless system of education was strongly to be reprobated, for no scheme of instruction could be more detestable. The system sketched out by the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary—that of affiliating the Catholic University to the Queen's University—was a better plan than that of allowing schools in any place, and of any or no religious creed, to send up their pupils for degrees, because the former would necessarily involve a representative of the Catholic College in the Queen's University. He did not say that he should be willing to accept that arrangement; but it was the better of the two alternatives which the right hon. Gentleman had seemed to suggest.
§ MR. LEFROY
admitted that both sides of the question had been ably and fully stated, and concurred in everything which had been said on the subject by his right hon. Colleague (Mr. Whiteside). He did not think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had fairly stated the views of Sir Robert Peel when he brought forward the question of the Queen's Colleges. He had referred to the speech of that right hon. Baronet, when he found that Sir Robert Peel, so far from stating that religion was to be made part of the system, said that if they wished religious instruction to be given to the people in these academical institutions, provided they got the consent of the guardians, there was nothing in the Bill to interfere with such an arrangement. He was not at present prepared to express an opinion as to the proposition of the Government; but they would have an opportunity of amending it before they were called on to vote upon 590 it. It was most gratifying to him that, with the single exception of the hon. Member for Leitrim (Mr. Brady), there had been general testimony borne to the part taken by the University of Dublin in respect to education in general. It had granted Roman Catholic degrees in every branch except those connected with the Church, and given scholarships very useful and profitable to those who received them; and he sincerely regretted that the time had come when Roman Catholic Members felt it necessary to separate themselves from that University.
explained that, in the observations which he had made with reference to the Queen's Colleges, he meant to say that these colleges did not meet the requirements of the Catholics of Ireland. There could be no mistake about the fact that the Government had admitted the truth of the proposition laid down in his Motion, that there were objections to the present system of University education in Ireland, and though they had not thought fit to adopt the plan which he thought it best calculated to remove these objections, still he admitted that the proposition of the Government was one which, when well matured and developed, might possibly be worthy of consideration. He felt that he should not be acting with fairness if he did not express his thanks to the Government for the candid manner in which they had acted, and, with the permission of the House, he would withdraw his Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.