HC Deb 01 April 1870 vol 200 cc1090-146

, in rising to move the Resolution of which he had given notice, said, that it comprehended three subjects which were more or less intimately connected with each other. The first part of the Resolution asked the House to express its approval of the remarkable Memorial lately presented to the Prime Minister by the Provost and other authorities of Trinity College, Dublin, in favour of united or undenominational education. It was almost superfluous to say that the vast majority of English and Scotch Liberals, if they cared for anything, cared for the principle of united education, and he thought that every Irishman, whatever his political opinions, who know the state of Ireland, must be anxious to see the influence of national education extended, because in its extension lay the great hope of diminishing that religious sectarianism and rancour which had for years past been the bane of Ireland. His Resolution, in the second place, called upon the Government to give practical effect to the prayer of the Memorial with the least delay possible, and to abolish religious tests and disabilities in Trinity College, Dublin. He used the words "with the least delay possible" advisedly, because he did not wish to imply the slightest censure upon the Government for not having introduced a measure on the subject this Session. There was a conclusive precedent against leaving the subject of University education in the hands of private Members, and in favour of the principle that the Government were bound to assume the responsibility of such a measure. Two deputations last autumn waited upon the Prime Minister from Oxford and Cambridge, to ask him to abolish religious tests in those Universities. The Premier's reply was satisfactory and significant, and bore with peculiar pertinence upon the present Motion. He endorsed the opinion of the deputation that the abolition of religious tests in the Universities ought not to be left in the hands of a private Member, but that the Government were bound to avow a policy, and to carry it into effect as soon as possible. The third portion of his Resolution might not be regarded as important by some; but he thought it necessary to give Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, and others, who were not members of the Protestant Episcopal Church, a pledge that, so far as the authorities of Trinity College, Dublin, were concerned, they were not only anxious to abolish tests, but were willing, under certain reservations, to admit Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, and others to the full privileges enjoyed by those who governed the College. This portion of his Resolution might be thought to be almost superfluous; because, in proposing the abolition of tests in the English Universities, no such demand had been made by members of the Church of England. In some of the Colleges of Oxford and Cambridge the governing body was composed of the senior Fellows, and if they abolished tests to-morow, a Nonconformist or Catholic admitted to a Fellowship, might wait twenty-five or thirty years before he became a member of that body. In the case of Trinity College, Dublin, however, it was felt that the Roman Catholics had a certain grievance, and that they would not believe that they had obtained perfect equality if they had no prospect of joining the Board of the College until after twenty-five or thirty years. He had, therefore, added the last portion of his Resolution as a pledge of the sincerity of the College, and their anxiety to give to Ireland perfect educational equality. Such equality must, however, be given under certain reservations. The College was prepared to resist, with all its force and strength, the introduction of any member upon the governing body of the College by the influence of political nomination or patronage. Political patronage had produced much mischief in England, and they all knew that it had proved the bane of Ireland. Trinity College, Dublin, was one of the few institutions in Ireland which had escaped that blighting and benumbing influence, and he most heartily sympathized with the College in its determination that in future, as in the past, no honour or emolument in the gift of the College should be won otherwise than in the fair and open field of intellectual competition. He might be asked whether it would be possible to carry a scheme which would admit Roman Catholics and Presbyterians, within a reasonable time, to the Board of that College? It was an easier task to the administrative ability of a Cabinet to frame such a scheme than to a private Member; but it was easy to suggest one or two plans. In many of the Colleges of Oxford and Cambridge all the Fellows were members of the governing body; and it might be provided that any member of Trinity College, Dublin, gaining a Fellowship, should obtain a seat in the governing body of that College. If it were objected that this would constitute too numerous a governing body, another plan might, perhaps, be adopted with advantage. The junior Fellows of Trinity College being divided into five classes, one consisting of Fellows and the other four of Professors, arranged according to their standing, it seemed to him that one way out of the difficulty would be to allow each of the five classes to nominate one member to serve upon the governing body. This course would, if adopted, at once admit Catholic Fellows to the full privileges enjoyed by the Board of the College. This he threw out merely as a hint—it being possible that the Government might hit upon a happier scheme—in order to show that the Colleges were sincerely anxious to entertain any scheme which did not involve political patronage, or infringe the cherished principles of open competition. An unworthy imputation had been made out-of-doors, and he scarcely liked to allude to it in the House, that the result of such an arrangement as he had suggested would be that no one except a Protestant Episcopalian would be elected a member of the governing body of the College. Those making such imputation simply reflected their own intolerance and ignorance of fact. There was nothing in the past history of the College to justify it. To every position in the College which had been freed from religious disabilities, men had been chosen entirely independently of their religious opinions. Candidates had been elected to Studentships solely on the ground of their fitness, apart from all political or religious considerations, and he believed that the gentleman who at present so satisfactorily occupied the Chair of Political Economy, founded by the late Archbishop Whately, was a Catholic, his predecessors having all been chosen on the same grounds which had dictated his own election. It was sometimes the fashion to say that Trinity College, Dublin, was a hotbed of intolerance and bigotry; but he should rather say that it had always been in the van of University reform, for, even before the beginning of the present century, it afforded religious and political privileges to Presbyterians and members of other religious denominations, which were not to this hour enjoyed by either Catholics, Presbyterians, or Nonconformists in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Since the beginning of the present century no Catholic had ever been prevented from taking the degree of Master of Arts in the University of Dublin; but no Nonconformist or Catholic could take such a degree at Oxford. Then, again, ever since the Reform Act of 1832 every Catholic in the Dublin University was allowed to enjoy the full privileges attached to the degree of Master of Arts in voting for representatives of the University; but although at Cambridge they had advanced one step further than at Oxford, and had allowed Nonconformists and others to obtain an M.A. degree, yet, at the present moment, no graduate of Oxford or Cambridge, unless he declared himself a bonâ fide member of the Church of England, could exercise that suffrage. Further, he might say that in Trinity College, Dublin—and in this he should be corroborated by such Members of the House as had been educated there—no student had ever been placed under any social disparity or disadvantage on account of his religion; but that every care had been taken to respect their religions opinions, and he was sure that Catholic Gentlemen who had been students there would admit that some of the happiest days in their lives had been spent within the College walls. It would be almost superfluous for him to discuss the general principle involved in the Resolution when, the authorities of the College itself having come forward and asked the Prime Minister of a Liberal Government to abolish all the religious tests and disabilities at present existing, they might assume the cause for which they had been so long contending was at length won, and that the Prime Minister had granted that request, and would show the utmost anxiety to extend to Dublin the same measure of justice and liberality he had already pledged himself to extend to Oxford and Cambridge. But the arguments which had formerly been advanced in favour of this Motion had now assumed a now force. There was at one time some force in the argument of a section among Irish Catholics, that as the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge were State Church institutions, there should be a Catholic University for the use of the majority of the Irish people; but the force of this argument had passed, because the present Government had announced their intention to pursue a policy under which Oxford and Cambridge could no longer be regarded in the light to which he had alluded, but would become great national institutions, in which all men could compete on equal terms for the honours and emoluments to be there won. If, therefore, England was to have no denominational University, what could be said in support of a Roman Catholic University in Ireland? The question had been materially altered also by the great measure of last Session which disestablished the State Church in Ireland, and the authorities of Trinity College, Dublin, immediately recognized the change produced in their position by that Act. Those authorities might, perhaps, be taunted with having changed their opinions; but such taunts were dangerous in a House the Members of which, on both sides, had changed their opinions so frequently. Only a few years ago the Ballot was considered a joke; but now it was thought to be a question of so solemn importance that it would be sacrilegious for a private Member to meddle with it; while household suffrage, from being regarded as the watchword of dangerous demagogues, had come to be the rallying cry of Conservatives and Constitutionalists. The autho- rities of the College had frankly recognized the altered circumstances of the case, and asked for the abolition of religious tests and disabilities, in order, perhaps, to ward off the greater dangers with which they had been threatened. If the Government, which had been called into Office in order to give religious equality to the people, were prepared to carry it out as far as education was concerned, there were three courses open to them. The first of these was, to accept the principle contained in his Resolution, and declare boldly in favour of united and against denominational education, and if they took that course it would meet with the enthusiastic approbation of those who put them in power. The second was to dismember and despoil Trinity College, Dublin, and out of the results to found denominational Colleges. And the third was to ask Parliament for a grant of public money with which to found, endow, and charter a Catholic and a Presbyterian University. He would be a bold Minister who would dare to propose this last scheme—a scheme which would, in his opinion, be as impracticable as the dismemberment of Trinity College would be unjust. If ever a proposal were made to disestablish that College and appropriate the funds to denominational Colleges, he need only say that those whose duty it was to protect that College would find ardent and sincere supporters on his side of the House. But perhaps it might be said that the position of Ireland was different from that of England—that they must consider what the people in that country desired, and that they had proclaimed loudly and emphatically in favour of denominational Colleges. It would be more correct to say that the priests had declared in favour of denominational Colleges. It was indeed a dark cloud that had not its silver lining, and from recent events, painful though they might be, they might at least draw this conclusion, that the Irish priests could no longer speak and act as if they were the people of Ireland. What would be the result of either of the two schemes to which he had alluded—namely, the dismembering of Trinity College with a view to establish denominational Colleges, or the endowment of Catholic and Protestant Colleges out of the public funds? They would not in that way produce educational equality. Trinity College had a distinguished history of three centuries, and they could not create or purchase with money the historic associations of the past. Moreover, they must remember that if they established denominational Colleges they would strike a fatal blow at united education. They would draw away the students now educated at Trinity College and at the Queen's Colleges, and they would be intensifying the very worst evils and misfortunes which now afflicted Ireland. What was the spectacle which Ireland presented? Ireland was now divided against itself by sectarian rancour. What was so likely to stereotype sectarian rancour as separating men in early youth according to their religious creeds? What so likely to diminish it and strike a blow at its fatal influence? As the memorialists to whom he before alluded remarked, there was nothing so potent in that direction as associating young men in the same College hall and at the same commons table, where they learnt to respect the conscientious feelings of each other. Religious differences were peculiarly painful in every country; but it was no exaggeration to say that they had been particularly the misfortune of Ireland. Now, he had good reason to hope that the Government, knowing what the feelings of their strongest supporters were on the subject of united and undenominational education, would cordially accept this Motion. But, in order to prevent all doubt and misapprehension, it was better that he should at once say what he should do supposing they did not accept it. It was always extremely painful to have a request made to which one could not accede. And he was bound to say that if a request were made that he should withdraw this Motion, painful though it might be, it would be absolutely impossible for him, for reasons which he thought the House would consider satisfactory, for one moment to accede to it. Why did he say so? Let him remind the House of the history of this question. Three years ago a Motion similar to this was brought forward, and after an adjourned debate it would be in Mr. Speaker's recollection that he had to give upon it a casting vote. In voting against the Motion he gave reasons which every one at the time must have felt were just, conclusive, and satisfactory. He said he did not vote against the principle of the Motion, but simply in order to give the House another opportunity of ex- pressing its opinion, upon it. From peculiar circumstances, that opportunity had never occurred until that evening. In the ensuing Session, when the Motion was again brought forward by manœuvres which were patent to all, and which at the time were said to have been resorted to for the sake of party—many strange things were done for the sake of party, but that seemed one of the strangest—the House was counted out almost before it met, when he believed nearly 200 Members were in the Lobby. Next Session it was impossible for him to bring forward the Motion until quite the close of the Session, when the attendance was so small that it would have been unfair for him to ask the House to express an opinion upon it. Well, he believed that difficulty would not be felt on this occasion. They were resuming the discussion under far happier auspices. He brought forward the Motion not at the request, but, he might be permitted to say, with the entire approbation of the College itself. He sincerely believed, and he trusted his hope was well founded, that his connection with the question would cease from that evening. It had now found far more powerful and influential advocates, and to them, with gratitude and confidence, he should intrust it. His only object had been, in less propitious times than the present, to uphold the cause of united education. A great opportunity was now afforded to Government of extending the influence of undenominational education in Ireland. But should they not avail themselves of the opportunity which was now afforded them? In conclusion, he would only give one promise and one pledge, which was this—that the question should not in future be permitted to rest for the want of a sincere and earnest advocate. He begged to move the Resolution which stood in his name.


said, he rose to second the Motion, and he did so with the full concurrence of his right hon. Colleague the senior Member for the University (Dr. Ball). So far as he was himself concerned, he had for so short a time had the honour of sitting in the House that he would have preferred still to remain a silent Member; but he thought the House would agree this was not a subject on which he could withhold his opinion. He could at least assure the House that he did not approach the subject in any spirit of party politics. He had been sent there by his constituents pledged to one purpose—with one pledge only—and that was by his vote and voice to repel, as far as in him lay, the aggression of Ultramontane ambition which threatened their University, and to appeal to that House in favour of the great principle of united education in Ireland. These were the two grounds on which, in seconding the Motion, he should ask the House to affirm this Resolution. Their object was, with all respect, with all deference, but firmly and determinedly, to press for a decisive and definite answer from the Government on these questions—how they proposed to deal with the subject of University education as to Trinity College, Dublin? whether they wished to take any notice, and, if any, what notice of the Memorial forwarded to them in the most formal manner by the governing body of that University? He knew his position in the House was, individually, a small one, yet he should speak with all boldness, though, he hoped, not without proper respect, for he felt he was there not only as the representative of a University now nearly 300 years old, but also of a great principle, older far—old as Christianity itself, for it was embedded in the very heart of Christianity. If the House would permit him, he would ask very briefly to review what the University had already done in this matter—showing that what she now proposed to do was no new idea on the part of her governing body, but the proper and just consummation of the policy she had invariably pursued. As hon. Members were aware, it was in Elizabeth's reign that the University was founded. As they might easily suppose, having been founded at the request of the heads of the Reformed Church, then lately established in Ireland, it was founded on a strictly Protestant principle; and even to the present time it continued, to a great extent, a Protestant institution. Passing then over a period of 200 years, they came to the year 1793. That was the next great epoch in the history of the University of Dublin. The House was well aware that, ten years before, in 1783, the Irish Parliament had acquired its independence. That Assembly, with all its defects, had this great merit—that it was forward in the policy of reli- gious liberality; and it signalized the close of its first decade by carrying, in the year 1792, a large measure of Catholic relief. Next year the governing body of the University of Dublin, then composed exclusively of Protestant clergymen, obtained from the English Government permission to admit to her degrees the Roman Catholics of Ireland. He ventured to submit to the House that on that day, when for the first time the gates of Trinity College rolled backward to admit the Roman Catholics of Ireland—on that day, when Trinity College, stepping down from her position of religious exclusiveness, opened her arms to gather in the youth of every class and creed in Ireland, she asserted for herself the claim to be a truly national University, and she inaugurated that policy which he hoped would now find its fulfilment and triumph. He might then skip half-a-century. During that time the ranks of the College were recruited from the Roman Catholics and other Dissenters; for, having been empowered by the Government to admit Roman Catholics, the College itself freely opened its career to the enterprise of Protestant Dissenters. In the interval, from 1793 to 1845, there was a great accession and a continually increasing number of Roman Catholic students, and during that period many of the Roman Catholic gentlemen who now filled the highest official and judicial positions in Ireland obtained their education and their degrees in Trinity College, Dublin. What occurred in 1845? As the House might readily assume, the Scholarships having been founded by old Charters were not open to Roman Catholic ambition. But there was at that time in the University of Dublin a student eminent for his ability—now the junior Member for the county of Tipperary (Mr. Heron)—and much as he differed from the hon. Gentleman, and, he might add, much as he condemned some of his political views, he wished to speak of him with sincere and unfeigned personal respect. That hon. Gentleman presented himself as a candidate at the Scholarship examination, and, having been very distinguished in his answering, was entitled to receive a Scholarship had he been eligible; but was prevented from doing so by the fact that he was a Roman Catholic. The hon. and learned Member for Tippe- rary appealed to the Visitors of the College; the law, however, was against him, and his appeal was not successful. But there was another fact in connection with this subject to which he wished to call the attention of the House, as showing the actual working and the social influence of a system of mixed education. Roman Catholics and Dissenters were then, as now, far from being in the majority; but this student, who had fought the battle of independence in the University, how was he treated? The next year there was given to him the highest honour that the students among themselves had power to confer—a distinction to which very great consideration attached, and which had also been enjoyed by his right hon. and learned Friend (Dr. Ball). He was appointed to the Auditorship of the Historical Society—a position corresponding in the University of Dublin to the presidency of the Union Societies at Oxford and Cambridge. For that distinction he was indebted solely to the spirit which existed among the students themselves. The attention which these circumstances attracted was followed by the issue of a Royal Commission, and anyone who had road, or might take the trouble to read, the Report of that Commission would admit that it was highly creditable to the University of Dublin. The Royal Commission reported in 1853; and in 1855 the Board of Trinity College, still following out their former policy, of their own accord, spontaneously, out of the funds at their disposal for general University purposes, met the want, and removed the obstacle that had stood in the way of the hon. Gentleman to whom he had alluded. They founded a number of non-foundation Scholarships—that was to say, they set apart from their resources a particular fund to supply the stipend which should be the reward of every Roman Catholic or Dissenter who should answer sufficiently well to entitle himself to a Scholarship; and never since that day had any Roman Catholic or Dissenter who deserved it failed to obtain a Scholarship. So far the course of the University of Dublin had been, he thought, consistent; but there was one other feature to which allusion had been already made by his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett). In 1858–9 the Board went further, and out of the same funds provided fourteen Studentships, which corresponded to the smaller Fellowships at Oxford and Cambridge, and three or four out of those fourteen had been enjoyed by Roman Catholics. In fact, it was a circumstance so noteworthy that he could not pass it by, that the Roman Catholics and Dissenters who favoured them by joining the University of Dublin, in almost every case had won brilliant distinction. While upon this subject he might mention one matter, small in itself, but still not unimportant, which would probably weigh with the House: there were at this moment waiting outside the portals of the Fellowship examination two or three young gentlemen of eminent talents who had laboured on in the hope that, oven before now, opportunities would have been afforded to them, and who, if this measure were passed—the examination not being held till June—would still be able to compete for the distinction and privilege of Fellowship, and at once take a step towards the governing body of the University. In rapidly reviewing the history of the University he trusted he had not delayed the House too long. Some hon. Gentleman might be surprised at his using sometimes the words "Trinity College," and sometimes "the University of Dublin;" but, in point of fact there was but one College in the University of Dublin, and accordingly the two phrases were habitually used as synonymous. The case then stood in this position—every emolument, every honour, and every advantage that it was possible for the Board of Trinity College, without the interference of Parliament, to throw open to Dissenters, in which would be, of course, included the Roman Catholics, had been freely offered to them, and the only remaining prizes were the Fellowships and some few Professorships intimately connected with the foundation. Under these circumstances the University now came before the House, and they asked for the assistance of Parliament in fully carrying out the system to which they had always endeavoured to give effect. He now came to the social conditions and the state of feeling which had been brought about in the University by the system of mixed education which was there pursued. It was not many years since he himself had been a student in the University, and accordingly it was a subject on which he might claim to speak. If it were possible for him to present to the House one general view of the aspect of Ireland, torn by contending factions, and with all the best feelings which should bind up society distorted by religious hatred and internecine feud, and if he could contrast with that dreary picture the one bright spot that still remained in Ireland, the one institution thoroughly unsectarian, thoroughly national, and thoroughly loyal, this would go far, he believed, to advance the Motion for which he was now contending in the favour of the House. It was impossible to bring these considerations fully before them without descending, in some respect, to details; and he hoped the House would bear with him while he explained that in Trinity College the students sat at the same common table, engaged in the same studies, were lectured in the same rooms, and examined in the same halls; they shared the same playground, mingled in the same games, and were equally members of that debating society to which he had alluded, and which, in a country like Ireland, where so much attention was paid to oratory, necessarily occupied a pre-eminent position. When he first I had the honour of joining that society its debates were wont to be confined to such stirring topics as "whether Brutus was justified in killing Cæsar." But so happily had the system worked that gradually these limits were relaxed, and the only occasion on which it was necessary to put the more stringent rules in practice was when some enterprizing member of the society proposed for discussion whether the character of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government was worthy of the confidence of the Historical Society. [Mr. GLADSTONE: How did they vote?] The right hon. Gentleman had many warm and sincere admirers; and, on the other hand, in honesty and candour he was bound to say there were many who held an opposite opinion. But the governing body of Trinity College felt it would not be quite safe to let them have it out; and, therefore, he was unable to inform the right hon. Gentleman whether there were upon that occasion more in favour or more who were opposed to the motion of confidence. In connection with this same Historical Society, there was one great occasion in each year when the society held its meeting, and when the many distinguished men who had won their honours first in the society and afterwards in the world attended. Upon such occasions he had enjoyed the pleasure of being upon the platform with many dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church, who sat side by side with clergymen of what was, till lately, the Established Church in Ireland; of course he did not mean to say that those Roman Catholic dignitaries belonged to the Ultramontane section of the Church. All these were minute details, he confessed; but they truly showed the feeling which prevailed in the University. And he put this question to the House—When young men were thus engaged, when they were not only enjoying the pleasures, but deriving the advantage of mutual intercourse, and laying, moreover, the foundations of future friendships, was it not painful to conjure up the idea of some dark figure, ecclesiastical or secular, entering upon the scene to divide the ranks, to separate boy from boy, man from man, and intimate from intimate, telling them that it was contrary to faith and morals that they should continue to enjoy those things in common? He could well understand how these young men, at such a bidding, would gaze into each other's faces, seeking in vain to discover what great crime they could have committed. The liberty to do this demanded by some persons might be liberty to them; but it was tyranny to all others. Was it not cruel, was it not contrary to every generous feeling that should actuate all men, that when the hearts of these young Irishmen were yearning one to the other, they should be separated by the cold partition of dogmatic theology? Having remarked upon the policy those he spoke for wished to carry out, he begged to say a word or two upon the policy they wished to avert; and, in doing so, he would speak with as much moderation as he could. He was aware that everything falling from a Protestant on this subject would be represented in Ireland as if spoken from a motive of dark hatred toward those who happened to be Roman Catholics; but he protested that it was in no spirit of hostility to them, but, on the contrary, in a spirit of true friendship, that he was about to refer to a dominant section of their body, and he would fail in his duty if he did not speak strongly. An unfortunate impression prevailed in Ireland, more especially among the Protestants, that there was a something at present unrevealed and reserved, to be carried out by a sort of coup de main—he might almost say, coup d'état—a stroke of educational policy to surprise the world and delight a certain section of the Irish hierarchy. There was a suspicion afloat, indeed—and he said it in no spirit of impertinence—that there had been something like the old league between Faust and Mephistopheles formed between the right hon. Gentleman opposite and a certain most reverend and very eminent Prelate. The right hon. Faust had been playing with great effect and brilliancy behind the footlights, wooing, with what success he knew not, the Irish Marguerite; while the right hon. Gentleman who sat beside him, taking the rôle of the old woman, had been performing on his own account, for his own sake, a little flirtation with the most rev. gentleman in red in the background. As for the foundation for this suspicion he could not speak; but certain it was that some such suspicion as might be conveyed by such an illustration, had got abroad; and the institution whose interests and principles were at stake, was entitled to a decisive answer to it. At present those he represented feared the worst; they feared it from the somewhat mysterious and roundabout announcement made last year, on the occasion of a similar Motion to this being brought before the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman on that occasion said that the plan proposed gave no opening for the attainment of a University degree, except through Colleges constructed on the principle of mixed education—this was the only objection he had to the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Fawcett's) Motion; which, in other words, meant that he had no objection to the Roman Catholics having a share of the spoil, but that he must on no account infringe on the demesne of denominational education. If this were putting an erroneous construction upon the right hon. Gentleman's words, the right hon. Gentleman would presently have an opportunity of replying to him. Altogether, there had been a feeling abroad, whether arising from former conduct of members of the Ad- ministration, whether from speeches made by those "very valuable supporters of the Government"—whom the Solicitor General for Ireland described the other night—in their election addresses through the country, which in some cases had turned out to be not only semi-official, but altogether official—for he believed the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government was hardly fully cognizant of what occurred in Ireland—certain it was that these suspicions were abroad, suspicions which it was his duty to lay at once before the House—if unfounded they would vanish into air by six words of contradiction—but suspicions which, if well founded, proved the Ministry to be sailing under false colours. The Government were adopting, in the management of these Irish questions, the old expedient of the Horatii and the Curatii. They proposed to take these matters in detail—first the Church, then the land, and afterwards, when all was quiet, would come the Education Bill. If that were the policy of the Government it was an unworthy policy. The Ministry could not ride on the two horses any longer; it could not continue with one foot on the extreme Liberals, altogether pledged to the undenominational system, the mixed system of education, and the other upon the "very valuable support" of the Ultramontanes. He wished to speak with moderation as to the Roman Catholic policy, and to say as little as he could which was injurious to the character of the Roman Catholic hierarchy; but to show the real character of their views he would, with the permission of the House, read one or two extracts from the correspondence between. Sir George Grey and the Roman Catholic Prelates of Ireland in 1860. A paragraph on page 8, in a Memorial signed by these Prelates, concluded as follows:— While expressing these feelings we deem it our duty again to declare emphatically our condemnation of the system of united academical education on which the Queen's Colleges are founded, and which, in accordance with the repeated declarations of our Church, we hold to be intrinsically dangerous to the faith and morals of Catholics. Again, on page 9— That the University founded by the Roman Catholic Bishops will be chartered as a College within the new University, in such a manner as to leave the department of teaching Catholics altogether in the hands of Catholics, and under the control of their Bishops, its founders. Then there were to be a certain number of laymen—five or eight, he thought—in this congregation. Strange transformation! The eight laymen had been altogether absorbed, no one knew how. Then in the provisions of their charter, which the Roman Catholic Prelates had put forward as a sine quâ non, occurred these passages— That whenever a vacancy shall occur in the office of life governor, the ex-officio governors shall by writing nominate such other person as to them shall seem meet to be a governor for life. That the governors for the time being shall have full power, from time to time, to appoint, and, as they shall see occasion, to remove, as well the rector, vice-rector, the professors, and other members of the faculties, the tutors and masters, as also the secretary, and all officers, agents, and servants of the said College. That the tests of knowledge be applied in such manner as to avoid the appearance of connecting, even by the identity of name, those who avail themselves of them, or co-operate in applying them, with a system which their religion condemns. That the Queen's Colleges be re-arranged on the principles of the denominational system of education. Now, he asked whether that was what the present Government was prepared to submit to their supporters sitting behind them—that the Queen's Colleges be arranged upon a principle of denominational education! But as that was their opinion in 1866, let them see whether they had much changed since. The latest correspondence was dated 1867 and 1868. He denied that he was bringing forward this matter from any party spirit; as he had promised his constituency so he pledged himself to the House that the Government which opposed the system he had just described would have his support, and he would oppose any Ministry in favour of it. He might, therefore, at least claim independence upon this subject. Well, in 1868 Dr. Leahy and Dr. Derry, writing to Lord Mayo, said— It is our duty to state, for the information of Her Majesty's Government, that the safety of faith and morals in the University can only be secured by recognizing in the Bishops, as members of the Senate, the right, which as Bishops they possess, and which all Catholics must acknowledge them to possess, of pronouncing authoritatively on matters of faith and morals. That right belongs to them, and to them alone, as compared with laymen, and even ecclesiastics of the second order. According to the doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church, it is not competent for laymen, not even for clergymen of the second order, however learned, to judge authoritatively of faith and morality. That is the exclu- sive province of Bishops. As faith and morality may be injuriously affected either by the heterodox teaching of professors, lecturers, or other officers, or by their bad moral example, or by the introduction of bad books into the University programme, the very least power that could be claimed for the Bishops on the Senate, with a view to the counteraction of such evils, would be that of an absolute negative on such books, and on the first nomination of professors, &c." (it would have been shorter to say Index Expurgatorius), "as well as on their continuing to hold their offices after having been judged by the Bishops on the Senate to have grievously offended against faith or morals. It will be observed that the power here claimed relates solely to matters intimately connected with morality and doctrine. The establishment of such a system would be equivalent to instituting a lay Maynooth with an ecclesiastical government. It might possibly be objected against his argument that if that system were as bad as he made it out to be, the Roman Catholic laity themselves would have called out against it; and he supposed, from a Paper that had been laid upon their Table that morning, that this would be the line of defence adopted by those who thought differently from himself upon this matter. Upon this point he had to say that the reason that the Roman Catholic laity had not protested against this system was the very simple one that they could not—dared not protest against it. He had not the document to which he referred with him; but its nature was of so singular a character that it had thoroughly impressed itself upon his memory, it being about the most curious illusion ever attempted to be passed off upon the Members of the House of Commons. He had stated that the Roman Catholic laity had not protested against this system. He knew many of the Roman Catholic laity when he lived in the Dublin University, and he had spoken to them afterwards on the subject, when they said to him—"You Protestants must save us from this system." [Murmurs of dissent.] There were witnesses to the accuracy o that statement then present in the House. [Cries of "Name, name!"] One of their names was attached to the document to which he referred. [Cries of "Name, name!"] Name him; that was a modest request indeed—to do so would be to put Mm within the power of a moral inquisition. He would tell the House how these things were managed in Ireland, although anyone who read the Irish newspapers or read the blue books relating to Irish Election Petitions, could easily form an opinion upon the matter for himself. It was only the other day that the Report of the Sligo Commissioners was presented to hon. Members, from which it appeared that the Roman Catholic Bishop of the diocese had been guilty of spiritual intimidation. He would rather not quote the language to the use of which that right rev. Prelate had himself confessed before the Commission; but it was to be found in the Report to which he had referred. In support of his allegation that the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland dare not protest against this system he would refer, in the first place, to the position of the great majority of the poor struggling classes in Ireland. They were, at the present moment, in the height of the religious and political excitement caused by the action of the great changes that were made last Session, and which had convulsed Irish society, and therefore they went with their Prelates in everything. He should, however, like to know what opinion they were capable of forming upon the question of University education. The shopkeepers, again, were dependent upon the people below them, and naturally partook of their sentiments. But, beyond that, in every corner of Irish society was to be found a reverend policeman on the watch, and it must be admitted that this portion of the Irish police was admirably organized. The House being probably aware that there was no large middle class of the Roman Catholic laity in Ireland, and knowing how high religious feeling, political feeling, and sectarian feeling ran in that country, and remembering what a struggle it was for a man to hold his head above water in any of the professions, they might judge of what importance it must be for him to keep on good terms with the ecclesiastical authorities of the Roman Catholic Church. He would now ask the attention of the House to a copy of a declaration of the Roman Catholic laity in Ireland on the subject of University education in the country, which had lately been laid before the Prime Minister, and to which he (Mr. Plunket) had referred. When he first got it it struck him as a very formidable document in favour of denominational education; but having glanced over the names attached to the document, he was sur- prised to find that many of them were those of very intimate Roman Catholic friends of his, some of whom he knew to be strongly opposed to the denominational system of education. In the first place, he would read the declaration, and then he would ask the House whether it was a declaration really in favour of denominational education. It ran thus— We, the undersigned, Roman Catholic laymen, deem it our duty to express as follows our opinions on University education in Ireland:—1. That it is the constitutional right of all British subjects to adopt whatever system of Collegiate or University education they prefer. That was a principle he at once assented to; but it was quite another thing to ask the State to found an educational establishment, no matter how adverse in principles to the religion of the State, or how ruinous it might be in practice. This first part of the declaration was by far the most formidable sentence in the whole of the document; but he agreed with it. The second paragraph stated— That perfect religious equality involves equality in all educational advantages afforded by the State. And, therefore, he called upon the right hon. Gentleman further to open the endowments of Trinity College to the Roman Catholics of Ireland. With that general proposition also he entirely concurred. The third sentence set forth— That a large number of Irishmen are at present precluded from the enjoyment of University education, honours, and emoluments, on account of conscientious religious opinions regarding the existing systems of education. To that also he could have signed his name with the most perfect propriety and good faith. Fourthly, and lastly, the document which he now almost thought must have been prepared with the view of supporting the Motion of the hon. Member for Brighton, went on to declare— That we, therefore, demand such a change in the system of Collegiate and University education as will place those who entertain these conscientious objections on a footing of equality with the rest of their fellow-countrymen as regards Colleges, University honours and emoluments, University examinations, government, and representation. That was exactly what he asked should be done. There was more meaning in the document than there appeared at first sight. The names attached to it had been collected from every part, even the most remote, of the country, and no pains had been spared in getting it up. In fact, the persons engaged in this movement did not spare any labour in such a matter; they worked with energy, with unswerving purpose, and with untiring ambition, under which all that could be performed was accomplished. That document had been put forward as an evidence of the support given by the Roman Catholic laity to a denominational system; but he held that its failure proved the opposite. Not wishing himself to comment severely upon individuals, he would, with the permission of the House, read two short extracts from the speeches of right hon. Gentlemen, one of which he thought would have weight with, at all events, one Member of the present Administration. He would first read an extract from a speech delivered in that House on the 12th of March, 1868, which was as follows:— Every person was aware that the Catholic University was founded by command of the Pope avowedly and ostentatiously for the destruction of the Queen's Colleges. It was a declaration of war against the liberal and national system, by which the wisest Ministers and most popular Parliaments had endeavoured to identify the material improvement of Ireland with its mental and moral growth. It was in direct and avowed hostility to that system that this Catholic University was founded for the propagation of Ultramontane doctrines in politics and religion. … The Queen's Colleges were established at the request of the Roman Catholic laity, and supported by the Catholic Prelates, until Cardinal Cullen, expressly sent to Ireland for the purpose of initiating the Ultramontane rule, obtained in Synod of Thurles a majority of one against them. That extract, he need scarcely say, was from the speech of the right hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Horsman). He would now venture to read an extract from another speech delivered in that House, which was as follows:— The idea that we are now at this time to set to work to establish a sectarian University is one which, in my opinion, is utterly unworthy of 'a truly Liberal Government.' I cannot understand such a proposal. There is a Roman Catholic University in Ireland already established by Papal rescript, issued in conformity with the resolution of the Synod of Thurles. … … The University was set up to counteract the mixed system of education. It has a very large endowment fund, amounting, as I have heard, to £120,000, though everything about it is very obscure. … … I believe it impossible for the enemies of Ireland to devise a more objectionable scheme, one which, far from healing the wounds of that country, would be more likely to cause additional mischief. We should not be making concession to the Roman Catholic population, but to the Roman Catholic hierarchy—an Ultramontane hierarchy—a hierarchy that has an electioneering influence, and it is that influence which you are seeking to buy, by sacrificing the Roman Catholic laity. The Roman Catholic laity in Ireland are entitled to the sympathy and protection of this House, and believe me they want it. These are not the times of Dr. Crolly and Dr. Murray; you have to deal now with the Ultramontane priesthood in Ireland. Those words also were spoken on the 12th of March, 1868. The genuine ring and cutting sarcasm of that passage were sufficient to prove that it came from the right hon. Gentleman the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. He hoped, therefore, that certain of the Prime Minister's supporters below the Gangway, when they rose to speak in that debate, would not pour all the vials of their wrath on his devoted head, and say he was a bigoted Protestant and a Tory champion; but would keep a little of their indignation for the right hon. Gentlemen from whose speeches he had just quoted. He thanked the House for the patience and attention with which they had heard him. He apologized if he had spoken with too much warmth; but he came from a country where they were accustomed to think and speak warmly, and he submitted to the House it was better that they should speak as they thought. To his mind this was the most solemn question now affecting his unhappy country. It was a question, the decision of which would affect Ireland, not only for their time, but for ever—a question which could not be confined to the University of Dublin, but would spread itself over the whole of Ireland. It was the question whether they were to govern Ireland through the instrumentality of the Ultramontane hierarchy; it was the question whether the Government were to buy the votes of that hierarchy at the hustings by offering them measures which they hesitated to produce in this House; whether they were to buy in the dearest and sell in the cheapest market the honour, the dignity, and the safety of the Empire. That was the question which was now placed in one of its aspects before the House. That night they stood on the threshold of a new policy for Ireland. Hitherto, their policy had been in the direction of throwing down an old ascendancy. What were they now about to do? Were they going to build up a new and more deadly ascendancy? He had listened the other night to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (the First Lord of the Treasury) when, at the close of the debate on the second reading of the Irish Land Bill, he astonished and delighted the House with a burst of eloquence such as he (Mr. Plunket) never before had the pleasure of hearing. He had listened—as every friend of freedom, of justice, and of eloquence must have listened—to that great peroration, in which simple grandeur was mingled with the most perfect melody. If the House would permit him, not in a spirit of individual presumption, but as, for the moment, the ambassador of an old institution, and the representative of a great principle, to borrow some of the right hon. Gentleman's words, struck out from the mint of his genius, and such as he (Mr. Plunket) could never coin, though they admirably suited his purpose, he would ask him to pause ere he took the fatal step, if he intended to take it. He would ask him to recollect what had been the course of English legislation towards Ireland in this century; what it had attempted, what it had done; aye, and what it had sacrificed. They had repealed the Penal Laws. He cordially went along with them in their condemnation. They had won the battle of Catholic Emancipation. He, standing in that House, might speak of that struggle with peculiar pride. They had carried out their policy to its last, its awful, its crucial test—they had struck down an old institution which had driven its roots deep in the constitution and ramified them through every part of the country; and after sacrificing all that, and shaking not Irish society only, but English society also to its centre—after having done, and dared, and sacrificed so much in order to abolish an old ascendancy were they now about to proceed to establish a new and more odious ascendancy? He implored the right hon. Gentleman to consider the consequences of the policy which he might adopt on this occasion. Was he prepared to raise the flag of resistance on this question?—the flag of Ultramontane domination? Would he hold up that signal to the great Liberal party of England and call upon them to follow him? Would they follow such a disastrous leadership? He (Mr. Plunket) trusted they would not. The authorities of the University of Dublin had done all they could in the matter. They offered their emoluments, their honours, everything at their command, to assist in the great work. They proposed to admit Roman Catholics to the governing body. Having admitted that principle, everything else was matter of detail. If the Government would undertake such a measure, the authorities of the University were prepared to meet them half way. If they would grant the principle, his senior Colleague (Dr. Ball) would bring in a Bill to settle all matters of detail. But let the right hon. Gentleman announce his policy, and let them know what they were to hope or what to fear Let the principle of mixed education in Ireland be accepted by the Government and the House. Having said so much, he should not trespass further on the time of the House, but would say that they rested their cause, with the utmost confidence, on the wisdom, the independence, the justice, and the honour of the Imperial Parliament.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House regards with satisfaction the Memorial lately presented to the Prime Minister by the Provost, Professors, Tutors, and other authorities of Trinity College, Dublin, in favour of united or undenominational academical education in Ireland, and this House is of opinion that it is highly expedient that the Government should, with the least delay possible, give effect to the prayer of this Memorial by introducing a measure which would not only free the Fellowships, Scholarships, and other emoluments and honours of Trinity College, Dublin, from all religious disabilities, but which would further provide that those who are not members of the Established Church might, within a reasonable time, obtain an adequate influence in the government of the College,"—(Mr. Fawcett,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


congratulated the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) on having made so successful a commencement in that House, and on the promise he gave of upholding the fame of the great name he bore. He submitted, however, that the question of University education in Ireland was too large and important to be decided on an abstract Resolution proposed by a private Member. It was a question which should be dealt with by a responsible Minister of the Crown. Before coming to the main principle involved in the Motion, he wished to point out that technically the wording of the Resolution of the Member for Brighton was erroneous; because, in point of fact, no Memorial had been "presented to the Prime Minister by the Provost, Professors, Tutors, and other authorities of Trinity College, Dublin;" and, therefore, the House could not correctly express satisfaction at the issue of a Memorial which had no existence, nor could it call on the Government to give ear to a prayer which had never been made. But he was not going to oppose the Resolution on this technical objection. Of course, he knew that the hon. Member for Brighton intended to refer to the declaration lately put forward by certain gentlemen connected with Trinity College, and that it was with regard to that declaration the House was asked to express satisfaction. He held that the House ought not to express this satisfaction without knowing the antecedent declarations of the gentlemen who signed that document. The House had been told by the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin that those gentlemen were not proposing anything new—that they were acting in accordance with a policy long ago adopted by the governing body of the institution they represented. The declaration lately presented, for the sentiments of which the hon. Gentleman asked approval, stated, that for the last three quarters of a century Trinity College had consistently acted on a certain principle. And it went on to say that Trinity College had recently expressed its willingness to concur in carrying out more thoroughly that policy by the entire abolition of religious tests. On this the hon. Gentleman based his Resolution. He called on the House to express satisfaction at this declaration, and to carry out the proposal contained in it, which he stated to be the same proposal he made two years ago, and which was then declared to be by these same gentlemen of Trinity College, a proposal for the establishment of— A new and untried system, which would tend largely to diminish the number of persons who would otherwise avail themselves of the advantages afforded by Trinity College, as a place of education, and a change which would be calculated to interrupt the progress of the University, and mar the benefits which it had hitherto conferred on Ireland. Furthermore, at the same time, two years ago, these same learned gentlemen and thousands of the graduates of Trinity College declared by Petitions to this House. That— Trinity College was founded in Dublin by Queen Elizabeth in 1590, for the promotion of University education in Ireland, based on the principles of the Protestant religion; that for three centuries it had faithfully fulfilled the trust imposed in it; and that it had in consequence enjoyed the confidence of the Protestant people of Ireland; and they prayed that the Protestant constitution of the University might be preserved unimpaired, and the Protestant people of Ireland might retain the privileges that for 300 years they had enjoyed without interruption. He asked were not the sentiments expressed in these Petitions and the present declaration utterly inconsistent? It had been said that times had changed, and that in the present state of affairs, these learned Professors of Trinity College had a perfect right to change their opinions, and to advocate now, what heretofore they had deprecated. He was not going to deny them this right. Change of opinion was not so unusual in this age and in this country that a proof of it was self-condemnation, and it was as much open to these gentlemen as to others. But had they changed their opinions? Did they so state in their declaration? That was the point? Did they say they were now ready to give up the old system for a "new and untried one?" Did they admit that the purpose for which Trinity College was founded, and the trust to which for so many centuries it had been faithful, and through which it had gained the confidence of the Protestant people of Ireland, was to be abandoned? If they did they might be taunted with inconsistency; they might be accused of fickleness in the advocacy or abandonment of great principles, and thereby their authority might be weakened. But the retort would be open to them to say that times and circumstances had altered—that the disestablishment of the Irish Church and other changes looming in the distance were sufficient grounds for a change of opinion. However much this might be argued upon by the hon. and learned Gentleman the representative of Trinity College, it was not put forward in the declaration before the House. In that declaration there was no such statement of a change of opinion. These learned Gentlemen ask the House to carry out no new policy; they recommend no new and untried system; but, on the contrary, declare their readiness to pursue more thoroughly the policy upon which the College has consistently acted for three quarters of a century. He asked how was that policy to be ascertained, except by the statement made regarding it only two years ago, by those best acquainted with it, unless, indeed, there had been not only a change of opinion, but also a misstatement of facts. Was the House to be told that the Professors, Fellows, and Scholars, of Trinity College had not only changed their opinions, which they had a perfect right to do, but that that which, they stated in 1868 was wrong? Did they mean to say that what they declared in 1868 was a new and untried system, wholly incompatible with the progress of the University, was, in 1870, a more thorough carrying out of the policy pursued by the same University for the last three quarters of a century? Did they mean to say that the purpose for which, the College was founded, and the trust to which for 300 years it had been faithful was not only to be abandoned, but that this abandonment was the natural consequence of the policy of the College itself? If this were the case he held that still less did this declaration merit the approval of the House. It bore on its face the stamp of dishonesty. It was not an honest, manly expression of a change of opinion; it was not an admittal of an error in the past and a candid statement that under the altered circumstances of Ireland those gentlemen were ready to sacrifice all those principles which heretofore they regarded sacred, or to abandon those rights which formerly they considered essential. It was not an expression of a desire to be placed once and for all, and immediately on a footing of equality with their fellow-countrymen; but it was rather an attempt of men—who perceive they cannot preserve all the benefits of their exclusive privileges—to retain as much and as many of them as they can. For these reasons he contended that the declaration was not one of which the House should by Resolution express its approval. The present declaration was not straightforward; but was a dishonest attempt to retain privileges by a nominal abandonment of principle. He now came to the object of the Motion of the hon. Member for Brighton. The object of that Motion beyond all doubt was to settle the principle on which University education in Ireland was to be carried on. If the proposal were merely one to enable the members of a particular Church to open their University to whomsoever they pleased he could have no objection to it; but as it dealt with what ought to be a national University and which possessed enormous public endowments, he contended that the House should not agree to the Resolution. The hon. Member for Brighton, to whom he gave credit for the utmost sincerity, in order to establish equality between all religious denominations in the University had made the generous offer to allow the junior Fellows to elect some of themselves to represent them on the governing body of the University, but it was a mockery to make that offer as a settlement to the Catholics of Ireland. All the Fellows, senior and junior, were now Protestants, and were the Catholics to be told that equality would be established in their regard by allowing them—first, the chance of obtaining a junior Fellowship; and, secondly, having obtained it, the chance of being elected to represent the junior Fellows on the governing body of the University? They could not accept such a proposal. The Roman Catholics had always admitted that, as a Protestant institution, Trinity College was as liberal as it was possible to be, and they had never accused the governing body of being exclusive or bigoted. The hon. and learned Gentleman might, therefore, have refrained from making the observations he had done with regard to his (The O'Conor Don's) co-religionists. He repudiated the assertion that the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland were in a degraded condition, and had so little freedom of action that they were obliged to apply to the hon. and learned Gentleman for protection.


explained that he only referred to one or two gentlemen who had spoken to him on the subject.


said, the hon. and learned Gentleman had not said that those one or two persons were exceptions; but he wished the House to come to the conclusion that all the Catholics of Ireland were under the degraded despotism of a tyrannical priesthood. It was impossible for them to remain under such an imputation; and he was astonished that the hon. and learned Gentleman had made it, having in his hand at the time a declaration signed by all the Catholic aristocracy of Ireland. The third paragraph of that document, quoted by the hon. and learned Gentleman, stated that a large number of Irishmen were at present precluded from enjoying the advantages of University education, its honours and emoluments, on account of their conscientious religious opinions; but how would the Motion of the hon. Member for Brighton meet the requirements of those persons? If the conscientious religious opinions of Roman Catholics would allow them to go to a mixed University, the present Queen's Colleges and Queen's University were already open to them, and the Motion of the hon. Member for Brighton would only add to the existing three Queen's Colleges a fourth. Therefore, if it was true that at present a large number of Irish Roman Catholics were precluded from enjoying the advantages of University education on account of their religious opinions, the same state of things would equally continue to exist after the Motion before the House was carried. The declaration emanating from the most influential Roman Catholic laymen in Ireland was, therefore, not in favour of the Resolution, as stated by the hon. and learned Member, but was a distinct repudiation of it considered as a settlement of the University education question of Ireland. If the conscientious objections of the Roman Catholics to mixed Colleges were admitted to exist, how could religious equality be established in regard to University education by adding to the number of the mixed Colleges and Universities? He did not now enter into the very large question of how religious equality in that matter might be established, he only wished to show that it could not be established by the abstract Resolution before the House; and while heartily joining in the desire that religious feuds and animosities among his fellow-coun- trymen of all classes and all denominations might cease, he must say the proposal of the hon. Member for Brighton was not one that could produce the harmonious and cordial feeling which its advocates desired, or one that could, under any circumstances, be satisfactory to the Roman Catholic people of Ireland.


Mr. Speaker—I hope it will not be thought, Sir, that I am intruding unduly upon the House in rising to address it at this stage of the debate. I should have thought it my duty—as I should have thought it the course most consistent with the tenour of the remarks I intend to offer—if I had followed immediately the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman who seconded the Motion (Mr. Plunket); but I felt that, considering the nature of some of the observations contained in that speech, fairness demanded that some hon. Gentleman representing the feeling of the Roman Catholic Communion should have an immediate opportunity of addressing, the House. Sir, that having taken place, my first and also my most agreeable duty is that of joining with my hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon (The O'Conor Don) in offering my sincere congratulations to the hon. and learned Gentleman the junior Member for the University of Dublin upon the commencement of his Parliamentary career. Apart, Sir, from every question of difference of opinion, I heartily rejoice to find that in the line of those whose name he bears, the qualities of an orator are transmitted by descent. And although I heard naturally, perhaps, the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman with mixed feelings, fluctuating according to the tenour of his remarks, yet there was much in that speech which I hailed with the utmost cordiality. I must observe, Sir, that it caused me to remember the words of the poet about "the large discourse which looks before and after." My mind went back to the legislation of last year, and I could not but reflect that the speech delivered by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and the opinions embodied in the Motion which he sought to support, were among the first fruits of that legislation. But further, Sir, I looked forward, and bethought me that in the course it may be of a couple of months hence—in the course of the present Ses- sion—we are to be engaged in discussing the subject of University tests for England; and I will remind the hon. and learned Member and assure him that much of the speech he has delivered to-night will be found to have supplied materials for use in the debates which may then ensue. It is not for me to ask with what sentiments the Members for the University of Oxford—one of the Members for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole) is now unhappily absent—with what sentiments the Members for the University of Oxford listened to that speech, and considered its bearing on the cause of which they have been the advocates. Suffice it to say that I have not a doubt—without attempting any offensive inquisition into their feelings—that on that question, as on every other, they will take the course which honour and conscience may seem to them to demand. But, Sir, the University of Dublin itself has certainly by this declaration given hostages to Fortune. The opinions it has recorded, the pledges it has given, whether this be the proper time for acting upon them, or whether it be not, are opinions and pledges that are now as though they were written upon the rock with a pen of iron, and the redemption of those pledges, in substance and in spirit, will undoubtedly be expected at no distant day. Well, Sir, I confess that I heard with great delight what the hon. and learned Member said of the history of the University of Dublin, and I also listened with great pleasure to his retrospect of his own practical experience of united education. Amidst the darkness of the past history of Ireland, I do think it is fair to admit that for a couple of generations, relatively and comparatively at least—and all our judgments of men and of bodies, if they are to be fair, must be relative and comparative—the conduct of the University of Dublin since the epoch to which he referred has done high honour to that learned body. But, Sir, pleasant as it was to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman detail his own experience of united education, I must confess that my satisfaction was somewhat qualified when I heard him proceed to describe as marked by "craft"—for that was the word he used—the declaration signed by, I think, thirty-six Members of this House, and by a great number of other persons connected with the Roman. Catholic Communion in Ireland; and it did appear to me, considering what the hon. and learned Gentleman is, that there is still much to be done before peace can have her perfect work in that country. One of the questions which we are to ask ourselves to-night is, how far the course which the hon. Member for Brighton invites us now to take on this particular question is likely to promote the work of peace. But I shall come to that by-and-by. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin descanted largely upon the apprehensions he entertained of Ultramontane opinions. As far as these apprehensions are of a general character it is not necessary for me to make any observations upon them. It would be even impertinent for me to state how far I sympathize with the hon. and learned Gentleman. But as far as his remarks are connected with the supposed conduct of the Government, it is my duty to refer to them, and I shall do so explicitly. The hon. and learned Gentleman said there is much apprehension as to what the Government are about to do, and there was a red figure and other figures brought upon the scene, and he gave us an extremely clever description—as everything must be clever that comes from the hon. and learned Gentleman—which was intended to convey a lively image of the nature of those fears. Then, having in this manner given solidity to terror, the hon. and learned Gentleman wound himself up to a height of fervour, and in terms, which almost convinced me of the reality of what I knew to be a chimera, he invited and conjured the Government to pause before they should create an Ultramontane ascendancy, or rear up any power whatever to take the place of that power which they have cast down. Now, the first question I want to have answered is this—what ground has the hon. and learned Gentleman for imputing to the Government such an intention? What act have we done, what word have we spoken, which, in the slightest degree, warrants what he has said? What is the evidence that the hon. and learned Gentleman has given? Why, he says there are apprehensions among the Protestants of Ireland. Well, Sir, as long as I have been alive and in a political sphere, there have been apprehensions among the Protestants of Ireland. [Cheers and counter-cheers.] I entirely agree with hon. Gentlemen on that point—nay, I will refresh your memory on the subject. Never were your apprehensions more lively than when the question of united education was introduced for the first time, and of all the efforts you ever made and all the battles you ever fought, none is comparable in tenacity or prolongation with the desperate strife you waged against the first introduction of that measure. But there has been a continuous course of apprehensions. When one has been disposed of another has come into its place, and now the hon. and learned Gentleman, having a great charge to make and a fervent invocation to deliver, has nothing in the world in the shape of evidence, except to say—"There is a kind of feeling spread among the Protestants of Ireland," those whom he represents—for I cannot admit that it is true with regard to the great body of the Protestants of Ireland—to the effect that something terrible is going to happen; that the Government, being particularly idle at the present time, have filled their leisure hours in concocting a most ingenious scheme for the suppression of mixed and the propagation of denominational education, and that this is to be carried out by what the hon. and learned Gentleman calls a coup d'état. A lively imagination is a great blessing when a man has to deliver a speech to an enthusiastic audience; but it is an encumbrance in the practical affairs of life, when it comes to be proved by experience that its creations are no better than soap bubbles in the air, floating for a moment and then vanishing; they do not contribute to a solid reputation, and are not worthy of the grasp of mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman. But I will not stand upon negatives alone; I will come to positives. The hon. and learned Gentleman quoted the correspondence of 1866, and dwelt on the demands then made by a powerful hierarchy. It is a great pity that the hon. and learned Gentleman, whose mind has been almost thrown off its axis by these disquieting apprehensions, did not take the trouble to read the whole of that correspondence; because, if he had, he would have found comfort and consolation that I am sure would have been of inestimable value, and would have relieved him from all the suffering he has undergone. He is suffering from the fear that there is a plot for the overthrow of the Queen's Colleges as the representatives of mixed education. How unfortunate it was that the hon. and learned Gentleman quoted from the 17th page. Let me recommend to his attention page 15. He need not feed any longer upon the innutritious and unsavoury diet of mere rumour; here is the solid meat of official and responsible declaration for him. My right hon. Friend Sir George Grey, in reply to the Catholic hierarchy, says— Her Majesty's Government are still of opinion that the principle upon which these Colleges were founded—namely, that of offering education in common to the Protestant and Roman Catholic youth of Ireland—is a sound one, and they are unable to concur in the belief expressed in the Memorial that these Colleges have been a signal failure. They have, therefore, no intention of proposing any alteration in the principle on which these Colleges are conducted. That was a declaration made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth on our part, in our name, when we were responsible for the conduct of public affairs. The hon. and learned Gentleman may say that that was in 1866; but has the hon. and learned Gentleman found anything said or done by us since then, that, in the slightest degree, warrants the idea that we have departed from that declaration? I will go one step further, and say it is almost impossible for us to feel a disposition to depart from it. Events have occurred and are occurring, not in this country, but in a great religious centre of Europe—events of such a character that it is impossible for an English statesman to feel himself in nearer proximity to the opinions of the Roman Catholic hierarchy than the position in which he then stood four years ago. The hon. and learned Gentleman quoted, as if he thought he could explode an infernal machine on the Treasury Bench, the declaration made by my right hon. Friend behind me the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the arts of mystery were employed to heighten the effect. For some time he kept back the name; but at last we were told, as if to frighten us out of our seven senses, that this was the declaration of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. So it was. I will not say that I heard with perfect accuracy every word of that declaration against the foundation of a Roman Catholic University; but as far as I have gathered the purport of it, I have never expressed anything at variance with it directly or indirectly. But when was that declaration delivered? I ask this, because the hon. and learned Gentleman is one of that large party who are going to give to the hon. Member for Brighton, that which of all things he told us he disliked, the support of the Opposition. The words used by the hon. Member the other night were—"Whatever pleases you displeases us." But it is an interesting circumstance to note that the declaration of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer—from which, so far as I know, no man has ever dissented directly or indirectly—was delivered in opposition to the plan then proposed by Gentlemen who now fill the opposite Benches—they being then the responsible Members of the Government, they being then the persons who produced the proposal to found a Roman Catholic University; and on the very same night, from that place, we condemned the scheme without waiting an instant, and these are the Gentlemen who are now in such haste to pledge Parliament against any scheme of denominational education that they will not wait a moment. So much for previous declarations. I now pass to the speech of the Mover of the Resolution. I have no complaint to make of that speech. If I criticize anything with respect to the terms of his Motion, I shall not do so as dissenting from the opinions it contains. My duty and that of my Colleagues on this occasion is plain. It is to reserve to ourselves the power of fulfilling, on our own behalf and that of the House and the country, the solemn obligation imposed upon us—to keep in our own hands the power of free deliberation and discussion among ourselves on the measures we shall propose with regard to the higher class of education in Ireland. That is the issue that we want to raise, and upon that issue, not upon the merits of the Motion of my hon. Friend, of which I shall not say one word, will the vote be taken. I am sorry that my hon. Friend, in the exercise of his undoubted liberty and discretion, has thought fit to bring forward this Motion as an Amendment to the Motion for Committee of Supply; because, if it had been proposed as an independent Motion, our duty would have been plain and easy—namely, on the part of the Government to move the Previous Question. Indeed, it is the only-form which does more distinctly than ordinary forms raise the true issue, which is that of time. But I have no choice upon this occasion. The forms of the House will not permit me to move the Previous Question, I believe, under the circumstances in which the Motion is now presented. But although we are under the disadvantage that, on that account, our course may not be so readily understood by the public, in the House we perfectly understand one another, and we know that the Motion for Supply being the principal Motion, and the Motion of the hon. Member being an Amendment, by voting for the Motion of Supply—that is to say, that the words, "the Speaker do leave the Chair" stand part of the Question, we give no opinion whatever on the Motion of the hon. Member for Brighton, or on the merits of the proposition which it contains, but we do what is done when the Previous Question is carried—we decline to affirm the proposition before the House at the present time and under the circumstances in which it is presented. Now, Sir, what is that time and what are those circumstances?—because I must assure the House that in our judgment they are of a very serious character. This being a question of policy, I might ask the House whether it is convenient to accumulate upon the controversies which now mark the condition of Ireland another controversy, and then comes the important question—is this other controversy one which we are in a condition to settle at the present moment? Hon. Gentlemen opposite heard the statement it was my duty to make yesterday on the part of the Government with regard to the condition of Public Business in this Session and at this period of the Session. They witnessed how many objections there were to be met, and I am not now complaining of them, in order to obtain even the slightest addition to our then existing means of expediting the business in question; and I ask them if they think it is in our power, in the midst of the discussions to which the remainder of the Session is to be devoted, to make time—I will hardly say to find time—for grappling with the subject of the higher education of Ireland, and conducting it to a settlement? In my opinion, Sir, there can be no one who really holds that opinion; but if any private Member of the House is of opinion that on his own responsibility he ought to undertake it, that is a proposition which would deserve separate consideration. Looking at the engagements under which we lie, I say, without the least fear of contradiction, that those engagements have already reached such a point that it will strain our utmost efforts and all the patience of the House to enable us in any measure to discharge them. And, Sir, it would be a mean and unworthy course if, in order to escape from a momentary difficulty, we were to recklessly enter into another engagement knowing that it could not be fulfilled. I am now speaking of the immediate fulfilment of the engagement as being impossible; but I presume it would be said in reply that a declaration of principle, and not the immediate fulfilment of some engagement to be entered into, is what is wanted from the Government by those who support the Motion before the House. We are asked to adopt the sketch of a measure that has been laid before the House, and to pledge ourselves hereafter to bring before the House a proposition carrying out that sketch. Let us first, then, look to the state of Ireland, and in doing so I must give the hon. and learned Gentleman credit for ingenuousness as well as talent, for he did not dissemble that the bringing in of a measure such as is contemplated by the Motion before the House would be entering upon another of those great controversies which distract and rend Ireland to the very roots of its social system. But, Sir, I go further, and say that if you open the question at this moment it would, in the opinion of the Irish people, be a wanton act, and you would raise yet another controversy in the minds of the Irish people—slight, indeed, for us in England, and easily settled in our own breasts, but great, difficult, and doubtful to Irishmen, namely—whether they can safely consent to trust the management of their interests to a British Parliament. [A laugh.] The sneer of the hon. Gentleman, and his utter contempt for the opinion I have just expressed, instead of causing me to think the difficulty less formidable, leads me to view the danger of trifling with these subjects in a stronger light, for we can never hope to arrive at satisfactory conclusions so long as hon. Gentlemen representing the people display a spirit such as is shown by the hon. Member. Now, Sir, I say that I think it most undesirable to open questions of this character with respect to Ireland, excepting when the Government and Parliament are in a condition to give the time, thought, pains, and sympathy that are necessary for their solution; and I do not think the present season can be said to present to us any of the favourable conditions that are necessary. The hon. and learned Gentleman does not attempt to make light of the importance of the declaration to which he has fastened the epithet or description of "craft." He says that it is a failure, and he accompanies that statement with others of great importance, for he says that at the present moment the mass of the Irish Roman Catholic people are undoubtedly of the same opinion with their pastors on this subject. It is true that he comforts himself by saying that they are not qualified to form an opinion; but we are not prepared—we are not entitled—to act on that supposition. It amounts to a denial of civil equality, and we cannot, therefore, accept it as the rule of our action; but taking it as a fact, it entirely substantiates the statement I have made that this is the opening of a formidable controversy. Having said so much in justification of my argument—that it would be unwise at the present time to complicate controversies which we are trying to bring to an issue in the hope of their satisfactory settlement—let me say a few words upon the position of Her Majesty's Government. The Government has taken Office for a variety of purposes connected with the profession of what is called the Liberal creed in politics; but the first and the greatest of those purposes was and is to find a solution for the Irish question, meaning thereby the great question of which the three branches are, the Irish Church, the Irish land, and the Irish education questions—this latter including especially the subject of higher education in that country. These questions were pointed out for solution by previous decisions of the House, and in acceding to Office, on the understanding that they were to be settled, if possible, the Government acted strictly in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. We acceded to Office not in consequence of the actual vote of the House, but of the anticipation of its judgment for which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire and his Colleagues were primarily responsible, and in which it was admitted by all they exercised a sound judgment. The House was pleased to give us its confidence, and we do not think we have done anything to forfeit the confidence of the House in regard to these questions; but do not let me be understood as saying this in the way of complaint as to the course that has been taken by the hon. and learned Gentleman the junior Member for the University of Dublin, or the course that will be taken by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the senior Member for the same constituency (Dr. Ball), for they have not given their confidence to the Government, and we have no claim on them. They regard the acts we have performed as rash and unwarrantable, and they will very naturally vote for this Motion in the belief that if passed it will hamper and impede the course of the Government in regard to its Irish policy in general, and particularly in regard to that branch of it which we are likely to be engaged upon for some time to come. But, Sir, be that as it may, we are in charge of this Irish question, of which the higher education of the people forms a considerable and an important part; and I want to know whether we are now bound to make, or to decline to make, what I think would be a premature and very partial indication of our sentiments? I fully admit my opinion that my hon. Friend the Mover of this Motion has been guided by a sentiment of equity in framing his Motion; but he had a difficult task to perform. He says he felt that his former Motion on the same subject was defective, an admission which shows, in the first place, the importance of allowing long intervals of time to elapse between first declarations and the further steps immediately precedent to action; and, in the second place, the difficulty under which a man labours when dealing with so complicated a subject in stating, not so much what his principle will be in one year, as what will be the specific form in which he will apply it in the next. My hon. Friend found it necessary to add to his Motion, and he says that it is necessary to provide that those who are not members of the Established Church might, within a reasonable time, obtain an adequate influence in the government of Trinity College. Now, what is the meaning of those words? Who has authority to construe them? And if we were to take that pledge, how should we be able to say how we should construe them for ourselves? What is "an adequate influence in the government of Trinity College?" The persons directly connected with the Established—or Disestablished—Church in Ireland are about 700,000. The rest of the population of that country are nearly 5,000,0 00. What is the adequate influence for 5,000,000 as compared with 700,000? I contend that it is impossible, by vague and general words, to give a satisfactory description of the mode in which that influence should be regulated. Moreover, another question arises. Is the government of Trinity College to be constituted under the notion of giving so much influence to one religious body and so much to another, or is it to be constituted on the principle of a perfectly impartial tribunal? I defy any man to say how this is to be under the terms of this Motion. If it bears any construction it is this—that the governing body should be divided in certain proportions among the various religious bodies in Ireland; but what those proportions should be, taking into account their relative numbers in the population of Ireland, I think he would be a very bold man indeed who would undertake to declare. It is impossible for any Government which respects itself, or which understands its duties, if it be intrusted by the House with its confidence, to surrender the initiative in those questions which have been committed to its care. This is no question of etiquette or formula; it is no matter of fastidious pride; it involves a principle of public conduct which my Colleagues and myself are not here, and will not be here, to depart from. The House, if it disapproves our Irish policy, is perfectly the master. If it thinks that we have been cowards, that we have been false, or slack, or fearful, my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton and the House can withdraw the charge which they have committed to our hands, or any portion of that charge, however essential we may think it. That I fully and frankly admit But let me not be mistaken. It is impossible for us, having regard to the obligations which the country and the House itself have imposed on us, to depart from the ground on which we stand. ["Hear!"] If I am tedious, the House, remembering the gravity of the subject at stake, will, I am sure, bear with me with some indulgence. I contend that, in acting as we propose, we are acting in accordance with a policy which the rules of prudence have uniformly dictated to every Government. Show me a case in which a Government called to power for a special purpose has thought fit to descend to purchase popularity by tying up its own hands and binding itself to certain conclusions before the time had arrived when it could carefully examine, measure, and weigh the facts on which those conclusions ought to depend. In 1841, Sir Robert Peel was called to power to deal with the Corn Laws. In September in that year the House met to transfer the administration into his hands. The House was then invited to adjourn until the winter, and Sir Robert Peel was called upon beforehand to declare the principle on which he proposed to amend the Corn Laws. He, however, peremptorily refused to do so. Again, in 1857—I am quoting cases that come to my recollection—the Government of Viscount Palmerston was in Office, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) used the liberty of Opposition. I find no fault with it as used on that occasion any more than I find fault with it now. In an autumn Session Lord Palmerston's Government pledged itself in the Queen's Speech to commence the real Session which was to follow by introducing the question of Parliamentary Reform. The House was to adjourn for some few months; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli), resorting to the voice of the charmer, previously invited Lord Palmerston to lay on the Table of the House the outline of the plan of Parliamentary Reform which he meant to introduce in the next Session. Lord Palmerston, however, peremptorily declined to comply with that request. In 1858 several Gentlemen whom I see opposite came into power with the understanding or engagement—I think it was an engagement—to produce a scheme of Parliamentary Reform. They came into power, however, late in February, and it was not possible for them to pass a measure of Reform that year. Lord Palmerston, on that occasion, thought fit to play the game of tit for tat, and invited the Government of Lord Derby to produce their plan of Reform or to give some indication of it. That Government also refused to comply with such a request, and I say that every Government which knows its duty must decline to make those partial, ambiguous, practically - ensnaring declarations with respect to questions of first-rate magnitude and importance. Well, the same thing happened to us last year. We were then severely, and I might almost say fiercely, challenged to sketch out the principle of the measure which we proposed to introduce with respect to the Irish Land. ["No, no!"] An hon. Gentleman says "No!" I am tempted to ask him whether the sun rose this morning or not. I am, at all events, under the belief that we were so challenged, that long debates arose in the House of Lords on that challenge as well as in this House, and that I myself spoke in those discussions. The hallucination is so strongly rooted in my mind, that for the time I must be permitted to treat it as a matter of fact. We were challenged, then, in the way which I have mentioned, and we rigidly refused. Our answer was—"Take our previous declarations and consider our conduct; if you are dissatisfied, you are entitled to act on that dissatisfaction; but if you are satisfied, and you mean us, whether satisfied or not, to be your instruments for the purpose of giving effect to your policy—the policy of the country and of the majority of this House—why, then, do not destroy or cripple your own instruments; do not set them to perform a difficult task and curtail them of the means of performing it." I hope I have made it clear to the House that in standing upon precedent we do so on the ground of public policy, and that we are adopting a course which implies no disrespect to my hon. Friend or to those who think with him. If I have criticized the Motion of my hon. Friend upon the score of ambiguity, that is not his fault, but a defect inherent to a declaration of this kind; and though I have declined to bind myself or my Colleagues to any of these propositions, I have not intended to speak in direct or indirect disparagement of his opinions or the opinions of anyone else. A great and solemn charge is laid upon us—not by those who do not give us their confidence, but by those who do—and they are free to withdraw it; but it is a strong plea, I think, to say that the reservation of freedom in such matters as this on the part of the Government is a necessary element of success, and that to give up that freedom before the proper time came would be a gross and unpardonable breach of duty. I hope that statement will be accepted. We have no change to announce in our views; we are not at all scrupulous in referring to declarations made in former times. With regard to the future, our intention is not to lose a moment, when the state of Public Business and the time of Parliament permits, in proceeding to deal with the question of the higher education in Ireland. We shall endeavour to deal with it in the same spirit in which we have endeavoured to deal with the questions of the Church and the land in that country. That is, to give fair and full effect to great public principles—with all the consideration that we can allow to interests and feelings on every side. I know not whether anything further is left with which I need trouble the House. Had the question not been of such gravity I need not have detained them so long. I hope I have conveyed clearly to the minds of those who hear me how it is and why it is that, in our minds at least, it is grave to a very high degree. We do not question the liberty of any, or the conduct of any. We make no invidious inquiry at all into the motives of those who have changed their opinions or of those who have not; but we desire to record our own conviction that we, too, placed in the high position we, perhaps, unworthily fill, have duties to perform, and of those duties our own understandings and our own consciences must, in great and vital matters, be the final and conclusive judge.


said, that after the pointed challenge given by the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown to those connected with the Universities of England, he thought it was not out of place he should say a few words on this question. The matter had been argued hitherto as though it were exclusively an Irish question, and no doubt Ireland was in an exceptional position in many ways. But he would represent to Gentlemen on his side of the House that it was a short sighted and suicidal policy on their part, for the sake of snatching a chance Division at this period of the Session, when it could do them no good, to put in peril great and broad principles, which might be thrown in their faces hereafter when similar questions, extending over a wider area, came up in this country. He could not forget the announcement that after Easter the question of University tests would become a Government measure; and he should not allow himself by any vote in a snap Division on a Resolution of this kind on going into a Committee of Supply to furnish opponents with artillery, which they might turn against those who now used it when the question of University tests came on. Because the Fellows of Trinity College, for reasons best known to themselves, propounded a scheme for the reform of the University, and that scheme was supported by the Members for the University, holding the University brief, and by a chance combination of parties, that was no sufficient reason for hampering a question of very grave importance, which should be discussed without arriére pensée. After the interesting speeches which had been delivered, and the ventilation the subject had received, he hoped the Resolution would be withdrawn. It would be intolerable that the whole question of the higher education of Ireland should be written off in an interlocutory way on a Friday evening, upon a Resolution so abstract as to be absolutely vague, and without any discussion of the various bearings of the question. If the House were driven to divide he should be compelled to vote that Mr. Speaker should leave the Chair, and he believed others around him would take the same view. It would not, therefore, be a fair party fight or a fair fight on the question of University education even in Ireland; and positively mischievous in its bearings on England. Speaking for the English Universities, he thought the greater should precede the less, and that Cambridge and Oxford ought to have their future constitution settled without prejudice from a premature Resolution respecting Trinity College, Dublin.


(amid cries of "Adjourn!" and "Go on!") said: Sir, as it is the wish of the House that I should now pro- ceed to state my views upon the present question, I shall do so, and I desire, in the first place, to allude to a suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, that while the bringing forward, or rather the support of this Motion is a legitimate proceeding on the part of an Opposition fairly arrayed in hostility to his Government, it is to be viewed as partaking of a different character when it comes from a Member of the Liberal party. Now I must entirely repudiate any such defence of my conduct or any such comment on the course I pursue. Not only had I no desire that the Motion should be brought forward, but I rise solely because, being brought forward, I am challenged as Member for the University of Dublin, to express in this House the opinions I hold on this subject. I protest against the supposition that I am actuated by a spark of party motive; and, further, I have to say that the opinions I hold on this subject are no new opinions, and have been adopted and advocated without the slightest reference to party advantages or interests. In 1865 I was a candidate for the representation of the University of Dublin in favour of Lord Palmerston's Government, and with the support of the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel), then Chief Secretary for Ireland. One of the main topics used against me at that election was that I was an advocate for united education. I have no principles on this subject to alter, vary, or accommodate to circumstances. I have always endeavoured to ascertain what system of education would best promote the interests of my country, and I say there are a variety of circumstances peculiar to Ireland which imperatively demand the adoption of the principle I have advocated. Without, however, going into the past, it appears to me that the consideration of the position in which we now stand must be largely influenced by the legislation of last year. The right hon. Gentleman has succeeded in carrying a measure which disestablished and disendowed the Church established and endowed by the nation. He refused to give any share of the revenues of the Church for the purposes of any religion whatever. He laid on the Table of the House a Bill with a declaration which, although as Earl Russell, in the preface to the collected edition of his speeches says, the Parliament of England has been saved by the House of Lords from recording; yet, so far as this House is concerned, was affirmed,—that no portion of the revenues of the Church should be given for the maintenance of religion or of the ministers of any religion. When a measure has been carried in that spirit, and the British nation has pronounced, as far as Ireland is concerned, that religion has no more connection with the State than that which exists between the State and any aggregate of men associated for any other purpose, a principle has been laid down, which you cannot avoid acknowledging when you come to deal with the question of education. And it is for this reason that, when the right hon. Gentleman introduces English topics, and says there will arise the great question of the English Universities, and appears to warn English Members they may tonight make a precedent for themselves, I answer by saying that the decision they may come to in respect of Irish education can, in the different circumstances of the two countries, have little bearing or influence on the votes they may give upon English University education. For the present, I reserve my opinion on the latter question; and I say that the circumstances of England being utterly different from those of Ireland, seeing that you have in England an Established Church incorporated into the State, or rather an essence of the State, vivifying it from the Sovereign down to the humblest individual in it, and with its influence pervading the whole community, the question of education arises under conditions entirely different from those which encircle it in a country where the Legislature has proclaimed there is no longer any connection between the State and religion, where the State stands apart from all denominations, and independent of all. The right hon. Gentleman has evaded giving the slightest clue as to the course he meant to adopt. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Refused to give a clue.] The right hon. Gentleman is a master of words, and it may be that, speaking secundum perfervidum ingenium Hibernorum, I make by no means a critical use of them, and am open to his refined and fastidious criticism. But on the present occasion I think the meaning comes to the same; I think he has not disclosed his policy; and he complains of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) that he forces him to a disclosure, thus necessitating a course of action inconsistent with the position of the Government; inconsistent with the duty which it owes to itself of calmly devising and considering a measure, and not revealing prematurely the intentions of the Cabinet. With respect to that I must say there are precedents which induce me to defend the hon. Member for Brighton, and they are both precedents furnished by the right hon. Gentleman himself. In 1868, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) was in power, when he had issued a Commission to examine into the question of the Irish Church, and when Lord Mayo had indicated that the Government were about to deal with it, and had issued a Royal Commission for the purpose, what did the right hon. Gentleman opposite do? He moved a series of abstract Resolutions pledging the House not to a particular measure, but to the principles on which he thought a measure should be founded.


We were in Opposition as you are now.


Is the hon. Member for Brighton so completely fettered by sitting on the Ministerial side of the House that he is not entitled to take a course which would be perfectly legitimate for me? I repudiate altogether this notion that being in Opposition justifies what is not abstractedly right. The hon. Member for Brighton takes a different view from the right hon. Gentleman of the propriety of bringing the question forward; he has brought it forward, he is justified in bringing it forward, and as I am challenged to state my opinion, I also am justified in voting for his Motion. As this is a precedent in the way of example, so there is another affording a warning. Last year the right hon. Gentleman was asked, by the present Earl of Derby not to state affirmatively the provisions of his future Land Bill, but to state negatively that he did not sanction the wild ideas which were abroad; and the right hon. Gentleman remained silent. Was that a happy example? Would the extravagant views about fixity of tenure that have been advanced in Ireland by men of ability, in the belief that the Government would be induced to adopt them, have been put-forward if the right hon. Gentleman had stated explicitly that he would never agree to them? I do not say whether the hon. Member for Brighton is right in bringing this question forward or not; but I say it does not lie in the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman to reproach him for moving an abstract Resolution to elicit an opinion from this House. But to leave the consideration of the occasion, and come to the question itself, I will acknowledge at once that I regard this as an extremely difficult question. I am by no means prepared to criticize with severity either reticence to a certain extent on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, or his view of the necessity for taking great caution in whatever proceedings he adopts; but I think it is not inconsistent with this admission to assert the right of those who advocate particular views to bring them before the House and before the right hon. Gentleman himself, who, if he listens only to a certain class of advisors, will never know the truth. And here I must say that, notwithstanding all my respect for the right hon. Gentleman, and all my admiration of his genius, he will be none the worse in his policy if instead of blindly following the dictates of violent partizans, he calmly weighs suggestions made in reference to Ireland by persons who have no motive whatever in making them but that of endeavouring to offer I an honest contribution to the consideration of the question. Sir, there are but three courses open upon this question. The first of these is to remain as we are; but consider the consequences which flow from the decision of Parliament with reference to the Irish Church, and it must be conceded that there are great difficulties in adopting that course. Moreover, in the course of the Church debates the right hon. Gentleman more than once reminded me that as I dealt with Maynooth so Trinity College, Dublin, would be dealt with, and I understand by those declarations he did not mean the University to remain exactly as it was. He is himself the head of a great party—nay, he is himself a great impulse to public opinion, and he has declared that education in Ireland is one of the three subjects with which he is determined to deal. All these circumstances point to the con- clusion that we cannot escape taking some action upon the subject. If then, we cannot remain as we are, there are two other ways of dealing with this question: I mean as regards the University of Dublin. We may take the revenues of the University and found out of them several collegiate institutions of a denominational character, or we may expand and extend the University itself. With respect to the formation of several collegiate institutions, there appears to me to be one insuperable obstacle, and that is, the want of adequate pecuniary resources. It is very true the University of Dublin possesses estates very large in extent; but under what conditions does it possess them? At the time of the Commonwealth, and also before and after it, the state of Ireland was such that there was extreme difficulty in recovering rents and managing landed property in Ireland. To obtain good tenants leases were made for fines. This, an Act of Charles I. enabled the owners of collegiate and ecclesiastical property to do. Under the provisions of this Act leases were made and continually renewed. Recently you have passed a statute giving power to convert these leases into fee simple, into perpetuity of tenure, and the result of that is that now the rental of the College is from Royal Grant, about £30,800 a year and from private endowment about £5,678 a year—say, in round numbers in all about £37,000 a year. Are you of opinion that out of a property no larger than that you could possibly create separate denominational Colleges of an effective character? It is clear you could not. You gave Maynooth £30,000 a year, and you gave the Queen's Colleges £27,000 a year; and you cannot possibly think the funds I have named sufficient for the purposes of denominational education. A second difficulty in the way of this plan is the extravagant demands of the Roman Catholic clergy—not so much of the clergy as of the Roman Catholic Bishops. In the time of Lord Mayo's secretaryship he made a proposal in reference to this subject; and the correspondence upon it, in my opinion, raises an enormous difficulty in the way of your proceeding in the path of creating separate denominational Colleges out of these revenues. I will read one passage from a paper written by Archbishop Leahy, which appears to me to put the matter so completely that the House will see the enormous difficulty of entering into any arrangement of that character. He says— Equally certain is it that the Bishops will not forego the right of authoritative supervision with respect to any possible plan of University education in its bearing on the faith and morals of their flock. That is a right inherent in the office of the Bishop, forming an essential part of his pastoral authority, which he can on no account forego. It includes the right of intervening in the selection of teachers, of watching over them, and, if necessary, of removing those whose influence may be injurious to the spiritual interest of Catholic youth. It also includes the right of examining, and, if expedient, of rejecting books which it may be proposed to use in the University. It appears to me that this declaration creates a very great difficulty in the way of legislation by concurrent endowment of several Colleges denominational in their character. It may be suggested that we may introduce lay teachers; but there is a remarkable pamphlet, written by a Roman Catholic gentleman, whom my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland has appointed to a Professorship in one of the Queen's Colleges— Mr. Maguire—which negatives this idea. Mr. Maguire says— But placing the University under the control of the Church means simply this—the Church must have the power of appointing and suspending Professors. If not, how can the Church have supreme control? For it is evident that the censures of the Church can be fulminated as freely under the present system against the Roman Catholic Professor in Trinity as against the Roman Catholic in Stephen's Green. And, as a matter of fact, the Prelates, in their negotiation with Lord Mayo, claimed such a power. That claim they now suppress, but the whole context of their manifesto shows that it has not been abandoned. Now, it is obvious that all the reasons which tell against ecclesiastical teaching in person tell with equal force against ecclesiastical teaching by deputy. And there is, moreover, the special objection that the deputy will in most cases gain the approbation of his clergy, mainly, if not wholly, by his real or affected piety, and not mainly by sheer intellect. As Macaulay says, the subordinate who wants promotion will take care to let his superior know that he wears a hair shirt. Now, whatever be the reverence due to an ecclesiastic, none whatever is due to the layman who is an ecclesiastic in all but name and faculty. The inordinate claims of the clergy, against which the educated layman protests, are but errors in degree; they are virtues pushed to an extreme. But the objectionable qualities of the lay devotee or of the lay hypocrite are obnoxious from the beginning; they are vices in kind. The lay devo- tee has none of the virtues of the cleric save obedience, and that obedience springs not from a sense of duty, but from interest or from slavishness. These are the words of a distinguished Roman Catholic, and they deserve serious consideration. The pamphlet was written against any project for dividing the revenues of Trinity College to create denominational Colleges, and with a view to advocate the system of united education. Now, here I fully admit that you are to take as an element in the consideration of the question, and to give a fair and reasonable weight to, the feelings of those with respect to whom you are legislating. There has been read to-night a declaration of the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland, and I do not deny a declaration carrying a considerable degree of authority with it, though for reasons I shall afterwards state, not so much as might at first sight be supposed. But before adverting to them I will direct attention to a far more explicit declaration contained in a Petition presented by Henry Grattan to the Irish Parliament in 1795, when the proposition to include laymen in the College of Maynooth was objected to. That Petition declared that the exclusion of Protestant laymen was highly objectionable as tending to draw a line of separation between the King's subjects in Ireland; that it was to the interest of the country to obiterate distinctions between them; and that if the youth of Ireland were instructed together in those branches of education which were common to all, their peculiar religious tenets would be no obstacle to their associating with one another in their future course of life. The Petition concluded with the expression of regret at the intended separation of the youth of different religions during the period of education. That is an explicit declaration of opinion, which Mr. Croker has, in the Quarterly Review, stated was numerously and respectably signed by Roman Catholics in Ireland, and contrasts strongly with the vague document read to-night. But even if it were not vague, some qualification of its authority will suggest itself to those who know the conditions of Irish social life. It is not unnoticed by Mr. Maguire. Mr. Maguire points out that there are influences which may operate to prevent a full expression of real opinion on this subject. He says— But once grant ecclesiastics the power they claim, and there is nothing to restrain them. The laity is reduced to utter slavery, for the bread of the barrister, the physician, and the attorney will, as seats in Parliament do now, depend on the parish priest. And since the Union the professional man is Irish society. In Ireland there is no commerce, and so no class of men which depends upon demand and supply, and upon demand and supply only. It would be visionary, then, to expect that the Catholic barrister, the Catholic doctor, the Catholic attorney, each of whom in general has nothing to start with but his brains and his profession, will venture to quarrel with the omnipotent caste which can make or mar him. An individual may do so, but classes never will. I say, then, that if a Catholic gentleman of distinguished ability puts in a public pamphlet a statement of that kind, and suggests such a subject of consideration by way of caution as to legislation for the future, we cannot ignore it in the present, or refuse to take it as an element in our deliberations. Further I cannot help agreeing with my hon. Colleague that the document brought forward to-night is so ambiguous that you can derive from it no conclusion as to the precise method of settling this question, and that therefore you cannot build on it any argument for the support of the denominational system. Sir, as I understand the present Motion, it is not so much the assertion of a complete policy, still less of a comprehensive measure, on the subject of University education in Ireland, as an answer to, and negative of, objectionable demands made in reference to the subject. On the 18th of August last it was announced at a meeting held at Maynooth, at which Cardinal Cullen and other Prelates were present, that mixed education was in itself objectionable, and interfered with the faith and morals of the Roman Catholic youth. I understand the same meeting to require the exclusive education of the Roman Catholics by Roman Catholics, or at least teachers approved by the Roman Catholic Bishops. This meeting it was which led to the action of the Fellows and Professors of the University of Dublin, when they passed a resolution signed by all the Fellows with the exception of four, and by every Professor except two or three. This resolution proposed to open the Fellowships and Scholarships without religious distinction. But it is to be observed that it was not intended this Resolution should be brought before the House in the shape of a Motion. The College took no steps in the matter further than communicating the document to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister for the consideration of himself and the Government, and it was sent to him through the Chancellor of the University, Lord Cairns. The Member for Roscommon (The O'Conor Don) moved for a copy of the document, and thus it is that it was laid on the Table of the House. Then the Motion of the hon. Member for Brighton comes on, originating solely with himself; so that whether we regard the immediate cause of the Resolution or the present Motion, the University cannot be made subject to the reproach of any precipitate action. The Motion, however, being here, its discussion is not without advantages. The attention of the House is timely called to a question of great social importance. It is well that it should be warned against confusing together the circumstances of England and Ireland in respect of education. You have placed yourselves in an exceptional and peculiar position as regards Ireland. You have adopted a peculiar policy, begun with the Church Bill and continued by the Land Bill. If that position be peculiar, why mix it up with considerations which apply to another country with different institutions and a different system as regards ecclesiastical arrangements? Looking, then, only to Ireland, its religious controversies and dissensions, no policy seems advisable which tends, by dividing young men into separate and hostile establishments for education, to keep these controversies and dissensions alive. At this late hour I do not wish to detain the House; but I cannot refrain from quoting, in support of my views, from Earl Russell's preface to the collection of his speeches recently published— It is now considered dangerous that a Roman Catholic should be made aware that there are Protestant children in the land; that he should play with them, talk with them, learn arithmetic with them, be on friendly terms with them, or consider them otherwise than as outcasts from heaven. A better prescription for sowing hatred and ill-will between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Ireland cannot well be imagined. This I understand to be a declaration in favour of united education; and I read the passage as containing the wise sentiments of a great man. You may depend upon it you will never create good feeling by isolation and separation, by creating lines of demarcation between those who will be associated through life. I must say that there is an additional matter which ought to be taken into account on this question, and that is, what have we been accustomed to? Have we been accustomed to the separate system? No! For two generations, as the right hon. Gentleman himself admits, everything in Dublin College, with the exception of a few Fellowships, has been open, and all have been accustomed to meet and be educated together. Therefore, if that College were made denominational we should be introducing a new principle which did not exist before. That is serious matter for consideration. There is a respect to be paid to the wishes of the great educational institutions themselves. They know best what is for the interest of education, and I doubt that you will compass any good end by opposing their views and wishes. Neither on this nor on any other subject can we bind ourselves to adhere to one rigid and inflexible line of policy, or lay down that everything is to be governed by one single principle; we must be prepared to allow for the influence of circumstances, and to modify our policy accordingly. It is quite too late to enter fully into the question; but I must very earnestly impress on the right hon. Gentleman and the Government, who have to deal with the matter, that there are great and insuperable difficulties in the way of yielding to the demands of the Roman Catholic Prelates; there is great difficulty in remaining where we are; and that the only remaining alternative is to assent to the unanimously-expressed opinion of the intellect and education of the University of Dublin.


moved that the debate be now adjourned.


said, as far as the Government were concerned, their course must obviously be to oppose the adjournment. With the view they took of the question, in acceding to the adjournment it would be necessary to find a day for continuing the debate, and that it was out of their power to do. Very reluctantly, therefore, they must oppose the adjournment of the debate.


said, he hoped the hon. Member for Chelsea would persevere in his Motion for the adjournment of the debate.


said, he had come down to the House to oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett); but after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown, who had contrived to represent it as a question of confidence or no confidence in the Government, he should support the Motion for adjournment.


said, he hoped the Motion for adjournment would not be pressed.


said, he trusted the Motion for the adjournment of the debate would not be withdrawn. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had put the question as one of want of confidence in the Government, and several Liberal Members who were extremely interested in higher education, and who intended to vote against the Government, wished to have an opportunity of stating their reasons. He had not heard from the Prime Minister that night a single statement whether he was for or against denominational education.


said, he hoped the hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir Henry Hoare) would persevere. It would be a most unfortunate precedent if they permitted the Prime Minister, when he found himself in a position of difficulty, to extricate himself from it by wresting a Motion from its legitimate issue, and calling on the House to regard it as a Vote of Confidence in the Government.


said, he and many other hon. Members were prepared to support the Government, on the ground that the initiative in so important a question ought not to be wrested out of their hands by a private Member; but he must complain that an unnecessary complication had been imparted to it by the speech of the Prime Minister.


said, he had been most anxious, whatever the result, to take the vote to-night; but, after the extraordinary and unexpected turn which the debate had taken, it seemed quite impossible that the debate should now close. Nothing was farther from his mind in bringing forward the Motion than a Vote of Want of Confidence. He certainly should not withdraw the Motion; nothing in the world would induce him to do so. If the Government accepted it as a Vote of Want of Confidence, that was their responsibility, not his. Three sentences would have satisfied him. If the right hon. Gentleman had said that he was as much in favour of undenominational education in the University of Dublin as he was in the English Universities he should have been satisfied. He did not wish to pledge the Government to bring in a Bill this Session. He left the time entirely to the right hon. Gentleman; but as he said this Motion was a Vote of Want of Confidence, he felt that his Friends who intended to support him should have an opportunity of explaining why they voted against the Government.


said, he was quite sure if this was really to be dealt with as a practical question during the present Session the House would expect that the Government should introduce and carry through a Bill upon the subject. They would not be satisfied to find that the Government relieved themselves of the responsibility by allowing it to fall on the shoulders of a private Member. That being so, he asked whether, in the present Session, with the duty which already rested upon them in connection with the Irish Land Bill, the English Education Bill, and the question relating to the English Universities, they could bring in a measure upon this subject and prosecute it with any chance of success to a final issue? It was useless to continue the debate on the abstract question. The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) said a single word would have satisfied him to the effect that they were as much against denominational education in the Irish as in the English Universities; but what right had he to attribute to them that they were indifferent to the cause of united education in Ireland? He and those who sat by him had always supported it. But whether it was reasonable or consistent to force this question on the Government, deeply engaged as they were with the other important questions to which he had alluded, and thus to interrupt the whole course of Public Business, he must leave to the House to determine. He hoped the House would negative the Motion, for the adjournment of the debate.


said, the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had placed the House in an awkward position by representing this as a Vote of Want of Confidence. In supporting the right hon. Gentleman against the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett), the right hon. Gentleman must not consider that he was expressing any confidence in him. He must rather take the vote as an expression of want of confidence in the hon. Member for Brighton.


said that, as one who was most unwilling to give a vote against the Government, he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to say whether, after his speech, the House might understand that, under no circumstances, would the Government give a charter to a Roman Catholic University, or to the Roman Catholic College, until the matter had been laid before the House, and had received the full expression of the opinion of the House upon it.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—[Sir Henry Hoare.)

The House divided:—Ayes 96: Noes 232: Majority 130.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


moved that the House do now adjourn.


said that, as it was impossible at that hour to give such attention to the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury as it deserved, he had great pleasure in seconding the Motion.


said, he was very far from supposing that the whole force of the majority in the last Division constituted an answer to the appeal made by him, because it comprised many hon. Members opposite, from whom he could not expect any such support; but, allowing for that element in the majority, he was quite satisfied with the declaration of the House as far as it was made, and, therefore, offered no opposition to the Motion of the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. R. Torrens).

Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn,"—(Mr. Robert Torrens,)—put, and agreed to.

House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock till Monday next.