§ MR. BLENNERHASSETT
resumed the debate on the Motion of The O'Conor Don, which was interrupted by the sudden adjournment of the House on Friday night, consequent on the death of Mr. Wykeham Martin. Universities are, as a rule, mainly recruited from the ranks of pupils receiving instruction in the higher branches at intermediate schools. And a comparison in this respect points distinctly to some cause operating to exclude Catholics. Notwithstanding the fact that all the endowed schools of Ireland are strictly Protestant, there were, when the last Census was taken, 5,177 Catholic, as compared with 5,637 Protestant boys, actually under instruction 1086 in the higher branches. That is to say, in the field of intermediate education, the two religions were very nearly on an equality. That most instructive but melancholy record of Irish educational backwardness—"The General Report of the Census Commissioners of 1871"—contains the clearest evidence on the whole subject.There is something," say the Commissioners, "essentially wrong in the system of higher public instruction. Taking in the whole field of view," they write, "we are unable to repel the inference that the cause of this miserable backwardness in higher culture lies outside the national character, outside the distribution of wealth, outside variety of station, and outside every ordinary influence that should determine a certain element of the population to the acquirement of liberal culture.This Report points out that, notwithstanding the undoubted zeal of their voluntary endeavours in the foundation of intermediate schools and Colleges, the Roman Catholics of Ireland are much behind the rest of the population in respect of every branch of higher instruction.Our survey of the field," it is admitted, "should be not quantitative, but qualitative; we should separate from the total of Roman Catholics the large proportion of their number whose place has been fixed beyond the natural horizon of superior education—who are outside the aim and reach of higher education.But, allowing for all this, the Commissioners, after the most thorough and searching examination of facts and figures, arrive at the following conclusion:—We think there is warrant in common knowledge and common sense for the expression of an opinion—first, that if regard be had to the admitted progress of Ireland during the last decade in prosperity and wealth, all the higher educational wants of more than 5,000,000 of people, without distinction of creed, have not been adequately ministered to upon the evidence of the results before us; and, secondly, as regards Roman Catholics alone who comprise more than 4,000,000 of those 5,000,000, the demand for higher instruction among those having capacity and call for its reception is feebly represented by the figures tabulated.The Report from which I have been quoting refers, as hon. Members will perceive, to intermediate as well as to University education. It would be highly undesirable to mix up these two branches of the subject in this debate; but still it is necessary to observe that 1087 the efforts of the Roman Catholics, wholly unassisted by the State, to build up a system of intermediate education for themselves, have suffered, and continue to suffer, most severely from the want of any University to stand in the relation to their schools that a National University would naturally occupy towards such Institutions. A system of intermediate education, without a University in connection with it, is like a body without a head. Let hon. Members consider what would be the effect upon the great public schools of England if Oxford and Cambridge were not to exist. What a vital stimulus, what invigorating influences would be lost. The principal Masters of all the great public schools are University men. The boys taught at these schools compete with one another, school with school, and boy with boy, for the various honours and prizes of the Universities, and often continue that rivalry to the end of their University careers; and their achievements have been chronicled on the walls of their old school-rooms for the emulation of future generations of scholars. It would be hard to over-estimate how much the unrivalled public schools' system of England owes to her ancient and splendidly endowed Universities. Compare this with the state of things under which the intellectual life of the great body of the Irish people is being starved and dwarfed, and are we not driven to the conclusion which finds expression in the words of the Census Commissioners, that?—There is not a moment to be lost before those upon whom the care lies should apply their faculties to the infusion of blood and spirit into the dry bones of public instruction in Ireland.There is no doubt that the solution of the University question is essential not only to the development of higher culture, but to the satisfactory condition of that intermediate instruction with which the Government has undertaken to deal. What, then, is the difficulty in this question, and how is it to be met? It has been shown that the Catholics, as a body, do not participate in the advantages of University education. The reason why they do not is perfectly well known. It is because they have no University which is in accordance with the obligations imposed upon them by 1088 their religious belief. In the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone)—The Irish Roman Catholic is in this condition—that he is not able to obtain a degree in Ireland without going either to the Queen's Colleges to which he objects, or placing himself under examinations and a system of discipline managed and conducted by a Protestant Board mainly composed of clergymen of the Disestablished Church of Ireland. Religion being a force which operates with peculiar strength upon the minds of the Irish people, the great majority of them prefer to surrender all University advantages, rather than enjoy those advantages in violation of their sense of religious duty.English opinion and policy as regards the education of the Irish people has passed through various stages at different times. A Statute of Anne made it felony for a Catholic schoolmaster to teach in Ireland. An Act of William III. made it civil death for a Catholic child to be sent to school in any foreign country. Nevertheless, as we read in charming pages, familiar, no doubt, to many hon. Members—Contraband scholars often were the returning cargoes of the smuggling craft that nightly ran silks and brandies into Irish creeks and bays in the early part of the last century.The State has also attempted to combine education with efforts to proselytize, and large sums of money have been voted by Parliament for the purpose. All these attempts failed—as they deserved to fail—for the Irish people, strong as was their love of learning, steadfastly rejected the education offered to them on such degrading terms. In the words of Sir James Graham—All attempts to educate the people of Ireland have failed wherever there was an interference with conscience in matters of religion.As regards higher education, the intolerance of compelling Catholic youths to resort to a distinctively Protestant Institution, under the control of Protestant clergymen, came at last to be recognized. In 1845 a new experiment was tried, and the Queen's Colleges were established on the avowed principle of avoiding all interference, positive or negative, with the feelings of the students in matters of religion. The object of Sir Robert Peel in setting up those Colleges was, no doubt, to benefit the Catholics. He was a great statesman, and animated by generous motives; but one who knew the Irish people and understood their 1089 feelings far better—Mr.O'Connell—foresaw what the result would be, and declared his opinion that unless religion was introduced into the system, it would never be accepted by the Irish people. That venerable statesman, whose loss the nation is now mourning—Lord Russell—in the course of the debate on the Queen's Colleges, made a speech, of which subsequent events have shown the wisdom—On a question of this kind," he said, "the influence of the Roman Catholic Clergy ought to be fairly, not humbly or meanly, but fairly and honestly, sought. You should not omit in any Bill which you propose for academical education in Ireland that great element of your success, and almost the basis upon which your system must in future rest—the concurrence of the Roman Catholic Clergy. Unless you can induce the Roman Catholic Prelates and their Clergy generally to think that they can fairly recommend to those who come to them for spiritual advice, that they should place their sons at the Colleges which you propose to found, unless, I say, you can do this, the very best that you can hope for your measure is that it will be null; but my fear is that it will be noxious.Lord Russell's views were disregarded, O'Connell's warning had no effect, and what has been the result? The secular system proved utterly obnoxious to those whose wants it was specially intended to meet. It has maintained only a struggling and precarious existence, and, at the end of over 30 years of trial, we had last year from the whole of Ireland, in the three Queen's Colleges, a little over 200 Roman Catholic students of every description attending lectures, and of these only about 70 matriculated in Arts. The Queen's Colleges were meant to supply a great void in the higher education of Ireland, and it is a significant commentary on that intention that the number of University students in Arts in that country was greater 40 years ago, before these Colleges came into existence, than it is now. As regards the special object for which they were designed, the secular Colleges have been a conspicuous failure. And yet my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), with the support of the authorities of Trinity College, given in a moment of panic, has thought that he could solve the Irish University question by making an addition of one to their number. With the example of the Queen's Colleges before him, he has succeeded in inducing Parliament to extend to Trinity College the identical principle to which 1090 the failure of those Colleges to attract the youth of Ireland to their teaching is due. What has been the result of the measure introduced by him? As yet, nothing, except that four Roman Catholic students have been admitted to scholarships in Trinity College in the course of five years. The Act for the Abolition of Tests has left the Protestant character of Trinity College for the present practically unchanged; because, under the operation of that Act, the Government of the College must continue to be mainly in the hands of clergymen of the late Established Church, until some time in the next century. A Catholic, even if he were elected to a Fellowship at the very next vacancy, would not, at the ordinary rate of promotion, have a seat on the Board and a voice in the general management of the College for 35 or 40 years to come. But, if this were otherwise, if Trinity College had actually become a secular Institution, what ground should we then have for supposing that as such it would have any influence in attracting the Roman Catholic youth within its walls? There would be only four secular Colleges instead of three, and the fact would still remain as strong as ever that four-fifths of the population of Ireland had not a single Institution in their country, with the power of granting a degree, whose constitution and government were in harmony with their conscientious convictions. The objection of the Catholics to the secular system has been stated in explicit terms, over and over again. They have not left us in any doubt on the subject. The heads of the Roman Catholic Church have repeatedly spoken, and lay opinion has been expressed with singular unanimity in accordance with their views. Public meeting after public meeting, Petition after Petition, have borne testimony to this fact. It is sometimes said that the sentiments of the Catholic laity on the matter are misrepresented, and that, at all events, a considerable section of them do not adopt the views of their Bishops. I cannot pretend to know what the private opinions of Catholics may be as regards the respective weight which should be given to the lay and clerical element in education; that I have always regarded as a matter for their own consideration, and one in which no one else has any right to interfere; but that any appreciable amount of lay Catholic opinion 1091 favours a secular as opposed to a Catholic University system, there is not one jot or title of evidence to show. The amount of proof in support of the contrary conclusion is irresistible. The natural exponents of Catholic opinion—the Catholic Members of this House—are, I believe, unanimous on the point. The testimony of public meetings, of Petitions, and of the Catholic Press is as strong as such testimony can be. Above all, there is the conclusive evidence afforded by the determined and persistent resolution of the Irish Catholics, at the sacrifice of considerable material advantage, to refuse to accept the teaching and the degrees offered them in secular Institutions. The Irish Catholic layman, with a strong preference for the secular system, to which, I suppose, he is afraid to give expression, who is occasionally evolved by hon. Members opposite from the depths of their inner consciousness, is, I believe, as purely mythical a personage as the famous Mrs. Harris herself. For all practical purposes, the demand of the Irish Catholics, lay and clerical, on this question, is definite, consistent, and unanimous. They ask for University education in accordance with those principles of religious belief which they regard as necessary to their eternal welfare, and they claim that the authorities of their Church shall have that control in the domain of faith and morals which they consider essential to this. They complain that because of this opinion, which they hold as part of their religious faith and obligation, they are subjected to grave difficulties in the pursuit of higher culture, and to substantial disadvantages in the various professions and walks of life in which a University training and degree are valuable. On this ground of the imposition of civil disability for religious belief they are entitled, on the simplest principles of toleration, to the sympathy of every consistent Liberal. In Ireland the equality of all religions before the State has been affirmed by Parliament. The Roman Catholic subjects of the Queen are admitted to be just as loyal, just as much entitled to confidence and consideration as the Protestant. They sit on the Judicial Bench, and fill great Offices of State. They ask, as the reasonable and necessary consequence of their position, that the ascendency of religious and political privilege having 1092 been overthrown, the still more galling ascendency of mental culture and superior education shall no longer be maintained. They ask—and the demand is one which cannot finally be resisted—for perfect educational equality with their Protestant fellow-subjects. This equality can only be brought about in one of two ways. It must either come by the abolition of all educational endowments, or by the creation of a Roman Catholic University or College in a fair position as compared with existing Institutions. The first of these courses would be calamitous. It would sound the death-knell of liberal culture and intellectual progress in Ireland, and would throw that country back for generations. To solve the religious difficulty in this way would be indeed to make a desert and call it peace. The glimmering light of the Queen's Colleges would be extinguished in utter darkness. The destruction of Trinity College would be a national calamity. The difficulty is that its maintenance, while you deny to Catholics equal advantages with those which it bestows on Protestants, is a violation of the great principle of religious equality. What, then, is the alternative policy? Is there no way by which we can preserve existing Institutions, and leave them free to carry on their work, and, at the same time, do substantial justice to the Catholics, and break down the barrier which separates them from University education? The only way is to give them an Institution for themselves, in which they shall be free to carry out their own principles. Last Session, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) introduced a measure in which he attempted to do this by the creation of a Catholic College within the ancient University of Dublin. That proposal was supported by the Catholic Members, and was understood to be acceptable to Catholic opinion in Ireland. It was rejected by a large majority. And now we are asked by the Irish Catholics to consider their case, and the Government is invited to frame a measure to meet it. No details of such a measure are suggested in the Resolution before us. There are some to whom the idea of a separate University commends itself, and no doubt there is much to be said in its favour. I do not myself share the fears of those who think that the 1093 creation of another University in Ireland would tend to lower the standard of education. Higher education is nowhere more prosperous or more widely diffused than in those countries where there are several Universities. Look at Scotland, with its four Universities, and Germany with 20. There would not, I think, be any difficulty in maintaining the requisite stringency of examination. A central University for Ireland, where all students could meet and contend in honourable rivalry—a great national home of learning—is a grand idea; but I fear it would not be easy to realize it, except at great and excessive cost. The differences which exist with regard to many of the most important branches of knowledge are so fundamental and profound that it would be impossible, without the most serious limitations of academic teaching, to bring together representatives of the different creeds on the same Board. I am inclined to think that it would tend more, in the end, to the promotion of learning to let each body work out its own system after its own fashion. The real difficulty in this question, however, does not lie in choosing between these rival methods of academic organization. It centres in the claim made by the Catholics for what is called denominational endowment. This is the point on which the whole controversy really turns. The contention on their part is, that without the sufficient and substantial—I do not say extravagant—endowment of a Catholic Institution, it will be impossible to raise Catholic University education to the level of that which is enjoyed by those who are not debarred by religious scruples from making use of Trinity College and of the Queen's Colleges. Are, then, the objections to this course so strong that they cannot and ought not to be surmounted? These objections are founded to a certain extent on our recent policy as regards the English Universities. The tendency of that policy has unquestionably been to abolish the exclusive character of those Institutions, and to open them as freely as possible to all comers. We have attempted to apply the same policy to the University of Dublin. But, as was pointed out at the time, those who thought that the opening of Trinity College to all denominations would convert it into a national Institution, were 1094 applying to Ireland, by a false and misleading analogy, experience gained from a state of things when the problem to be solved was totally different. In England we opened the door to Protestants, who, though Dissenters from the Established Church, were eager and willing to enter. In Ireland we opened the door to Catholics, who did not want to enter, but who wished to go somewhere else. The experience of the Queen's Colleges has shown conclusively that no amount of opening, in the sense of the destruction of any distinctive religious character, will bring the Catholics into Trinity College. Then, it is said, and said with great apparent force, that the Protestant Church in Ireland has been disestablished and disendowed. The Maynooth Grant and the Presbyterian Regium Donum have disappeared. All this has been done with the cordial approval and aid of the Catholics. To ask us now to endow a denominational Institution, is to ask us to abandon our principles, to reverse our recent acts, to dig up from its grave the old dead and buried policy of State aid to religion. I fully admit that if what we are asked to do is to be regarded as an endowment of the Roman Catholic religion, these objections apply with overwhelming force; but I do not think this is the case. The line of separation is delicate and fine, but it is perfecty distinct. These objections apply exclusively to the endowment of religion; against the endowment of education there is not a word to be said. Nay, more—there is a general feeling that the effective expenditure of a reasonable amount of money in the promotion of higher education in Ireland would be a great public good. What we are asked to do is to endow higher education in the only way in which endowment will be acceptable, and can be expected to bear fruit. We are anxious to promote education; but, in attempting to do so, we must recognize the conditions and limits imposed upon us by the feelings and character of the people for whom we legislate, or all our efforts will be vain. The mind of a nation cannot be elevated by influences external to itself exercised against its will. Religion is the strongest of all the forces which operate upon the minds of the Irish people, and the advancement of liberal culture amongst them will never be effected 1095 if we bring it into collision with religious faith. It has been said that if a Roman Catholic College were endowed with public money the State would be compelled to interfere in its internal arrangements, and—as it were—to hold the balance between the different sections of a religious body with whose mutual relations it had nothing to do. If this were necessary, it would certainly be a great evil; but I cannot see the necessity. No antagonism between the Catholic clergy and laity is an element in this question. No one thinks that were we to concede the point of endowment, there would be any difficulty in framing a Constitution for the new academic body which would be cordially accepted by all Catholics, lay and clerical. Having done this, we should leave that body as free as possible, State interference being kept at a minimum. Nothing can be more absurd than the notion which lies at the bottom of this objection, that the Irish Catholics are to be regarded as children who require to be protected by Parliament from the influence of their own clergy. If such coercion of spiritual terror had any existence amongst them—and I do not for a moment believe that it has—who can doubt that a healthy growth of lay independence would be best promoted by leaving the whole body free to adjust and to arrange their own relations without the disturbing influence of external interference. There is one respect, however, in which State supervision would undoubtedly be necessary. If public money be given to further education in any Institution connected with a particular religious persuasion, the State is bound to see that the money so given is properly used, and that the education paid for comes up to a fit standard. The representatives of the Catholic claims have repeatedly expressed their willingness to submit, in this respect, to the most stringent tests. Persons of great experience and authority in academic matters have assured me that there would be no difficulty in making such tests really effective; and, of course, the more thoroughly they were applied, the higher would be the value of the degree. The State would be able to make certain that the teaching was really efficient, and that a proper standard of acquirement in the various branches of secular learning was 1096 maintained. So much for the chief objections that have been raised against the endowment of a Catholic Institution for Higher Education in Ireland. The positive grounds on which such a plea may be urged are extremely strong. Without some provision of the kind, it is clearly not to be hoped that Ireland will regularly take her place in that great educational movement, which is the noblest characteristic of the age in which we live. At present, a large number of her youth are shut out, except at the sacrifice of convictions and feelings, which even those who differ from them are obliged to respect, from that high and equal level of liberal education to which they justly aspire. We wish to see Ireland liberal and enlightened, yet we with old from her the means of that knowledge and culture by which alone liberal and enlightened sentiments are spread amongst a people. Those who have seen, anything of her social life must know that there is nothing she stands in greater need of than an educated and enlightened middle class. Yet we keep the Catholic landowners, the lawyers, the doctors, the men of business, in this position—that they cannot get a degree at any University in the country which is sanctioned by their religion. We know that Ireland is a poor country, with many obstacles to her progress, and yet we make no effort to enable her to supplement the poverty of her material resources by the riches of her intellectual gifts. I am no advocate for showering down gold in the form of extravagant endowments on any Institutions; but, considering the circumstances of Ireland, and especially of the Roman Catholic body, I do not think it is possible for them to have a University adequate to their wants, and worthy to hold a position at the head of their educational system, without, not merely recognition of their degrees, but substantial pecuniary aid. The Irish Catholics do not abound in riches. Land is the chief source of wealth in Ireland, and the landed proprietary of the country is for the most part Protestant. Confiscations and the Penal Laws, which were so long directed towards preventing the Catholics rising to influence or wealth, have left them, even still, comparatively poor. The necessity of supplying the material requirements of their worship draws heavily on their scanty resources. The 1097 contributions of persons, whom in England we should not hesitate to class among the very poor, have made their churches rise in beauty, and even splendour, over the land. In the field of intermediate education they have shown, under circumstances of discouragement and difficulty, a noble zeal and liberality. I should be sorry to see the wholesome stimulus of voluntary effort released; but there is a limit to what is possible in this direction. There is one sphere, at least, in which the so-called maxims of Free Trade—the ordinary laws of supply and demand—are clearly inapplicable, and that is in the development of learning and culture among a poor and backward people. There is a debt due to Ireland, and especially to the Catholics of Ireland, in this matter. Hitherto, when they have come to us for bread, we have given them a stone. Shall we be content now to send them away empty? There are other than educational issues involved in this question. It is no mere struggle of sects or parties. A vital principle in the government of Ireland is called in question. The reasonable liberty of the people of that portion of the United Kingdom is at stake. If there be any question which is entitled to be regarded as an Irish question, a question in which Irish interests predominate, and which Irish opinions should decide, it is this question of the teaching of Irish youth. There is no mistaking the voice of Ireland in the matter; there can be no pretence of mistaking it. Is that voice entitled to be heard or is it not? Are we justified in allowing our educational theories or political difficulties in this country to stifle the legitimate aspiration of Irish parents—an aspiration shared by so many in England—that their sons should be educated in a place where their religion is taught and recognized? Shall we, in the name of freedom of conscience, compel the Catholics of Ireland—because they are Irish, and because they are Catholics—to adopt a principle which is repugnant to their highest sense of duty, or else to forego all share of those advantages which, in a national and normal state of things, they would as the great majority of the nation enjoy. If this be done, with what force and reason can 4,000,000 of the people of Ireland say, in the words of Swift—"Government, without the 1098 consent of the governed, is the very definition of slavery." The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution.
§ MR. ERRINGTON
Mr. Speaker, I must, in the first place, join my hon. Friend the Member for Kerry in thanking Her Majesty's Government and the House for the kindness with which they have facilitated our proceeding with the discussion this evening. Yet, I must say that it is very discouraging, after all that has occurred for so many years, to find ourselves once more face to face with this interminable question of Irish University education. Of course, I know that there are and must always be great and important questions in advance at any given moment of public opinion, and that their advocates must be content to bring them forward, year after year, to urge and reiterate their arguments until they succeed in working public opinion up to the necessary mark. But I fear that we who know the weary and intricate history of this question, can hardly console ourselves with the thought that we have as yet made any very material progress. And yet I have no reason to complain of the manner in which our arguments are received. On the contrary, it appears to me that by far the most important of those arguments, I would say the whole of our premisses, are admitted on all hands. We are told every where—"It is quite true; the condition of superior education in Ireland is positively deplorable. Ireland has had a good deal to complain of in the past, and we frankly admit the necessity and expediency of doing something to remedy the present state of affairs, but"—(for, Sir, a hitch always occurs somewhere)—"the demand which you make for denominational education, as necessary to guarantee your liberty of conscience, is out of the question; even if we were prepared to consider it, no Ministry could pass such a measure; the people of England would never stand it." Sir, that is a very serious statement; for it means that, proud as the people of England very justly are of freedom, of conscience and of religious equality in the abstract and in the concrete for England and Scotland, they are not prepared so far to waive certain prejudices as to extend those rights to Ireland and to Catholics. Now, I think I have a right to ask those who use and intend in future 1099 to use this statement—for it is no argument—to tell us plainly and openly whether they themselves share those prejudices, or whether they are merely taking refuge behind the prejudices of others, and using this as a convenient if not very creditable non possumus? For I contend that if they do not share those prejudices, they ought to meet us in a totally different spirit. It would be perfectly fair while admitting the à priori justice of a demand for religious equality, to plead strong popular prejudice as a hindrance to be overcome, as an unfortunate cause for delay; and I venture to say that if we had been met, or if we were even now met in that spirit, the solution of this question need be neither difficult nor long delayed. It is really very hard for us to understand how anyone can doubt or deny that this question does involve the religious convictions of the Irish Catholics. That it does so is, to my mind, contained in the admission which everyone makes as to the backward condition of education in Ireland. For it is not contended, as far as I know, that that condition is due to any want of educational facilities, and certainly not to any want of appreciation or desire for learning on the part of the Irish people. It is due simply to the fact that the only educational facilities which exist in Ireland—the only facilities you will give the people of Ireland—are such as they cannot and will not avail themselves of; they say they cannot do so on account of their convictions. It is not, Sir, that they love education less, but that they love conscience more. Now, I fully admit that you may think those convictions wrong, and even uncalled for and misplaced; but I do not see how you can go behind the statement made by the Irish Catholics that the matter does affect their consciences. This was most fully and fairly admitted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwhich (Mr. Gladstone) in his great speech on introducing the University Bill of 1873. These are some of the eloquent words he used on the occasion. He said—We have sought to provide a complete remedy for what we thought, and for what we have long marked and held up to public attention, as a palpable grievance—a grievance of conscience.1100 And, again, he asks—Do we intend, or do we not intend, to extend to them (our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects) the full benefit of civil equality on a footing exactly the same as that on which it is granted to members of other religious persuasions? If we do not, the conclusion is a most grave one."—[3 Hansard, ccxiv. 380–426.]Sir, I am sure the House will agree that such a conclusion would be a most serious one; and I feel so strongly that this point is at the bottom of the whole question, and that so long as it remains open it is premature to discuss the merits and details of various schemes that, with the permission of the House, I would say a word on it. Sir, by far the ablest, by far the most plausible statement, I have ever seen of the case against us, is in a paper written shortly after the rejection of the Bill of 1873, by a most able man, one who was known personally to many hon. Members of this House, and, by his writings, to many more—one, Sir, unfortunately, too soon removed from the sphere he illustrated and adorned by his talents—I allude to the late Professor Cairns of Trinity College; and I am sure my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland will bear me out in what I say in praise of his great abilities. In the paper I allude to, after clearly and fairly stating our alleged grievance, he draws the following conclusion:—Nor can there be any doubt as to the one and one only remedy which would be adequate to meet the latter ground of complaint. One and one only remedy can satisfy the exigency—can place those who object to united education in open Colleges on an equal footing with those who accept the assistance of the State on those conditions—namely, the chartering and endowment, on a scale commensurate with the endowments of the National Universities, of a Catholic University, established on principles satisfactory to the Priesthood. Nothing short of this can place Ultramontane Catholics on an equal footing as regards the higher education with other members of the community; and the single question now for statesmen is, are they or are they not prepared to make this concession?Sir, I have confidence enough in the fairness and justice of English statesmen, and of the English people, to believe that they will make this concession when they realize—what we all know to be the case, and can prove—first, that this is really the grievance of the Catholics of Ireland and not of a mere minority; and, secondly, that it is in itself a reasonable 1101 and a substantial grievance; for, on the denial of one or other of these two points almost every argument against us is based. First of all, we are told that our grievance, such as it is, is not the grievance of the Catholics of Ireland but only of a small minority, which Professor Cairns would call an Ultramontane or Clerical faction. Sir, that is an argument which, no doubt, deserves the fullest consideration. My lion. Friend the Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) has, however, dealt with it in the most conclusive manner, and shown, I think, clearly that, judged by whatever test you like, if ever there was a question which went home to the hearts and feelings of the vast majority of the Irish Catholics, it is this one. But, it is further urged that, even if this were a general Catholic grievance, still it is one of so peculiar a nature, so unreasonable in itself, as not to call for, or even to warrant, the interference of the State for its redress. It is so important the full significance of this argument should be patent to the House, that I venture to quote it in Professor Cairns's words—for he always had the full courage of his opinions—and he puts it most ably; but, at the same time, in all its crudeness and plainness. He says—To state my own view of this matter—while I admit the fact of inequality, I am disposed to deny the existence of a grievance in the sense of a disability which the State ought to redress. The State is undoubtedly hound to frame its laws impartially as between the several classes of citizens; but, as I understand the case, it is no part of the duty of the State to provide that all citizens shall derive equal benefit from the laws. This must depend, in part, at least, on the character and conduct and even on the idiosyncracies of those who are affected by them; and if it happen that in certain cases these are such as to exclude some people from the benefit of laws framed in good faith and with an enlightened regard to the interests of the community, as a whole, the unfortunate result is not to be attributed to unfairness in the law, but rather to the peculiarities of temperament or taste of the persons concerned—peculiarities which, so far as they go, unfit those who arc the subjects of them for sharing in the general advantages of National union.I think this is rather startling doctrine, and that it savours somewhat too much of intolerance to be acceptable to the House of Commons, at all events, in the 19th century. Why, it simply begs the whole question. It assumes that these laws are so absolutely impartial and perfect, that anyone who 1102 differs from them is unworthy of consideration; that his opinions may at once be disposed of by calling them idiosyncracies and peculiarities of taste and temper, and that they actually place him outside the pale of the law. Yet, I am glad to have cited the argument, for I am sorry to say it is a very popular one, constantly advanced against us; and from it the House may judge of the spirit in which opinions, at all events honest and legitimate, are too often met in Ireland. But, even apart from its spirit, an argument less likely to advance the practical question of educating Ireland, I cannot conceive; for, if it is to be acted upon, whatever other results it may have, it is certain to leave Ireland permanently without education. For my part, however, I fully admit that we may fairly be called on to justify our position, and to show not merely what our difficulty is, but that it is a reasonable and substantial difficulty; and to satisfy the House that we are not invoking the name of conscience as a Deus ex machinâ to come down and magnify some mere trumpery grievance. What, then, is this conscientious difficulty? Nobody, Sir, has more respect and admiration than I have for the past of Trinity College; I think it is a feeling which is shared, and certainly ought to be shared, by every Irishman; no one has a more sincere hope and expectation that the future of that Institution will be worthy of its great past; no one has more respect and regard than I have for my two hon. and learned Friends who so ably and so eloquently represent the University in this House; but, Sir, in the presence of my two hon. and learned Friends, I must say deliberately that the system of education offered by Trinity College to the Catholics of Ireland is neither more nor less than an organized attempt to bribe them to do, or to allow, or make their children do, what they know to be wrong—to bribe them, that is, by the offer of educational facilities of prizes and scholarships, and even by dangling before them the prospect, very distant, I admit, of a possible Fellowship; and, Sir, we know how difficult it is, especially in these days when education is so necessary, to resist such inducements. Of course, I need hardly say that in using the word bribery I do so not in any personal or offensive sense. I am merely trying to 1103 express, as accurately as I can, what I believe to be the case. Now, I am always very unwilling to suggest a comparison which may, even at first sight, appear extreme; but I must say that the more I consider this system, the less I can see what difference there is in kind between it and the old system on which the penal laws were founded. Because we all know that at a very early period in their existence, these laws ceased to inflict death or physical torture for religious opinions. In their most developed and advanced period, they became an elaborate system for literally bribing Catholics or Dissenters, by the offer of civil rights and liberties, and by the threat of being deprived of those rights and liberties, to leave a religion they believed to be true, and to conform to one they believed to be false. Of course, I admit the difference in degree; but, surely, liberty of conscience is not a question of degree? It is one of principle if anything is; nor, I think, does this House desire or claim to oppress consciences any more in small than in great matters. Professor Cairns reminds us, however, that some Catholics do send their sons to Trinity College and the Queen's Colleges, and hence, it is argued, it can be no violation of conscience. But that is a strange argument. For might it not as well be contended that because, under pressure of the penal laws, some Catholics did, as we know, conform to Protestantism, therefore, that pressure entailed no violation of conscience—which is absurd. This brings me to the most important part of the question. How far is our grievance practically felt?—that is, are we justified in maintaining, as we do, that to submit our children to a secular system of education is to expose to serious danger, if not to entire subversion, religious opinions which we think it essential they should hold? I think a moment's consideration will show that this position is not so unreasonable as it may at first sight appear to some people. I need hardly remind the House that the tone and tendencies of modern thought are diverging daily more and more from that older teaching, in which dogma, and revelation, and some sort of supernatural religion, were—as we think they ought to be—cardinal points. To illustrate this needs only the mention of such names as those of Mr. Mill and Mr. 1104 Bain, Professors Huxley and Tyndall, Auguste Comte, Mr. Herbert Spencer, and so many more leaders of modern thought, who, though differing among themselves, all agree in this general direction. This is also so happily illustrated in a sentence, as yet unpublished, which fell lately from one of the foremost thinkers' of the day—one, I may add, whom we are proud to claim as English, by adoption at all events—I mean Professor Max Miiller—that perhaps the House will allow me to quote it. Speaking, as I am now, in illustration of the tendency of modern thought, he said—Every day, every week, every month, every quarter, the most widely-read journals seem just now to vie with each other in telling us that the time for religion is past; that faith is a hallucination or infantile disease; that the gods have at length been found out and exploded. … that we must now he satisfied with facts and finite things, and strike such words as 'infinite,' 'supernatural,' 'divine,' from the dictionary of the future.I think that the House will agree that this expression is as true as it is picturesque. Further it must be remembered that, of all the old systems, to none is this tone of thought more antagonistic than to ours. Views in accordance with it will, of course, prevail in educational institutions under a secular system, and they will work not only through the medium of Professors and lecture halls, but through the influence of the students on each other, and through the very atmosphere and tone and spirit of the place, which they must necessarily permeate. Therefore it is that, while to attend such teaching is not in itself equivalent to giving up religion, it is so grave a danger that, according to our principles, nothing can justify it except extreme necessity. Now, do you desire, or are you in any way justified in, forcing that extreme necessity on us? I do not believe you are, and therefore I contend that it is not unreasonable in us to protest and rebel against the application to Ireland, under present circumstances, at least, of what we are told is to be the future and immutable policy of this country in regard to education—that under no circumstances will the State give aid or endowment to any class or religious denomination as such. But hero we are met with another objection. "We are told—"You are very inconsistent; you are always asking to have the same laws applied to Ireland 1105 as to England, and yet, when we do apply them, you are not content." Sir, it is quite true, we do ask to have the same laws for Ireland as for England; but we ask for the same laws in effect, and not merely in words. There is nothing more disingenuous than to apply a formula of words to circumstances in themselves totally different, and to argue that you are producing the same effect. I can illustrate this in a moment. We all know what a powerful body the Church Party are in this country; we see their numerous Representatives in this House, many of them sitting opposite to us; and I am glad to think that, in these matters, at all events, they represent the opinions of the vast majority of this country. We know the views of that Party are just as strong as ours can be, as to the necessity for some connection between religion and education. Well, in the old Universities, and in that vast network and ramification of intermediate and grammar schools all over the country, they have ample scope and room for the fair application and development of their legitimate convictions; and, therefore, it is quite natural that they should assent to a policy which does them no injustice. But I should like to know this. Supposing that, by some freak of fortune, they were to find themselves suddenly placed in the same position as we are—that is, at the mercy of a system not merely indifferent, but in its working positively hostile and destructive—would they, in that case, with their numbers, with their influence, with their wealth, for one moment submit to such a policy? I am sure they would not. And is it right to ask us to submit to it merely because we happen to be weaker and poorer, though equally numerous in proportion? All we ask is a fair field and no favour; but we do ask to get a fair start, to be put on the same footing as others; we shall then be able to take care of ourselves, and shall be perfectly willing to accept a policy which will no longer place us at a disadvantage. But, Sir, I would also make an appeal to hon. Friends of mine on this side of the House, who combine with great zeal in the cause of education strong views as to the advantages of an entirely secular system, which they would like to introduce not only into Ireland, but into England and Scotland. Now, I 1106 would submit to my hon. Friends, whether, as they are not strong enough to force this system on England and Scotland, it is fair or generous to take advantage of our poverty and weakness to force it on us, and thus to keep us in a position of educational and religious inferiority to English Churchmen? But I would also point out to them that it is illogical besides, for that poverty and weakness, of which advantage is taken, are the direct results of the past oppression and misgovernment of Ireland, which my hon. Friends themselves are the very first to regret and deplore; and I do them the full justice to say that they have done a great deal to remedy some at least of the results of that unfortunate past; so that it is an illogical thing to use against us the consequences of those very antecedents which you deplore. But there are, I admit, two or three difficulties too serious to be passed over, but which, I think, I can, in a very few words, considerably smooth down; and I allude to them now because they appear to be felt especially by the hon. Gentlemen to whom I am appealing. Some of my hon. Friends are afraid that if the State were to do justice to our demands, by establishing a denominational University, such an Institution might fall too completely under the control of the Catholic Clergy. Well, to that my answer is very plain. I do not speak here with authority from anyone; but I have some knowledge of the opinions both of the laity and clergy, and of some of the most influential persons among the latter; and I say, without hesitation and without fear of contradiction, that neither laity nor clergy ask for, nor desire, nor would accept, any such control as is here indicated. Why, Sir, our clergy are the first to recognize that the secular education of men of the world must to a great extent, especially in these days, be developed and controlled by men of the world, who are versed in, and have themselves received, such an education. What we do ask for, and less than which we cannot and will not accept, is that necessary amount of control by the authorities of our Church which shall guarantee to us that the education shall be thoroughly Catholic in tone and spirit. We do not claim, we should not agree, to exclude a single branch of learning 1107 from our curriculum. We all recognize, and the clergy as much as any of us, that knowledge ought to be universal, and to include every aspect of knowledge; in fact, that knowledge of truth is not complete without knowledge of error. Only we claim to teach what we call truth as truth, and error as error, instead of leaving it to the accident of a Professor's own opinions—who may this year be a Comtist, next year a follower of Mr. Mill or Mr. Herbert Spencer, and the following year, perhaps, a Materialist or an Atheist—to inculcate what he pleases. We have a canon on which we claim to rely, and we consider we have a right to insist that our children shall be taught according to that canon. I appeal to everyone, whether our opinions, thus stated, fairly lay us open to the charge, so often made against us, of trying to keep up and revive a sort of mediaeval obscurantism? Why, if those who make that charge would only investigate our opinions for themselves, they would see how utterly unfounded it is, and I trust they would have the candour to recognize its injustice. It is further objected, however, that under such a system public money might be spent in the direct teaching of religion. To that I can give an unqualified contradiction. We would guarantee that not one sixpence of public money should be devoted to anything but secular teaching. The necessary religious teaching would come from private sources. Of course, in such an institution, secular teaching would have a general tinge of religion through it; but that is the characteristic of denominational education, and would not, I understand, be objected to. But it is also urged that to establish such an institution might not be for the real interests of education in Ireland, for that the standard of learning might not be kept up to the proper level. To that, I can only say that we should be not only willing, but desirous, that the State should have such fair control, and take such securities, as should guard, as far as possible, against such a danger. That such securities might be devised is evident. This is not the moment to discuss in what form they might be most effective. That would depend upon the circumstances under which a denominational University was established; the State might, however, exercise control over the examinations; it might appoint a 1108 certain number of examiners; it might lay down rules and conditions under which degrees should be given. At all events, I undertake that we should co-operate heartily with the State, in securing that it should get full value in secular education, for every sixpence of public money which might be granted. And now, Sir, I have only one word to add. It is with reference to statements made at various times by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich; whose name, after all, is so intimately associated with all that is most hopeful in modern legislation for Ireland, that it is difficult to speak on such a subject as this without some allusion to him. Sir, no one has more right than the right hon. Gentleman to express an opinion as to the results of that legislation, in which he has borne such a part; and, certainly, I can say that no one's opinion is looked for with more eagerness and interest in Ireland than his. He has expressed that opinion very fully on more than one occasion. I think it was this time last year he did so at Birmingham, and again more recently in a great speech he delivered at Oxford in the winter; and on both occasions he expressed regret that after all he and his Friends had done for Ireland, the condition of that country, and I think he said especially the condition of the Irish Representation in this House, was not quite so satisfactory as he could desire. I am sure, Sir, I am not doing the right hon. Gentleman more than justice, when I say I think that expression arose not from the mere selfish regret that the Liberal Party were no longer able to count, as they hitherto could, on the support of the great majority of the Irish Members; but that it came from the broader and more generous regret, that so considerable a proportion of the representation of these three united Kingdoms, should appear to be alienated, or I will say removed, from cordial co-operation with one or other of the great Parties in the State, in what is surely the noblest outcome of Parliamentary life, the emulation and rivalry of Party in developing and advancing the interests of a great common Empire. That, Sir, is a regret which we may all share. But I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, when he considers the position in which we are placed with, regard to this question, to 1109 say nothing of any other question, he can wonder if we find ourselves driven into some such course as he indicates? Because, if he is astonished, I would ask him whether he can suggest any alternative which we have not tried, any ordinary Constitutional means which we have not exhausted? Why, my hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon has shown, in his complete and able statement, how we had exhausted every course, usque ad nauseam—and with what results? Sir, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman is not one to under-estimate the immense value of the boon for which we are seeking—namely, religious equality. It is one of those boons which benefits, I think, as much those who give it as those who receive it; but it is also one that those who would win and enjoy must show themselves worthy of, by being ready to labour for it, even, if necessary, under trying and painful conditions. I cannot, of course, foretell the issue of this struggle. It may not be more in us than in other mortals at any given moment to command success; but of this I am sure, and I know my countrymen enough to say it, that they will, by their determination and their perseverance, show that, at all events, they deserve, and will continue to deserve it.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the present condition of University Education in Ireland is most unsatisfactory, and demands the immediate attention of Parliament, with the view of extending more generally and equally the benefits of such education,"—(Mr. Blennerhassett,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. KING-HARMAN,
in supporting the Amendment, said, the fact that the question demanded the attention of the House had been proved by the repeated attempts which had been made to bring it before the House by means of Bills and otherwise. It had been asserted that a portion of the people of Ireland were not in favour of granting higher education to Catholics, but he never heard such a statement made in Ireland or by an Irishman. For the objection which had been urged to the 1110 system of University education desired by the Roman Catholics, that it would place education in the hands of the priests, no ground had been shown. No sane Irishman, possessing education himself or appreciating the advantages of education, would do what the opponents of Catholic education in Ireland asserted would be the effect of the proposed change, and allow the entire education of the rising generation of the country to be handed over entirely to the priesthood without any supervision on the part of the State. The people of Ireland, he believed, would decline to send their children to be educated at Colleges conducted on any such system, and such Colleges would not pay. The people and the priesthood, too, were perfectly able to understand that, and all they demanded was a better system than now existed, in order that the children might receive a comprehensive and not a dwarfed and bigoted education. He agreed generally that as regarded their education the Catholic youth of Ireland were not placed on a fair footing with their Protestant countrymen—that they had to start in the race of life unfairly handicapped and weighted, whereas it was the duty of the State to deal equally with all classes.
MR. JOHN GEOBGE MACCARTHY
As I do not often trespass on the attention of the House, I hope you will allow me to tell you calmly and frankly what is thought on this subject by Catholics of the middle class in Ireland. Of course, hon. Members from this side of the Channel cannot know this of their own knowledge. The great majority of the Members of the House—that majority with whom the decision of all questions respecting the most important and intricate domestic concerns of Ireland ultimately rests—have never even set foot in Ireland. Such Members can only form their opinions of Irish affairs from Blue Books, Parliamentary debates, and newspaper articles; or, to use the German phrase, they evolve their conclusions from the depths of their own consciousness—an obviously hazardous process. Hon. Members who do favour us with an occasional visit come to see the Giant's Causeway, the Phœnix Park, and the Lakes of Killarney, or to get a little hunting or fishing. We try to make them as pleasant as we can, and to bore them with our grievances as little as 1111 possible. They know scarcely anything of the problems which weigh on an Irish father's heart, and are discussed in family council at Irish firesides. But I believe you would like to know. You do not wish to do us a cruel injustice. You would be fair to us if you knew how. Above all, you do not seriously intend to curse our homes and our children's lives with the deadliest of all curses—the curse of ignorance. Now I have some right to speak for Irish Roman Catholics of the middle class. I belong to that class. I know all about it from my earliest years. You may rely on what I tell you. I am not a politician in any Party sense. I have no quarrel with anybody in this House or out of it. I want nothing from anybody in this House or out of it. On account of professional duties I am rarely able to attend here. When I come it is to try and do some good, and there is scarcely any good I have so much at heart as that which is involved in the question now before you. Listen, then, while I tell you how we Irish Roman Catholics of the middle class are circumstanced in this matter, and how we feel about it. Having made some money in commerce or in the professions, we are intensely, perhaps unduly, anxious that our sons should obtain the advantages of the higher intellectual training from which, owing chiefly to the defects of your past legislation, we ourselves were debarred. We are, at the same time, honestly attached to our glorious old Church, and we would not, even to secure for our sons the advantages of education, violate our religious convictions. The problem, then, with us is how to get for our sons the advantages of the higher culture without sacrificing our religious principles? This ought not to be an insoluble problem, seeing that it has been solved in nearly every Christian age and country. Looking around us, then, we see the State has, in fact, furnished munificent endowments for academic education in Ireland. There is Trinity College, with its £60,000 a-year, fed by endowed schools with an annual income of over £70,000 more. I do not say a word against Trinity College—the illustrious Alma Mater of Boyle and Berkely, of Goldsmith and Moore, of Grattan and Flood, of Galbraith, of Lecky, and of Isaac Butt—an University 1112 so brilliantly represented by both the hon. Members who sit for it in this House. The only thing I have to observe about Trinity College is that we Irish Roman Catholics are virtually excluded from it. In its traditions, in its government, in its habits, in its moral atmosphere, Trinity College is Protestant; in theory it has latterly become Secularist. To both Protestantism and Secularism, but especially to Secularism, we Irish Roman Catholics have conscientious objections. We have no quarrel with our Protestant or Secularist neighbours, but we object to our sons being reared on the Protestant or Secularist system, just as you would object to your sons being reared on the Catholic system. Hence, as a matter of fact, and by the necessities of the case, we are virtually excluded from Trinity College with all its splendid endowments, its able teaching, and its well-won ancient fame. Turn now to the Queen's Colleges. These offer us great advantages, and, in many respects, just of the kind we want. They have palatial buildings in three of our provincial cities. They give excellent education almost for nothing. Their Professors are able, learned, and zealous. They offer prizes and scholarships with both hands. They grant academic degrees with a charming facility. They have some £40,000 a-year from Parliament. But they are founded on a principle to which it is notorious we, Irish Roman Catholics, have conscientious objections. I am not here to argue the theological grounds for these objections. It is enough that we hold them, and we are entitled to hold them. We have as good a right to our religious principles as any other subjects of the Queen—nay, as the Queen's Majesty herself—and we have a right, too, that these convictions shall place us under no Civil disability whatever. Hence, by the necessities of the case, and as a matter of fact, we are excluded from the Queen's Colleges just as we are excluded from Trinity College. Where, then, in Ireland, are we to send our sons for University education? There is absolutely nowhere. You have, practically, closed against our sons the doors of all your State Institutions, by refusing to open them except on conditions which you know we cannot conscientiously accept. In this difficulty, we subscribed a large sum to get up a 1113 University of our own. But you refuse this Institute the slightest status as a University. You will not give a shilling of endowment, or the power of conferring the humblest degree. Hence, it is no rhetorical exaggeration, but the strictest and most measured statement of the fact, to say that as matters now stand you virtually exclude our sons from the advantages of the higher education. It is a virtual exclusion to grant a thing only on a condition which you know cannot be accepted. It reminds one of the generosity of the famous Governor of Valladolid who told the Jews settled in that city that they should have plenty of meat, but on one condition—it must be all pork. You will give us plenty of education—plenty, but on one condition—it must be just of the peculiar and exceptional kind which you know we cannot conscientiously accept. Of course, a few of us are tempted by the advantages you offer to disregard our religious convictions, just as I suppose some of the Jews of Valladolid were tempted by the sweet odours of roast pork. There are 75 Roman Catholic lads in Trinity, and 225 in the Queen's Colleges—300 University students out of 4,000,000 of Irish Roman Catholics. But these are only the exceptions which prove the rule. Three hundred students out of 4,000,000 are an utterly miserable proportion. Scotland, with a lesser population, yields 4,000 University students. Bavaria, with a lesser population, yields 8,000 University students. Of the total population of Scotland, 1 in every 1,000 enjoys University education; in Germany, 1 in every 2,600; in England, 1 in every 5,800; but of the Roman Catholics of Ireland there is only 1 University student in every 15,000 of the population. These, then, are the facts of the case. Permit me now to point out some of the results of this state of facts. One result is that Irish Protestants have a virtual monopoly of the advantages of University education in Ireland. We Irish Roman Catholics do not grudge our Protestant fellow-countrymen any real advantages whatever. We would wish to multiply those advantages a hundredfold. But we do grudge them monopoly. We do protest against ascendency. In this matter you give them a present monopoly, and you provide for them a future ascendency. £60,000 a-year for Trinity College, £70,000 a-year for Endowed 1114 Schools, £40,000 a-year for the Queen's Colleges, £30,000 a-year for Model Schools—all these vast endowments are supplied for what is, practically, the almost exclusive use of one-fifth of the Irish community, and that precisely the fifth, which, by its wealth and its traditional culture, is least in want of endowment. This House boasts of a generous instinct for fair play. I ask, is this fair play? This House boasts of its staunch adherence to the principle of religious equality. Is this equality? Why adjust your endowments for academic education, so that, practically, the Protestant minority get all, and the Catholic majority nothing? But there is more in the matter than present disadvantage. There is future ascendency. Having abolished Protestant ascendency of one kind, you are steadily creating a Protestant ascendency of another kind—a kind far more powerful, more splendid, and more enduring than the former, because it will be an ascendency of knowledge over ignorance, of trained and cultivated intellects over intellects that you have virtually excluded from the higher training, and the nobler and more liberal culture. Anyone acquainted with Irish affairs knows that this influence is operating. Already you have handicapped our sons in the race of life; you stamp them with social and intellectual inferiority. Trinity College, the Queen's Colleges, and the endowed schools, are sending out Protestant lads every day who have been thoroughly trained at the expense of the State, and who have wisely and honourably availed themselves of that training. Caeteris paribus, these lads must carry off the prizes of life from those whom the State virtually excludes from its Universities and Colleges. I once called your attention to wasted land, I now call attention to wasted intellect. In all our towns and districts, there are thousands of lads growing up in ignorance and indolence who, if they had received fair educational advantages, would be in receipt of good salaries, and in the discharge of useful duties. Nor is this confined to Ireland only—the disadvantage follows our lads to the Colonies. In a celebrated letter, Sir Gavan Duffy has told us how his heart gets sick at seeing the troops of Irish Roman Catholic lads seeking their fortunes in the Colonies, full of pluck and of natural talent, but with almost 1115 every avenue to fortune barred against them by their inferiority in education. Again, permit me to point out that those whom you virtually exclude are precisely those to whom, on account of the admitted errors of your past legislation, this House owes the amplest reparation. Remember, you actually forbade knowledge to our fathers. You made it a felony for any Irish Catholic to teach. You made it misdemeanour for an Irish Roman Catholictolearn. You maintained these disabilities for generations. Their results still remain. We Irish Roman Catholics have not the traditional culture, the long-descended lore of those for whose education the State has always munificently provided. Even those of us who have become learned, like those of us who have become rich, want the refinement which only the ages mature. Hence, as Lord Emly recently pointed out, we have a clear case for compensation—If you stopped for one week," says his Lordship, "the water that irrigates your neigh-bour's fields, you would be mulcted in substantial damages. How much, more are they bound to make reparation who have cursed with barrenness the intellect of a nation for the lives of many generations?Again, permit me to point out, this evil, so far from being limited to University Education, only commences with it. The University is the keystone of the academic arch. Remove it, and the whole educational edifice tumbles into confusion. Listen for a moment, while I read for you a brief extract from the Report of Lord Taunton's Commission, showing how the Scotch Universities influence the whole intellectual life of Scotland—In every corner of Scotland—in the Islands as well as in the Highlands, among the shepherds of the Grampians and the fishermen of Argyleshire, as well as among the weavers of Paisley and the colliers of Ayr and Dumfries—the influence of one or other of the four Universities is keenly felt, not merely through the connection of the parochial schoolmasters—many of whom take University degrees—and the Governors of their churches with the Universities; but because the cheapness and the elementary character of University education renders it accessible to a very large proportion of the population, and the desire to attend the Universities is so strong and so active as to be a real cultivating force amongst the whole population. The poorest rural school strives to prepare its pupils for intermediate schools, or for the Universities. Schools in general are better attended on account of the stimulus given by 1116 the Universities to the desire for knowledge; the prospect of concluding his education with a University course, and of winning a competitive course is present to the mind of every clever boy of every class, even the poorest throughout the whole Kingdom.It is thus a University in harmony with the wishes and sympathies of the people's works. Take the converse of all this, and you will see what you have done for education amongst the Roman Catholics of Ireland. One of the chief organs of English opinion, The Pall Mall Gazette, has recently declared that—"It is hardly possible to exaggerate the destitution of the Roman Catholics of Ireland in respect to education." Primary education, intermediate education, collegiate education, are all in confusion. The Lord Lieutenant recently called attention to the astounding fact that there is a third of our population which does not even know how to read. Your own Census Commissioners report to you that—Something essentially wrong underlies the whole system of public instruction in Ireland." That the "higher intellectual life of the country is starved and dwarfed," and that "not a moment is to be lost before those upon whom the care lies should apply their faculties to the infusion of blood and spirit into the dry bones of public instruction in Ireland.But the system has larger than even educational results. The monstrous and cruel injustice of refusing to our sons the advantage of the higher education, except on a condition which you know we cannot conscientiously accept, is producing amongst the middle class in Ireland a rankling sense of injustice, which may have the most disastrous ulterior consequences. There seems to them no resource from one or other of two conclusions. Either this House is utterly incompetent to understand Irish affairs, or else it is deliberately sacrificing to the dictates of an ignoble bigotry the educational interests of 4,000,000 of the subjects of the Queen. It is utterly absurd to deny the existence of this grievance. Nearly all your greatest Parliamentary authorities have long ago admitted it. Ten long years ago the late Lord Mayo, as Chief Secretary for Ireland, on a debate on Mr. Maguire's Motion, is reported by Hansard to have said—There exists a large class in Ireland to whom the system adopted at neither University—that is of Dublin or the Queen's—is acceptable, 1117 and who therefore decline to avail themselves of the advantages they offer. There is a large number of persons who object to send their sons to a University where the only religion taught is one that they do not profess, and there are also many who will not send their sons to a College where religious teaching does not form a portion of the system of education. Are these objections unreasonable? I ask this House to consider whether there are not many among us who would have the same objection to send their sons to Universities where the Roman Catholic religion alone was taught, or where all religious instruction was studiously omitted."—[3 Hansard, cxc. 1382.]And in a Memorandum drawn up in March, 1868, and printed by order of the House of Commons, he said—''A just claim exists for the creation of a University of a denominational character, which would offer the like advantages to those whose conscientious scruples prevent availing themselves of the instructions offered in the Trinity College and the Queen's Colleges.The right hon. Gentleman the late Prime Minister is reported by Hansard to have said, 10 years ago—I think we feel now, that the Roman Catholics of Ireland. … have, with respect to education, a real and admitted grievance—namely, that if they seek for their children that kind of education which is called denominational, they are subject to detriment in regard to certain civil rights on account of their conscientious belief. I need not say that in my view no new method of dealing with the higher education in Ireland can be satisfactory, which shall not provide an effectual remedy for that real grievance. … Above all, if we be just men, we shall go forward in the name of truth and right, bearing this in mind, that when the case is proved, and the hour is come, justice delayed is justice denied."— [Ibid. 1750–1771.]The present Prime Minister was not less explicit. In the same debate, 10 years ago, he said—I am of opinion that there is but one mode by which you can supply the grievous want that has been so long complained of by the Roman Catholics of Ireland—namely, that they cannot enjoy the advantages of a higher education under the influence of their own priesthood, and that is by the establishment of a Roman Catholic University. And I want to know on what ground of justice such a proposition can be refused."—[Ibid, cxc.1777.]I now earnestly ask all who wish well to Ireland to give this question a frank and generous consideration. It concerns nothing less than the utilization and development of the intelligence of the whole Kingdom, now running to waste. You love liberty, do not deny to your fellow-citizens the liberty which is of the essence of all liberty—liberty of education. Of old 1118 the sumptuary laws decreed that a man should wear only one particular cut and colour of coat. This was mildness itself compared with decreeing that a man should be educated only in one particular shape and hue of mind. If a choice must be made, regulate the coats if you will, but let our minds be free. You hate persecution for conscience sake. This is persecution for conscience sake. On principle, it is just as clearly persecution to deny a right as to inflict a wrong. You denied education to our fathers; surely, you will not persist in denying it to our sons! Whatever may be the faults of the Irish people, their bitterest enemy has never denied them a passionate love of knowledge. Time was when your ancestors came to Ireland to learn, when our ancestors went to England to teach. In the dark penal days, when your law made learning a misdemeanour, and teaching a felony, we kept the sacred lamp of knowledge burning in the poor mud hut and by the bleak hill-side. In latter days, we strained every nerve to get our children the culture we love; but you deliberately render our efforts fruitless, by refusing the legal sanction and public endowment which you only can give. After all, is it so unreasonable to ask you to concede to the Irish Roman Catholics what even Prince Bismarck still concedes to the German Roman Catholics, and what you yourselves freely grant to the Catholics of Australia and the Catholics of Canada; nay, to the Pagan Hindoos. I know the Hindoos are just now great favourites, and I wish to speak of them with all respect and to treat them with all justice. But I venture to suggest that if a time of real danger to the Empire came, it would be better to have at your side the well-tried valour of the Irish race than all your dusky legionaries from Indus or Ganges. Is it so unhealthy for a great community to have its children reared religiously? Is it the function of Parliament to prevent men being reared religiously. In France, a great orator and politician recently declared—The notion of God is the root of all social error; we must give God notice to quit; above all, we must expel Him from the schools; we must take care that the new generation shall not know God."Surely, this is not the doctrine to be 1119 practically adopted and enforced by the British. House of Commons. Sad, indeed, would be the day when such a creed rules this House. Even the wise old Pagans knew better than this. In sweet and stately eloquence, Plato taught the Greeks, and Cicero the Romans, that nations grow great, and calm, and free, not in proportion to their armies, or their navies, or their treasures, but in proportion as religion grows in the hearts, and virtue in the lives, of the people. Every State, every society, all order, every man's rights, the peace of every home, the safety of every woman depends on two things, and on two things only—physical force and moral principle. Unhappy is the State that depends on physical force alone. To such State will come, as to such States even in our own days have come, ruin, and blood, and robbery, and shame. But happy is that land—whether it be rich or poor—where religion reigns in the hearts and homes of the people, maintaining order not by feeble and transitory force from without, but by the strong and abiding principle within, curbing the vagaries of intellect, restraining the power of passion, making man more manly, making woman more womanly, making all more wise and gentle; teaching moderation, and justice, and obedience to law as only religion can teach them, and illumining the dusty, weary ways of common life with the hopes and the radiance of another world.
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, he should not trouble the House at any length, as he had already had several opportunities of speaking on the subject, but he felt bound to make a few remarks, since the question closely affected the University which he had the honour to represent. While he was well satisfied with the moderation with which the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don) had brought the question before the House, and admitting that moderation had distinguished the utterances of some of the hon. Members who had supported it, he could not allow that the arguments of some of those hon. Members were strictly accurate. The Resolution of the hon. Member for Roscommon was one which stated that University education in Ireland was unsatisfactory, and called upon the House immediately to deal with the subject. He was aware that the deficiency of Irish University education had often been described in 1120 that House in glowing terms by eminent men; but when they came to facts and figures, and set aside the religious grievance—although he did not say there was not room for improvement—he thought they would see that the position of University education in Ireland was not extremely unsatisfactory. The facts were stated in the course of a former debate on the same subject by the right hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh (Mr. Lyon Playfair), and he did not remember that the statement then made had been contradicted since. The figures stood thus—In England there was 1 University student in 3,700 of the population, while in Ireland where was 1 for every 2,800 of the population. Ireland was, therefore, better off in that respect then England, while, he admitted, Scotland was better off still, having 1 University student in 860 of the population. But when his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Edinburgh came to test the question by the number of Art degrees conferred after examination, he showed that not only was Ireland better off than England in that respect, but that she was better off even than Scotland—the number produced annually being for England, in one year, 750, or 1 in 30,000 of the population; in Scotland, 130, or 1 in 26,000; in Ireland, 338, or 1 in 16,000 of the population. Well, that being so, he came to the question whether the Roman Catholics of Ireland were in an unfair position as regarded the number of their University students. He did not mean to deny that there were a certain number of Roman Catholic young men not attending a University who would go to a recognized Roman Catholic University if there were one. What he said was this, that hon. Gentlemen who supported the Motion ought to be able to make out a strong case. How did the case stand? Was it contended that the University endowment for the Roman Catholics should be proportionate to that enjoyed by the other denominations? Well, if they took the basis of the population, the argument would carry them too far. If, on the other hand, they took the number of the classes at all likely to contribute to the number of University students, then, unfortunately, the argument could not carry them far enough. This he did not assert in any sprit of ascendency. It was a well known fact that in the upper classes in 1121 Ireland, in the Professions, and even in the upper middle class, there were not a sufficient number of Roman Catholics to sustain the argument put forward by hon. Gentlemen opposite. But then it was said—What about the Divinity schools? As the case had been presented, there were a vast number of Roman Catholic students studying for the Church, but not in a University. That fact cut against the argument used as to proportion. He should be glad that all possible inducements should be held out to Roman Catholic young men studying for the Church to attend a University. But what was said when the Irish Church was disestablished and disendowed? Did the proposition now made amount to this—that the Irish Church having been disendowed, Maynooth should be re-endowed? If that were so, it ought to be declared. He had to complain that hon. Gentlemen opposite never stated what they actually desired. They said—"Oh, only make a proposal, and you will find us most conciliatory." What they ought to do was to state plainly what they required. Did they require that Roman Catholic Divinity students should be separately educated—separately, as regarded the lay students of their own Church? Was that system to be maintained? But the real reason, in his opinion, why there were not more Roman Catholic University students, was that there were not greater facilities in existence for good intermediate education. In that view, he quite concurred with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe). They had the promise of Her Majesty's Government that they meant to deal with that question; but if the Estimates were discussed over and over again, as they had been, it would be impossible for the Government to carry out their undertaking. This he believed, that strict denominational endowments were impossible, and those who expected them would be disappointed. He must further say that some of the statements made by the hon. Members opposite would mislead, if they stood alone, although he was sure there was no intention to mislead. There were at present in the University in Dublin a considerable number of Catholics availing themselves of all its advantages. So there were many Catholics in the Queen's Colleges. He would not be certain about 1122 the exact figures. There were at present in the Queen's Colleges 886 students, and of these 230 were Catholics. In Dublin University there were 1,200 students, and of these about 100 were Catholics. Of course, that was a very great disproportion, and he was not prepared to say that there was nothing to complain of; but he thought he had said enough to show that, as a practical question of figures, the case had been overstated. The hon. Member for Roscommon had referred briefly to the history of the question, and it was well known that almost every Government for the last 30 years had endeavoured to deal with it. When the Queen's Colleges were founded, it was supposed that the difficulty had been settled, and it was at that time believed that the demands put forward in this House on behalf of the Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church had been fairly met. He would not dwell on the disastrous episode in the career of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich; but, in all the attempts which had been made there was one thing wanting, and that was a definite undertaking as to the amount of control which was to be given to the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church. That was the real difficulty which arose, and he was afraid if the temper of the dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church was the same now as it was during Lord Mayo's time, the prospects of a settlement had not improved. The hon. and learned Member for Limerick brought in a Bill remarkable for its ingenuity, but what did it all come to? It amounted to vesting absolute control in the most important matters in the Catholic Hierarchy. The appointment and dismissal of Professors, books to be admitted and excluded—all that power was, in the last resort, vested in the Archbishops and Bishops of the Catholic Church. At this time of day, and in the face of Oxford and Cambridge, and the Universities of the Continent, the astounding proposal was made that no book was to be added to the Dublin University except with the consent of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Ireland. Everybody knew no Government would sanction such a retrogressive step as that. It was not fair of hon. Members now to come forward and say—"Unless you proceed to deal with this question you are doing a great injustice to Ireland," when hon. Members knew very 1123 well that successive Governments had done their best to grapple with the question. He did not wish to say a word which might prejudice any fair proposal that might be brought forward in the sense suggested by the right hon. Member for the University of London. On that proposal, he would not at present offer any opinion favourable or unfavourable to it. But it was said that if they would not level up, they must level down; he had no fear that such a gloomy forecast of prophecy would be realized. There were, as he had said, at the Queen's University 886 students, of whom 230 were Roman Catholics: and at Trinity College, Dublin, 1,200 students, of whom about 100 were Roman Catholics; and at these Universities the students were receiving an education in all respects equal to that given at the Universities of England and Scotland. They were, probably, receiving a more practical education for the work-a-day wants of the Irish people than Oxford or Cambridge would afford them. The two Irish Universities were now absolutely open and free; they were not, by tests or otherwise, more inaccessible to one religious denomination than another; as a matter of fact, many Catholics did attend them; was it not then most unreasonable to say that they should be interfered with because there were other Roman Catholics who would not avail themselves of the advantages they offered? The £43,000 of endowments enjoyed by Trinity College was employed so as to confer the fullest advantage on the 1,200 students, they were provided with museums and libraries, commons and chambers, and all the ordinary incidents of University life, and fair encouragement in the way of prizes. But there were no sinecures; all the Professors and tutors were teaching Professors and all the fellows tutor fellows; full value was given for every penny received. A vast amount of light was being given out from day to day by the assistance and under the protection of State endowment; and that all this life, energy, and usefulness should terminate because some Irishmen would not benefit by them, was a proposal which no man would venture who realized what such advantages were worth, and which certainly no Irishman would make who knew the history of the University. It anticipated the other Universities in 1124 admitting all to its degrees, and reformed its Governing Body. There had been a steady increase in the number of Roman Catholic students since the disestablishment of the Irish Church. In the preceding eight years the number was 175, and in the subsequent eight years the number had been 254. Whatever else might be done by the House, he felt certain it would regard wild proposals of wholesale destruction as having no foundation in reason, and as opposed to common sense and to the interests of the country. The Governing Body of Dublin University were ready to accept all suggestions that could be made for furthering the policy on which they had entered. He had no wish to oppose the full and fair consideration of all the arguments which had been adduced by hon. Members opposite; but he must maintain that no case had been made out for the disendowment of all existing University Institutions, and he should support the Government if they felt inclined to meet the Resolution by moving the Previous Question.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, he must deny that the Roman Catholic Prelates had, as was alleged, impeded the settlement of this question by their unreasonable opposition. It was true that there was a diplomatic conference between the Irish Catholic hierarchy and the late Lord Mayo, in which the latter had the victory. But it would be admitted that in that kind of encounter the victory did not always incline to the right cause. It appeared that the Irish Bishops had, in the opinion of Lord Mayo, asked too much; and he at once, without giving them the opportunity of moderating their proposals, broke off the correspondence, in order to conciliate a powerful Opposition and a discontented party of supporters. He thought Irish Members had reason to complain that the House had refused to read the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick a second time, although the objections raised to it in debate were such as were only suited for discussion in Committee. However, the interest excited by former debates on the subject was greater than that now indicated by empty benches, which were no augury for the success of the Resolution, particularly after the speech they had just heard. His hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Plunket) who had just spoken contended 1125 that the supporters of the Resolution had made out no case, and, taking the statement of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh University, said that the proportion of University students and graduates in Scotland was less than in Ireland. But the fact was that Scotland, with a population of 3,360,000, had 5,000 students, while Ireland, with a population of nearly 6,000,000, had only 1,900. Thus it appeared that Scotland had nearly three times as many students as Ireland. The number of lay Catholic students in Ireland passing through intermediate schools was 1,413, but how many were in the Universities getting degrees? According to his hon. and learned Friend, 100 in Trinity College, but the Returns showed there were only 75; while in the Queen's Colleges there were 230, so that there was a proportion of nearly 1,500 students to 305 who were seeking degrees. His hon. and learned Friend had said that there was no real grievance. But the Declaration of 1870, which was signed by two lieutenants of counties, 30 deputy lieutenants, 300 magistrates, 10 Queen's Counsel, 500 or 600 mayors, town councillors, and Poor Law Guardians—classes which supplied students—declared that there was. This was not all. The right hon. Member for Kildare (Mr. Cogan) presented a Petition the other day upon this subject, having the names attached of six Peers, 352 deputy lieutenants and magistrates, 40 Members of Parliament, and 33,978 members of corporations, Poor Law Guardians, and landed proprietors. Yet, in the face of these two documents, they were told that the people of Ireland had no grievance on this matter. What were the numbers of the Roman Catholic population? 4,500,000. How many students in the University represented that population? Only 305. The Declaration of the Roman Catholic laity proved that this was not an ecclesiastical or an imaginary grievance. What was the reason Catholic parents did not send their children in greater numbers to these Institutions? It was because they objected to send them to any Colleges for University education, or to any University for degrees, where they had not a guarantee and a protection for their faith and morals. Surely, the present was not a time to speak with contempt and indifference of such a feeling on the part of the Catholic 1126 laity of Ireland? When the English education question was before the House, hon. Gentlemen opposite invoked the assistance of Irish Members, and they gave their assistance in favour of denominational education. They must, therefore, admit that this was a practical grievance. The Queen's Colleges were founded in 1845; surely, they had been long enough on trial? Yet what had they done? They had entirely failed, as had been predicted from the first they would fail, and the secularization of the University of Dublin had also failed to attract Catholic students to Trinity College. He would not allow any man to tell him that he was there to represent any clerical body—he represented the Irish Catholic laity. With reference to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) as to the encouragement of middle-class education, how would that better the position of Roman Catholics as to University education? The Bill of 1873 would have been applicable to the case had it not been altered by the supporters of the right hon. Member for Greenwich; but it was proposed to be altered, and it then provoked the hostility of the Irish Members. It had been proposed to be turned into a secular Bill, and was lost on the second reading. The Bill of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) promised to open Fellowships and Scholarships to the Catholics of Ireland; but what had been the results? In five years there had been an increase of seven Catholic students. Could that be considered a satisfactory state of things? But he had been long enough in addressing empty benches. He trusted the Government would be true to the principles they had always avowed of being—the friends of denominational education—and would, by adopting the present Resolution, lay the basis of a system of University education in Ireland, and render it worthy of the nation.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
observed, that the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) had accused the Irish Members of exaggerating the case of the Catholics of Ireland in regard to that question; but the figures given by that hon. and learned Member himself proved that the case of the Catholics was almost incapable of 1127 being exaggerated. They could have no object in overstating their case, and the want was so extreme that no good would be effected by placing it in a worse light. The figures which the hon. and learned Member had brought forward showed that out of 1,200 students in Trinity College, only 100 were Catholics, and that, taking the relative proportions of the population belonging to the two denominations, there were in Ireland only one twenty-sixth part as many Catholics as there were Protestants receiving University education. If they took England, there would be 20 times as many receiving University education in proportion to the population as there would be in the case of Catholics in Ireland. In Scotland there would be 60 times as many. The want of University education amongst the Catholic population of Ireland could not be exaggerated, being, in the lowest case, 20 to 1, and ranging up to 60 to 1. The real question was, how that enormous disparity was to be remedied. If they allowed that unsatisfactory state of things to remain, it would tend more and more to divide the community in Ireland into two classes—an upper and rich class of Protestants, and a lower and poor class of Catholics. That was a result which, for many reasons, was extremely undesirable for the sake both of England and of Ireland. New reasons had come into force within the last 20 years which increased the evils of this marked division. There was, for instance, the introduction of competitive examinations, which, if the present system of education was continued, would result in placing the Protestants in Government situations, to the exclusion of the Catholics. The result would be that the poorer Catholics would take very little interest in the affairs of the country. Again, it must be remembered that there were many Irishmen who went to America. Some of these returned to Ireland, having acquired, not a University education, but a knowledge of life and of facts of great importance, leading them and others to the conclusion that the Americans were the cleverest of men. In excluding from the Catholics—that was, the great mass of the population of Ireland—the advantages of education, a Government pursued a policy which would, taken in connection with the close association of 1128 Ireland and America, do much to prepare a sort of hotbed for revolutionary ideas, whence they would be communicated to England. There was no wish on the part of the supporters of the Motion to endow a new Maynooth. No doubt some of the Maynooth students might avail themselves of a degree at an Irish University; but what the people of Ireland asked in the way of State aid in this matter was really only for their own money, as they sent over a large amount of money annually for Imperial purposes. The object was to obtain a high-class Catholic University education, and it would be to the advantage of any truly Imperial Government who wished to gain strength from Ireland, and not to have it as a thorn in their side, to allow the Catholic clergy and the Catholic laity to have some common footing with the Protestant clergy and society in regard to high-class education. As matters now stood, there was no outward or visible sign to associate the Catholics with the learned members of the community. The Catholics were educated as a class apart, and there were no means of showing that they had been educated to the same point as the Protestant clergy. If the system were such as to afford Catholics a higher class of education, and place them on a more equal footing with their Protestant fellow-countrymen, it would tend to make them look with somewhat more favour on the Imperial system of Government. It had been argued that intermediate education ought to precede University education in Ireland. The Irish people would be only too thankful if they could get either; but, although they were assured at the beginning of the Session that a Bill would be introduced with reference to intermediate education in Ireland, the Session was already far advanced, there was no sign of such a measure, and he was afraid that intermediate education would fall through. A University would be a natural centre from which Professors could be sent to intermediate schools, and without a University the teachers of those schools would have no common bond of union. He did not believe that there could be a system of intermediate education, unless it was accompanied by University education; because, without a University to go to, there would not be that prize, that incentive to study 1129 among the more clever youth, who would aspire to a University education. The hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin said the Roman Catholic Members from Ireland did not tell the House what they wanted. In the Bill introduced by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick, they told the House exactly what they wanted. One fault of that Bill was that it went into too much detail. But they did not bind themselves to that Bill. They said they would be satisfied with the passing of that Bill, or of something like it. The hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin said the Roman Catholics of Ireland ought to be satisfied with the Queen's Colleges. How could they be satisfied with Colleges against which they had always protested? It was not the policy of hon. Members opposite to level down, because the level-ling-down process had a tendency to spread, and what commenced with a few Irish Colleges might extend with great rapidity to more important Institutions nearer home. It was true that some 50 or 60 years ago many Catholic families, bribed by the offers of advantages in the Services and in the Medical Profession, sent their sons to Dublin University; but that was not so much the case now. Apart from the religious side of the question, nothing much was to be said against Dublin University, because the education it gave was of a high class; but that Institution had never been so associated with the great portion of the Catholic body, that they should shrink from disendowing it if necessary. Among other schemes which had been proposed to meet the educational difficulty was that of establishing a system of bonuses, by which the Catholic youths of Ireland were to be allowed to compete for money prizes. Such a system would not be altogether bad, especially if the Queen's Colleges and the Dublin University were disendowed so as to prevent their students from having a monopoly of the prizes. It would, however, be difficult to prevent students trained at the English and Scotch Universities from coming over and competing for the prizes. To establish a system of Examining Boards would be but an indifferent solution of the question. It had been said that the people of England would never consent to the establishment of a Catholic University; 1130 but his opinion was that the more the franchise was extended, the greater chance was there of justice being done to Ireland. The people of England sympathized with their Irish fellow-subjects, and would not refuse to comply with their reasonable demands. It was of the greatest importance to England that she should go forth as the champion of religious liberty; and, therefore, it was most shortsighted to give the Irish nation cause for complaining that religious liberty was denied to it.
§ MR. MORRIS
said, that it was with some diffidence that he addressed the House, because in the city which he had the honour of representing a Queen's College was established. Certainly it was not his intention to say one word in disparagement of that Institution in any way. He thought that it was a subject which, if understood, could be argued on broad and plain issues. To say that University education in Ireland was unsatisfactory, was to anyone who know Ireland but to utter a truism. Many things had been propounded for the benefit of Ireland, and many subjects relating to her internal affairs had been brought forward. There was one, however, with regard to which he could speak in the name of the Catholics of Ireland as demanding, certainly, the greatest attention which could be possibly given to any subject—and that was the question of University intermediate education. He had the honour of a seat in that House 10 years ago, when Lord Mayo took the settlement of the question in hand. He, for one, had ever since regretted that the question was not then settled upon the bases of the terms then offered. At that time, however, another system and another principle was introduced into the House and carried out—and that was the system of levelling down. He was one of those who had always protested against that system, and he trusted that it would never be adopted except under circumstances of extreme pressure. He considered, however, that if this question of education was not settled in some way which would be satisfactory to the Catholics of Ireland, the levelling down system should be adopted. He did not use the expression in any way as a threat. He trusted that the Government would try and ascertain whether 1131 it was not possible to settle the question on somewhat similar terms to those proposed by Lord Mayo. There was a rumour that some kind of intermediate education was to be adopted on the levelling-up system, and that the surplus from the revenues of the Church was to come forward in the shape of competitive prizes. He was not, however, going to enter into that question; but he thought that the Government might go a little further and adapt it to a system of University education. As matters now stood, many of the Catholic middle-class were deprived of the advantages of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland, because they did not like to send their sons to them under the system which now existed. Those people felt that a system of education without religion was false and injurious. A greater benefit could not be conferred on Ireland than the establishment, upon a proper basis, of a liberal and true system of education.
§ MR. A. MOORE
thought the Government were in an absurd position in regard to this question. They had provided denominational education in one part of the Empire where many people did not want it, and refused it in another where it was desired by a large and influential section of the inhabitants. He complained that the Catholics of Ireland met with no respect for their religious convictions, while those of Protestants, and atheists, and infidels, were fully responded to, and their requirements provided for. The Catholics of Ireland were told that they might have University education, but that it must be at the expense of their religious convictions. One would think that the time had gone by when a man's religious convictions should stand in the way of his advancement in life; but the conduct of the Government in reference to this question showed that they had not yet made so much progress. There was another point to be considered, and that was the conduct of the Government at the commencement of the Session. They were told that a Bill upon intermediate education would be brought in, and no doubt they would have received it thankfully. But what had been the course pursued by the Government? Of course the House would be told that the policy of the Obstructives had prevented the Government bringing in the Bill. However, 1132 that was not so. The Bill was not forthcoming. They asked for the Bill, but it was said that before it could be produced the House must make substantial progress with the Irish Grand Jury Bill, and also make substantial progress with the English County Government Board Bill, which no one seemed much to desire. Those Bills were both weak and in a bantling state, and could not be passed in their present shape. This course would not add to the confidence which the Irish people felt in Her Majesty's present Government. He could not forget that, while a mere measure of justice was denied to the people of Ireland, a sum of no less than £238,000 was added this year to the Vote for education in this country. It was a very hard trial to come to that House, year after year, asking for a small acknowledgment of their educational claims, and yet meet with no response. A satisfactory solution of the question would, he hoped, be soon discovered; but that which was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London would never be accepted. They might shut their ears now to the demand made; but eventually they would have to hearken to the oft-repeated voice of a nation, crying to Heaven for that which was only her just rights.
§ MR. O'SHAUGHNESSY
observed, that the objection urged by the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin appeared to be this—that if the Motion were adopted, Roman Catholic Divinity students would be prepared for their Church at the expense of the State. That would not be the case. Divinity students might attend a Roman Catholic University, but only to receive lay education, as did the Divinity students belonging to other Churches. Although this debate would not bring about an immediate solution of the question, yet he believed it would advance that solution to a stage far beyond its present position, and in time the people would demand their just rights. Many points formerly argued were now taken for granted, and it was now admitted that it was a question which ought and could be dealt with. Higher education was now as much a necessity for the upper and middle classes of Ireland as food. Whatever differences existed between them on the subject, 1133 they all, he was sure, were desirous that enlightenment should be spread among the people of Ireland, the better to enable them to discharge the duties which would devolve upon them in life. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) told them that he questioned the advisability for educational purposes of endowing Universities, and that the endowment of teachers put education to sleep. Looking back at University education, he thought the right hon. Gentleman was not altogether without some grounds for his assertion; for they had only to look at Oxford and Cambridge, with all their endowments, and the inefficiency of the Queen's Colleges with their endowment at the present moment, and also to look back at the time when Trinity College went by the name of the "silent sister," to see whether endowments should be given to Universities. For his own part, he thought the endowment of teachers should be discontinued, and ought to regulate, to a very great extent, the formation of any such institution. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that at the end of a University course students should be provided with endowments and prizes which would, probably, fall into the hands of men trained and capable of teaching, which would constitute a Teaching Body endowed indirectly, but, at the same time, dependent for the maintenance of their endowment on students in the University, on their own activity and capacity, and that advantage would be gained by the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, and the State relieved from the necessity of interfering with Colleges and the heads of Colleges. He would say, however, that if the proposal of the right hon. Member for the University of London meant merely the creation of an Examining University such as the University of London, it would not be likely to fulfil and meet the wants of the people of Ireland on the question before them. If he meant that instead of Colleges like Kemble College, or even the Queen's Colleges, they should have a number of schools full of schoolboys affiliated from the Universities, then he had no hesitation in saying that his proposal would deservedly fail. Something more than mere teaching and examination was necessary to constitute a new University. 1134 If he would show some way by which University life in College could be created, and created with a prospect of full development, then, indeed, he would have done something to solve the great question. Of course, endowments would be required. That was necessary to place Catholics on an equality with Protestant Irishmen. It was felt in Ireland that the University question involved principles to which the people were solemnly bound. Many people said that University education was a central system which was to give light around to intermediate education; but he hoped freedom of opinion was allowed, and he must say he thought intermediate education should precede University education. But what was the position in which the Government were placed? At the beginning of this year, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies, but then Chief Secretary for Ireland (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), speaking at the end of the first Irish debate, admitted that legislation for Ireland was necessary on the subject of University education. He said that intermediate education was locally and educationally a preliminary to University education, and that he would deal with it in the first instance. This was a most important concession, and if the Government intended to give an earnest to this expressed intention of dealing with University education, the way to do so was to deal practically and without further delay with the question of intermediate education. In conclusion, he sincerely hoped the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Roscommon would not be altogether without effect.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, they were discussing the matter under a great disadvantage, seeing that they were so far in ignorance of the views of Her Majesty's Government in regard to it. As regarded the attitude of the Liberal Opposition, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for London University (Mr. Lowe) had made a somewhat novel suggestion; but, while last year he had brought it forward as a remedy, this year he had been candid enough to admit that it would not supply the want felt by the Roman Catholics of University education, though it would stimulate intermediate education. His declaration of opinion might be taken as 1135 that of the Opposition, and it amounted to nothing all. He had mentioned the failure of his Leader five years before, and had then told the Catholics that their cause was hopeless, but that in a commercial way he would do something to pay for certain results in secondary schools. Then the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin had made a thoroughly selfish speech, and had thought that any gain to the Catholics must necessarily be to the disadvantage of the Protestants. For his part, he could not admit that that result was inevitable. It might be argued that their objection to the present system of University education in Ireland was based upon hostility to the Queen's Colleges; but, so far as he was concerned, his objection was that they were set up to afford certain facilities to the Catholics of Ireland; and, after 30 years' experiment, the people of Ireland declined to avail themselves of the facilities, and it was in that sense they repudiated the Queen's Colleges as in no sense affording the facilities required by the Catholics in Ireland. The opponents of the Resolution said it was impossible to concede what it claimed on behalf of the Roman Catholics of Ireland. The same thing used to be said with reference to the injustice which was inflicted on the Roman Catholics of Ireland by the Irish Church Establishment; but at last the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich came forward and cut down that "upas tree." But on this question Parliament had, with characteristic obstinacy, failed to recognize the devotion of the Irish Catholic to his religion, which had been tested by the blood and tears of centuries of persecution. The Roman Catholics were the only people whose claims in the matter of University education were not accorded consideration; and, in contending against the national spirit of the people, Parliament had entered upon a contest which could only end in its own defeat and humiliation. The people of Ireland would neither be secularized by the Queen's Colleges nor proselytized by Trinity College. This was not a clerical grievance, but a grievance touching the heart and soul of the Catholic classes of Ireland. It had been said that although the Queen's Colleges were now denounced, they would in time prove to be a success, just 1136 as the national schools, which at first were denounced, had become a success. But the national schools had succeeded simply because they were practically denominational schools. Just in proportion as they became denominational, they became successful. He was quite ready to acknowledge the importance of intermediate education in Ireland, and how signal were the defects of the present system; but there appeared to be a conspiracy between the front Benches on both sides of the House to magnify intermediate education for the purpose of shelving University education. The Catholics of Ireland knew the result of the cramming system advocated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London. Under that system, the work done in a particular Department was paid for at so much per yard. Although Ireland was deficient in intermediate education, yet there were many excellent schools in the country capable of turning out young men well fitted to enter upon a course of University education; but the practical effect of the policy of the English Government was to encourage the minority and discourage the majority in their search after University education. The proposal before the House that night neither involved the abolition of the Queen's Colleges—if against the wish of the Irish people the House were determined to maintain them—nor did it involve the slightest impairment of Trinity College. It merely put forward a just claim on behalf of a portion, and that portion the overwhelming majority, of the nation, which had for centuries consistently made great sacrifices rather than participate in any privileges, political or educational, that could, in the slightest degree, affect their religious opinions. In conclusion, he warned hon. Members that no scheme of intermediate education would settle the question of University education, and that it would not repress or allay in an appreciable degree the feelings of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, who had so long vainly sought at the hands of Parliament redress for the injustice under which they were labouring.
MR. MITCHELL HENEY
considered the discussion so far unsatisfactory, that with the exception of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket), the 1137 speaking had been all on one side, so that really the supporters of the proposal for the establishment of a Roman Catholic University in Ireland had not anything to reply to. He would ask if the absence of speeches had arisen from the fact that there was a general acquiescence in the demand of the hon. Member for Roscommon? They well knew that was not the case, and he had not the smallest hope that the Government would make any concession to the wishes of the Irish people on this important subject. It was most unjust to deny men the right to educate their children, either on secular or on religious principles, as they thought fit. He, speaking as a Protestant, wished to see the same state of things in Ireland as existed in this country. In England ample provisions had been made for religious teaching, according to the belief of the majority of the people. The Universities and all the great public schools were Protestant to the backbone, because the great mass of the people were Protestant; but in Ireland, where the great majority of the people were Roman Catholic, they were mocked with a pretence of religious equality. The rich endowments, which originated in the piety and benevolence of their Roman Catholic ancestors, had been taken from them, and conferred on the Protestant minority. In fact, Government did in Ireland what it would not dare to do in any other part of Her Majesty's Dominions. In India they would not dare attempt to make the children of Mohammedans attend Christian schools. Over and over again had this grievance been demonstrated by the Irish Members, and sometimes their demand was met with fair words; but at other times, as on the present occasion, by silence, showing that the Government and the Legislature did not intend to do that which was just. But the demand was none the less just, and the Irish Catholics would, no doubt, as they were bound to do, insist upon it by every constitutional means in their power. It was folly to talk of having admitted Roman Catholics to the government of the University of Dublin. It would take 50 years before Roman Catholic graduates could have a voice in the government of that Institution. If the House refused to listen to the reasonable demand of the majority of the Irish people, what could they 1138 expect but that the Irish Representatives would refuse to allow them to have their own way in voting the Estimates for education in Ireland? The only course open to Irish Members was to prevent the House of Commons from passing those Estimates, upon the existence of which they based their power to carry out a system of education which was repugnant to the Irish people. If Parliament were to found a Roman Catholic College, it would have to depend for its success upon the quality of its teaching; and if it did not give as sound an education as was to be obtained in any Protestant College, the Irish people would not resort to it. The only argument he had ever heard urged against the scheme of a Catholic University was that it might be too ready to grant degrees, and so lower the character of the degrees granted by the other Universities: but that objection had been fairly met in the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), in which he proposed the establishment of a common University for Ireland, in which the students educated at the several denominational Colleges of the country might compete for their degrees. What right had the English Parliament to say that the majority of the Irish people should not educate their children according to their own religious faith? The Catholics of Ireland claimed the right to educate their children according to their own religious views, out of the produce of their own taxes, with exactly the same freedom as Protestants in England and Ireland enjoyed. They admitted that they were in a minority in Ireland, and yet when the Catholics asked for justice the answer was,—"We will give you something, but we will take care we do not concede the principle." He had always felt that if the positions had been reversed, and if the Protestants were subjected to the same disabilities to which the Catholics were subjected, they would very long ago have heard a very different tale. Did they suppose that the Protestant people would submit to the degradation, the scandal, and shame which had been heaped upon the Catholics? And the only reason why the Catholics, in his opinion, had never obtained that to which they were entitled, was because they had not made their demands in 1139 tones sufficiently robust. Until they made themselves inconvenient to political Parties on both sides, there was no chance of their obtaining a solution of this question. In the meanwhile, the Roman Catholics could only rejoice that they, of all people, had maintained unimpaired their religious faith for long ages and amid cruel persecution.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, it was no part of his duty to defend hon. Gentlemen on the other side against the aspersions cast on them by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down; but, if he were disposed to do so, he might take some exception to the charge brought against them as to their not having made their remonstrances sufficiently robust. Repeated attempts had been made to settle this question on both sides of the House—attempts by Governments and attempts by private Members. He did not wish to go through the details of those schemes; but there was one scheme to which special reference was made by the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don), and almost every other Member who had addressed the House—that was, the scheme of the right hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone). He did not know that its fate had been a very encouraging one for those who wished to follow in his footsteps. Reference had also been made to the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt). He was certainly entitled to speak with some authority in the name of the people of Ireland, and any proposal emanating from him would always command the respectful attention of the House. But what did all those schemes prove? Why had none of those schemes, whether brought forward by the responsible Government or introduced to the notice of Parliament by private Members, met with success? The reason was this—the demands put forward by the Representatives of Irish opinion had been almost uniformly extravagant. What were those demands? Even so recently as a few weeks ago, a meeting was assembled in Dublin to consider this very question. The demand then put forward was—either concurrent endowment or total disendowment. The hon. Member for Roscommon, with great candour, repeated those terms—he spoke of levelling up or levelling down. One or other 1140 alternative, he said, must be adopted; but he knew very well that neither would ever be accepted by the House of Commons. He, therefore, was justified in assuming that the reason why this great question had been so long unsettled was that the demands made were wholly extravagant. He did not mean to say that the status quo was perfection. The status quo, however, had not been fairly described. Any impartial observer would have been led to form the opinion that hon. Gentlemen opposite were seeking to induce Parliament to reverse a system of exclusive endowment, wholly limited to one exclusive sect. But that was not the case. The existing University and the Colleges of Ireland, with one exception, were entirely open to persons professing all creeds. Since this question was dealt with by the Government, of which the right hon. Member for the University of London was a distinguished Member, the old Institution of Trinity College, Dublin, had been thrown open to all creeds, and there was the most perfect religious equality. He might have stated that, for nearly 100 years, degrees at Trinity College had been within the reach of all Her Majesty's subjects of whatever creed; and since 1873, the endowments had been equally open to Catholics and Protestants. Anyone listening to some of the speeches in this debate might have supposed that the benefits of the Queen's Colleges were open only to Protestants, but they were available to all Her Majesty's subjects without distinction of creed. Protestants, as such, had no advantage conferred on them in Trinity or in the Queen's College which were not equally within the reach of Roman Catholics. There was one Institution which was an exception, and that was the Royal College of Maynooth—which formerly received an annual grant of £26,000, which had been, with the consent of those interested in that Institution, who were represented in the House, been commuted to the sum mentioned in the Irish Church Act. With that one exception, the University Institutions in Ireland were open to Her Majesty's subjects without distinction of creed. Under these circumstances, the case had not been fairly put before the House. Hon. Members, doubtless, had conscientious objections to the education afforded by these Institutions; but they 1141 were not justified in speaking of the application of their revenues as a confiscation to the injury of those for whom they were intended. Why had the advantages so offered to all creeds not been more freely made use of by the Roman Catholics? In the Queen's Colleges they had been made use of to a very considerable extent, some 25 per cent of those who did make use of them being of the Roman Catholic religion, while in Trinity College, Dublin, the percentage had been stated to be 10 per cent. At any rate, it was very considerable. But the reason why these Institutions had not attained a greater success had been the spirit of hostility which had been manifested towards them, no doubt, from conscientious motives, and which must be respected. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Major Nolan) had said that the months of February, March, April, and May, had gone by, and there had been no Intermediate Education Bill. He had been in hopes that the hon. and gallant Member was going to furnish the House with some record of Public Business during the months to which he had referred. Without going into detail, he might call the hon. and gallant Gentleman's attention to the fact that the time at the disposal of the Government during the present Session had been very fully occupied. He was not now going to find fault with the course which any hon. Gentleman had taken, but he might observe that the ordinary Supplies of the year had engrossed no inconsiderable amount of the attention of the House. He had always been strongly opposed to the practice of taking large Votes on account early in the Session, giving up every Government night, to nearly the end of July, to measures which might be more or less termed comprehensive, and bringing forward the Estimates in August; but it must be admitted that this practice had not been followed during the present Session. The Government, in a constitutional manner, had presented their Estimates at the earliest possible moment, and had endeavoured to take them in their ordinary course, without anticipating them with Votes on account, except when absolutely compelled so to do. In addition to the causes of delay to which he had referred, there had been exceptional demands upon the time of Parliament arising out of affairs outside the limits of 1142 this country, and that brought him to this point—that he defied any hon. Gentleman to point to a single moment when a measure of so much importance as that of Intermediate Education could have been submitted to the judgment of the House. However, the Government intended to fulfil their engagement. It would be trifling with the House to say in the present state of Public Business, that there was any chance of introducing a measure, at an early date, in this House; and, therefore, soon after Whitsuntide the Government would introduce a measure into the other House of Parliament. They hoped the Bill would reach this House at no distant date, and that it would not be one of the remanets of the Session. During the debate the two questions of University and intermediate education had been treated as inextricably interwoven, and it had been said, that the latter had been forced to the front by the Government to the exclusion of the former. Certainly intermediate education was preliminary to higher education, and, therefore, he did not shrink from the responsibility of that course. With respect to the Motion before the House, he thought the hon. Member for Roscommon would be disposed to agree with him, that no good object could be served by asking the House to express any opinion upon it. He abstained from expressing any opinion as to what it might become the duty of the Government to do at any future period with regard to this question; but he would not be justified in holding out any hopes to the House that during the present Session, at any rate, they would be disposed to go beyond the programme that had already been laid down.
§ LORD ROBERT MONTAGU
Sir, I am disappointed in finding, from the Chief Secretary's speech, that he has not taken the trouble to qualify himself to speak on this subject. In order to answer an adversary effectively, it is necessary first to grasp his principles, and in order to persuade him, you must be able to realize his position and feel his feelings. At the outset of his speech, the Chief Secretary showed that he had not made this necessary preliminary effort. He complained of the dilemma of the hon. Member for Roscommon (the O'Conor Don)—namely—"You must either level up or level down." What the hon. Member meant was that 1143 the Government should be just to all denominations, and treat all equally. If some are to be endowed, all must be endowed; or, if some shall not be endowed, then neither may any denomination receive a State endowment. That was the hon. Member's position. "Was it not right? Does it not almost amount to a political truism? Yet the Chief Secretary for Ireland put it aside, as if it were not worthy of argument. Unless, indeed, he took this for a refutation—that the Dublin University and the Queen's Colleges are secular Institutions, which are "open to all Her Majesty's subjects of whatever denomination." This, then, is his ground—every educational Institution which is open to all Her Majesty's subjects is a proper recipient of State endowments. There are numerous Catholic Schools and Catholic Colleges in England, Ireland, and Scotland, which are open to all Her Majesty's subjects, of whatever denomination; every child or youth is free to enter them, who will receive the teaching which is there given, and conform to the rules and discipline of the Institution. Are these Schools and Colleges, then, fit objects, in the Irish Secretary's eye, for endowments from the State? "Oh, no," he will say, "we Protestants cannot send our children to them, because a form of religion is there taught to which we object." That is just what the Irish Catholics say of the Dublin University and the Queen's Colleges. Perhaps you exclude a purely secular teaching from your category of denominations? Let the House for a moment look at this new position. Take the Creed of Pope Pius IV., which is our creed. It consists of what is called the Nicene Creed, with the addition of a few Articles. In all the Creed of Pope Pius IV. there is only one Article which is not accepted by the High Church of England; knock off two or three more Articles, and you have the belief of the Low Church of England; cut off some more, and you have the belief of the Presbyterians, the Nonconformists, and others, until you leave only the first Article of the Creed, which is the belief of the Theists; exclude that, and you have the education of the Secularists. On what reasonable ground, then, can any man assert that Secularist Schools and Colleges may be endowed by the State, while no School or College which 1144 teaches any Article of Belief may be a recipient of State aid? Some object to this religion being taught with the public taxes to which they contribute; and some are averse to that religion being taught. But a great many more abhor the support out of public money of educational Institutions which exclude religion entirely from the instruction which they give. I will put this in another light. Let me know whether it is easier to learn or to forget? Which is everyone more apt to do—to acquire knowledge or to lose it? Of course, it is easier to forget, and everyone is apt to lose the knowledge he has acquired. Is it not, then, more reasonable to let children or young men learn the larger Creed in the first instance and forget the later Articles afterwards, if that be required, than to forbid them learning in youth any of the Articles of Belief, with the hope that they may acquire some of them later in life? The former is clearly more consonant to reason; and, if we study morals and events in those countries which, of late years, have excluded religion from their systems of education, we shall also be convinced that it is more consonant with a healthy practice and sound principles of statesmanship.
THE O'CONOR DON
said, he had heard the greater part of the speech of the Chief Secretary with the deepest disappointment. It seemed to him that the right hon. Gentleman did not at all appreciate the magnitude of the question and of the interests which it involved. Nor had he offered the slightest indication that the Government, either in this or in any other Session, would deal with this very important subject. The right hon. Gentleman had also given a sort of denial to the assertion that a grievance existed on the part of the Roman Catholics of Ireland in that matter, and he had alleged that all previous attempts to settle that question had failed. But why had they failed? Because of an extravagant dread of ecclesiastical influence—a feeling which must be got rid of before they could fairly consider the problem they had to solve. The Chief Secretary had ridiculed the proposal to level down; but the Roman Catholics did not want to level down. They demanded equality without injuring existing Institutions in Ireland; but, if they were refused that measure of justice, they would insist on examining narrowly 1145 how the public money to which they contributed was at present spent on those Institutions. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Royal College of Maynooth alone received exceptional favour from the State. For himself, he confessed that he was amazed at that statement. Maynooth, instead of receiving exceptional favour, was disendowed at the time when the Irish Church was disestablished, although it ought then to have been preserved and dealt with in connection with Dublin University and Trinity College. The only crumb of comfort thrown to them in the speech they had just heard consisted in the promise to introduce a measure on intermediate education in Ireland; but even that measure was not to be introduced in this House, and it might reach them too late to be dealt with satisfactorily this Session. When, under these circumstances, the right hon. Gentleman asked him to abstain from pressing his Motion to a division, his answer must be that the right hon. Gentleman's own speech rendered it perfectly impossible for him to comply with that request.
§ MR. CHARLES LEWIS
said, it was not his intention to detain the House for long; and he should not have risen to speak but for some observations, which rendered it necessary for some Member sitting for an Irish constituency, and not immediately connected with the Government, to say a few words on this subject. Last Session he had an opportunity of speaking for a short time on this matter, and he had previously spoken upon it in that House on one or two occasions. Having regard to the course of the debate in the House that night, and to the fact that very few Members had risen on that side of the House, it was his desire that one point, at least, should be placed very plainly before the House. The first question which arose in the debate was, whether there was a grievance—whether, in fact, the present state of University education in Ireland was so bad as it was represented to be? And the second was—how that grievance was to be remedied, having regard to the views of the House and the country with reference to denominational education? The observations which he had to make would be confined to the one part of the case connected with the first question to which he had referred. 1146 It had been said that there had been an absolute or relative failure in the system of University education in Ireland. He begged the House to consider the conditions under which the Queen's Colleges were brought into being. They were brought into being for the express purpose of showing religious impartiality, and they were accepted by the House and by Parliament as a means of placing all denominations in Ireland on an equality. But, no sooner did those Colleges come into existence, than they were the objects of unremitting attack on the part of the Roman Catholics of Ireland, and they still remained the objects of such attack. He would refer to an extract, which had been previously placed before the House, in proof of what he said. In 1869, a resolution was passed at a meeting of Roman Catholic Bishops, held at Maynooth, in which they took objection to the system of University education in Ireland as being injurious to the faith and morals of Roman Catholic youth, inasmuch as it was not under the supreme control and care of the Church. The Bishops, therefore, called upon the clergy and the laity to use every constitutional means to subvert the mixed system of education. The position then taken up had been retained since; for, in 1871, a meeting of the same persons took place in Marlborough Street, to consider the question of University education, and the protest against the mixed system of education was then renewed. Under these circumstances, he asked the House whether the Queen's Colleges had had fair play, and whether the Irish people generally could be said to have had any part in the periodical denunciation of which these Colleges had been the objects? It was the design of those who passed those resolutions to affect the whole Roman Catholic population of Ireland with a hatred of these Colleges, for other resolutions were passed which directed that each of the former resolutions should be read, on the first convenient Sunday, at one of the public masses, in all churches and chapels throughout the Kingdom. Was it likely that under such a state of things the Queen's Colleges could obtain fair play amongst the Roman Catholic people of Ireland? But, notwithstanding the measures thus taken against them, they had been successful, and the figures relating to the number of students 1147 attending them showed that they had made considerable way amongst the Roman Catholics of Ireland. There was one other matter to which he would allude. It was impossible to dissever this question from the subsidiary questions of intermediate and primary education. It was impossible for those who were supporters of the Amendment to deny that the principles they wished applied to University education applied with equal force to intermediate and primary education. With these few words, he should conclude by expressing his determination to give his hearty vote against the Amendment.
could assure the Chief Secretary for Ireland that his speech that evening would be received with something very like dismay by many persons in Ireland, who had, hitherto, been disposed to believe that Her Majesty's Government, being true to the principles of the Conservative Party in England, would do something for the service of University education in Ireland. There was no doubt in the world that one of the questions that had most largely divided the Irish people from the Liberal Party in this country had been that of education. For his own part, with most of his sympathies in full accord with the Liberal Party in this country, since he had come into that House he had, on this great question of education, painfully felt himself tending further and further from them, and coming into unity of action with hon. Gentlemen opposite, whom he had frequently heard asserting on the floor of the House the same principles of morality and religion in connection with University and public education that were dear to the hearts of the Irish people. But to those in Ireland who had marked the tone of Conservative feeling on this subject, and had marked the noble attitude of the Conservative Party on religious education in England, it was painful to see that no sooner was it attempted to apply their principles across the Channel, to a people who had been long kept in statutory ignorance, than the application of the principles to Ireland was refused. It was but a few years ago that Lord Mayo had made a proposition on this subject, which flatly contradicted the proposition of the present Chief Secretary for Ireland; for if there was need of dealing with this subject 1148 then, and of dealing with it in the radical way in which Lord Mayo proposed, how could the Chief Secretary get up and tell the House that there was no urgency now in this matter? Lord Mayo, in 1868, thought the matter one deserving instant attention; and its magnitude had grown with years, and increased every day. For his own part, he had no desire to misrepresent the issue; but he was aware that hon. Gentlemen in that House had hitherto been prejudiced against this demand of their's for University education. He could understand such a prejudice, and made considerable allowance for the opposition caused by it. The people of England and hon. Gentlemen in that House were assured that there was no desire for a Roman Catholic University on the part of the Roman Catholic laity in Ireland, and that the demand was only made by the Priests and Prelates for purposes of their own. That phase of the question was passed, and although those who now put forward the demand in the House did not for one moment repudiate the just and legitimate influence of the Clergy and Bishops, yet they emphatically denied that the demand did not emanate from the people of Ireland. He, for one, was returned by his constituency against the influence of the justly revered and respected Roman Catholic Prelate having jurisdiction in Louth County; and in putting forward the demand that night, he did it because of no episcopal or clerical dictation or control, but heartily and thoroughly at the instance and in the interests of the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland. He would take the House so far into his confidence as to tell them the history of the Bill promoted by the hon. and learned Member for Limerick City (Mr. Butt). It emanated from a joint committee of students of Trinity College, of the Catholic University, and of the Queen's Colleges in Ireland, by whom the original of the scheme was drawn up without the knowledge of a single Roman Catholic Bishop, and almost against the wishes of some of them who came to hear of it. The Bill was framed as a bonâ fide endeavour by the students of the Colleges he had mentioned, to see if they could not devise some kind of measure to deal with the just requirements of the people of Ireland in the matter of University education. Out of 1149 the meeting of that joint committee came a series of resolutions, which were submitted to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Limerick City; and that was the origin of the Bill laid before the House a Session or two ago. It was not concocted by Bishops or Priests, but it was the proposal of the Roman Catholic laity of Ireland, who were determined that they would no longer submit to be deprived of University education. The Chief Secretary had reminded the House that a Ministry had been beaten upon this question. It was because their proposition did not rise to the level of the occasion. Nothing short of a statesmanlike solution of the question would be of any avail. The right hon. Gentleman had further said that their demands were uniformly extravagant and impracticable. How much, or how little, would he have them ask? Would he have them accept less than an equality with England, or did he think they would ask more? But of one thing he might be sure; that with anything less than equality they would never be satisfied. They were also told that Trinity College was open to Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Dissenters, and that there were no longer any restrictions. If that were true, what necessity was there for the Queen's Colleges? If hon. Members who put that excuse before the House believed in it, the necessity for the Queen's Colleges in Ireland was gone. Could it be said that the Roman Catholic University in Ireland, struggling as it was, had not produced men who had grown up with the same liberty of thought as was found in any other University? But when it was said Trinity College was open to Roman Catholics as well as Protestants, he must make one observation. Not for one moment did he wish to disparage the position of Trinity College, glorious in its traditions, and still honoured by every educated Irishman, or to detract from the good that it had done for Ireland. He was sure no Roman Catholic in Ireland would seek to injure it; but he regretted that Trinity College had lent itself to a false attitude against the Roman Catholics, and was not true to the principles upon which it was founded, when it preferred a partial secularization, lest justice and equality should be granted to a Catholic Institution. He had prophesied that the Bill of the hon. 1150 Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) would not succeed, nor had it. The portals of Trinity College were indeed open to all; but it was a mockery to offer them that for the University they desired. No King or Queen that ever sat upon the English Throne would have dared to propose to the people of England such a proposition as was made to them, or would have attempted to inflict upon England a University which was as foreign to its sympathies as was the University system which was now forced upon the people of Ireland. And if the people of England were deprived for 50 years of a University system in accord with their conscientious feelings, how would the progress of the country be stopped? He put it to the House whether it was not their right and duty to accord to the Irish people a University system in accord with their consciences and feelings. He appealed to their generosity to give them what they asked for in this matter. By hateful and disgraceful Statutes, the Irish people had been kept in educational bondage and deprived of the blessings which this country had enjoyed, and they had some claim on the generosity of the English people.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:— Ayes 200; Noes 67: Majority 133.1152
|Agnew, R. V.||Brown, A. H.|
|Allcroft, J. D.||Bruen, H.|
|Allen, W. S.||Bulwer, J. R.|
|Anstruther, Sir W.||Burrell, Sir W. W.|
|Arbuthnot, Lt.-Col. G.||Burt, T.|
|Archdale, W. H.||Cameron, D.|
|Assheton, R.||Campbell-Bannerman, H.|
|Balfour, A. J.|
|Baring, T. C.||Cartwright, F.|
|Barne, F. St. J. N.||Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Clifford, C. C.|
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Clive, Col. hon. G. W.|
|Bates, E.||Clowes, S. W.|
|Bateson, Sir T.||Cobbold, T. C.|
|Baxter, rt. hn. W. E.||Cole, Col. hon. H. A.|
|Beach, rt. hon. Sir M. H.||Colebrooke, Sir T. E.|
|Bective, Earl of||Coope, O. E.|
|Bentinck, rt. hon. G. C.||Cordes, T.|
|Birley, H.||Corry, hon. H. W. L.|
|Blackburne, Col. J. I.||Corry, J. P.|
|Blake, T.||Cotton, W. J. R.|
|Boord, T. W.||Courtney, L. H.|
|Bourke, hon. R.||Cowper, hon. H. F.|
|Bowen, J. B.||Crichton, Viscount|
|Brise, Colonel R.||Cross, rt. hon. R. A.|
|Broadley, W. H. H.||Cuninghame, Sir W.|
|Brooks, W. C.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Dalrymple, C.||Maitland, W. F.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.||Majendie, L. A.|
|Douglas, Sir G.||Makins, Colonel|
|Duff, M. E. G.||Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.|
|Dyott, Colonel R.||Marten, A. G.|
|Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W.||Master, T. W. C.|
|Mellor, T. W.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Merewether, C. G.|
|Egerton, Sir P. G.||Mills, Sir C. H.|
|Egerton, hon. W.||Monk, C. J.|
|Elliot, G. W.||Montgomerie, R.|
|Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H.||Montgomery, Sir G. G.|
|Emlyn, Viscount||Moray, Colonel H. D.|
|Estcourt, G. S.||Morgan, hon. F.|
|Evans, T. W.||Morgan, G. O.|
|Ewart, W.||Mulholland, J.|
|Ewing, A. O.||Mure, Colonel|
|Fawcett, H.||Naghten, Lt.-Colonel|
|Finch, G. H.||Newport, Viscount|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord E.||Noel, E.|
|Floyer, J.||Noel, rt, hon. G. J.|
|Forester, C. T. W.||Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.|
|Foster, W. H.|
|Fraser, Sir W. A.||Onslow, D.|
|Fremantle, hon. T. F.||Pell, A.|
|Gardner, J. T. Agg-||Pemberton, E. L.|
|Gathorne-Hardy, hn. A.||Peploe, Major|
|Gibson, rt. hon. E.||Plunket, hon. D. R.|
|Giffard, Sir H. S.||Puleston, J. H.|
|Gordon, Sir A.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Gordon, W.||Rodwell, B. B. H.|
|Grant, A.||Round, J.|
|Guinness, Sir A.||Russell, Lord A.|
|Halsey, T. F.||Ryder, G. R.|
|Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.||Salt, T.|
|Hamond, C. F.||Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.|
|Hanbury, E. W.||Scott, M. D.|
|Harcourt, R. W.||Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.|
|Harvey, Sir R. B.||Shute, General|
|Hay, rt. hn. Sir J. C. D.||Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.|
|Herbert, hon. S.||Smith, A.|
|Holford, J. P. G.||Smith, E.|
|Holker, Sir J.||Smith, S. G.|
|Holland, Sir H. T.||Smith, rt. hn. W. H.|
|Holms, W.||Smollett, P. B.|
|Home, Captain||Somerset, Lord H. R. C.|
|Hood, Captain hon. A. W. A. N.||Spinks, Mr. Serjeant|
|Stanhope, hon. E.|
|Howard, E. S.||Stanhope, W. T. W. S.|
|Jones, J.||Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F.|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.||Starkey, L. R.|
|Knight, F. W.||Starkie, J. P. C.|
|Knowles, T.||Steere, L.|
|Lawrence, Sir T.||Stewart, J.|
|Learmonth, A.||Stewart, M. J.|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Lee, Major V.||Taylor, rt. hon. Col.|
|Leighton, Sir B.||Tennant, R.|
|Leighton, S.||Thornhill, T.|
|Lewis, C. E.||Thynne, Lord H. F.|
|Lindsay, Col. R. L.||Tollemache, hon. W. F.|
|Lloyd, T. E.||Torr, J.|
|Lopes, Sir M.||Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-|
|Lowther, rt. hon. J.||Turnor, E.|
|Lubbock, Sir J.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Lush, Dr.||Wait, W. K.|
|Macartney, J. W. E.||Walker, T. E.|
|Mackintosh, C. F.||Wallace, Sir R.|
|M'Arthur, A.||Walsh, hon. A.|
|M'Arthur, W.||Watson, rt. hon. W.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Wells, E.|
|Wheelhouse, W. S. J.||Young, A. W.|
|Wilmot, Sir H.|
|Wolff, Sir H. D.||TELLERS.|
|Yeaman, J.||Dyke, Sir W. H.|
|Yorke, J. R.||Winn, R.|
|Bell, I. L.||Martin, P.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Meldon, C. H.|
|Blennerhassett, R. P.||Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R.|
|Bowyer, Sir G.||Moore, A.|
|Brady, J.||Morris, G.|
|Brooks, M.||Murphy, N. D.|
|Browne, G. E.||Nolan, Major|
|Bryan, G. L.||O'Beirne, Major|
|Chamberlain, J.||O'Brien, Sir P.|
|Churchill, Lord R.||O'Byrne, W. R.|
|Cogan, rt. hn. W. H. F.||O'Clery, K.|
|Collins, E.||O'Conor, D. M.|
|Conyngham, Lord F.||O'Donnell, F. H.|
|Cowen, J.||O'Gorman, P.|
|Cross, J. K.||O'Shaughnessy, R.|
|Dease, E.||O'Sullivan, W. H.|
|Delahunty, J.||Parnell, C. S.|
|Digby, K. T.||Power, J. O' C.|
|Dilke, Sir C. W.||Power, R.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Redmond, W. A.|
|Downing, M 'C.||Rylands, P.|
|Dunbar, J.||Shaw, W.|
|Ennis, N.||Sheil, E.|
|Fay, C. J.||Smyth, R.|
|French, hon. C.||Stacpoole, W.|
|Gray, E. D.||Sullivan, A. M.|
|Harrison, J. F.||Swanston, A.|
|Henry, M.||Synan, E. J.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Torrens, W. T. M 'C.|
|Hopwood, C. H.||Ward, M. F.|
|Isaac, S.||Whitworth, B.|
|King-Harman, E. R.||TELLERS.|
|Kirk, G. H.||Errington, G.|
|MacCarthy, J. G.||O'Conor Don, The|
|M'Kenna, Sir J. N.|
Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday 17th June.
§ Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ Original Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Committee deferred, till Wednesday.