The Earl of Radnor
begged to apologize to their Lordships for occupying so much time by having caused the several petitions against the Bill, the second reading of which he was about to move, to have been read at length; but he had done so with the view of seeing what were the grounds upon which the petitioners objected to the Bill. He was, so far as his own feelings were concerned, exceedingly glad that those petitions had been read, for instead of furnishing arguments against, or just grounds of objection to, the Bill, he conceived that they afforded very strong and urgent reasons why their prayer should not be complied with, and why their Lordships should agree to the second reading of the Bill. In the last petition presented by the noble and learned Lord opposite, from the College of Wadham, the petitioners stated that, besides the Bill being unjust and arbitrary, it would be peculiarly oppressive to their consciences, inasmuch as they were already sworn to obey the statute of the founder, and none other. Now, such of their Lordships as might not be aware of the fact would assuredly be surprised when he informed them that not very many years ago the members of that college did not consider it a matter of oppression to their consciences to disobey the statute of the founder. Feeling the irksomeness of the situation and circumstances in which that 1002 statute had placed them, they applied to Parliament to relieve them from their difficulties, and it was actually under a new Act of Parliament which amounted to a new foundation, that they were now flourishing in the manner described in the petition. How, then, they could state, that they felt themselves bound conscientiously to adhere to the strict letter of the original statute was for them, not him, to explain. He thought their Lordships would find it a matter of very great difficulty to decide what they ought to do, if they deemed it necessary to act upon the petitions which had been that evening presented. In some of these petitions it was stated, that they felt themselves bound by a solemn oath to adhere to the original statute—an oath from which even the visitor could not release them. In the petitions from New College, Oxford, and King's College, Cambridge, it was stated, that if the visitor made any alteration contrary to the provisions of the original statute, they were bound upon oath to disobey it; while in the petitions from Jesus, Brazennose, and Oriel Colleges, Oxford, presented by the right rev. Prelate, it was stated, that the visitor had the power to alter the statute to meet the difficulties of the times. Thus, then, they had some petitions against the Bill, on the ground that the members of the Colleges were bound by oath to the original statute; they had others presented against it upon an opposite ground—namely, that they already had the power of altering the statute, and that that power was vested in the hands of the visitor. [A right rev. Prelate: Not the visitors, the masters and fellows.] That made no difference if the power existed. Both reasons, it was obvious, could not be good against the Bill, although, in his opinion, they might both be advanced in favour of it. With regard to the statutes of the King's College and other colleges, which were 200 or 300 years old, he thought it an absolute absurdity to say, that they should not be altered to meet the difficulties and altered circumstances of the times. One of the Universities had petitioned against the Bill, and the other had not. The University of Oxford petitioned against the Bill on a ground which appeared to him to be very extraordinary; namely, that these colleges were public branches or members of the university. Now, it was manifest, that they were no such thing. 1003 They were no more branches of the university than they were of the corporation of Oxford. The university existed long before the corporation, and was totally independent of it, as it was also of the colleges; and if the object of this Bill was, as it was not, though the petitioners seemed to understand it to be, to confiscate the property of the colleges, it would not impair the university. It would still exist with the same force, and the charter would have the same force, and therefore the university would not be at all affected by anything that affected the colleges, unless incidentally. But he would take the statement as brought forward by the universities. The universities considered these bodies as public bodies, but the petitioners stated that they were private houses or benefactions, and that they were altogether private. In this they were perfectly correct as to those foundations being private eleemosynary foundations. There was no doubt of this, and the university had no more to do with them than the town-council. They might petition against the Bill, but they were not interested in it, as the Bill did not affect the university. It might be said that it was a most unjustifiable proceeding to interfere with these private eleemosynary foundations. Before he went any further, he must say, that he considered that a very unfortunate statute which had been passed which required that every member of the university should also be a member of some college. The colleges thus, as far as the right to interfere went, were taken out of the privileges which, as private houses, they would possess. The two universities had an entire monopoly of the education of the clergy of the Established Church, and almost all the highest offices in the Church. There were large emoluments which came to the persons who enjoyed this monopoly, and the situation was one of so much consequence and importance to the country in general, that they could hardly in such a case look upon it as a private establishment. Many of these petitioners stated, that the allegations contained in the preamble of the Bill were not true; that they had not mismanaged their property, nor were they guilty of the other charges laid to them; and that it was not necessary that the provisions of this Bill should be applied to them. It was indubitably true, that many of the petitioners had done nothing to bring them within the allegations of this Bill; 1004 but he believed he should only fail to prove the preamble of the Bill, because he had not the means of knowing what the real facts of the case were. As far as he knew, or had the means of knowing, he must say, that the allegations of the Bill were completely made out. But he believed that some of the colleges were even sworn to secrecy, and in general the terms of the foundations were unknown to the members of the colleges themselves. But there were two colleges, the statutes of which had been published by the House of Commons, twenty-eight years ago; and the examinations of their statutes would make out most completely their total dereliction from the spirit and intention of the founders, and the violation of the original statutes. It might be said, that it was not altogether fair, because this was done with respect to two colleges, to bring the other colleges under the operation of this Act, because of the improper conduct of two colleges. But he thought he had a right to infer, that the other colleges were guilty of much the same faults. In every respect in which he could trace or make out what was the object of the founders, he found the other colleges to be perfectly the same, and to have acted in unison with the two colleges he should mention. These two were the most important in either of the two universities—they were the colleges of Trinity and of St. John, Cambridge; and he hoped to be able to make out, to the satisfaction of their Lordships, that these two colleges had departed from the spirit of the original founders, and from the intention of those founders as expressed in their wills, and that they called for some measure of correction. He hoped that they would apply to the other colleges the same measure of correction, if he should be able to make out that the original provisions of the wills and the dispositions of the founders were the same with respect to them as to the other colleges. These colleges were originally founded for the benefit of poor scholars, under particular circumstances pointed out, and for the purpose stated. In every one of the statutes this was insisted upon as a most material provision. The words inopes, pauperes, et valde pauperes, were repeated ad nauseam. But he would ask, was this the class of persons that now derived the benefit from these foundations? In some of the modern colleges, for reasons which he knew not, a sort of test was 1005 directed to be applied, so that no person should be entitled to be elected who was worth 5l. a-year; and in some other colleges fellowships were made vacant on the fellows becoming possessed of an income of 10l. But these rules were now completely evaded. He was ready to admit that 5l. in these times was a very different sum from what it was when these rules were made, and so far he was willing to make a fair allowance, but the manner in which the statute was evaded was by selling all their landed property, and investing the proceeds in the funds; it being held that the rules did not apply to funded property. There were many reasons to show that, according to the original intention of the founders, the individuals benefiting under their wills were to be poor persons. The noble Lord referred to the regulation of All-Souls, Sidney-Sussex, and Merton colleges, to prove that the original intention of the founders was for the benefit of poor persons. There was a singular occurrence connected with Merton college, Oxford, where there was a regulation that if any one of these poor men fell sick, so that he should not be able to proceed with his studies for one year, he should be removed to the hospital or alms-houses of Basingstoke. And the provision of these foundations was, that the fellows should be constantly resident; and if these houses were meant as places where these poor persons should be enabled to study, it was very natural that they should be required to reside there constantly. This rule was not complied with now-a-days. Some years ago a right rev. Prelate wrote a work against the practice of fellows being allowed to be non-resident. He stated, that only one sixth of the whole number of fellows was resident. The question was, not whether the present mode was useful or convenient, but whether it was not a deviation from, and inconsistent with, the original intentions of the founders. For instance, the original founder, in one case, built rooms for forty fellows, whilst, at the present time, there were not more than thirteen or fourteen fellows. Out of this number, there were (so we understood) thirteen honorary fellows, and one who was a Knight Grand Cross of the Guelphic Order, who was at present employed on a special embassy to Constantinople. In Trinity College, he believed not one-fourth of the number of fellows was resident, and some of them 1006 were in situations which were totally inconsistent with their fellowships; for instance, one was head master of a school at Wakefield, another held the same situation at Leicester, and various others were similarly engaged. He was not about to discuss whether it was right to say that they should be resident or not; the question was, whether they were not bound, in compliance with the will of the founders, to reside if the founders expressly directed that they should reside. It appeared, that a senior fellow of Merton College was at this moment a lieutenant-general in his Majesty's service; and that a senior fellow of Brasenose College held a stall in Hereford cathedral, held three livings in the same diocese, which returned him 1,100l. a year, and had a cure of 3,000 souls, while he was himself resident in Paris.
The Bishop of Hereford
Two of those which appear to be separate, in consequence of their being two separate curates, constitute but one benefice.
The Earl of Radnor
, in continuation, observed that, at all events, the continued residence of this gentleman in Paris could not be justified. With respect to "domestic superintendence," he observed that, although the fellows and masters derived from the different university establishments very large funds to be applied to the tuition and domestic superintendence of pupils, their doors were open to the reception of such pupils only nominally, and without any beneficial effect. So little was the master really attended to at present, that, wherever a sincere desire existed on the part of a young man, practically to reap the benefit of an university education, the services of a private tutor must be secured. At Trinity College, Cambridge, the sum paid annually to public tutors by the under-graduates was 4,000l., and the sum paid to private tutors was not less than 10,000l. per annum. He contended, that the system which at present prevailed in this respect, was in downright violation of the original statutes, as well as of what must obviously have been the intention of the founders. The will of the founder was not less obstructed with reference to the distribution of the funds set apart for the maintenance of the 1007 fellows. In proportion as these funds increased in amount, the intention must have been in every case, that the number of fellows should increase in the same ratio. Undoubtedly, there were some instances in which the will of the founder was in this matter complied with, but in Merton College, which was founded 600 years ago, the fellows were exactly the same in number as at the period of its foundation, although their revenues had increased most considerably. The total number of fellowships had increased, but not the number of fellows on the old foundation. There was only one college, as far as he knew—the Queen's College, Oxford—in which the number of fellows had increased, the number at the foundation having been twelve, and the present number sixteen. In St. Catherine's-hall, Cambridge, the number of fellows was, by Royal visitation, doubled, during the reign of Edward 6th; but no increase in the number had since taken place. Another ground of serious complaint was the mal-distribution of these funds, the senior fellows engrossing to themselves exactly double the amount which the junior fellows were permitted to receive. These were matters which certainly called for legislative interference. It was said, that Parliament could not interfere, that it never had interfered, with eleemosynary foundations. Now, it so happened, that there were several Acts of Parliament interfering with institutions of this description, and one in particular, which was passed not long since for the regulation of certain charitable funds. Who could dispute the right of the Legislature to interfere for the purpose of preventing the misappropriation of funds amounting (like those of the two Universities of Oxford and Cambridge) to no less a sum than 200,000l. per annum? There was another point which more than anything else influenced his determination to submit this matter to the consideration of their Lordships' House. This was the very serious matter of an habitual violation of oaths. The petition which had been presented in an early part of the evening from St. John's College, Cambridge, stated, that the Legislature was not called on to interfere, inasmuch as the visitors had power to correct all abuses. Now, it so happened, that this was contrary to the University statutes, which contained a positive prohibition of any change being introduced 1008 into the existing regulations. He had a copy of a book published 150 years since, by an individual learned in the law, who had had a dispute with a master of Trinity College, and who alleged, and proved by a reference to authorities, that every one of the statutes was constantly violated in the management of that College. The same course had been persevered in up to the present period. One of these statutes enacted, that no conversation should be held in the College except in the Latin, Greek, or Hebrew language. To change this statute might be very proper, but so long as it remained unchanged, could it be proper to swear to its observance? Another of the statutes prescribed, that the nine lecturers should, for the amusement of the College youth, enact plays in the College-hall during the Christmas holydays, the junior fellows two by two, and the senior lecturer, in consequence of his greater dignity, singly. At present there were but eight, instead of nine, lecturers; so that to comply with this statute was impossible, although they swore to its observance. The master swore that he would see these statutes enforced, and that he would act in conformity to this oath—"Veré, sinceré, et sensu grammatico." For instance, the master swore to an observance of the statutes. The statutes required that the master was not to be married. The present master of Trinity College, Cambridge, was not married, he was a widower. It was said, that there were dispensations granted by the Crown. He did not know that it was in the power of the Crown to grant dispensations for the observance of oaths. In what capacity could the Crown grant such dispensations? Was it in its capacity as head of the State, or as head of the Church? In another case, the statute required that the vice-master should be a bachelor of divinity. That was not complied with. The noble Lord then read an extract from a judgment given by Lord Eldon in 1828, in a case which had arisen out of the disputed appointment of a bursar. The passage was to the effect, that the true and obvious meaning of the statute could not be sacrificed to considerations of convenience; and that a violation of the statute, in its obvious meaning, must be considered as substantially violating the oath. The noble Lord concluded by stating, that his Bill proposed to provide a remedy for the two evils of a non-compliance with 1009 the intentions of the original founders of these Colleges, and of the habitual violation of oaths.
§ He moved that it be read a second time.
The Bishop of Llandaff
trusted, that the view which he took of the solemn obligation of an oath was quite as serious as that which had been taken by the noble Lord. He could not, at the same time, forget that the meaning of oaths differed (as all rational men must admit) according to the terms in which they were couched, and that some oaths, as the form in which they were worded implied, were to be interpreted according to the true tenour and spirit of the statute, and according to what the party swearing believed in his conscience to be the real intention of its framers, who, living at a remote period, had often ignorantly prescribed minute details, the literal observance of which, under the altered circumstances of the times, would positively defeat their own purpose. He verily believed, that in most instances these statutes had been departed from, from an anxious desire to carry into effect the genuine designs of the founders. At all events, he knew that these were the motives which were in force during the period of his connexion with Oxford University; and that in the deviations with which he was identified, he had always kept in view the intentions of the founders. He had ever figured to himself what would be the sentiments of the founders if they still remained alive, and looked to the benefits which must necessarily accrue from a departure from the letter of the statute, and from the better adaptation of its provisions to the altered state of society. Such were the feelings which operated in the minds of those who enjoyed power at the universities; and if any comment at all were made upon this subject, it should rather be in the shape of commendation than censure. In the preamble of the noble Earl's Bill it was set forth, that the colleges were "possessed of great funds to provide for the education of poor and indigent persons." He really thought that the noble Earl had here evinced a misconception of the intentions of the founders. Though the collegiate funds were technically called "eleemosynary," they were totally distinguished from the funds of almshouses and other similar institutions. The common object of all the university statutes was to provide for the careful education and moral superintendence of young men for 1010 the service of God in the church. The noble Lord had said, that a shilling a week had been stated in the original statute as an ample provision for the maintenance of these young men, and that sum had in modern times been vastly exceeded. Now it was quite evident that this excess was essentially necessary, in order to provide a decent maintenance for those who, without this aid, could not maintain themselves comfortably in literary pursuits. With regard to the question of residence, it was well known to be better for the world generally, and more conformable to the intentions of the founders, that a literal adhesion to the statute in this respect should not be required. If there were any point in which he could say that he agreed with the noble Earl, it would be in that of joining him in recommending an inquiry from which might be expected to result a statement of the names of those members of universities who did not reside in their colleges, yet kept rooms, and whether those rooms were now open for the reception of any other students who might be willing to avail themselves of the intention of the founder. In the course of the speech of the noble Earl, and more particularly in the course of the remarks which he made upon the various petitions which had been presented, he appeared to triumph in what he considered to be inconsistencies in those petitions—not any inconsistency between different portions of the same petition, but alleged inconsistencies as between the several petitions—contradictions of each other. He confessed it did surprise him to hear such an observation come from the noble Earl; for what was more natural than that each class of petitioners should view the question as it applied to his own case? The noble Earl had dealt in many allegations, but he had brought forward none—at least he had not succeeded in establishing any sufficient to entitle him to call upon bodies such as colleges to produce their title-deeds, to bring forward their Statutes, to lay before a commission their private regulations, and subject themselves in all things to the dictation of an authority so constituted. A proceeding of that nature as it appeared to him, ought to be preceded at least by an inquiry instituted before a Committee of that House. A commission such as the noble Earl contemplated was usually preceded by a measure of that sort. It was also material that the House 1011 should not sanction anything that bore the appearance of an intention to inflict an indignity upon the universities of this country; and he should certainly say, that to treat them in the manner proposed by the noble Lord would be nothing short of saying that they ought to be regarded in the light of mere alms houses. It was not so that they ought to be viewed; they were established as the House well knew, amongst other purposes, for that of raising the character of religion in England, and for creating a barrier against the military strength of the Barons. If the purpose of the noble Earl were to relieve those who have the government of universities from the pressure of such existing obligations as they could not otherwise be relieved from, he should be most happy to co-operate with the noble Earl in accomplishing such purpose; but as to interference in the manner proposed by the Bill, then under their Lordships' consideration, it did appear to him unjust and inexpedient. It did appear to him, also, exceedingly unfair to require that an oath imposed by the will of a donor five centuries ago should be defeated in its intention and spirit by enforcing with respect to it a literal interpretation. He trusted, he need hardly say, that he entertained as high a sense of the obligation of an oath as any man could possibly feel, but he was for a liberal interpretation of the oaths required by the statutes. They could not in all cases adhere to the literal interpretation of the passages in those oaths; but they should do as it was declared in a statute of Edward 2nd.: where changes were required that could not be foreseen they should make such changes as would be "ad conservationem institutionis," for the purpose of carrying into effect the institutions, and in accordance with the object, of the founders. He hoped the noble Earl, would do him the justice to believe that he did not wish to insinuate that he could be actuated by any other than the purest possible motives, but he certainly must be allowed to say, that the noble Earl had not well considered the character of the institutions for which he proposed to legislate; still, as he said before, if the object could be effected with less apparent violation of that which must be considered the rights of the colleges, he repeated, that the noble Earl should have his support. The right rev. Prelate concluded by moving, that the 1012 Bill be read a second time that day six months.
observed, that he agreed in much that had fallen from the right rev. Prelate. The premises of the right. rev. and learned Prelate were excellent, but they were in direct opposition to the conclusion to which he had come. Every word that had been said by the learned and right rev. Prelate was in favour of the Bill that his noble Friend had introduced, and which was then under the consideration of their Lordships. He agreed with the right rev. Prelate, that most persons would like to be relieved from the ancient statutes under which those colleges were founded. He was sure that what the right rev. Prelate had done in connexion with the Universities was in the spirit of the founders. He agreed, too, with the right rev. Prelate, that as to many of the statutes, and many of the provisions, it would be wise, it would be advantageous to the public, to the colleges, and to individuals, that they should be dispensed with. But he would ask, what was the object of this Bill? It was to dispense with that by law, and without any violation of moral duty whatever, which was now dispensed with in a way that, at least, gave a considerable handle to scand 1 and to misrepresentation. These regulations might be wrong, and he might agree with the right rev. Prelate that they were; but why maintain a statute prescribing them, and why take an oath to observe them, unless it was right that they should be observed and maintained? It appeared to him that the right rev. Prelate did not disagree much with the object of his noble Friend, but with the process by which he proposed to effect it. The rev. and learned Lord seemed to think, that the necessary change ought to be left to be effected by those persons who, as he said, had taken an oath to observe the contrary. The rev. and learned Lord had treated the proposition of his noble Friend as if he had proposed the appointment of a commission against the heads of houses, and against the University of Oxford. It was not that, however. There existed an evil, and the question was, how were they to get rid of it? The rev. and learned Lord said, and he thought truly, that it was not a statesman-like way to view the oaths to give them the restricted interpretation which 1013 he had put on them. In agreeing, however, with the rev. and learned Lord in this respect, he must observe, that the rev. and learned Lord had not shown the advantage of keeping these oaths in their present form. He would ask, were there no disadvantages arising from them? And he would put it to the consciences, the honor, and the good feeling of the noble Lords around him, whether if, in reference to other interests than those of a college, and in another place, it were proposed to maintain an oath which was not strictly observed, they would not have abundant quotations from some such book as Dens's Theology—whether they would not hear of the jesuitical pretences under which the sacred obligations of an oath were dispensed with, and of the subtle and crafty manner in which certain parlies who had sworn to do one thing pleaded their right to do another? He did not think that such a charge would be just against such individuals, but he would recommend the members of the colleges to consider in what way these questions were met when it was thought useful—in what way they were met by those very persons who now said, that the oaths were inconvenient, but it was better to get rid of them by a direct or an indirect violation of them than by an alteration of the oaths themselves. The persons who opposed this Bill seemed to him to place themselves in an awkward dilemma. They stated in their petitions that they could not allow any investigation—that they must resist any innovation of the existing system, because the words of their founder and the words of the statute precluded them from consenting to it; but then, when they were told that the words of their founder, that the words of their statutes, and that the words of their oaths, called on them to do certain things which they neglected, they said, "Would you wish us to do such foolish things as those? No, we act according to what we conceive to be the spirit of the founder; we place ourselves in the situation in which the founder would be were he present to consider himself what is now going on." He begged to ask those individuals, did they think, if the founder could know what was the present situation of affairs, and could act with reference to it, would he not petition this House and the other House of Parliament and the Crown to interfere, and do that which would be most advan- 1014 tageous to the University? And what would they do but that which the Bill of his noble Friend proposed? The Bill did not charge any delinquencies, it did not visit with any punishment, it was not in the nature of a penal enactment. He did not understand his noble Friend to go further than to ask for a Commission to be granted to inquire into the circumstances. That there was scarcely a college that had not departed from the original statutes would not admit of a doubt. Were there not provisions for mass to be said for the departed souls, and for other observances common to the Roman Catholic faith, and had they not been all departed from? On what authority he would ask? [The Bishop of Llandaff: The law of the land.] That was just what he said, and what he wished in all cases when the statutes were habitu[...]ay departed from. But the petitioners from the colleges declared, that they had taken an oath which they must adhere to, nor could they allow any authority in the law of the land to dispense with that oath. They did not say so when the law of the land came in the shape of Henry 8th. The authority then was too formidable to be disputed. But where the law of the land appeared under the authority of the King, Lords, and Commons, then forsooth, was trumped up this extreme difficulty that, they could not depart from this oath, which the rev. and learned Lord said they were now in the habit of dispensing with, because their doing so was thought to be advantageous to the community.
The Bishop of Llandaff
would gladly co-operate with the noble Lord in carrying a measure free from the objections which he considered attaching to this.
wished to know how the rev. and learned Lord could tell, in the event of this Bill becoming law, that the Commissioners in their Report would not continue their recommendations to the very things the rev. and learned Lord himself approved. If the truth were with the rev. and learned Lord, and the Commissioners thought it was, the result would be that his suggestions would be acted upon, and nothing more would be done. The only question was, whether there was the power to do what was required without this Bill. If there were not—and he contended there was not—the right rev. Prelate would be voting 1015 against his own propositions, and against his own wishes, in voting against this Bill.
The Bishop of Llandaff
explained. One part of the Bill proposed to release the members of Colleges from the observance of the statutes in all minute particulars. He feared that the measure would not tend to raise the character of the obligation of an oath throughout the country at large. The objects contemplated could be fully accomplished without any measure of this kind. The measure which was now proposed as a measure of relief to the parties was, in his mind, a Bill of pains and penalties.
The Marquess of Camden
opposed the Bill altogether. It was unjust to the parties most interested. The preamble of the Bill was not proved. There were no facts established on which the allegations in that preamble could be founded, and there was no desire for this measure on the part of the Universities themselves.
The Archbishop of Canterbury
felt that he would be wanting in his duty if he suffered the attacks which had been made on the Universities to remain unreplied to. He wished to prevent an opinion from arising discreditable to the Universities, as must be the case if it was supposed, from what the noble Earl had stated in the first instance, that there existed a general disobedience to the statutes of the Colleges, and that this was accompanied by a general disregard of the oaths taken to observe them. He must confess that he was surprised at the tone of the argument used by the noble Earl. He thought that the noble Earl attempted to show that these Universities, which were the pride of the country and the admiration of the world, had ceased to fulfil the purposes for which they were originally instituted, and that it was necessary to bring forward this measure. This was exactly set forth in the preamble of the Bill. The noble Baron had stated, that this measure merely proposed an inquiry into this subject. But surely their Lordships knew that the visitors of Colleges had at present the power to make this inquiry, and surely it could not be doubted but that they were interested in any improvements that they held to be desirous or advantageous. The visitors and the heads of Colleges had full power to remedy any abuses that existed. He had listened with particular attention to what the noble Earl had stated with 1016 respect to the preamble of the Bill. That preamble contained allegations of a very serious nature. It stated that whereas these Universities were originally established for the promotion of religion and virtue, and the encouragement of liberal arts, &c. Now the allegations that these Universities had departed from the fulfilment of those original purposes ought to be proved. But what did the noble Earl confine himself to? To the single instance of the duty of Universities to provide for the education of indigent persons. Had it been shown that they had failed in the promotion of religion and virtue, or that they did not produce many eminent persons both in Church and State? But, with respect to the instance to which the noble Earl had particularly directed his argument, namely, the education of the poor and indigent, on this point he would refer to a very eminent and ancient authority in the Romish Church, who was held in high repute in the Ecclesiastical Colleges in most of the continental countries, and his application of the meaning of this provision for the education of the indigent was, that it should be held to apply to those whose parents, taking all circumstances into consideration, were not equal to the expense of maintaining their sons at Colleges. Now that was the interpretation that was put upon this part of the ancient statutes in all the Colleges of either of the Universities with which he was acquainted. This was the rule on which the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford generally acted. He had the honour to be visitor of Baliol College, and in that College the qualifications for a candidate were threefold. They provided that the qualifications for every candidate should be learning, good morals, and poverty, and supposing candidates to be perfectly equal in the qualifications of learning and morals, they then gave the preference to the poorer candidate. The noble Earl had alluded to another College in Oxford which had a foundation sui generis. He was not competent to enter into all the details of the statutes connected with this foundation, but when the petitioners stated that the original founder had a right to bestow his property as he thought fit they did not say any more than what was perfectly true. He was a visitor of that College, and he knew that several alterations had taken place. With respect to Baliol College, the Master and Fellows 1017 had, according to the ancient statutes, a right to appoint each a scholar, who, according to the notion of the original founder, was to be considered a servitor, and was to pay for his education by his personal service to the Master and Fellow who appointed him. This custom were with the age, and without violating the notion of the original founder they thought that, instead of each Master appointing a scholar, the appointments generally should be open to election. But they did not proceed ad libitum to the alteration of the statutes. They applied to him as visitor to the college and he felt happy to give his full sanction to that alteration. Now, when such a power of making useful alterations existed and when it had been so beneficially exercised, why send commissioners to violate those institutions which had existed for upwards of six hundred years? Why not send the visitors, and let them inquire whether there were any objectionable deviations from the Statutes? He thought any power of making alterations in the statutes ought to receive the sanction of the visitors. He was not sufficiently acquainted with all these institutions to take upon himself to enter minutely into the practices of other colleges. He spoke merely of those with which he was personally acquainted, and with which he was officially connected. He had received a communication from the Bishop of Exeter, in which he requested him to state that in the College of Exeter no deviation from the statutes took place without the previous sanction of the visitors. The noble Baron (Lord Holland) had stated that many of these foundations existed before the Reformation, and that many of the ancient provisions fell consequently into desuetude. But why did that happen? Merely because they were at variance with the existing law of the land. If he properly understood the speech of the noble Earl his object appeared to be to restore things to their ancient state. If there were abuses there could be no objection to put an end to them; but no case had been made out? Had there been any case to show that there was any violation of oaths? Before they proceeded to pass such a censure upon the Universities they should have all the statutes before them, and see whether there might not be certain observances in some statutes from which other statutes contained a dispensing power. There were some which might be 1018 dispensed with, whilst there were others that did not admit of being dispensed with. There was nothing to determine their Lordships to vote in favour of the Bill before them, without better information than they at present possessed on the subject. The Commissioners were to be appointed by virtue of an Act of Parliament, and they had the power to confer on any one or two of their members whom they thought best to send on any special mission the same powers which they exercised in their corporate capacity. He did not see why the Bishop of Winchester, or the Bishop of York, or even the Archbishop of Canterbury, in their capacity of visitors, were not fully competent to make any inquiry that was useful and necessary. In conclusion, he must say, that he hoped their lordships would not consent to this Bill, and that they would thus show their respect for those ancient institutions so celebrated for their learning and piety, and from which all liberal professions of the country were supplied with their brightest ornaments. He did not think that their lordships could injustice or reason, consent to this Bill, and he confidently trusted that their decision would convince him that he was not wrong in that expectation. He would vote for the amendment.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, it was his intention to say "content," to the Bill, and he could not, therefore, suffer the opportunity to pass without making a very few observations. He entirely agreed with the very rev. Prelate in the respect which he claimed for these institutions; he entirely agreed with him in reference to the great men they had produced, the parts they had acted in public life, the character they had displayed; and he also agreed with him as to the ennobling character of the pursuits and studies carried on at these two great national establishments. He also was aware of the difficult task which the teachers and guardians of these institutions had to perform; of all the prejudices and passions which they had to contend with; and he was therefore most anxious to make great allowances for the difficulties they had to encounter in the discharge of their duties; but at the same time, he agreed with the noble Marquess, (the Chancellor of Cambridge) that it was the duty of their Lordships to consider how the machinery of these institutions worked, what effect it had on the youth committed to the charge of the teachers, 1019 and also what effect it had on the religion and morality of the country. He could say, however, from his own experience, that there had been too much loss of everything that was dear in society — too much loss of wealth—too much loss of high and varied talents—too much loss of fair and unblemished character, which had found in the universities a sudden and untimely grave, to pronounce unqualified approbation of these ancient institutions. He would not say, therefore, that they did not require investigation or improvement. He agreed also with the most rev. Prelate that improvements had been made, but that very admission showed that the colleges needed improvement—that they had not acted up to the original purpose for which they were instituted, nor fulfilled their object; and he could not, therefore, say that they did not require investigation with a view to improvement. He had listened with great attention to the petitions which had been read, and he found that one of the arguments on which opposition to the measure was founded was the private nature of these institutions. They were said to be private institutions, founded by private persons, and that the Legislature had no right to inquire into their management; but it had been well observed by his noble Friend behind him, that the private character of the colleges had merged in the public character of the universities. A general law had existed which established a house university, but that had been done away with by a by-law, and it was now imperative to be a member of a college before admission could be obtained. No man could be a member of either university, or partake of the profits and emoluments arising from them, without being a member of a college. It had been well stated in a publication of a good deal of research and acuteness, which he had read, that "if private institutions by their influence in a great public institution so incorporate themselves with it that no one can belong to the public institution without at the same time, belonging to some one of the private institutions, the public does not become private by this union, but the private make themselves public, and in this respect may be rightly dealt with as public." With slight exceptions, such as public lectures, the whole of the proceedings in these universities were of a private character — the tuition, the mode of 1020 education, and the system altogether was collegiate—all was done in colleges; and he would therefore say, that inquiry might justly and properly be made in matters connected with these colleges. They might properly inquire if they were conducted according to the wishes and directions of the founders, and whether the statutes laid down by them had been duly observed. The statutes in many respects had become obsolete, and in order to ascertain what would be a proper remedy it was necessary to have a Commission of Inquiry. Universities never reformed themselves; every one knew that — every one knew there was too much competition and jealousy, too many and varied motives constantly in play, to prevent the desired effect. He did not say that of universities only. Every institution was unwilling—he did not care from what quarter the statement came—to reform itself. It required a fresh eye, and an external eye, that would not be dazzled or affected by the internal atmosphere. Objection was made to inquiry because it would be an interference with the rights of these institutions; but their Lordships had sanctioned interference with the Scotch Universities, and it was admitted on all hands that they were schools of great merit; at least, as regarded the education of the people of Scotland, it was admitted that they performed their duty as well as the English Universities. After appointing a commission to visit the Scotch Universities he did not see what arguments could be urged against a similar commission for England. The right rev. Prelate said, the Bill would give the Commissioners a power which might be exercised in a vexatious and inquisitorial manner. He did not expect that any member of the Ecclesiastical Commission would have made use of such an argument as that, for the very same argument had been urged by a gentleman of great ability, and with great plausibility, on paper, against the Ecclesiastical Commission. He certainly was surprised that a gentleman of great experience, and for whom he had great respect, had taken it for granted, or supposed that the Commissioners would put such questions to the witnesses. But did any one hear that the power had been abused?—did any one hear that questions were put which might lead the witnesses to criminate themselves? He had been 1021 on some half-dozen of such commissions, and he had never seen a vexatious use made of the power intrusted to the Commissioners. If such had been the fact, did not their Lordships see that the practice would have been remarked and referred to? The noble Duke seemed to doubt the statement, yet he was not aware that any complaint had been made of misconduct on the part of Commissioners [a noble Lord said, "The municipal Commissioners."] No complaint was made against these Commissioners for the manner in which they carried on the investigation; the complaint was against their report. But there was another point to which he wished to allude, and he believed right rev. Prelates would bear him out in what he was about to state regarding the efficiency of these universities as schools for the education of youth of this country. It was well known that in various parts of the country there were, at the present time, greater demands for liberal knowledge than, perhaps, at any former period. New seminaries were established—two colleges had been established in London, with which right rev. Prelates, and fellows of colleges and tutors, were connected; and he believed it was the general opinion expressed by these Prelates, that the system of education pursued at these colleges was superior to the system adopted at the two universities. They were superior to the universities on subjects of general knowledge, and on various kinds; and he believed he had the best authority for saying, that unless some enlarged and improved system were adopted in the ancient universities, they would soon cease to hold the place they had for some time held. The Bishop of Durham was not there, but he could state on the authority of that right rev. Prelate, that the students educated at Durham College, who had applied to him for ordination, were much superior to those either of Oxford or Cambridge. No one could doubt of the power of these right rev. Prelates to judge; and as it appeared, according to them, that a more enlarged and a better-arranged system was required, he thought it necessary that an inquiry should be instituted. But, after all, there was another matter of a serious consequence, which the right rev. Prelates had not adverted to, and that referred to the pecuniary expenses incurred at these establishments; and would 1022 any member of these universities, either lay or clerical, not say that much of the expense must be regarded rather as a taxation than as a remuneration for the knowledge communicated? Every body knew the many expenses—he knew himself what was the practice at Cambridge, and he did not know how these expenses under the present system could be avoided or easily and entirely evaded; that system was a great infliction on families; it was an encouragement to extravagance. Great complaints were made on account of those expenses, which had greatly increased since he was at the university. The parents of children found also that a system of private tuition had grown up which was highly injurious to poor and indigent scholars; that was a great drain on the property of private individuals, and besides it did injustice to those who could not afford the means to obtain it. It was well known what advantage might be derived from lectures on literature or mathematics, but more peculiarly the latter, by which a student could get into the secret more speedily, and acquire knowledge with more facility than if he were left to find out everything for himself, But that system of private tuition led to another evil, called cramming, which was not only unfair towards others who had not the means, but the knowledge was not so wholesome as that obtained by the student's own exertions. He would only add that he had great admiration for the talents which the eminent men in these universities possessed. He admitted that much had been done of late years to remedy the evils, but at the same time, that showed they were not perfect, however proud these eminent men might be of them; and however much these institutions might be admired throughout the world, still there was a great demand for a remedy which they could not effect themselves, and he therefore trusted that an inquiry would be instituted, which he believed would be equally advantageous to themselves and to the country.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that it was strange that the noble Viscount, who admitted the talents of the fellows and tutors of the universities, and who eulogized the zeal with which they had of late years endeavoured to remedy the various abuses which had crept into their collegiate institutions, should yet express his disapprobation of every part of the 1023 system of education which was followed under their auspices. That was the epitome of the noble Viscount's speech—that was the sum and substance of his various observations. Before he proceeded to the discussion of this Bill, he would remind their Lordships of the history of former Sessions of Parliament on this same subject of the universities of this kingdom, and more particularly of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In the Session of 1834, a Bill was brought into the other House of Parliament to remove certain disabilities which prevented some classes of his Majesty's subjects from resorting to the universities of England, and from proceeding to take certain degrees therein; and in the Session of 1835, a Bill was brought into that House prohibiting the subscription to the thirty-nine articles in certain cases. The latter Bill was brought into that House by the noble Earl who now brought in this Bill, whilst the former Bill, which he had mentioned as originating in the other House of Parliament, was moved in their Lordships' House by the same noble Earl. Their Lordships had thought proper to reject both those Bills, and he had recalled these circumstances to their minds, in order that they might see the animus with which the present Bill had been brought under their consideration—a Bill which he must say was neither more nor less than a Bill of pains and penalties against the two universities—a Bill on which the first proceeding of the noble Earl ought to have been to call witnesses to their bar, in order to prove the statements of its preamble. The preamble of the noble Earl's Bill stated,That the statutes prescribed by the original founders of most of the colleges and halls in the two universities had been altered, and latterly many even of their most recent statutes had also been long and habitually disregarded in the ordinary administration of the affairs of divers of the said colleges and halls: and it was highly expedient that an inquiry should be made, by Commissioners to be specially appointed, into the amount, nature, and application of all such estates and funds, and into the said statutes, and the ordinary administration of the affairs of each and every one of the said colleges and halls, and also how far the said estates and funds may be made more conducive to the objects intended by the founders and benefactors, and for which they were endowed.Here were statements on which the noble Earl, instead of dealing in vague asser- 1024 tions and as vague conjectures, should have been prepared to stand—on which he should have been prepared to inform their Lordships what the facts were which he intended to prove, what the proofs were which he intended to offer, and who the witnesses were by whose evidence he intended to substantiate them. He begged their Lordships also to look at the nature of the inquiry which the noble Earl proposed to establish. The noble Earl proposed that there should be Commissioners appointed to "examine into and investigate the amount of all estates and funds possessed and received by each and every of the colleges and halls of the universities." It was therefore against all the colleges and all the halls in the two universities that the noble Earl proposed that his commission should act. The Crown was to appoint the Commissioners, who wereEmpowered by summons under their hands and seals to require the attendance of all such persons as they might think fit to call before them, upon any question or matter relating either to the statutes, or to the administration of the affairs of the said colleges and halls, and also to make inquiries, and to require any answer or return in writing as to any such question or matter, and also to administer oaths and examine all such persons upon oath.By a subsequent clause it is provided, thatIf any person shall refuse or wilfully neglect to attend in obedience to any summons of the said Commissioners, or to give evidence, or shall wilfully alter, suppress, destroy, conceal, or refuse to produce any statutes, charters, books, accounts, and writings, or copies of the same, which may be so required to be produced before the said Commissioners, every person so offending shall be liable to the payment of such fine to his Majesty as the Court of King's Bench or the Court of Exchequer, on application made by or on the behalf of the said Commissioners, shall think fit to set and impose, which fine the said Court of King's Bench or Court of Exchequer is hereby authorised and empowered to set and impose according to their discretion respectively, and to enforce payment of the same by attachment or otherwise in such manner as the said Courts respectively may do in cases of contempt of the said Courts.So that these Commissioners, or any two of them according to a subsequent clause, were empowered to ask such questions as they pleased on the subject matter of this inquiry, and the Court of King's Bench pr the Court of Exchequer were empow- 1025 ered to impose a fine, according to their discretion, on all persons who should omit to answer such questions, no matter whether those questions were legal or illegal, were necessary or unnecessary, or whether they were able or otherwise to answer them. And this was a Bill brought in by a noble Earl whose object on two former occasions, as he had already shown, had been to put an end to the two universities, or at least to put an end to the oaths and tests by which a system of education founded on the religion of the Church of England was established therein. Now, when he saw and reflected upon the conduct of that noble Earl in the three last Sessions of Parliament, and when he recollected that he heard the noble Viscount in the Session of 1835, declare that his object was to establish in the universities a system of inquiry into religious matters, he could not have the slightest doubt as to what the real object of the present measure was; and under such circumstances he recommended their Lordships to concur in the motion of the right rev. Prelate, that this Bill be read this day six months. In the course of the discussion on this subject, various assertions had been made in respect, first to the breach of the statutes, and secondly to the breach of their oaths, by the persons at the heads of the several colleges. The noble Earl had commenced his speech by mentioning the inconsistency of the statements contained in the petitions of the several colleges. Some of them stated, that there was a power in themselves and in their visitors to alter their statutes; whilst others stated that there was no such power, and that they would be unwilling to carry into effect any alteration of the statutes imposed upon them. There was no inconsistency in this; each of the statements was true on the part of the peculiar colleges which made it. What he insisted on was this—that the working of all these colleges, and of the system on which they were regulated, was for the benefit of the public, and that in each and every college the object of the governing authorities was to carry into execution the will of the founder, just as he would have done had he been living at the present day. In every case the common object of the governing authorities was the benefit of the youth who resorted to those institutions for education and instruction. The noble 1026 Viscount could not avoid admitting, that these institutions had worked well, and that latterly a great improvement had taken place in the system of education pursued under their auspices. The noble Viscount had also spoken of the great improvement in the system of education pursued in the New University of Durham, and in other new universities elsewhere. But, nevertheless, the noble Viscount could not help admitting that the old Universities of Oxford and Cambridge possessed the merit of having established in England an excellent system of education, which was in point of fact the envy and admiration of the world. The noble Viscount had compared the inquiry proposed to be established by this Bill with the inquiry instituted into the Universities of Scotland by the Government of which he had the honour of forming a part. It was true that a Commission of inquiry into the state of the Scotch Universities had been issued by that Government: but the noble Viscount had forgotten that his Majesty, as Sovereign, was the visitor of all Universities in Scotland. His Majesty was not visitor of the Universities of England. He understood, that if an inquiry were necessary in England, there was now existing without the aid of this Bill, a power to carry on such inquiry and to annihilate the charter of those colleges, which should be found guilty, if indeed any of them were guilty, of those crimes with which this Bill charged them all indiscriminately. He believed that, though there were colleges founded by private individuals, and acting under powers given to them by private charters, yet if it could be proved that the governors of those colleges did not comply with the conditions of those charters, or violated their oaths or dissipated the funds of their societies, or did not apply them to the purposes for which they were granted, the law was strong enough to deal with them, and it was not necessary to establish a commission like this—to establish in those seminaries such a system of conducting their affairs as the noble Earl opposite required. The noble Viscount had been pleased to complain of those statutes which required that every person resorting to the university should belong to one of its colleges or halls. He must say, that he considered that rule formed one of the greatest merits of our universities, and that the marked distinction between our universities and those of 1027 foreign countries—that distinction which rendered our system of education superior to that of the foreigner—was, that our youths must reside within the walls of their respective colleges, and were not suffered to reside at large in the town. The noble Viscount had discovered that it would be advantageous to have this regulation altered.
§ The Duke of Wellington
hoped and trusted that the rule would not be departed from. On the contrary, he sincerely hoped that the buildings and accommodations of the different halls and colleges would be extended so as to give reception and lodging to all who resorted to those seminaries for education, and that every student would not only have his name inscribed in the registry of his college, but would also be obliged to reside within it. The noble Earl had also been pleased to state, that these colleges had no relation to the universities, and that the universities had therefore nothing to say to this Bill. Now, to that statement he begged leave to reply, that in consequence of residence in the different colleges being forced upon the students, the colleges formed themselves into universities, and that the relationship between them commenced in that manner. There was therefore a natural connexion between the universities and their colleges, and he maintained in consequence that the University of Oxford was right when it stated, that it had an interest, and took an interest, in every thing which related to the affairs of the colleges within it. The statutes of both our universities had, we believed, relation to every member of every college within their precincts. It was impossible that the regulations imposed by the noble Earl—regulations which bore a close relationship to the Bills which his Lordship had introduced into that House in the course of the last three Sessions—it was impossible, he said, that those regulations could be carried into effect without affecting the universities as universities, without affecting all their statutes, and every part of the system under their superintendence. As the law now stood, there could be no professor in either university who did not belong to the Church of England. Was that a regulation which the noble Earl had in view in that clause of his Bill which enabled the Commissioners to frame new rules and orders for the two universities? 1028 It was impossible to let the noble Earl carry any such thing. The object of his Bill was evidently to overturn the system on which the two universities now stood. It had been tried twice to accomplish that object by direct means. A third trial was now made, in which it was attempted to accomplish it by indirect means. It could not be denied that these Commissioners were to propose this new mode of proceeding, which was to overturn all the old system of the universities to establish a new one in their stead. Under these circumstances he recommended their Lordships to accede to the amendment proposed by the right rev. Prelate—that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.
should not detain their Lordships' attention longer than was necessary to state the reasons why he concurred with the view of the case taken by the noble Earl who moved this Bill, and the noble Viscount at the head of the Government. He could not help wishing, in the first place, to remove from their Lordships' mind the impression which had, perhaps, been made in respect of the Bill by the speech of the noble Duke who had just sat down, and who had described it as one of a perfectly different nature from that which he conceived it to be. He would only say, that his noble Friend had introduced this measure without any communication with himself upon the subject, though he believed that he had since told his noble Friend that if he had been consulted upon it he should have suggested the introduction of one or two clauses; which, indeed, it was still his intention to move if this Bill were allowed to go into Committee: and he must say, that anything more different from the description of the noble Duke, anything more distinct from the statements of the noble Duke—and upon which statements he was convinced nine-tenths of the noble Duke's objection to this Bill was grounded—any two things more different than this Bill and the noble Duke's description of it could hardly be conceived. The noble Duke stated, that this Bill would entitle the Commissioners, by themselves, or any two of their number, to put any question whatever which they might think proper to any person—be his rank what it might, be he head of college, fellow, master of arts, or student—to put any question to him, legal or illegal in itself; and upon 1029 his refusal to answer such question, how illegal soever it might be, the Commissioners had the power to apply to the Court of King's Bench or the Court of Exchequer, which, upon proof of the fact, were to impose upon the individual any fine which it might think fit, for his refusal so to answer an illegal question. Now, the fact was, that there was really no such clause in the Bill. The Bill said, that if any person being summoned before the Commissioneirs should refuse, that was, contumaciously and wittingly refuse, to attend to their summons, or, having attended before the commission, should refuse to give evidence touching the matter before them, then, that the Court of King's Bench or Exchequer might set a fine upon him for such contumacious refusal Now, he would appeal to his noble and learned Friends opposite—one of whom was, and one of whom had been, a judge—whether if a ease were brought before them under this clause, they would not construe the words, "to give evidence," to refer to such questions as the Commissioners were entitled to ask? They would not, he was sure, construe this compulsion to give evidence into an obligation to answer a question illegal in itself, or the answer to which would criminate the witness himself. But even supposing the Commissioners were to be construed to have this tyrannical power, and suppose the Court of King's Bench or the Court of Exchequer applied to—what then? Why the fine to be imposed upon the offender was in the discretion of the court, and might be to the amount of one farthing only. He must say, therefore, that the existence of any thing more opposite than the provisions of this clause, even in its most strained construction, to what it was described to be by the noble Duke, he was at a loss to imagine. The noble Duke said further, that the authority of this commission would go not only to inquire into, but to alter, the statutes and regulations of these colleges—to take them into consideration, and make new ones should this be thought proper. The right rev. Prelate also had taken the same view of the matter. Now this, if it existed, would indeed be a very extraordinary provision; and if this Bill granted any power like that he should certainly oppose it. But this Bill did no such thing. It gave the Commissioners power to examine the statutes of the colleges, to consider the 1030 propriety of altering them or substituting new ones in their place, and to propose such alterations or new statutes to the authorities competent to adopt them—to Parliament or the heads of colleges themselves. "Suggest" was the word;—a most delicate term: he found they were to suggest not new statutes, but the propriety of altering the existing statutes, or providing new ones in their place. That was the second objection, and he hoped he had sufficiently replied to it. The third and last objection urged by the right rev. Prelate against this Bill was, that it was not a Bill for the purpose of inquiry, but a bill of pains and penalties; a sort of bill for which he felt the greatest abhorrence, a feeling which he was glad to see was participated in by some of their Lordships; but he must say a kind of bill which he was at a loss to conceive why the noble Duke opposite should so object to it, unless, indeed, as it sometimes happened, that dealers in the same article were some times jealous of others in their trade. So far from being a bill of pains and penalties this bill went to inflict no one censure or punishment upon any one, it merely went to institute an inquiry into the state of the colleges, and to suggest remedies for any wrong management which might be found to exist in them. Now the objections raised against such a process by the parties interested in these colleges were such as really could not all exist together and at the same time. He must say he was surprised that the right rev. Prelate who had so long presided, and with so much advantage, over Oriel College did not see the strict accuracy of his noble Friend's argument, showing the plain and manifest inconsistency of these reasons. First, these petitioners said, "There must not, and almost there shall not, be any inquiry, because whatever alteration is suggested as the result of that inquiry, we shall in our consciences be bound to refuse to obey—it can't be done—no person on earth can remove us from the responsibility we have incurred by our oaths—we can't and won't submit." Then came another argument, which had been more dwelt upon here, and which had been very much brought forward by these petitioners—an argument quite contrary to the former, in every way repugnant and subversive of it. "Don't inquire," said the Petitioners, "there's no occasion; don't enact, there's no necessity; don't 1031 suggest, there's no need of your services in that way; we have abundance of the means of legislation amongst ourselves, and of effecting all necessary changes and amendments; don't attempt to legislate for us, we can do it for ourselves; we have again and again altered our statutes; we have adopted new rules from time to time to meet the circumstances of the period." Now, what his noble Friend stated, and he thought very properly, was, that the petitioners ought to make their election of these two arguments, they could not retain both; inquiry could not be both superfluous and impossible at the same time. It could not be said on the one hand, you must not make alterations because we shall be bound by our oaths to resist, and on the other hand there is no need for you to make alterations because we can do them ourselves. [The Duke of Wellington:—The colleges have visitors.] He was aware of that. To all these establishments there were certainly visitors. He had not forgotten that fact. But what he was prepared to show was, that notwithstanding their special visitors these establishments were not exempted from the operation of the law of the land. The first statute to which he would refer was the statute of charitable uses, the 43rd. of Elizabeth, by which it was certainly provided that, of the eleemosynary institutions for the purposes of education, those should be exempted from the operation of the enactment which had special visitors. The 58th and 59th of George 3rd, acting upon the same principle, also had a clause of exemption for such charities to which visitors were attached. The question of inserting or omitting that clause was very much controverted in the other House, though it was not discussed here, because the clause was in the Bill, when it came up to this House, and this House was not inclined to dispute the retention of it. After about ten or twelve years, however, what took place? By this time men's minds had become more enlightened, and it was then discovered on all hands that this Clause was not only useless, but extremely cumbersome, tending to impede the inquiry of the Commission. The consequence was, that when the Bill was renewed in 1831 the clause of exemption was omitted, and that without either in the one House or the other a single effort—not a movement at an effort—towards preserving that exempting 1032 clause. Therefore, when he was asked what he had to say to colleges which had their visitors, he said, "Look at the year 1831, and at what you yourselves then did, who never ventured to whisper one word of objection to that Bill, deprived of its clause of exemption." [The Duke of Wellington. That concerns charters.] He did not forget that. But one thing at a time was a very good doctrine. Every man who attempted to get through business knew that it was impossible to do two things at once; and this was equally true in respect to an argument as to more practical operations. The power of visitors was evidently quite different from that of Commissioners. The power of visitors was that of a judge, to decide upon points which came under their cognizance, and without appeal. But the question here was inquiry, and inquiry for the very purpose for which a visitor's powers, great as they were, and high and supreme, and without appeal, were totally inadequate—inquiry with the view of ascertaining whether there was any ground for a visitor's inquiry. The visitor's power was put in motion, but by whom? By the persons who made them masters of the fact, and who discovered the abuse. They must first ascertain whether there were grounds for calling into action the power of the visitor. The visitor was the judge, the person to determine, when after inquiry he should have satisfied himself. This was in itself an abundant answer to the apprehensions that were entertained prospectively of a conflict between the proposed powers of the Commissioners of Inquiry, and the existing visitor's powers. This would be very well if they had had no experience to the contrary, but after six or seven years experience of inquiries in every part of the kingdom, and into every manner of establishment, such an argument could not be allowed to avail. There were some of these establishments the revenues of which would do credit to collegiate endowments. There were some of them the importance of which might well bring them into competition with many considerable university colleges. Some of them had from 10,000l. to 12,000l. a-year revenue, and had great connexion with the universities by means of exhibitions; they were not confined to poor scholars, but in some instances educated between three and four hundred boys, and were, many of them, the largest and most 1033 flourishing schools in the kingdom. Had these felt their dignity offended by inquiry? Had the visitors complained? These visitors, be it recollected, were not founders or founders' representatives; but in many cases were right rev. Prelates. The most noble Prelate the (Archbishop of Canterbury) might himself be a visitor at some of the schools which were thus subjected to examination. Whether he regarded the totally distinct nature of the visitors, and the inquisitorial power which alone was the object of the Bill, or whether he regarded the practice and experience which they had had since the year 1831, in either case could he see no ground whatever for the sort of objection that had been made. The right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Llandaff) and the noble Duke had taken one and the same objection—they had both asserted that the preamble of the Bill was incorrect in stating that these funds were originally intended to provide for the poor and the indigent. This had long been a matter of great interest; and it was quite impossible to say that the question was not still in a great degree unsettled. He thought it could hardly be laid down as a general rule, that these foundations were not confined, or were not originally intended to be confined, to at least poor scholars merely, because the word "indigent was susceptible of a construction that would disprove that of pauperism. How could the right rev. Prelate, by the power of his ingenuity, or by the resources of his classical lore, translate the word indigens to signify a want of the means of obtaining a proper education for the station, or rather a higher station than the one which the party was entitled to hold? But even if the right rev. Prelate could thus translate the word indigens standing alone, how could he thus translate the words pauper et indigens, and still more when he added the intensive particle valde pauper? He would not say that this meant very poor, lest he should exaggerate; but it certainly meant somewhat poor, rather poor, or if the right rev. Prelate wished it poorish. He, however, did not think he exaggerated when he said, that exceedingly poor was the literal meaning of the superlative of pauper. Lest, however, he should be thought to take any undue advantage, he would translate pauper to mean a somewhat poor man. This was the description of persons for whom many of these foundations were endowed. Granting 1034 that it was the original intention of the founders to establish these seminaries for the purpose of supplying the Roman Catholic Church with those numberless functionaries which the nature of the service of that Church required; granting that this was the manifest intention which justified these bequests in the eyes of the pious founders—and they were then taking it in its strongest sense—could they say that they would not make a wholesome deviation from the intention of the founders, though they might place these establishments on a somewhat different footing? That there had been deviations from the statutes there could be no doubt. Looking at the intention of the founders, a certain kind of persons was described as those who were to enjoy the benefit of the foundations. But did they think that the tripartite division of the emoluments and fellowships of Trinity-College, Cambridge, when one set of fellows took two fellowships, another set one and a half, and the third set only one, did they think this was carrying out the intention of the founders? These fellows were anything rather than indigent men. Many of them were men of fortune; he had known several of them himself; many were studying for the bar, and many-were at the bar. What, again, would their Lordships think of Archbishop Chicheley's foundation—of the conduct of All-Souls' College, at Oxford? There the number of fellows was originally forty, and now, as his noble Friend had stated, it had dwindled to thirteen. [The Earl of Radnor: There are only thirteen out of the forty fellows in residence.] He thought that his noble Friend had meant to say, that there were now only thirteen fellows, but it appeared that there were forty, but only thirteen resident. The statutes of that college required that its fellows should be elected out of such as being of kin to the founder were bene nati, bene vestiti, et mediocriter docti. According to that, if there was any extravagance there, it was not in learning. What did their Lordships think of the statutes which required strict residence? It was well known that those rules were not followed, and he was far from saying that they ought to be, but residence was nevertheless required. There was a great difficulty in getting access to these statutes, and if they were locked up in an iron chest, with three locks and three keys, of which the master kept one, another person another, and another a third, it was 1035 not very wonderful that either his noble Friend (the Earl of Radnor) or himself should be at a loss, first to know what the requisitions of the statutes were, and next to find out whether they had been conformed to. He remembered a very great difficulty which arose in the way of an inquiry by a Committee of the House of Commons, in consequence of these statutes not being open to the public. On that occasion the same objection was taken by the Wykhamists of Winchester as had tonight been taken by the Wykhamists of New College, Oxford. The Committee was told that they had taken an oath to observe the statutes of their founder, and that they could not in conscience obey any other regulations, but the Committee told them that they could take no oath which could protect them against the lawful authority of the Legislature. This was not done by a Reformed House of Commons, and therefore his noble Friend could have no objection to the precedent; it was in the good old ancient times—for which his noble Friend opposite was sighing, and for which he hoped he might long sigh in vain—of corruption and rotten boroughs, that they were told that no person had a right to take an oath privately which was proof against the inquiry of one of the Houses of Parliament. The Wykhamists of New-college said, that they would obey no statutes but the statutes of their founder, William of Wykham; they asserted, that they were sworn to maintain his statutes only, but he asserted, on the other hand, that they were sworn to no such thing, and he would maintain that no oath which was administered by a private person could be set up as contrary to any oath which the Legislature of this country might choose to impose on them. Now, he did not mean to say, that no deviations from the statutes were necessary, but in any particular case of deviation, he wanted to inquire if the deviation was necessary. It was said that the preamble of this Bill charged offences against these colleges, of which there was no proof—that the charges were brought forward without a tittle of evidence. He did not call them offences, nor did he understand them to be treated as such in the preamble of this Bill. The preamble called them deviations and breaches of the statutes. He wanted an inquiry into the circumstances, in order to see whether those deviations were justified by the circumstances or not. If they were 1036 justified, they ought to be confirmed, and have the sanction of law, so as to put an end to the present odious, and to the parties themselves intolerable, position; namely, the law saying one thing, and the necessity of the case commanding another. Some of the statutes could not be carried into effect, or, at least, it was next to impossible that they could be carried into effect. Some of them were positively mischievous. Some of the regulations were pernicious now, whatever they might have been along time ago. He did not mean to speak with the slightest degree of disrespect of the heads of houses; but he would ask, were not the statutes habitually departed from by themselves? He appealed to the heads of houses present. He appealed not to the most rev. Prelate (the Archbishop of Canterbury), whose brilliant career in college no man in that House could have forgotten, but who was not the head of a house; but he appealed to the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Llandaff), whether he had not borne ample testimony to the truth of the preamble of the Bill? The statement of his noble Friend (the Earl of Radnor) would with him have been sufficient, but the statement of the antagonist who had placed himself in the front of the conflict, and had made a motion which, if agreed to, would put an end to the Bill for this session, appeared to him, (Lord Brougham) the most unequivocal and expressive testimony to the truth of the only important and necessary part of the preamble? What was this statement? That the statutes had not been complied with—that they were broken habitually; but the right rev. Prelate was satisfied, because, in his opinion, these were mere trivial deviations. But if there were deviations, were they not to know the grounds of these deviations from the statutes? Was the present position one in which, consistently with the law, or with the comforts of the parties themselves, they could continue to be placed in? Would it not be a thousand times better to accommodate the law to the practice, and more especially when some parts of the law were obsolete, others manifestly inconvenient, and others highly mischievous, if literally fulfilled. An inquiry would ascertain all this. They could not suppose that they could remain much longer in the state in which they were placed. It was not wholesome for the youth who were educated in these places to see the rules, regulations, and 1037 the statutes of the colleges daily and hourly broken without punishment, and to see the oaths that were taken in support of these rules habitually broken by the masters themselves, without the punishment due to known offences, without being treated as offences, or even dreamt of being so treated. The object of this Bill was to have inquiry; and he wished to know, with all respect for the colleges, whether there was anything so sacred in their establishments as to entitle them to say these were the only establishments in the country into which the foot of inquiry or the eye of scrutiny should never pass. He was not aware of any title these or any other establishments of men or of Englishmen could have to such a right. If there had been no deviation from these statutes, what could be their objection to inquiry? If there had been no abuse in their funds, why object to a scrutiny? But those who should vote against the second reading of this Bill, and who should refuse to adopt the principle of it, which was inquiry, and inquiry only, he would ask those upon what grounds the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and those only, should never be visited by Parliamentary scrutiny? There was no objection to inquiry into all other corruptions, ecclesiastical and lay; they had all been subjected alike to the scrutiny of the Houses of Parliament; the Crown had issued commissions, and these Commissioners had investigated the affairs of all municipal bodies in England. A commission had even been issued to inquire into the Universities of Scotland. If they rejected this Bill they would be declaring that the English corporations, the Scotch corporations, the Scotch Universities, the English schools, all establishments, lay and clerical, all over the country, were subjected to scrutiny, except the two universities; and these were the reasons for the exemption—that the affairs of these universities were so perfectly well conducted that they had no dread whatever of the closest scrutiny, of the most minute and unsparing and searching investigation. They only locked up their muniments, and charters, and title-deeds, their rules, regulations, and statutes, their bye-laws and fundamental laws, under three locks, and then they challenge, they defy, inquiry! But no, that was not correct; they abominated inquiry, they abhorred investigation, and therefore they covered 1038 the table of their Lordships' House with petitions made up upon all manner of grounds, wholly inconsistent, and the last repugnant to the one that went before it; and yet they were told in that House that these persons defied investigation as a thing of which they had no reason to be afraid. The passing of such a Bill as this would further all the objects which they had at heart, and he hoped their Lordships would forgive him for venturing humbly to suggest that in passing this Bill they would not only benefit Oxford and Cambridge in its results, but in the Act of passing it they would also do that which would be highly beneficial to themselves. He thought that in the estimation of their countrymen they would do that which would be a very wise and a very judicious act, and one which, if it ever should happen—he did not say it ever could happen—he did not say it ever would happen—but if ever it should happen at any future time, by any means, right or wrong—let their Lordships be right or wrong—that they lost that high degree of favour which they ought to enjoy in the opinion of their countrymen, his belief was, that the passing of a measure such as this would tend to restore it.
§ Lord Abinger
considered that he could not do justice to his own feelings, or to the attachment he had to the place in which he was educated, if he did not say a few words respecting the Bill then before their Lordships. There had been a great deal of declamation and a vast quantity of rhetoric wasted upon this Bill. To hear his noble and learned Friend speak in support of this Bill, it might be supposed that he was arguing upon the enormity of some well-proved grievance—that some great public injury had been done, and that his noble Friend was struggling on behalf of those who had a right to complain, and called upon their Lordships to grant an inquiry. Now, he begged to ask, who complained to that House? Who had petitioned? Who called upon their Lordships to make this inquiry? Had there been a petition from any college, or even from any member of a college, saying that the statutes had not been properly observed? There was nothing of the kind. There was nothing but the statement of the noble Earl, who came down to tell them that he knew very little about the matter, and then called upon them to grant a commission—to give him leave 1039 to have a Bill of discovery. The noble Earl and the noble Baron, on the one hand, declared that the books and statutes of the college were kept under lock and key—that they were carefully concealed; his noble and learned Friend, on the other hand, declared that the statutes were placarded, so that their open violation was known to all the students. [Lord Brougham: Both statements are true.] If both were true they appeared to him to be a little inconsistent with each other. He did not say that there were no statutes that did not require residence; but the statutes of Trinity College, he believed, did not require residence. Then he would say, that if there were a mal-administration of the funds, there was a sufficiency of spirit and intelligence in the college with which he was acquainted, to make at once an appeal to the Chancellor or to the King in Council, in order to have the matter set right. If, too, there had been a larger appropriation to the senior fellows from the funds than what it was considered they ought to have, the matter would long since have been complained of. Why, then, was an inquiry now to be granted? Was it because his noble and learned Friend imagined that there ought to be an inquiry? The oppression practised by the senior fellows, and all the other enormities they had heard of, were only to be found in the active imagination of his noble and learned Friend. Or was this to be a sufficient ground for inquiry—that a noble Earl said he was told something about an institution of which he did not know anything? There was, he considered, no Parliamentary ground for passing this Bill. He agreed with the noble Duke that before they passed a Bill of this kind they ought to have some evidence. They ought to have something in the way of public notoriety, or they ought to show by evidence that there had been a gross deviation from the statutes. It had been said that the right rev. Prelate had declared that there was a deviation from the oaths. He did not understand the right rev. Prelate to make any such admission; but that where there was some formal regulation made by the ancient founders, which was inconsistent with the present state of society, and the strict attendance to which would interfere with the views of the founders, that in such cases there was a deviation. With respect to one point, the expenses of the 1040 colleges, he begged to say, that these were no more now than they had been thirty or forty years ago. There was, he said, no ground for the Bill before the House, and he therefore should cheerfully vote in favour of the Amendment.
§ Lord Wynford
opposed the Bill. He did not consider there was the slightest evidence offered in its support. Not one of the statements in the preamble had been proved, and though he might be ready to promote inquiry he should vote against the Bill.
The Earl of Radnor
replied. In the course of his observations the noble Lord observed, that the noble Duke (Wellington) had indulged in some personal allusions which he was not justified in using towards him. The noble Duke had no right whatever to impute to him, as he had done, covert intentions, any more than he had the right to charge him with a design to further the sinister views of others. He acted in this matter from his own discretion, and the noble Duke had not the slightest grounds for imputing to him anything of the description which he had alleged. The noble Duke had pointed to two former Bills which had been submitted to the Legislature upon this subject, and to his (Lord Radnor's) conduct with reference to those measures, as proving upon his part the existence of a determination to procure the subversion of those institutions. Now, once for all, he would distinctly disclaim that he had ever been actuated by any such views. It had been remarked during the course of the debate, that the tendency and object of his Bill was to let in the Dissenters to the Universities, and to break up and destroy those bulwarks of the established religion. He, however, asserted that his Bill was simply for inquiry whether there was any ground for altering the statutes by which the two Universities were at present governed. He had complained of the students being indiscriminately required to subscribe to the thirty-nine articles, and he now reiterated this complaint, which was based upon the clear ground that of those articles there were some which even the most learned men did not understand. The noble Duke, and other noble Lords, had said that there was no evidence of the necessity of altering or amending the system pursued at the Universities. The right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Llandaff) had, however, no objection to the appoint- 1041 ment of a Committee of Inquiry. Now, he was ready to produce his witnesses at the bar of their Lordships' house to prove in detail the existence of the abuses of which he had complained. Would the noble Duke agree to that?
§ The Duke of Wellington
There is a substantive Motion already before the House. Will the noble Lord, before he asks me to agree to another Motion, dispose of that first?
The Earl of Radnor
had merely spoken of the Committee of Inquiry in consequence of the right rev. Bishop (Llandaff) having expressed his willingness to consent to that mode of proceeding. But as the noble Duke was known to possess great influence in their Lordships' House, he was naturally unwilling to propose such a measure, even in conjunction with the right rev. Prelate, without the concurrence of the noble Duke.
§ The Duke of Wellington
My Lords, I have already stated that I see no grounds whatever for inquiry. I stated also, that if there be any legitimate ground for inquiry, any real abuses existing in the management of the colleges, there are legal modes of inquiring into the existence and extent of those abuses, and legal modes of applying a remedy, and, I therefore say, my Lords, that I cannot consent to the application of any remedies but those which are legal and regular.
The Earl of Radnor
said, that he really knew not to what legal remedies the noble Duke alluded, if he were to except the authority of the visitors, which, after all, had been found to impose a very ineffectual restraint on abuse. The noble Lord then observed, that the only point in which any improvement had been of late observed in the universities was, that they were much better schools than formerly. They were, at the same time, however, much less learned bodies than formerly. The reputation which they had at one period borne was very much lessened of late. A friend of his had recently been no little astonished by hearing the observation made in Germany that the study of the Greek language was little (if at all) prosecuted at Cambridge; and this assertion was based upon the fact that no authors of eminence upon the 1042 Greek language had recently arisen at that University. Oxford stood not high in point of either theological, classical, or scientific pretensions. Dr. Pusey, in a recent work upon cathedral institutions, had very much underrated the theological course which was read at Oxford. In classical literature the merits of the Universities might be estimated from the fact, that of those who were concerned in publications upon such subjects at Oxford very few were competent to the task. With reference to science, he had only to refer to the testimony of Mr. Powell, the Regius Professor of Astronomy at Oxford, who had recently stated that the University of Oxford gives a monopoly to classical literature to the prejudice of the sciencies. The noble Lord concluded by reiterating his assertion that the Universities could no longer be considered as places of leisure for learned men.
§ Amendment carried, Bill put off for six months.
PROTEST.—The following protest against postponing the Bill for six months, was entered on the Journals.
First, These colleges and halls are eleemosynary foundations, similar to others which have been inquired into; and no reason was alleged why they should not be inquired into as well as the others.
Secondly, They are peculiarly fit objects of inquiry; inasmuch as,
1. The present statutes of the universities requiring that all matriculated members shall belong to, and be inmates in, some of the said colleges or halls, and subject to its discipline, the said colleges and halls have acquired a public character and a national importance which originally did not belong to them.
2. The said colleges and halls are, for the most part, of very ancient foundation, and many of their statutes, contemplating a state of society very different from the present, and a religion other than that now established, are totally inapplicable to the present times, and impossible to be observed.
3. Obedience to the statutes is generally (if not in all cases) enforced by the solemnity of oaths, which, from the necessity of the case, are explained away, evaded, or openly violated.
4. It was avowed in the debate that such was frequently the practice; and this practice, in our opinion, dangerous to public morals, was palliated, if not justified.
Thirdly, It is alleged in the petitions against the Bill sent up from several of the
colleges, and presented to the House, that the fellows and scholars belonging to the same were sworn to obey the original statutes of the founders, and to admit of no deviation from them; and that there existed no power, either in the governing members of those institutions themselves, or in their visitors, to alter, modify, or amend them; and therefore no power short of that of Parliament can effect that object.