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cised in defiance of the immemorial usage of the Irish
Church, according to which the dignissimus of those
recommended for the honour by the clergy of the
diocese is selected was, on the death of Murray,
transferred to Dublin. Dr. Cullen's preparation for
the post he was now called to fill had b^en a sojourn
of some thirty years in Rome, where, in the capacity
of Director of the Irish Department of the Papal
Government, he had made himself conspicuous as a
zealous supporter of all the extremest pretensions of
the ecclesiastical party. It was indeed avowedly to
advance the aims of ultramontane policy that he was
sent to Ireland, the better to equip him for which
service he was furnished with the further authority and
distinction of Apostolic Delegate. Scarcely had he
entered on his mission, when, it must be owned with
true instinct, he laid his hand upon the State system
of mixed education as presenting the most formidable
obstacle to his aims. He at once denounced it, alike


in the higher and the primary department; and,
finding the Queen's Colleges, then just opened, still
struggling with the difficulties of a debut made in
the face of much carefully prepared odium, one of
his first acts was to summon a Synod to Thurles for
the express purpose of condemning them. As all the
world knows, the Colleges were condemned ; but it
is a noteworthy fact as showing how entirely the
course which the Roman Catholic clergy have since
followed has been due to the foreign influences
imported by Dr. Cullen into the Irish Church that
the condemnation was only carried by a majority of
one ; not only this, but what may not be so well-
known even this slender triumph was obtained by
questionable means through an accident improved by
an artifice. During the sitting of the Synod, a bishop,
known to be favourable to the Colleges, fell sick : his
place was at once filled by Dr. Cullen with a delegate
of opposite views ; the sick bishop recovered ; but it
was not deemed advisable to restore him to his place
till the vote on the Colleges had been taken. The
Queen's Colleges were thus condemned ; * and the

* Condemned ; although (as it may surprise the reader to learn) only
nine years before the same mixed system of education which the
Queen's Colleges represent had been sanctioned by the same infallible
authority in the person of Pope Gregory XVI. I find the fact stated
in the following terms by M. dc Laveleye in the current number of the
Reinie des Deux Mondes, pp. 227, 228 : " Apres des discussions violentes
et prolonge"es, les Catholiques des deux partis se de"ciderent k en appeler
a Pautorite" infaillible, aux decisions de laquelle tous deux faisaient pro-
fession a obe*ir. Le Pape Gregoire XVI. rdpondit en 1841 par une lettre
que \z. propagande adressa aux eVeques d'Irlande. Cette re"ponse meYite
attention, car elle montre que, meme dans une question aussi grave que
celle d'enseignement primaire, Rome se decide a transiger quand elle croit
y trouver son intdrct. Le Pape ne condamne pas l'e"cole laique, il exige
mcme qu'on n'y enseigne point du tout la religion, de sorte que le prin-


next step was to start a rival in the same field. For
this purpose an apostolic brief was obtained, addressed
to "the bishops of Ireland," authorizing and direct-
ing them to found a " Catholic University." Ere the
Synod of Thurles had separated, a Committee was
appointed, consisting of eight bishops, eight priests,
and eight laymen (all of course Roman Catholics), to
whose charge the organization and government of the
projected institution was entrusted. Under these
auspices appeared in due time in the middle of the
nineteenth century " The Catholic University of
Ireland," established, in the admiring language of its
accomplished advocate, on " the eternal principles
which regulated the relations of the Catholic Uni-
versities of the Middle Ages." *

From the sitting of the Synod of Thurles dates
the systematic opposition of the Roman Catholic
priesthood to the plan of mixed education in Ireland ;
and from this point, or rather from the elevation of
Dr. Cullen, dates also a new policy in ecclesiastical
patronage in Ireland, under which, within twenty
years, a complete change has been effected in the
character of the Irish Roman Catholic priesthood.
In 1848 the spirit of that organization was, with few
exceptions, national : under the rule of Dr. Cullen

cipe moderne de la secularisation de 1'enseignement primaire donnd par
I'e'tat, que I'dglise combat ailleurs comme une monstruosite', est accepte*
par elle en Irlande comme en Hollande, c'est-a-dire la, ou le pouvoir
e'tant Protestant, elle ne peut espe*rer re"gner en souveraine." There is
thus, it seems, an infallible declaration in favour of, as well as against,
mixed education. The fact may be commended to Dr. Corrigan in case
he contemplates a reply to the author of " Notes " on his pamphlet.

* "Two Articles on Education," by Myles W. O'Reilly, B.A., LL.D.,
M.P. (reprinted from the Dublin Review], p. 53.


it has become, except in the ranks of the lower
clergy, an almost purely ultramontane body, absolutely
devoted to ideas of which Rome, and not Ireland, is
the originating source.*

The Roman Catholic priesthood had condemned
the Colleges. We have yet to ascertain how they
were regarded by the Roman Catholic people. Now
this is manifestly a point of great importance in con-
nection with our present theme. For if the Colleges
have failed or even though they should not have
failed utterly, if they have failed as regards the section
of the Irish people for whom they were principally
intended the Roman Catholics then qucestio cadit ;
whatever may have been the benevolent views of the
founders, or the abstract excellence of the scheme,
there is no reason that they should be a moment
longer maintained : by all means let the advice of
Major O'Reilly be adopted, that the officials be
pensioned off and the buildings sold. But if, on the
other hand, the Colleges have in fact succeeded, if
provision has by their means been effectually made
for training in the higher learning those of the Irish
people, not already provided for by Trinity College,
for whom (regard being had to their social position)
such training is suitable provision, too, accordant to
their wants and feelings then, whatever the advo-
cates of change may have to say for themselves on
grounds of theory, there is at least no substantial
grievance to be remedied ; and the question for states-
men in this discussion is not of supplying a felt need
of " filling a gap (to borrow Mr. Gladstone's phrase)

* See Note to this Essav.


in university education in Ireland" but of remodel-
ing, with a view to improvement, a system already
practically effective. To the importance of this point
ultramontane advocates have shown themselves fully
alive, so far as this can be shown by invariably as-
suming it in their own favour. According to them,
" the Queen's Colleges have wholly failed," * while

* Major O'Reilly, from whose pamphlet the above allegation of entire
failure has been taken, subjoins in a foot-note what I suppose must be
regarded as the grounds of that statement : "This has been admitted
(with regret) by both Mr. Cardwell and Sir Robert Peel, and in fact by
the Commission appointed to inquire into them."

I confess this statement, proceeding from a writer of Major O'Reilly's
usual accuracy, startled me a good deal. I have looked through the
expressions of opinion on the subject in question by the authorities
referred to, and I shall now lay before the reader a few specimens
I regret that space does not permit me to give more of the results of
my search.

On the 25th of July, 1859, Mr. Cardwell said in Parliament "he had
no hesitation in saying that the Colleges had not met with the success
which was originally expected by the founders." This, it must be
admitted, is not a favourable opinion ; but it is something very far from
an admission of entire failure how far, may be seen by reading it in
connection with a passage from a speech made by the same minister
a few days previously. On the 22nd of July, 1859, in the debate on
Mr. Hennessy's motion, Mr. Cardwell said :

" He thought they would be of opinion that the result which they
had attained to might not indeed be an example of complete success,

but was an encouragement and a reason for hope The attendance

of such a number (493) to obtain an education such as was given in
these Colleges, was an immense advantage to a country situated as
Ireland was. Moreover, it appeared that the pupils had been drawn
pretty equally from the various religious bodies into which the popula-
tion was divided That surely gave great cause for encouragement

for the cause not only of advanced but of mixed education in Ireland."

These expressions of opinion, it will be observed, were uttered in 1859,
at which time the number of students attending the Colleges was little
more than half the amount it has since attained. Recognizing this
altered state of facts, Mr. Cardwell, speaking on the 5th of July, 1862, on
the University vote, said :

"The Colleges had had great difficulties to contend with, having
met much opposition ; but the number of students was now continually

"The Catholic University" is in an eminently suc-

increasing, and in the last year the number of pupils was 752. Those
750 pupils were nearly equally divided between Catholics, Protestants,

and Presbyterians The constant increase of pupils, the numerical

equality in the religious opinions of those who entered, and the success
of the students in public competition, at which they had to meet students
from the older universities, from Trinity College, and from every school
and seminary in the kingdom, all showed that the sum granted was
accomplishing the object for which it was voted namely, educating
indiscriminately the different classes of the people of Ireland."

So far Mr. Cardwell. The citation of Sir Robert Peel in support of
the statement that the Queen's Colleges " had wholly failed," I confess
I have some difficulty in dealing with. The simple fact is, that Sir
Robert Peel's speeches on the Queen's Colleges (and he rarely lost an
opportunity of making one) have flowed in a strain of almost unqualified
panegyric, equally full of admiration for the past and hope for the future.
His only complaint on the subject has been that their endowments are
inadequate ; to remedy which defect, as all the world knows, he set on
foot a public subscription some years ago, to which he himself muni-
ficently contributed. I do injustice to the case by making extracts :
still I give the following, which strikes the key-note of the whole :
" I have watched the institution from its commencement, and am glad
to trace its development. It has opened to three-fourths of the youth of
Ireland those academic advantages which they were before denied, and
it has rendered immense benefits not only to the cause of popular educa-
tion, but to the good government and to the character of this country.
And what is the criterion of the" success of this institution ? Not mere
numbers. They would be very significant if we looked only to that.
But the proof of its success is the great political gain which has been
derived by the establishment of a system in Ireland which has opened to
men of different religious denominations combined secular instruction
upon the broad basis of religious equality."

Lastly, the Commission, appointed to inquire into the Colleges, and
which Major O'Reilly cites as "in fact" admitting that they "had wholly
failed," delivered its opinion in these words :

" We should be glad to be able to report a larger number of students
availing themselves of the great advantages held out to them in the
Queen's Colleges ; but we think that the Colleges cannot be regarded as
otherwise than successful, when, notwithstanding opposing causes, to
which we shall presently allude, they have in their halls, attending
lectures, nearly 450 students."

This was in 1858. Major O'Reilly's pamphlet was published in 1863,
in which year the numbers had increased from 450, which the Com-
missioners thought not capable of being regarded otherwise than as an
indication of success, to 787 ; and it is under these circumstances 'that


cessful position." : They have not in general offered
any reasons for these assertions. But, of course, when
a demand was made to Parliament to reverse the
policy it had followed for thirty years, it became
necessary to sustain the allegation of failure with some
show of proof. This task was accordingly undertaken

Major O'Reilly thinks himself justified in quoting the authority of the
Commissioners for the utter failure of the Queen's Colleges. The
following figures show the progress of the Colleges from the period of
the Commissioners' report down to the present time :

1858-59 490

1859-60 546

1860-61 657

1861-62 758

1862-63 787

1863-64 810

1864-65 835

To exhibit fully, however, the opinion of the Commissioners on the
Colleges, the passage quoted above must be supplemented by the
following :

" We think, however, that the good done by the Queen's Colleges as
great public institutions in Ireland, cannot be estimated merely by the
number of students in their halls, or by the successful candidates whom
they may send to the great public contests of the educated youth of the
empire. We believe that, beyond this, they are, by the honourable com-
petition existing between the students and professors of the several
Queen's Colleges amongst themselves, and also by the healthy and, we
hope, friendly competition with the University of Dublin, materially
aiding in advancing learning in Ireland. We believe that the Colleges
are calculated, and we trust the association of students of various creeds
and opinions within their walls does operate, to soften those feelings of
party antagonism and sectarian animosity which have heretofore un-
happily had too extended an existence in Ireland ; and that they are
rapidly generating a feeling of local self-reliance and of self-respect, and
exciting an interest in the culture of literature and science throughout
the community at large."

The reader is now in a position to judge of the value of assertions as
to the failure of the Queen's Colleges made by ultramontane writers, of
whom, I am bound to say, the most candid and scrupulous I have
encountered is Major O'Reilly.

* "Two Articles on Education," pp. 46, 78.


by the O'Donoghue, the mover of the resolution
referred to at the opening of these remarks, who pro-
duced on the occasion certain statistics from which
he drew the desired conclusion. Strange to say,
the O'Donoghue's reasons were never traversed by
the Government, though directly at variance with the
repeated assertions of several of its members who had
filled the offices of Lord Lieutenant and Chief Secre-
tary of Ireland. But since the parliamentary debate
considerable light has been thrown upon this question
from other quarters. Those interested on behalf of the
Colleges have supplied the answer which the Govern-
ment, for whatever reasons, declined to give, and the
whole case may now be regarded as pretty fully before
the public. I shall endeavour to state briefly how the
facts in reference to this important matter stand.*

The case for the failure of the Queen's Colleges as
presented by the O'Donoghue was briefly this :

The total number of students in Trinity College he

set down (I know not on what authority) at 1,000

The total number at the Queen's Colleges at 837

Giving an aggregate receiving education in both of. . . 1,837

Of the 1,000 students in Trinity College, but 45 were
Roman Catholics : of the 837 in the Queen's Colleges,
but 223; that is to say, 268 Roman Catholics alto-
gether as against 1,569 Protestants, in an aggregate of
1,837, or 14 per cent. With this state of facts he

* [I leave the statistical argument as I wrote it in 1865. Since that
time our information on this head has been considerably extended,
chiefly through the inquiries of Dr. Lyon Playfair, to whose pamphlets
and speeches I refer the reader who desires a fuller knowledge of this
part of the case.]


contrasted certain returns of attendance in inter-
mediate schools, from which it appeared that the
Roman Catholics and Protestants receiving education
in these were about equal in number. His inference
was an inference adopted by the Government that
the Roman Catholics were deterred from going on to
the higher education by conscientious objections to
the institutions through which it was provided. On
these grounds he demanded a charter for " The
Catholic University."

The reply on the part of the Colleges has been as
follows : Accepting the facts so far as they are given,
they do not sustain the O'Donoghue's conclusion.
For why is it to be assumed that the relative numbers
,i Roman Catholics and Protestants in the inter-
mediate schools furnish a just basis for a comparison
of their numbers in the universities ? Are there not
in every population large numbers who avail them-
selves of the education afforded in intermediate schools
who never think of prosecuting their studies further ?
and is it not possible that this class may be larger
among Irish Roman Catholics than among Irish
Protestants ? Notoriously this is the fact. The dis-
crepancy therefore between the comparative returns
of the intermediate schools and the universities finds
in part an obvious explanation in the social condition
of the two classes. But, secondly, it finds a further
explanation in a still graver flaw in the O'Donoghue's
argument, a flaw so grave as in fact to vitiate it alto-
gether the entire omission of the principal element
of the returns on the Catholic side. The Protestant
students are set down at 1,569 a number which


includes, besides students intended for the several lay
callings, the great bulk of those designed for holy
orders in the several Protestant Churches ; but the
268 Roman Catholics who are contrasted with them
comprise lay students only. For the education of the
Roman Catholics intended for the priesthood the State
has provided Maynooth with an endowment of ,26,000
a year ; and besides Maynooth, several other colleges
exist in Ireland maintained from private sources for a
similar purpose.* The students attending these, and
who have their counterpart on the Protestant side in
the divinity classes of Dublin and Belfast included in
the quoted figures, the O'Donoghue wholly omits! It
illustrates curiously the spirit in which this gentleman's
argument was encountered by the Government, that
in the discussion which ensued this huge and glaring
omission was never detected. It has, however, since
been both detected and supplied by less complaisant
disputants. As corrected, the comparison stands
thus :

Protestant students, lay and clerical, receiving
higher education .................................

Roman Catholic ditto ditto ...............

* "Of seminaries for the education of ecclesiastics in 1800, Maynooth,
which had existed just five years, was the only one ; in 1864, besides the
national seminary of Maynooth, which has now an annual endowment of
26,000, and numbers 500 students, our bishops have also established
seventeen diocesan seminaries ; and in addition to these institutions
for the education of the priesthood, several of the religious orders have
houses in Ireland where their members are educated for the priesthood :
such are the Calced Carmelites, Dominicans, Augustinians, Cistercians,
Jesuits, Vincentians, Passionists, Redemptorists, and oblates of Mary."
Progress of Catholicity in Ireland in the Nineteenth Century : a Paper
read before the Catholic Congress of Mechlin, Sept. 1864, by Myles
O'Reilly, LL.D., M.P., pp. 15, 16.


I think it must be allowed that this considerably
alters the aspect of the case. But the consideration
remains : does the number of Roman Catholic students,
thus enlarged, fairly represent the proportion of the
body who would in the present social condition of
Ireland naturally aspire to an academic status ? Now
on this point an accurate criterion is plainly not
attainable ; but such facts as the following will serve
to give the reader an approximately correct idea
as to how the matter stands. It appears* that in
an aggregate of 6,483 members composing the learned
professions in Ireland, the Roman Catholic proportion-
is 2,219, or 33 per cent. : in the aggregate magistracy
Roman Catholics stand for 24 per cent. ; amongst
those returned in the Census as " ladies and gen-
tlemen," for 27 per cent. These facts do not, in-
deed, afford an accurate measure of the comparative
need amongst Roman Catholics for university edu-
cation ; but they furnish an approximate standard,
which, taken in connection with the statistics of the
higher education just given, justifies the assertion
that, as regards this department of instruction,
Roman Catholics in Ireland are already not badly
provided for.

Such, substantially, has been the reply on the part
of the Colleges. It is, in my opinion, as conclusive as
a reply founded on mere statistical data can be. I
will now add a consideration which, if I am not
mistaken, renders the argument complete, and converts
strong presumption into something very like positive

* See the table of the Census setting forth the "occupations" of the


demonstration. A common objection urged against
the Queen's Colleges, and, it must be owned, with
some plausibility, is, that they foster among the people
a habit of looking to the State for a career. Major
O'Reilly has adopted this amongst other charges.
In a footnote to page 31 of his pamphlet he thus
states the point in somewhat triumphant style:

" We will stake our reputation for accuracy on a very simple
test : let any one of our readers go into a national school, and
after a little conversation with the cleverest lad in it, find out
what his highest aspirations are: we will answer for it they
will be found to be a Government clerkship or an appoint-
ment in the Post Office. Let him also try a Queen's College,
and ten to one, the goal of the student's ambition will be
found to be a cadetship in the constabulary, a clerkship in one
of the public offices, or a Government appointment in India."

Now, passing by the case of the National Schools,
with which we are not at present concerned, I have
little doubt that, as regards the Queen's Colleges,
the gallant author's accuracy would be sustained by
the experiment. Beyond all question, a considerable
proportion of the Queen's College students look for
their future career to such openings as are offered
by the constabulary, the public offices, and India ;
but what does this prove ? That the Queen's
Colleges foster a habit of dependence upon State
employment ? I am paradoxical enough to think
that the tendency to look to the State for employ-
ment follows rather the amount of patronage at the
disposal of the State, than the means which exist
for qualifying for the effective discharge of such State
work as is to be done : I venture even to believe
that if the Queen's Colleges ceased to exist to-morrow,

P. E. T


there would not be an Irish candidate the less for
the public offices. The effect would be felt, as it
seems to me, not in the number of candidates, but
in their qualification ; nor can I conceive anything
better calculated to correct the evils of the bureau-
cratic spirit than the liberalizing effects of an university
education. But, not to dwell on this point, what
does the fact for fact no doubt it is to which
Major O'Reilly calls attention prove ? That there
is a gap in university education in Ireland still to be
filled up ? Rather does it not conclusively establish
the very point which Major O'Reilly and his allies
are never weary of denying the practical success
of the Queen's Colleges ; since it shows that the
number of the Irish population to whom univer-
sity studies are through their means accessible, is
largely in excess of that which the private demand

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Online LibraryJohn Elliott CairnesPolitical essays → online text (page 20 of 27)