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in literature, in society : they are known as Oxford, as
Cambridge, as Dublin, and as Queen's University
men : the world takes note of the connection between
the achievement and the preparation ; and the univer-
sity from which each has issued gains or loses prestige.
Such has been the working of competition in this
country under legitimate conditions. We borrow the
following account of the operation of the same prin-
ciple in Germany from Major O'Reilly's able and
instructive, though one-sided and prejudiced, essay :

" The existing government of Prussia retains the entire
direction of education of the village school, the college, and
the university. . . . But with regard to their internal organi-


zation and the regulation of their studies, the Prussian
Universities differ wholly from the French : instead of one
University organized by fixed and uniform rules, there exist
six, subject indeed to the Minister of Public Instruction, but
having each their own independence, their own organization
and administration, and, so to speak, their separate life.
Each is a corporation ; has jurisdiction over its own students;
has its own senate, and its own faculties ; determines its own
courses of study, its own examinations, and grants its own
degrees. . . . Such is the Prussian system ; of which the
chief characteristics are the great freedom left to the Univer-
sities under the nominal control of the Government, and the
freedom of emulation in teaching.* .... As Mr. Loomans
says, 'The foundation of the Prussian organization is the esprit
de corps which keeps up the emulation between the different
Universities ; and the competition which keeps up the
standard in each. To form an idea of the emulation, we
should rather call it the rivalry, which exists between the
German Universities, one must be in the midst of that
German society so occupied \vith the interests of science.
The Universities have acquired a consideration and an

* I may point out in passing the essential similarity in several
fundamental points between the Prussian University system, highly
applauded by Major O'Reilly, and that of the Queen's Colleges, for which
he has only terms of reprobation. A more apt characterization could not
be given of the organization of the latter institutions than in the words
quoted above " Groat freedom, under the nominal control of the
Government." Thus the governing bodies in the Colleges are Councils
consisting of the Presidents and Professors representing the several
Faculties ; and these are vested with very considerable powers, having full
authority to prescribe the courses, arrange the lectures of the Professors,
settle all questions connected with the internal management of the
Colleges, and in general, in the words of the Charter, " not being in any
way under the jurisdiction or control of the University Senate further
than as regards the regulations for qualification for the several degrees."
I desire especially to call attention to the following point. "The
Professors" [in the Prussian Universities], says Major O'Reilly, "are
named by the King on the proposition by the Faculties of a list of three."
The plan adopted in the Queen's Colleges does not in effect differ from
this. The President reports to the Government it is presumed after
consultation with those most qualified to judge upon the merits of the


influence which are surprising. Not only are they at the head
of education, but they rule all scientific and literary move-
ment. This situation is the principal cause of their prosperity;
placed, as it were, under the eyes of the entire nation, they
naturally seek to conciliate the sympathies of all.' "

This is healthy, invigorating, elevating rivalry,
rivalry, too, identical in principle with that which is
now in this country actually yielding similar fruits,
similar in kind if still inferior in amount and quality ;
and it is rivalry of this kind which it is now proposed
to abolish in Ireland in favour of a rivalry between
two central institutions " open to all comers," per-
forming precisely the same functions, and addressing
themselves necessarily to precisely the same classes
of the population ; in favour of a rivalry which,
judging from experience, could only issue in the
double evil of encouraging " cram " and degrading the
standard of knowledge.

So far as to the lay scheme of Irish university
reform. Turning now to the demand of the clerical
party, it will be remembered that originally this was
for a charter for " The Catholic University." Let me
here frankly express my opinion that I see nothing
in such a demand on the face of it inadmissible. On
the contrary I freely concede that it is for those who
resist such a claim to make out grounds for their
resistance. It signifies in my view nothing that the
ideas of those who founded " The Catholic University"
on " the eternal principles " first evolved in the dark
ages may have little in common with prevailing modes
of thought in this country ; if those ideas are in fact
the ideas of a section of the Irish people, there


seems no reason that every facility should not be
afforded a charter of incorporation if that be desired
in order that such separatists from the thought and
feeling of the age should, so far as they are themselves
concerned, carry into effect their educational designs.
On the assumption, therefore, that the demand for a
charter for " The Catholic University" means simply
a demand, on the part of persons holding certain
peculiar views, to be placed on an equality, as regards
State recognition, with the rest of the community, my
principles would certainly lead me to the conclusion,
that such a claim ought to be conceded.

But, in truth, to discuss the question now before the
public as if it were confined within such dimensions
as these, would be to ignore all the most important
elements of the case, and in fact to beat the air. The
leaders of the ultramontane party have never disguised
the fact that their object in this movement has been
to supplant, not to supplement to carry over the
Roman Catholic population as a whole from the
institutions which they now frequent to others which
it is their purpose to establish, not merely to provide
an exceptional institution for some exceptionally con-
stituted persons. That this is their aim is implied in
the whole course of their procedure, from the sitting
of the Synod of Thurles down to the publication of
Dr. Cullen's latest pastoral ; in the name and preten-
sions of their university, and in all the circumstances
of its origin ; above all, in the system of spiritual
terrorism put in force against those who have dared to
avail themselves of the mixed schools and colleges
of the country. The necessity of resorting to such


courses of resorting to them, not occasionally, but
incessantly and on system, of year after year raising
the pitch of denunciation, till it has culminated in threats
of exclusion from the sacraments and other ordinances
of the Church a measure, be it remembered, equiva-
lent in Roman Catholic estimation to exclusion from
salvation shows more conclusively even than the
statistics which in a former part of this article were
adduced, that the system of education against which
such expedients are employed is as agreeable to
the people of the country as it is obnoxious to those
who have recourse to such measures of attack. No
doubt those who have brought forward this cause in
Parliament have taken care not to present it in this
form. Parliament hears only of " the Irish people " as
chafing against the grievance of liberal institutions and
hungering for a mediaeval university ; the bishops, if
they are brought upon the scene, only appearing as
intercessors in behalf of their much-enduring flocks.
But, even as thus stated, the argument at least implies
that those who urge this demand contemplate nothing
less than the overthrow of the institutions to which the
" Irish people " now resort. To be sure, it is denied
by these advocates that the Irish people do resort to
them, but I have already furnished the reader with
the means of judging of the value of such denials.

Such, then, and not a mere demand for freedom
of educational development for a dissentient section,
is the real scope and aim of the question now before
the public. Started, indeed, and still upheld by a
mere section, its purpose is to deal with the intellec-
tual interests of the whole Irish people. A fraction

P. R. x


of the community the ultramontane bishops of Ire-
land seek a place for their exotic institution in the
national system of the country, not for the legitimate
purpose of offering its services to those who have
need of and desire them, but, if not avowedly, at
all events by necessary implication from their acts, in
order that they may thus obtain a vantage-ground
from which with more effect to coerce* into the
adoption of their scheme the entire Roman Catholic

* I use the term "coerce" advisedly. The following specimen it
occurred quite recently, and has been pretty generally commented on
by the press of the mode of conduct pursued will enable the reader to
say whether I do so justifiably. The transaction in question was not
connected with the particular subject of this essay ; but the principles
of conduct laid down and acted on are obviously applicable to that and
all like cases.

Some time ago some Roman Catholic gentlemen in Belfast formed
themselves into a Society for the cultivation of science and literature,
under the title of " The Belfast Catholic Institute." From causes which
I need not enter into here, the Society flourished financially, and in
course of time a question arose as to the disposition of some surplus
funds. The majority of the directory had certain views upon this subject ;
Doctor Dorrian, the Coadjutor Bishop of the diocese, had others. The
Bishop, in fact, desired to apply the disposable funds to ecclesiastical
purposes, and moved a resolution to this effect, which the majority of the
directory negatived. The Bishop remonstrated, at first with the direc-
tory, afterwards with the shareholders individually; but the Society stood
firm. Whereupon the Bishop addressed to each member of the Society
a circular letter, in which he made the following announcement :

" The following, as conditions of recommendation and approval, I
cannot forego. They are essential to my sanction being given to this
or any new company into which the Institute may be transformed, as the
above condemned propositions prove :

" I The approval by the Bishop of such articles of association as he

shall judge satisfactory, and their adoption as the basis of any

new company to be formed.
" 2 The same right on the part of the Bishop, of approving the rules

of management of Lecture-hall, Library, and News-room.
"3 A veto by the Bishop on any member acting on the Directory,

whose morals, religious principles, and habits of life the Bishop

may object to.


community; in order that their fulminations and
threats having fallen short of their object they may
reinforce terror by attraction, and bring such honour
and emolument as the State can confer to second
their ineffectual anathemas.

I confess I am wholly unable to see that this
country is called upon by any principle of freedom
to yield to a demand of this sort Tyranny is not
the less tyranny when its seat is in the human soul,
and when it seeks its ends by threats of torture
to be inflicted hereafter instead of now ; and though
it may be true that in this form it eludes the grasp
of human legislation, though it may not be possible
to bind the subtle essence of spiritual terrorism with-
out at the same time endangering the play of legiti-
mate moral influence though, therefore, intolerance
itself when it assumes this garb must needs be
tolerated at least there seems no reason that a liberal
State should play into its hands, and make itself

" 4 77/*r approval by the Bishop, or one appointed by him, of all books
and newspapers to be admitted for reading into News-room
or Library j and the like approval of any lecturer to be invited
to lecture'for the members.

" If these conditions be not made the basis of the Institute, I wish to
give fair notice that, by whatsoever name the new association be called
and to change the name, if such be in contemplation, is not a very


securities for its proper management not being first provided."

It seems to me that this is " coercion " as truly as if the menace had
been of direct physical chastisement ; and this, it will be observed, is not
an isolated instance, but a specimen of a system of conduct. Another
example, to which I have already referred, occurred within the present
year in the Bishop of Clonfert's pastoral denouncing the Queen's Col-
leges, and, were there any need, it would be easy to fill these pages
with similar brutal episodes.

X 2


by deliberate action the accomplice of its designs.
Many unworthy acts have been committed in the
name of Liberty ; but we question if the sacred word
was ever more audaciously prostituted than when
invoked by ultramontane bishops against the system
of education established by Sir Robert Peel.

The question, however, is no longer respecting
a distinct charter, but of affiliation to the Queen's
University : it remains to consider how this modi-
fication affects the considerations just urged. Affi^
liation may, of course, mean very little or a great
deal, according to the terms by which the relation
is determined. As has been already said, the Govern-
ment has not yet made public its plan ; but the
parti pretre, though they have on the whole kept
their counsel well, have not been altogether silent.
I have just had the advantage of reading a
pamphlet which, though appearing anonymously, I
have reason to believe, proceeds from a source than
which none is more likely to be well informed on
the subject in hand.* It is in the form of a reply
to the lay proposal to which I have devoted so
large a portion of this paper. That proposal the
writer of the pamphlet repudiates with unmeasured
scorn, and, in doing so, takes occasion to lay down
certain negative conditions as well as certain prin-

* This production, entitled " Notes on ' University Education in
Ireland,'" is announced as "printed for private circulation only;" but as
it is unquestionably intended to influence public opinion on a matter of
the gravest public importance, I do not feel myself bound to acquiesce
in what I must regard as an unfair artifice for evading the ordinary
liability to legitimate criticism, which is the proper condition attaching to
such attempts in a free country.


ciples of a positive kind, which, in his view, must
govern the arrangement. Amongst other significant
passages, I find the following :

" Permit me to say " (the writer is addressing himself to
the author of the lay scheme) " that I think you have fallen
into two or three mistakes: first, in supposing that the
bishops would for an instant entertain the thought of
affiliating their University to the Queen's University as at
present constituted ; secondly, in thinking that the Catholic
University would ever be changed by them into a ' Queen's
College,' or into an institution at all like a Queen's College ;
thirdly, in taking for granted that the Catholic University
and its founders and guardians, the bishops, would surrender
all 'pretensions' to its present title and to its University
privileges derived from the Pope and admitted by all
Catholics, although not recognized by the State. Nay,
more, I believe you are wrong in thinking that any Govern-
ment which deserves the name of ' Liberal,' would offer
the Catholic Bishops of Ireland the insult of asking them
to do any one of the three things I have mentioned.
Solely with respect to the third, the bishops might waive
the question of the recognition by the State of the style,
title, and University privileges of the Catholic University. . . .
But now to answer your question : Where is the line to
be drawn in a system of affiliation ? I answer : // is to be
drawn so as to secure for the Catholic University the position
she is entitled to, at the head of Catholic Education in Ireland.
(The italics are the author's.) Less than this the Sovereign
Pontiff will not sanction ; and it was at his suggestion the
University was first established. With less than this the
bishops of Ireland will not be satisfied, and it was they
who founded the University, and who by their continued
and determined opposition to dangerous systems of education
have brought this question to its present stage; less than
this our Catholic people will not accept, and they have
shown themselves able and determined to discriminate be-
tween godless and Catholic education."


The writer does not state what constitution of
the Queen's University would lead the bishops to
" entertain the thought " of affiliation ; but I infer
from the whole passage that they would not accept
the modification suggested by the lay reformer. That
suggestion, it will be remembered, is that the Senate
should consist of thirty members, of which twenty
(equally divided between Protestants and Catholics)
should be nominated by the Crown, and the remain-
ing ten elected by Convocation ; and this suggestion,
it seems, is inadmissible. Here then, at least, we
have a negative datum. A further clue to their
requirements on this point may be found in the com-
position of another body in which the bishops do
place confidence. The governing committee of "The
Catholic University "-I mean the present body
is composed, as has been already stated, of twenty-
four members, of which eight are bishops, eight
priests, and eight laymen, the last, I believe, the
nominees of the Episcopate. Keeping this in view,
and remembering that this institution has been put
forward as in all things a model, it will argue singular
moderation if, in the constitution of the Senate of
the new University, the same party is satisfied with
simple preponderance, symbolized, say, by the pre-
sence on the Board of some leading members of the
Episcopate. And this is the body that is to preside
over and regulate the only university education to
be permitted to Catholics in Ireland.

Then " The Catholic University " College is to be
" at the head of Catholic education in Ireland," or, as
the condition is more clearly expounded in another


passage, " although there may be many halls, that is
to say, colleges or schools, where Catholic youth can
study, still there should be but one University College,
and it should have the right to mould all according
to its own idea." On this principle, it seems, " the
line is to be drawn" in the system of affiliation,
and such is to be the first practical exemplifica-
tion of "freedom of university education" for

I must call attention to one passage more :

" Again, in the system you [the lay reformer] propose, why,
I ask, are the colleges to be still maintained ? If the Uni-
versity does not need its special colleges, why is this great
expense to be annually incurred ? The answer is obvious.
Some endowed colleges would be an anomaly, unless our
rulers wish to maintain the system of State education apart
from religion, on whose principle these colleges were founded,
and to give no countenance to the Catholic University, which
was established for the maintenance of the contrary principle.
But I would beg you to remember, that such an arrangement
will not meet the views of the bishops, priests, and Catholic
people of Ireland ; and it was precisely in order to meet
their views, that the present educational movement was set
on foot."

I cannot say what reply the lay reformer would
give to these questions ; but my answer would be,
that the Queen's Colleges are to be maintained
because they are based on equality and justice ;
because they represent the ideas of the nineteenth
century, not those of the thirteenth ; because they
have proved themselves by success suited to the
requirements and tastes of the people for whom they
were designed in a word, because they are national


colleges ; and, on the other hand, that " The Catholic
University" is undeserving of support, because, in
spite of its pretensions, it is sectarian and not " Catholic;"
because it is out of relation with the ideas and wants
of the time, and has given no evidence of being
acceptable to any considerable section of Roman
Catholics outside the episcopal order ; because, in
short, such a step would be retrograde and fatal to
the best interests of Ireland ; and for the rest, I
would remind the writer of what he and others who
advance claims of this kind seem to have become
wholly oblivious, that there is now a College at
Maynooth in possession of the handsome endow-
ment of ; 2 6,000 annually, established for the special
and exclusive benefit of the Roman Catholic priest-
hood ; this sum, I may observe in passing, being
larger than that assigned to the Queen's Univer-
sity and its Colleges institutions performing, to
borrow the language of the Times, " truly national

But it is idle to criticise further. If there be any
value in the foregoing remarks on the proposition
for a distinct charter, they are obviously applicable
with augmented force to this scheme. This is not a
plan for affiliating the "Catholic University" College
to the Queen's University : rather it is a plan for
reconstructing the system of the Queen's University
on the pattern of the "Catholic University" College.
The " compromise " when examined turns out to be
the original demand so shaped as to comprise an
ulterior, over and above the original, object. This
contemplated the establishment of a " Catholic Uni-


versity," but left the Queen's University in its
present position. That would equally establish a
" Catholic University;" but would do so on the ruins
of its rival.

To conclude. I know not how far the Govern-
ment may have committed itself in concession to this
party ; but it seems unquestionable that to some
extent it has done so. A pledge given on the eve
of a general election can scarcely, after the price has
been paid, be recalled with honour. But the pledge
was given by the Government, not by the Liberal
party or the English people ; and we have yet to see
how far the country is prepared to sacrifice a great
and successful policy to the exigencies of a party
struggle. But should it prove that the intellectual
interests of the Irish people are only thought
deserving of regard as they may be turned to
account in weighting the scales of an English
party, at least let us hope that a greater sacrifice
will not be made than the due adjustment of
the political balance imperatively requires. If
"something must be done," let us hope that it
will be done in a manner as little mischievous as
possible. If " mixed education " as a principle must
be given up, let us at least save the collegiate system,
and with it, as far as possible, accomplished results.
If a mediaeval university must be recognized, let us
at least maintain in its integrity the single university
in Ireland which represents the ideas of the nine-
teenth century. The concession of the original
demand of the Episcopate would at least leave a
rival in die field ; and it is not absolutely certain, in


spite of the thunders of the Vatican, and the more
incessant and more telling cannonade maintained
from Irish altars, that this rival might not yet hold
its own.

NOTE TO p. 265.

[The statements in the paragraph to which this note is appended and
the preceding one were challenged by Professor Sullivan of the Catholic
University, in a pamphlet which appeared shortly after the publication of
my essay. The following, which I have extracted from a pamphlet
published the same year in the form of a letter to Mr. Mill, was my reply

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Online LibraryJohn Elliott CairnesPolitical essays → online text (page 23 of 27)