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does, where the air is good, they thrive and multiply." He proceeded to say that, even at the worst, the labour of a sugar plantation was not more unhealthy than some kinds of labour in which the manufacturers of England are employed, and which nobody thinks of prohibiting. He particularly mentioned grinding. “See how grinding destroys the health, the sight, the life. Yet there is no outcry against grinding.” He went on to say that the whole question ought to be left by Parliament to the West Indian Legislatures. [Mr. Gladstone: Really I never said so. You are not quoting me at all correctly.] What, not about the sugar cultivation and the grinding? [Mr. Gladstone : That is correct; but I never recommended that the question should be left to the West Indian Legislatures.] I have quoted correctly. But since my right honorable friend disclaims the sentiment imputed to him by the reporters, I shall say no more about it. I have no doubt that he is quite right, and that what he said was misunderstood. What is undisputed is amply sufficient for my purpose. I see that the persons who now show so much zeal against slavery in foreign countries, are the same persons who formerly countenanced slavery in the British Colonies. I remember a time when they maintained that we were bound in justice to protect slave grown sugar against the competition of free grown sugar, and even of British free grown sugar. I now hear them calling on us to protect free grown sugar against the competition of slave grown sugar. I remember a time when they extenuated as much as they could the evils of the sugar cultivation. I now hear them exaggerating those evils. But, devious as their course has been, there is one clue by which I can easily track them through the whole maze. Inconstant in everything else, they are constant in demanding protection for the West Indian planter. While he employs slaves, they do their best to apologize for the evils of slavery. As soon as he is forced to employ freemen, they begin to cry up the blessings of freedom. They go round the whole compass, and yet to one point they stedfastly adhere; and that point is the interest of the West Indian proprietors. I have done, Sir ; and I thank the House most sincerely for the patience and indulgence with which I have been heard. I hope that I have at least vindicated my own consistency. How Her Majesty's Ministers will vindicate their consistency, how they will show that their conduct has at all times been guided by the same principles, or even that their conduct at the present time is guided by any fixed principle at all, I am unable to conjecture.
THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ON THE 14TH OF APRIL, 1845.
On Saturday the eleventh of April, 1845, Sir Robert Peel moved
the second reading of the Maynooth College Bill. After a debate of six nights the motion was carried by 323 votes to 176. On the second night the following Speech was made.
I do not mean, Sir, to follow the honorable gentleman who has just sate down into a discussion on an amendment which is not now before us. When my honorable friend the Member for Sheffield shall think it expedient to make a motion on that important subject to which he has repeatedly called the attention of the House, I may, perhaps, ask to be heard. At present I shall content myself with explaining the reasons which convince me that it is my duty to vote for the second reading of this bill; and I cannot, I think, better explain those reasons than by passing in review, as rapidly as I can, the chief objections which have been made to the bill here and elsewhere.
The objectors, Sir, may be divided into three classes. The first class consists of those persons who object, not to the principle of the grant to Maynooth College, but merely to the amount. The second class consists of persons who object on principle to all grants made to a church which they regard as corrupt. The third class consists of persons who object on principle to all grants made to churches, whether corrupt or pure.
Now, Sir, of these three classes, the first is evidently that which takes the most untenable ground. How any person can think that Maynooth College ought to be supported by public money, and yet can think this bill too bad to be suffered to go into Committee, I do not well understand. I am forced however to believe that there are many such persons. For I cannot but remember that the old annual vote attracted scarcely any notice; and I see that this bill has produced violent excitement. I cannot but remember that the old annual vote used to pass with very few dissentients; and I see that great numbers of gentlemen, who never were among those dissentients, have crowded down to the House in order to divide against this bill. It is indeed certain that a large proportion, I believe a majority, of those members who cannot, as they assure us, conscientiously support the plan proposed by the right honorable Baronet at the head of the Government, would without the smallest scruple have supported him if he had in this, as in former years, asked us to give nine thousand pounds for twelve months. So it is : yet I cannot help wondering that it should be so. For how can any human ingenuity turn a question between nine thousand pounds and twenty-six thousand pounds, or between twelve months and an indefinite number of months, into a question of principle. Observe: I am not now answering those who maintain that nothing ought to be given out of the public purse to a corrupt church; nor am I now answering those who maintain that nothing ought to be given out of the public purse to any church whatever. They, I admit, oppose this bill on principle. I perfectly understand, though I do not myself hold, the opinion of the zealous voluntary who says, “ Whether the Roman Catholic Church teaches truth or error, she ought to have no assistance from the State.” I also perfectly understand, though I do not myself hold, the opinion of the zealous Protestant who says, “The Roman Catholic Church teaches error, and therefore ought to have no assistance from the State.” But I cannot understand the reasoning of the man who says, “ In spite of the errors of the Roman Catholic Church, I think that she ought to have some assistance from the State; but I am bound to mark my abhorrence of her errors by doling out to her a miserable pittance. Her tenets are so absurd and noxious that I will pay the professor who teaches them wages less than I should offer to my groom. Her rites are so superstitious that I will take care that they shall be performed in a chapel with a leaky roof and a dirty floor. By all means let us keep her a college, provided only that it be a shabby one. Let us support those who are intended to teach her doctrines and to administer her sacrainents to the next generation, provided only that every future priest shall cost us less than a foot soldier. Let us board her young theologians ; but let their larder be so scantily supplied that they may be compelled to break up before the regular vacation from mere want of food. Let us lodge them; but let their lodging be one in which they may be packed like pigs in a stye, and be punished for their heterodoxy by feeling the snow and the wind through the broken panes." Is it possible to conceive anything more absurd or more disgraceful? Can anything be clearer than this, that whatever it is lawful to do it is lawful to do well. If it be right that we should keep up this college at all, it must be right that we should keep it up respectably. Our national dignity is concerned. For this institution, whether good or bad, is, beyond all dispute, a very important institution. Its office is to form the character of those who are to form the character of millions. Whether we ought to extend any patronage to such an institution is a question about which wise and honest men may differ. But that, if we do extend our patronage to such an institution, our patronage ought to be worthy of the object, and worthy of the greatness of our country, is a proposition from which I am astonished to hear any person dissent.
It is, I must say, with a peculiarly bad grace that one of the members for the University to which I have the honor to belong*, a gentleman who never thought himself bound to say a word or to give a vote against the grant of nine thousand pounds, now vehemently opposes the grant of twenty-six thousand pounds as exorbitant. When I consider how munificently the colleges of Cambridge and Oxford are endowed, and with what pomp religion and learning are there surrounded; when I call to mind the long streets of palaces, the towers and oriels, the venerable cloisters, the trim gardens, the organs, the altar pieces, the solemn light of the stained windows, the libraries, the museums, the galleries of painting and sculpture; when I call to mind also the physical comforts which are provided both for instructors and for pupils ; when I reflect that the very sizars and servitors are far better lodged and fed than those students who are to be, a few years hence, the priests and bishops of the Irish people ; when I think of the spacious and stately mansions of the heads of houses, of the commodious chambers of the fellows and scholars, of the refectories, the combination rooms, the bowling greens, the stabling, of the state and luxury of the great feast days, of the piles of old plate on the tables, of the
* The Honorable Charles Law, Member for the University of Cambridge. VOL. VIII.
savoury steam of the kitchens, of the multitudes of geese and capons which turn at once on the spits, of the oceans of excellent ale in the butteries; and when I remember from whom all this splendour and plenty is derived ; when I remember what was the faith of Edward the Third and of Henry the Sixth, of Margaret of Anjou and Margaret of Richmond, of William of Wykeham and William of Waynefleet, of Archbishop Chicheley and Cardinal Wolsey; when I remember what we have taken from the Roman Catholics, King's College, New College, Christ Church, my own Trinity; and when I look at the miserable Dotheboys Hall which we have given them in exchange, I feel, I must own, less proud than I could wish of being a Protestant and a Cambridge man.
Some gentlemen, it is true, have made an attempt to show that there is a distinction of principle between the old grant which they have always supported and the larger grant which they are determined to oppose. But never was attempt more unsuccessful. They say that, at the time of the Union, we cntered into an implied contract with Ireland to keep up this college. We are therefore, they argue, bound by public faith to continue the old grant; but we are not bound to make any addition to that grant. Now, Sir, on this point, though on no other, I do most cordially agree with those petitioners who have, on this occasion, covered your table with such huge bales of spoiled paper and parchment. I deny the existence of any such contract. I think myself perfectly free to vote for the abolition of this college, if I am satisfied that it is a pernicious institution; as free as I am to vote against any item of the ordnance estimates; as free as I am to vote for a reduction of the number of marines. It is strange, too, that those who appeal to this imaginary contract should not perceive that, even if their fiction be admitted as true, it will by no means get them out of their difficulty. Tell us plainly what are the precise terms of the contract which you suppose Great Britain to have made with Ireland about this college. Whatever the terms be, they will not serve your purpose. Was the contract this, that the Imperial Parliament would do for the college what the Irish Parliament had been used to do? Or was the contract this, that the Imperial Parliament would keep the college in a respectable and efficient state? If the former was the contract, nine thousand pounds would be too much. If the latter was the contract, you will not, I am confident, be able to prove that twenty-six thousand pounds is too little.