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The 11th sect. of the 40th Geo. III. c. 85, enacts, that the trustees may sue, and be sued, either at law or in equity, by and in the name of their secretary; and the 1st sect. of the 48th Geo. III. c. 145, enacts that it shall be lawful for the trustees 'to compromise and compound any suit or suits already commenced or hereafter to be commenced, relative to or concerning any property claimed by the said college or academy, or sought to be recovered from it,' on such terms as to them shall seem fit.
From this view of the law upon the subject, we think it will be evident to our readers, that the intention of the legislature was not permanently to maintain the college, but merely to legalise, and assist in its establishment. It was stated by his Grace the Duke of Wellington, then Sir Arthur Wellesley, in his place in Parliament, in the debate on the 29th of April, 1808, that
When the Maynooth institution was first established, it was not intended that it should be maintained by the public purse. The memorial presented previously to the foundation of that establishment prayed for a charter, in order that their funds might be better secured.'* Accordingly, the 25th Geo. III. was passed, which rendered the endowment of the institution lawful; and appointed trustees' for the purpose of establishing, endowing, and maintaining' it. The trustees were empowered to receive subscriptions and donations to enable them to establish and endow an academy," and to purchase and acquire lands, not exceeding the annual value of one thousand pounds.' The entire government of the college was given up into the hands of twenty-one trustees, the majority of whom were catholic doctors in divinity, and most of them, we believe, were catholic bishops. The trustees were authorised to elect their own successors, with the single exception of the four judges; and, in the first instance, they were also the visitors of the college; whereas nothing can be more evident to our minds than that, if it had been intended that the college should be maintained at the public expense, the government would have retained the management in the hands of its own nominees. There can be no doubt that the legislature intended to assist in its establishment; and accordingly it granted in four years the sum of £35,000, to aid in the erection of the college; but as soon as a proposition was made for a grant, though only for one year, for the maintenance of the college, that proposition was rejected by the legislature.
We have seen already that the first grant was of the sum of eight thousand pounds' towards establishing the said academy.' In the succeeding year, 1797, the Irish House of
* Hansard's Parliamentary Debates v. xi. p. 91.
Commons, came to the following resolution, in the committee of the whole house (See the Journals, 24th Feb.)
'Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee that a sum of £7000 be granted to the trustees appointed to carry into effect an Act passed last session for the Better Education of Persons professing the Popish or Roman-catholic Religion, to enable them to build u seminary to contain two hundred persons under certain regulations.' In the next year we find the following:
• 25th Feb., 1797. • Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, that a sum of £10,000 be given to the trustees appointed to carry into effect an Act passed in the session of 1775, for the Better Education of Persons professing the Popish, or Roman-catholic Religicn, to enable them to complete the building of the catholic seminary at Maynooth, und for other purposes.' In 1798, the resolution adopted was :
' 1 March, 1798. Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee, that a sum of £10,302. 5s. be given to the trustees appointed to carry into effect an Act passed in the thirty-fifth year of His present Majesty's reign, for the Better Education of Persons professing the Popish or Roman Catholic Religion, to enable them to complete the building of the catholic seminary at Maynooth, and for other purposes.'
Up to the year 1799, the grants appear to have been voted with a view to assist in the establishment of the college; but in that year we find the following record in the journals of the Irish House of Commons, which we print verbatim.
Feb. 16th 1799. • A petition of the trustees appointed to carry into execution the Act of Parliament, entitled, “An Act for the Better Education of Persons professing the Popish or Roman-catholic Religion,' was presented to the House and read, setting forth, that petitioners with profound gratitude acknowledge the munificent support granted them by the House, by which they have been enabled to give effect to the wise and liberal views of Parliament, in providing the necessary accommodation, and in every respect accomplishing the full establishment of the seminary, agreeably to the statements submitted to the House, that petitioners express their firm reliance on the benevolence of the House, and their strong hope that the institution entrusted to them, become now efficient, will be found to contribute to the general prosperity of the kingdom, by diffusing the blessings of morality and religion throughout a large portion of its inhabitants, among whom a more faithful attachment to government, and a more dutiful submission to the laws must be naturally looked for from the zealous exertions of instructors, who in the inculcation of these important duties must feel themselves urged by a strong impulse of gratitude to enforce and illustrate the general principles on which these duties ar
founded; that petitioners have prepared an estimate of the annual expenses of the full establishment of the seminary, amounting to the sum of £3,000 ; and therefore praying the House to enable them to provide the said sum of £8,000, in order to defray the expenses of the full establishment, from the 25th of March,1799, to the 25th of March, 1800.'
The above petition was referred to a committee, who, on the 22d of February, reported the following resolutions :
1. Resolved, that it appears to this committee, that a sum of £1,383 15s. 101. remains in the hands of the trustees unexpended of the grant of the last session.
2. Resolved, that it appears to this committee, that the sum of £6,616 4s. 2d., together with the said sum of £1,383 15s. 10d., amounting in the whole to the amount of £8,000, is necessary for defraying the expenses of the said seminary for one year, to the 25th of March, 1800.
3. Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, that the petitioners deserve the aid of parliament'
In Committee of Supply, on the 25th of February, 1799, the House resolved that a sum not exceeding £6,616 4s. 2d. be granted to His Majesty towards defraying the charge of the full establishment of the Roman-catholic Seminary for one year, to the 25th of March, 1800.'
A Bill to carry out that resolution was brought in, and passed the House of Commons, on the 5th of April ; but, on being taken
up to the House of Lords, it was thrown out, on the motion for going into committee, by a majority of twenty-five to one ; and, it appears beyond a doubt, that during that year the college obtained no assistance from parliament. Thus the matter stood till the year of the Union, when the following entry occurs in the journals;
February 25th, 1800. • Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, that a sum not exceeding £8,000, be granted to His Majesty towards defraying the charge of the full establishment of the Roman-catholic Seminary, for one year, to the 25th day of March, 1801.
This is the first time the legislature made a grant for the maintenance of the college ; and then only for one year. We confess, that in this vote we cannot see the solemn compact to maintain the college for ever, which has been appealed to so often. No engagement was entered into, no pledge was given, by the legislature, by which the national faith is pledged. There may have been a secret expression of the minister's intention; but even this bas not been proved. An individual may pledge bis faith by words or looks, and the faith so pledged is as binding, in the court of conscience, as the
most solemn compact into which man can enter. But we maintain that the legislature can be bound only by its own acts; and they must be proved, not by hear-say evidence, not by rumour, but by the indisputable evidence of facts and public documents. Sir Robert Peel, in his speech, in the debate on the address at the opening of parliament, not only assumes that an engagement had been entered into by the Irish parliament to maintain the existing college, but he asserts that, “You are but acting in accordance with the originally implied and honourable engagement of the Irish parliament, if you supply increased means of education for the ecclesiastics of the Romish church. A monstrous proposition for which there is no foundation, in fact or
To argue further upon this point, we hold to be superfluous; but that our readers may have the entire argument of the Prime Minister before them, we print his statement at full length:
* I will frankly state, on the first day of the session, that it is our intention to propose to parliament a liberal increase of the vote for the College of Maynooth. When, in opposition, I resisted a motion which was made for the purpose of taking from the College of Maynooth the allowance now annually granted to it, I stated then, that it appeared to me that an engagement was entered into by a parliament, exclusively protestant, to provide domestic education for the ecclesiastics of the Roman-catholic church. I do not think that engagement was necessarily fulfilled by a mere continuance of that nominal vote. I think the engagement was to supply the want of ecclesiastical education, by the foundation of a college for giving spiritual education in that country. And if the population be increased, or if the means of foreign education be diminished, I think you are but acting in accordance with the originally implied and honourable engagement of the Irish parliament, if you supply increased means of education for the ecclesiastics of the Romish church; and I beg to state, with equal distinctness, that we do not propose to accompany that increased vote by any regulations in respect to the doctrines or discipline of the church of Rome that can diminish the grace or favour of the grant.'
We are compelled to break off here, but shall continue the subject in our next number; by which time, probably, the Bill for the permanent maintenance of the college will have been laid before parliament, and the whole plan of the government relative to academical education in Ireland will have been developed. In the meantime, we earnestly implore our readers to be alive to the importance, the solemn and weighty importance, of this question. It is an unusual, an eventful crisis, at which we have arrived. The advocates of the national establishment have found that the days are gone by, when Protestant Ascendancy can be maintained in a free and
enlightened empire. In Ireland, the establishment is a system, not built upon, but opposed to, facts. It is a prodigious anomaly, like the gilded image of a despot in the temple of liberty. We assert it as our firm belief that the episcopal church of England and of Ireland, will consent to this unholy alliance with the church of Rome; and that the clergy of that united church, with comparatively a few noble exceptions, will not even protest against it. So feeble is her reliance on heaven, and so enamoured is she with the smiles and honours of earth, that she will consent, now that she can no longer maintain her exclusive possession of power, to share it with her ancient rival, whom she has frequently designated the Mother of Abominations.
In the meantime it is for dissenters to vindicate the truth, by an open, fearless and enlightened opposition to the measure contemplated. Our reliance, under God, is on them. Other auxiliaries will appear in the field, and they may possibly render some good service. But their position is so questionable, their reasonings are so inconclusive and contradictory, the view they take of the matter is so one-sided, and their whole course so palpably open to the suspicion of other motives than are compatible with a simple-hearted devotion to the truth, that we cannot regard with complacency, or take part in, many things which they say or do. Against much that was recently uttered at Exeter Hall we feel bound to protest, and marvel that any nonconforming minister could consent to be heard in that meeting, without expressing in clear and decided terms his dissent from the views which were broached. We must take our own ground, deliberately and firmly take it, eschewing on the one hand the pseudo-liberalism of our politicians, and on the other hand the factious and more than doubtful zeal of the established church. The ground to be taken is well expressed in the resolutions of the Executive Committee of the British AntiState Church Society, which will be found in our advertising pages, and we earnestly exhort our readers to be prompt, vigorous and determined in their measures. We have it in our power to defeat the measure. The question is, whether that power will be duly exercised. For a reply we wait the course of events, being now reluctantly compelled to close our remarks till next month.