« PreviousContinue »
Speech of SIR ROBERT PEEL at a Public Meeting of the Queen's University in Ireland, held in St. Patrick's Hall, Dublin Castle, on the 12th of October, 1864.
MY LORD CHANCELLOR, LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN,
I MAKE no doubt that within these halls there are some persons who are here assembled for the first time, to witness this interesting annual ceremony of the Queen's University; and I make no doubt that there are also here many young men who are here for the first time, and they equally with this distinguished company, as well as those amongst us who are more familiar with the proceedings on these occasions--one and all of us cannot fail to be deeply impressed by the circumstances and consideration with which the Honors of this University are year by year delivered to those who have succeeded in their examination for Diplomas and Degrees. But, Ladies and Gentlemen, in the distribution of Prizes which have been gained by the successful candidates, the students themselves must feel the compliment which is paid to them by this public ceremony in the recognition of their successful academic carcer--that it is enhanced by the honour which is paid by the hands of my noble friend the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, who is also Vice-Chancellor of this University.
My Lord Chancellor has given us a brief outline of the results of the past year, and he has also, I am happy to say, satisfied us as regards the successful and onward progress of the University. Now, let me, if I can, refer to what took place in this hall last year. Last year, in October, 1863, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, in those eloquent words which he could so well make use of, referred to the lamented absence of one of the most distinguished members of the Senate-the late Dr. Whately; and he alluded to him, in that language which I qualify as eloquent, as a man of large qualities, of abundant charity, and, I think his words were, "luminous faith." Dr. Whately, from the very incorporation of our University, was a member of our Senate, and by his constant presence here, and by the continuance of his
support on this and many occasions, he advanced the interests of the University, so that those connected with the University looked up to him with grateful recollections of his services. We have lost three very distinguished members of our Senate-Sir Philip Crampton, Sir Thomas Wyse, and Dr. Whately. Their places can be and have been filled, I hope, by men who will endeavour, as they did, to do their duty to the University; and I, in common with this audience, rejoice to see in place of Dr. Whately that very distinguished man now present, who has succeeded him in the See of Dublin-I mean his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin. But, Ladies and Gentlemen, as has been referred to by the Lord Chancellor, there is a gloom spread and hanging over our proceedings on this occasion, in consequence of the absence of one who, on all occasions that he was able, was most conspicuous by his presence. This, I believe, is the twelfth anniversary on which you assembled in this hall, in connexion with the Queen's University: on eight of these occasions Lord Carlisle, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, presided here. How great, then, is his loss on this occasion! This loss has been alluded to by the Vice-Chancellor, who stated that he always came to give us his countenance and support. He was not the only Lord Lieutenant who has done that, because every nobleman who has held the rank of Viceroy in this country has done the same. Lord Clarendon I would especially mention, whose name cannot be mentioned within the precincts of this University without gratitude and without respect to whom we owe, I believe I am justified in saying, the establishment of the Medical Schools in our Colleges. Lord Eglintoun, when he came to Ireland in 1852, also at once consented to preside in this hall. At a meeting on a similar occasion what did he tell his audience? He said—“I have been a very short time amongst you in Ireland—a very few months; but I have lost no time. I have not omitted visiting each one of the provinces, and of seeing the Colleges erected there with my own eyes." He did that, and rejoiced to see the success of those established, and hoped that the University would prosper. In 1853 or 1854 Lord St. Germans came here. He had been Chief Secretary under the Government of Sir Robert Peel, when the Act incorporating this University was passed. On that occasion he referred to the fact, and said:" When I was Chief Secretary for Ireland, I was instrumental in drawing up the Act which gave the Queen's Colleges to Ireland; and I rejoice as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to witness their success in the country." Although all these several Lords Lieutenant paid every attention to promote the interests which we are here to advocate, there were none after Lord Clarendon who did more service for us than did Lord Carlisle. Lord Carlisle had made the country his home. His whole soul was wrapped up in the service of his Sovereign as Viceroy, and in endeavouring to promote the welfare of this country. There was nothing that could in any way advance the social and material prosperity of this country that he was not anxious to promote;
and therefore I do venture to say that never did a man leave the shores of Ireland towards whom a deeper regret at the affliction which had befallen him was felt than towards Lord Carlisle. The very last official visit, I believe, which he paid in this country was to the Marlborough-street Schools, with his friend Alexander Mac Donnell, in order to prove that he was in favour of that system of united education which has given us such inestimable benefits. I do not know if I may observe on ore particular fact connected with his departure, but I would venture to say that there was no person who witnessed the departure of Lord Carlisle from the shores of Ireland who was not affected at the spectacle that was presented. Crowds of people were assembled in Kingstown in silent regret to wish him good-bye; and I have been told that when my gallant friend, the Commander-in-Chief, advanced to bid him a last goodbye, he advanced to him and when he took his hand and grasped it for a few minutes, and said, "God bless you, Sir;" I do not believe there was a dry eye in that crowded assembly that was there to wish Lord Carlisle farewell. He stood till the last moment on the deck of the vessel, and, as it was leaving the shore, he cast a long, lingering look behind him at that country where he had spent almost the whole of his public life, and where his public services had been given. Many a person in that assembly must have recollected those touching lines of Moore, where he says:
"As slow our ship her foamy track
Against the wind was cleaving,
So loth we part from all we love,
From all the links that bind us;
So turn our hearts, where'er we rove,
On those we've left behind us."
And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, there were two observations which have been made by Lord Carlisle, and to which I wish to advert; but, first of all, I wish to point out the very eventful period which passed during the time Lord Carlisle was connected with the Government of Ireland. From 1854 to 1863, eight anniversaries in which he presided here as ruler, the advance of the University was of a striking character. In the year Lord Carlisle came to Ireland there were entering the University 178 students, and the number attending in the halls amounted to 410. In the year following there were 179 entries, and 438 attending; whilst last year, 1862-63, there were 273 entering, and 787 attending. During the present year, however, which is conspicuous among all that has passed for the number of young men both entering and attending, we find 289 entering, and 810 students attending the lectures. It is impossible in the brief period that has elapsed that greater success should
have been accomplished. In the year 1857-58 we had a commission to nquire into the conduct of the University. That commission reported that it was impossible but that the University must be successful, because at that moment there were in the halls attending lectures nearly 450 students. What would they not be able to report of it now, when not only that number has been very nearly doubled, but that absolutely the students educated in this University are displaying on almost every occasion, when competitive examination affords them an opportunity, convincing proofs of the advantages they derive from their education?
There are two observations which Lord Carlisle made on almost the last occasion when he addressed this assembly, to which I would wish to refer. He observed on the nicely-balanced division of students as regards the religious denominations in this country. I am happy to say that that has been maintained to a remarkable degree. Lord Carlisle said on a former occasion, in this hall, "I learn with increasing pleasure that the proportion of different religious communions amongst the students continues to be what might be expected and wished." What are the numbers in the College at the present moment? I will take three years-for this is a matter of great importance to those who take an interest in the progress of the University. In the year 1861-62 there were 752 students in all attending the halls. Of these 205 were of the Established Church, 208 were Roman Catholics, 247 were Presbyterians, and 92 belonged to other denominations. In 1862-63 (observe how nicely the number is preserved, with, I am glad to say, an increasing number of Roman Catholics), there were 202 members of the Established Church, 214 Roman Catholics; General Assembly Presbyterians, 277; and of other denominations, 84; and in 1863-64, we find that the number of members of the Established Church is 210; of Roman Catholics, 237 (a very considerable increase); Presbyterians, 260; and other denominations, 103. I think, there fore, that the progress of the University as regards the religious denominations of students fully bears out the anxious desire that Lord Carlisle had expressed, that the proportion should be maintained.
On the last occasion Lord Carlisle presided here he expressed a hope that the time was not far distant when the University would have a building of its own. He said:"The increasing dimensions and swelling fortunes of this institution, and the growing interest which is felt in it, only make me wish the more eagerly that the time may not be far distant when the University will have a building of its own, duly accommodated to its high days and solemnities." That is a hope in which we all share. I yearn to see the time when we will not have to depend upon the kindness of the Lord Lieutenant (great as our thanks to him must be), but that we shall be able to have, as Lord Carlisle desired, a building of our own, where we could assume the position we are entitled to demand. I do not believe any one would grudge us that
honour. The great Universities certainly would not. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge would be glad to see their sister University advancing to that position which it is entitled to reach. The University of Dublin, I am sure, would be glad to see us occupy a proper position here. I think that, considering this is the last expression of one who took such an interest in our advancement, it is not too much to hope that the Government would grant £30,000 for the building of an institution here. We should then have a building in Dublin. I venture to say I express the opinion of every liberal man connected with the University of Dublin, considering that they have a revenue of about £70,000, or £80,000, or £100,000 a-year, dating from the time of Queen Elizabeth, when I say that they will co-operate with me in urging the Government to give the trifling grant of £30,000, whereby we could have a locus standi in Dublin. Having said so much, I hope that when that day shall come, I may have the privilege of addressing the Queen's University in that hall. If I am not connected with Ireland then, I certainly will make it a point to come over here to congratulate the young men of the University on having obtained that which they are entitled to have.
Well, now, what has been done to advance the interests of the University during the last three years? Last year the Government, upon the urgent request of the Irish Government, granted that body of men who so justly deserved recompence-the professors of the Irish Colleges-an important addition to their salaries. Since 1858 that had been a pressing consideration. Year after year it has been brought forward; and I rejoice to think that, with the co-operation of Lord Clarendon and Lord Carlisle, I have succeeded in obtaining from the Government that just remuneration for the value of the services of the professors that they were strictly entitled to receive. Again, last year I considered, in common with other persons who were interested in the matter, the salary and position of one connected with the University, who, from the beginning of his connexion with it until the present moment, has taken the liveliest-I may say the chief part in promoting its interests. I allude to my honourable friend, the Secretary of this University. All the business of the University has to pass through his hands and those of his assistant. They are responsible for the due discharge of that business; and any of those persons who are here to-day who have received Honors and Diplomas would be extremely annoyed and vexed if any irregularity occurred. But errors never occur, so exact is Mr. Stoney in the discharge of his duties; and I am sure there is not a single student of the University that does not join with me in congratulating him on the advance of salary that he has obtained. What do I find? I find that the joint secretaries of the Board of Education have £750 a year. I find that the secretary of the London University has £800 a year. I find that the secretary of the Civil Service Commission has £800 a year. I find that the registrar of Trinity College, Dublin, receives a salary of £1200 or £1500 a year. I therefore thought it my duty to impress