11 JANUARY 1873, Page 7


rtiEttE are difficulties enough about the Irish University question, without inventing difficulties which do not really exist. The Daily News of Thursday, wishing no doubt to shift the argument from what is intrinsically just for the Irish Catholics, to the obstacles which will arise in giving them what is just, even when the principle is agreed to, has invented a kind of apology for not doing the only thing which seems to be really feasible, to which weight will be attached chiefly by those who do not understand the administrative working of the proposed system. " The plan of substituting a single examining University for the two existing Irish Universities," says the Daily News, " looks, perhaps, on the surface more specious and feasible, but is in reality quite as unsound, and even more impracticable. The case of the University of London presents no analogy whatever. The object of remodelling the present Irish University system is to content the Catholic prelates, and they have honourably, explicitly, and unconditionally declared that nothing short of the absolute control of the courses of study through the books and subjects for examination will content them." Now, before this able writer speaks with so much positiveness on this head as he does, he should have taken pains to inquire whether or not the case of the University of London really does present no analogy. In point of fact, it does present the closest analogy to the case of the proposed University, and the very difficulties which are here put so forcibly in the Daily News have been confronted and overcome by the University of London. Admit, as we are quite willing to admit, that the object of the Catholic priesthood is to have such a control of the practical education of the youth of Ireland, that knowledge which they regard as "dangerous " shall be communicated to Catholics only in their own fashion, and accompanied by their own safeguards, and still we say that this is precisely the difficulty which the University of London has had to encounter in reference to its own Catholic graduates, and which it has overcome in a manner which would be quite as easy to apply to the case of a Uni- versity in which half the Senate were Roman Catholics, as it is to the case of the University of London. For let us look at the Daily News' objections more in detail :- "Quite recently," says our contemporary, " an authorised ex- ponent of the demands of the Irish Catholic prelates specified political economy among the branches of study in which they must have the selection of the books for examination. The truth is that the chapter on Education in Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations' contains the harshest judgment on the constitution and policy of the Church of Rome to be met with in any English philosophical treatise. The Wealth of Nations' must therefore be struck out of the course. Mr. Mill's treatise on Political Economy ' must share the same fate, for reasons obvious to those who are familiar with his works. His 'Logic,' too, must go. In jurisprudence again, Sir Henry Maine's ' Ancient Law ' is at present recognised as one of the standard works for examination in the two Irish as in the English Universities. But its method of historical in- vestigation, and some of its statements—for instance, those respecting the influences of the Canon Law—must render it in the highest degree objectionable in the eyes of the Catholic hierarchy. Similar difficulties would present themselves over the whole field of history, of mental and political philosophy, and even of general literature. It is obvious, therefore, that the fiercest dissension must break out at once within the University respecting the subjects for examination, and the system of examining." This is " obvious " to the mind of the writer, partly because he does not know anything about the method by which the University of London overcame the difficulty, and partly because he wishes to find it obvious. Now in point of fact, neither Adam Smith's " Wealth of Nations," nor Mr. J. S. Mill's political economy, nor his logic, nor Sir Henry Maine's book on ancient law, is prescribed by the University of London to its students ; and though many, if not all of these, are of course studied by its graduates, they are studied in a manner and under conditions which would not excite Roman Catholic jealousy. The difficulty about prescribing these books as subjects for examination is not chiefly the difficulty of using them, but the difficulty of giving the imprimatur of a University in a large degree Catholic to their teaching. The Catholic Bishops would, no doubt, object excessively, and not unjustly, to see authors authori- tatively prescribed in the curriculum of their University who throw considerable discredit, and perhaps even con- tempt, on the Roman Catholic system. And for this very reason, the University of London prescribes no doctrinal authors to its students at all. It gives notice only of the subjects in which they will be examined. The young men are left to learn the theory of rent, or the theory of population

and wages, or the theory of the syllogism, or the best theories of the origin of law, where they will, so long as they come up prepared to answer the questions which test their knowledge. If their teachers choose to use with them Senior, or Fawcett, or Jevons, instead of Mill's " Political Economy," or to use Sir William Hamilton, and Mr. Baynes, and Mr. M'Cosh, instead of Mr. J. S. Mill's "Logic," supplementing them out of Mill so far as it is desirable to do so, the Examiners of the London University have no objection to make. They examine in the subjects discussed and taught by these writers, not in special authorities, and if certain special authorities are so far above all other authorities, that it is really essential for success that the candidates should have mastered them, why so much the better for the writers in question ; Catholics are perfectly well aware that it is not the fault of Protestants if no modern Catholic writers of equal eminence and ability have treated any particular subject, and consequently they will impart to their pupils a knowledge of those eminent writers, with all the criticisms and safeguards which they think necessary. The political point, however, is this :—Half the battle in this matter is not the necessity of privately using the heretical writers, but the necessity of giving them any sort of orthodox sanction. And this is com- pletely avoided by the University of London's practice of examining not in modern authors about whom there is a great strife of principle, but in the scientific subjects treated by them, leaving the teacher to impart what he well knows to be the necessary knowledge, as he will, and with whatever counteracting criticisms he likes.

The real crux is the choice of Examiners, and undoubtedly, it will be found necessary in the supposed Irish National University to find both a competent Protestant and a competent Catholic Examiner in every subject, and to provide that both should read over every candidate's papers, and agree on the judgment to be passed on him. This would quite remove the suspicion of any unfair treatment of Catholics on account of their opinions, so long as they showed a real knowledge of the arguments to be advanced on both sides, and can give a fair account of the reasons advanced for philosophical or economical views which Catholic authorities regard as unsound and heretical. Of course the Roman Catholics of Ireland are not such dreamers as to imagine that their sons can take degrees without ever having heard expositions of the physiological theories of the human soul, or of the socialistic theories of human wealth, or the scientific theories as to the origin of society and civilisa- tion. They do not deny for a moment that these are all branches of knowledge on which it is quite essential that culti- vated Catholics should have full information, only they con- tend that that information should be given by themselves, from their own point of view,—the antidote with what they think the poison,—and that they should not be supposed in any degree to lend their authority to books to the moral and spiritual drift of which they object.

We venture to say that this kind of difficulty has been experienced fully in kind in the University of London, though of course not to the same degree there as it would be if half the graduates were Catholics. And we believe the solution found is perfectly applicable to the new case. Of course a good deal of discretion will have to be exercised in choosing the Examiners, so as to get on every subject a tolerably equally matched pair of men of the two faiths. But this is a practical difficulty of the minor order, and we have no doubt it can be surmounted with a little dis- cretion. What we care to show is, that the Daily News is not in the least aware how very much nearer the analogy between the London University and the proposed Irish University is than it is by our contemporary supposed to be, and that if the Government really wish to overcome the difficulty, the insur- mountable obstacles which the Daily News has discovered are mere mares'-nests. So long as the teaching of Catholics is left in Catholic hands, and no formal sanction is lent to writers of suspected tendencies, there would be no more difficulty in acquiring evidence of knowledge traceable chiefly to Protestant and even to what Catholics would regard as prejudiced Pro- testant sources, than the University of London finds now. The Roman Catholics are not, as far as we know anything of them, so childish as to expect that their young men can get the distinction of men of culture without knowing the leading principles—whether false or true—of the intellectual world in which they live.