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ning was appointed to the See of Westminster. The desti->
nies of the two men, which had run parallel to one another
in so strange a fashion and for so many years, were
now for.a moment suddenly to converge. Newly clothed
with all the attributes of ecclesiastical supremacy. Man-
ning found himself face to face with Newman, upon
whose brows were glittering the fresh laurels of spiritual
victory — the crown of an apostolical life. It was the meet-
ing of the eagle and the dove. What followed showed,
more clearly perhaps than any other incident in his ca-
reer, the stuff that Manning was made of. Power had
come to him at last; and he seized it with all the avidity
of a born autocrat, whose appetite for supreme dominion
had been whetted by long years of enforced abstinence
and the hated simulations of submission. He was the ruler
of Roman Catholic England, and he would rule. The
nature of Newman's influence it was impossible for him
to understand, but he saw that it existed ; for tv/enty years
he had been unable to escape the unwelcome iterations of
that singular, that alien, that rival renown; and now it
stood in his path, alone and inexplicable, like a defiant
ghost. "It is remarkably interesting," he observed coldly,
when somebody asked him what he thought of the
Apologia; "it is like listening to the voice of one from the
dead." And such voices, with their sepulchral echoes, are
apt to be more dangerous than living ones; they attract
too much attention; they must be silenced at all costs.
It was the meeting of the eagle and the dove; there was
a hovering, a swoop, and then the quick beak and the .
relentless talons did their work.


Even before his accession to the Archbishopric, Man-
ning had scented a pecuhar peril in Newman's Oxford
scheme, and so soon as he came into power he privately
determined that the author of the Apologia should never
be allowed to return to his old University. Nor was there
any lack of excellent reasons for such a decision. Oxford
was by this time a nest of liberalism; it was no fit place
for Catholic youths, and they would inevitably be at-
tracted there by the presence of Father Newman. And
then, had not Father Newman's orthodoxy been im-
pugned? Had he not been heard to express opinions of
most doubtful propriety upon the question of the Tem-
poral Power? Was it not known that he might almost bt
said to have an independent mind? An influence? Yes, he
had an influence, no doubt; but what a fatal kind of in-
fluence to which to subject the rising generation of Catho-
lic Englishmen!

Such were the reflections which Manning was careful
to pour into the receptive ear of Monsignor Talbot. That
useful priest, at his post of vantage in the Vatican, was
more than ever the devoted servant of the new Arch-
bishop. A league, offensive and defensive, had been estab-
lished between the two friends.

I daresay I shall have many opportunities to serve you in Rome
[wrote Monsignor Talbot modestly] and I do not think my
support will be useless to you, especially on account of the
peculiar character of the Pope, and the spirit which pervades
Propaganda; therefore I wish you to understand that a compact
exists between us; if you help me, I shall help you. [And a little
later he added], I am glad you accept the league. As I have al-
ready done for years, I shall support you, and I have a hundred
ways of doing so. A word dropped at the proper occasion works


Perhaps it was hardly necessary to remind his corre-
spondent of that.

So far as Newman was concerned it so fell out that
Monsignor Talbot needed no prompting. During the sen-
sation caused by the appearance of the Apologia, it had
occurred to him that it would be an excellent plan to
secure Newman as a preacher during Lent for the fash-
ionable congregation which attended his church in the
Piazza del Popolo; and he had accordingly written to
invite him to Rome. His letter was unfortunately not a
tactful one. He assured Newman that he would find in
che Piazza del Popolo "an audience of Protestants more
educated than could ever be the case in England," and
"I think myself," he had added by way of extra induce-
ment, "that you will derive great benefit from visiting
Rome, and showing yourself to the Ecclesiastical Authori-
ties." Newman smiled grimly at this; he declared to a
friend that the letter was "insolent"; and he could not
resist the tem.ptation of using his sharp pen.

Dear Monsignor Talbot [he wrote in reply], I have received
your letter, inviting me to preach in your Church at Rome to an
audience of Protestants more educated than could ever be the
case in England.

However, Birmingham people have souls; and I have neither
taste nor talent for the sort of work which you cut out for me.
And I beg to decline your offer.

I am, yours truly,

John H. Newman.

Such words were not the words of wisdom. It is easy
to imagine the feelings of Monsignor Talbot. "New-
man's work none here can understand," he burst out to
his friend. "Poor man, by living almost ever since he has


been a Catholic surrounded by a set of inferior men who
idohse him, I do not think he has ever acquired the Catho-
Hc instincts." As for his views on the Temporal Power —
well, people said that he had actually sent a subscription
to Garibaldi. Yes, the man was incomprehensible, heretical,
dangerous; he was "uncatholic and unchristian." Mon-
signor Talbot even trembled for the position of Manning
in England.

I am afraid that the old school of Catholics will rally round
Newman in opposition to you and Rome. Stand firm, do not
yield a bit in the line you have taken. As I have promised, I
shall stand by you. You will have battles to fight, because every
Englishman is naturally anti-Roman. To be Roman is to an Eng-
lishman an effort. Dr. Newman is more English than the Eng-
lish. His spirit must be crushed.

His spirit must be crushed! Certainly there could be no
doubt of that.

"What you write about Dr. Newman [Manning replied] is true.
Whether he knows it or not, he has become the centre of those
who hold low views about the Holy See, are anti-Roman, cold
and silent, to say no more, about the Temporal Power, national,
English, critical of Catholic devotions, and always on the lower
side. . . . You will take care [he concluded] that things are
correctly known and understood where you are.

The confederates matured their plans. "While Newman
was making his arrangements for the Oxford Oratory,
Cardinal Reisach visited London. "Cardinal Reisach has
just left," wrote Manning to Monsignor Talbot: "he has
seen and jmderstands all that is going on in England." But
Newman had no suspicions. It was true that persistent
rumours of his unorthodoxy and his anti-Roman lean-


ings had begun to float about, and these rumours had been
traced to Rome. But what were rumours? Then, too,
Newman found out that Cardinal Reisach had been to
Oxford without his knowledge, and had inspected the land
for the Oratory. That seemed odd; but all doubts were
set at rest by the arrival from Propaganda of an official
ratification of his scheme. There would be nothing but
plain sailing now. Newman was almost happy; radiant
visions came into his mind of a wonderful future in Ox-
ford, the gradual growth of Catholic principles, the decay
of liberahsm, the inauguration of a second Oxford
Movement, the conversion — who knows? — of Mark Pat-
tison, the triumph of the Church. . . . "Earlier failures do
not matter now," he exclaimed to a friend. "I see that I
have been reserved by God for this."

Just then a long blue envelope was brought Into the
room. Newman opened it. "All is over," he said, "I am
not allowed to go." The envelope contained a letter from
the Bishop announcing that, together with the formal per-
mission for an Oratory at Oxford, Propaganda had issued
a secret instruction to the effect that Newman himself
was by no means to reside there. If he showed signs of
doing so, he was, blindly and suavely ("blande suavi-
terque" were the words of the Latin instrument) to be
prevented. And now the secret instruction had come into
operation: blande suaviterqtie Dr. Newman's spirit had
been crushed.

His friends made some gallant efforts to retrieve the
situation; but it was in vain. Father St. John hurried to
Rome; and the indignant laity of England, headed by
Lord Edward Howard, the guardian of the young Duke
of Norfolk, seized the opportunity of a particularly vim-


lent anonymous attack upon Newman to send him an
address, in which they expressed their feehng that "every
blow that touches you inflicts a wound upon the CathoHc
Church in this country." The only result was an outburst
of redoubled fury upon the part of Monsignor Talbot. The
address, he declared, was an insult to the Holy See. "What
is the province of the laity?" he interjected. "To hunt, to
shoot, to entertain. These matters they understand, but
to meddle with ecclesiastical matters they have no right
at all." Once more he warned Manning to be careful.

Dr. Newman is the most dangerous man in England, and you
will see that he will make use of the laity against your Grace.
You must not be afraid of him. It will require much prudence,
but you must be firm. The Holy Father still places his confidence
in you; but if you yield and do not fight the battle of the Holy
See against the detestable spirit growing up in England, he will
begin to regret Cardinal Wiseman, who knew how to keep the
laity in order.

Manning had no thought of "yielding"; but he pointed
out to his agitated friend that an open conflict between
himself and Newman would be "as great a scandal to
the Church in England, and as great a victory to the
Anglicans, as could be." He would act quietly, and there
would be no more difficulty. The Bishops were united, and
the Church was sound.

On this, Monsignor Talbot hurried round to Fathei Jt.
John's lodgings in Rome to express his regret at the
misunderstanding that had arisen, to wonder how it could
possibly have occurred, and to hope that Dr. Newman
might consent to be made a Protonotary Apostolic. That
was all the satisfaction that Father St. John was to obtain
from his visit to Rome. A few weeks later the scheme of
the Oxford Oratory was finally quashed.


When all was over, Manning thought that the time
had come for a reconciHation. He made advances through
a common friend; what had he done, he asked, to offend
Dr. Newman? Letters passed, and, naturally enough, they
only widened the breach. Newman was not the man to
be polite.

I can only repeat [he wrote at last] what I said when you last
heard from me. I do not know whether I am on my head or
my heels when I have active relations with you. In spite of my
friendly feelings, this is the judgment of my intellect. Mean-
while [he concluded], I propose to say seven masses for your
intention amid the difficulties and anxieties of your ecclesiastical

And Manning could only return the compliment.

At about this time the Curate of Littlemore had a sin-
gular experience. As he was passing by the Church he
noticed an old man, very poorly dressed in an old grey coat
with the collar turned up, leaning over the lych gate, in
floods of tears. He was apparently in great trouble, and his
hat was pulled down over his eyes, as if he wished to hide
his features. For a moment, however, he turned towards
the Curate, who was suddenly struck by something fa-
miliar in the face. Could it be — ? A photograph hung over
the Curate's mantelpiece of the man v/ho had made Little-
more famous by his sojourn there more than twenty years
ago; he had never seen the original; but now, was it
possible — ? He looked again, and he could doubt no
longer. It was Dr. Newman. He sprang forward, with
proffers of assistance. Could he be of any use? "Oh no,
no!" was the reply. "Oh no, no!" But the Curate felt that
he could not turn away, and leave so eminent a character in
such distress. "Was it not Dr. Newman he had the honour


of addressing?" he asked, with all the respect and sym-
pathy at his command. "Was there nothing that could be
done?" But the old man hardly seemed to understand
what was being said to him. "Oh no, no!" he repeated,
with the tears streaming down his face. "Oh no, no!"


Meanwhile a remarkable problem was absorbing the
attention of the Catholic Church. Once more, for a mo-
ment, the eyes of all Christendom were fixed upon Rome.
The temporal Power of the Pope had now almost vanished;
but, as his worldly dominions steadily diminished, the
spiritual pretensions of the Holy Father no less steadily
increased. For seven centuries the immaculate conception
of the Virgin had been highly problematical; Pio Nono
spoke, and the doctrine became an article of faith. A few
years later, the Court of Rome took another step: a Syl-
labus Erronun was issued, in which all the favourite be-
liefs of the modern world — the rights of democracies, the
claims of science, the sanctity of free speech, the principles
of toleration — were categorically denounced, and their
supporters abandoned to the Divine wrath. Yet it was
observed that the modern world proceeded as before.
Something more drastic appeared to be necessary — some
bold and striking measure which should concentrate the
forces of the faithful, and confound their enemies. The
tremendous doctrine of Papal Infallibility, beloved of all
good Catholics, seemed to offer just the opening that was
required. Let that doctrine be proclaimed, with the assent
of the whole Church, an article of faith, and, in the face
of such an affirmation, let the modern world do its worst!
Accordingly, a General Council — the first to be held since
the Council of Trent more than 300 years before — was
summoned to the Vatican, for the purpose, so it was an-



nounced, of providing "an adequate remedy to the dis-
orders, intellectual and moral, of Christendom." The
programme might seem a large one, even for a General
Council; but everyone knew what it meant.

Everyone, however, was not quite of one mind. There
were those to whom even the mysteries of Infallibility
caused some searchings of heart. It was true, no doubt,
that Our Lord, by saying to Peter, "Thou art Cephas,
which is by interpretation a stone," thereby endowed that
Apostle with the supreme and full primacy and princi-
pality over the Universal Catholic Church; it was equally
certain that Peter afterwards became the Bishop of Rome;
nor could it be doubted that the Roman Pontiff was his
successor. Thus it followed directly that the Roman Pon-
tiff was the head, heart, mind, and tongue of the Catholic
Church; and moreover, it was plain that when Our Lord
prayed for Peter that his faith should not fail, that prayer
implied the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. All these things

were obvious, and yet — and yet . Might not the

formal declaration of such truths in the year of grace
1870 be, to say the least of it, inopportune? Might it not
come as an offence, as a scandal even, to those unacquainted
with the niceties of Catholic dogma? Such were the un-
easy reflections of grave and learned ecclesiastics and
theologians in England, France, and Germany. Newman
was more than usually upset; Monseigneur Dupanloup
was disgusted; and Dr. Dollinger prepared himself for
resistance. It was clear that there would be a disaffected
minority at the Council.

Catholic apologists have often argued that the Pope's
claim to infallibility implies no more than the necessary
claim of every ruler, of every government, to the right
of supreme command. In England, for instance, the


Estates of the Realm exercise an absolute authority in
secular matters; no one questions this authority, no one
suggests that it is absurd or exorbitant; in other words, by
general consent, the Estates of the Realm are, within their
sphere, infallible. Why, therefore, should the Pope, within
his sphere — the sphere of the Catholic Church — be denied
a similar infallibility? If there is nothing monstrous in an
Act of Parliament laying down what all men shall do,
why should there be anything monstrous in a Papal En-
cyclical laying down what all men shall believe? The argu-
ment is simple; in fact, it is too simple; for it takes for
granted the very question which is in dispute. Is there
indeed no radical and essential distinction between su-
premacy and infallibility? between the right of a Borough
Council to regulate the traffic and the right of the Vicar
of Christ to decide upon the qualifications for Everlasting
Bliss? There is one distinction, at any rate, which is
palpable: the decisions of a supreme authority can be
altered; those of an infallible authority cannot. A Bor-
ough Council may change its traffic regulations at the next
meeting; but the Vicar of Christ, when, in certain cir-
cumstances and with certain precautions, he has once
spoken, has expressed, for all the ages, a part of the
immutable, absolute, and eternal Truth. It is this that
makes the papal pretensions so extraordinary and so enor-
mous. It is also this that gives them their charm. Catholic
apologists, when they try to tone down those pretensions
and to explain them away, forget that it is in their very
exorbitance that their fascination lies. If the Pope were
indeed nothing more than a magnified Borough Council-
lor, we should hardly have heard so much of him. It is not
because he satisfies the reason, but because he astounds it,
that men abase themselves before the Vicar of Christ.


And certainly the doctrine of Papal Infallibility pre-
sents to the reason a sufficiency of stumbling-blocks. In
the fourteenth century, for instance, the following case
arose. John XXII. asserted in his bull "Cum inter non-
nullos" that the doctrine of the poverty of Christ was
heretical. Now, according to the light of reason, one of
two things must follow from this — either John XXII.
was himself a heretic or he was no Pope. For his predecessor,
Nicholas III., had asserted in his bull "Exiit qui seminat"
that the doctrine of the poverty of Christ was the
true doctrine, the denial of which was heresy. Thus if
John XXII. was right Nicholas III. was a heretic, and in
that case Nicholas's nominations of Cardinals were void,
and the conclave which elected John was illegal; so that
John w as no Pope, his nominations of Cardinals were void,
and the whole Papal succession vitiated. On the other
hand, if John was wrong — well, he was a heretic; and the
same inconvenient results followed. And, in either case,
what becomes of Papal Infallibility?

But such crude and fundamental questions as these
were not likely to trouble the Council. The discordant
minority took another line. Infallibility they admitted
readily enough — the infallibility, that is to say, of the
Church; what they shrank from was the pronouncement
that this infallibility was concentrated in the Bishop of
Rome. They would not actually deny that, as a matter of
fact, it was so concentrated; but to declare that it was,
to make the belief that it was an article of faith — what
could be more — it was their favourite expression — more
inopportune? In truth, the Gallican spirit still lingered
among them. At heart, they hated the autocracy of Rome
— the domination of the centralised Italian organisation
over the whole vast body of the Church. They secretly


hankered, even at this late hour, after some form of con-
stitutional government, and they knew that the last faint
vestige of such a dream would vanish utterly with the
declaration of the infallibility of the Pope. It did not
occur to them, apparently, that a constitutional Catholi-
cism might be a contradiction in terms, and that the
Catholic Church without the absolute dominion of
the Pope might resemble the play of Hamlet without the
Prince of Denmark.

Pius IX. himself was troubled by no doubts. "Before I
was Pope," he observed, "I believed in Papal Infallibility,
now I feel it." As for Manning, his certainty was no less
complete than his master's. Apart from the Holy Ghost,
his appointment to the See of Westminster had been due
to Pio Nono's shrewd appreciation of the fact that he
was the one man in England upon whose fidelity the
Roman Government could absolutely rely. The voice
which kept repeating "Mettetelo li, mettetelo li" in his
Holiness's ear, whether or not it was inspired by God,
was certainly inspired by political sagacity. For now Man-
ning was to show that he was not unworthy of the trust
which had been reposed in him. He flew to Rome in a
whirlwind of Papal enthusiasm. On the way, in Paris,
he stopped for a moment to interview those two great
props of French respectability, M. Guizot and M. Thiers.
Both were careful not to commit themselves, but both
were exceedingly polite. "I am awaiting your Council,"
said M. Guizot, "with great anxiety. It is the last great
moral power and may restore the peace of Europe."
M. Thiers delivered a brief harangue in favour of the
principles of the Revolution, which, he declared, were the
very marrow of all Frenchmen; yet, he added, he had
always supported the Temporal Power of the Pope.


"Mais, M. Thiers," said Manning, "vous etes eflfective-
ment croyant." "En Dieu," replied M. Thiers.

The Rome which Manning reached towards the close
of 18^9 was still the Rome which, for so many centuries,
had been the proud and visible apex, the palpitating heart,
the sacred sanctuary, of the most extraordinary mingling
of spiritual and earthly powers that the world has ever
known. The Pope now, it is true, ruled over little more
than the City itself — the Patrimony of St. Peter — and he
ruled there less by the grace of God than by the goodwill
of Napoleon III.; yet he was still a sovereign Prince; and
Rome was still the capital of the Papal State; she was
not yet the capital of Italy. The last hour of this strange
dorhinion had almost struck. As if she knew that her doom
was upon her the Eternal City arrayed herself to meet it in
all her glory. The whole world seemed to be gathered
together within her walls. Her streets were filled with
crowned heads and Princes of the Church, great ladies
and great theologians, artists and friars, diplomats and
newspaper reporters. Seven hundred bishops were there,
from all the corners of Christendom, and in all the varieties
of ecclesiastical magnificence — in falling lace and sweep-
ing purple and flowing violet veils. Zouaves stood in the
colonnade of St. Peter's, and Papal troops were on the
Quirinal. Cardinals passed, hatted and robed, in their
enormous carriages of state, like mysterious painted idols.
Then there was a sudden hush: the crov/d grew thicker
and expectation filled the air. Yes! it was he! Pie was com-
ing! The Holy Father! But first there appeared, mounted
on a white mule and clothed in a magenta mantle, a grave
dignitary bearing aloft a silver cross. The golden coach
followed, drawn by six horses gorgeously caparisoned,
and within the smiling white-haired Pio Nono, scattering


his benedictions, while the multitude fell upon its knees
as one man. Such were the daily spectacles of coloured
pomp and of antique solemnity, which — so long as the
sun was shining, at any rate — dazzled the onlooker into
a happy forgetfulness of the reverse side of the Papal dis-
pensation — the nauseating filth of the highways, the
cattle stabled in the palaces of the great, and the fever
flitting through the ghastly tenements of the poor.

In St. Peter's, the North Transept had been screened
off; rows of wooden seats has been erected, covered with
Brussels carpet; and upon these seats sat, each crowned
with a white mitre, the seven hundred Bishops in Coun-
cil. Here all day long rolled forth, in sonorous Latin, the
interminable periods of episcopal oratory; but it was not
here that the issue of the Council was determined. The
assembled Fathers might talk till the marbles of St. Peter's
themselves grew weary of the reverberations; the fate of
the Church was decided in a very different manner — by
little knots of influential persons meeting quietly of a
morning in the back room of some inconspicuous lodging-
house, by a sunset rendezvous in the Borghese Gardens
between a Cardinal and a Diplomatist, by a whispered
conference in an alcove at a Princess's evening party, with

Online LibraryLytton StracheyEminent Victorians: Cardinal Manning, Florence Nightingale, Dr. Arnold, General Gordon → online text (page 7 of 25)