John Henry Newman.

A letter addressed to His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, on occasion of Mr. Gladstone's recent expostulation online

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Antlorizea Wm Price Filly Cents.



■ \ ■


His Grace the Duke of Nofc&lk,










9 Warren Street.


SOT $>SH£S&<

I The Vatican Decrees and Civil Allegiance. By His

Grace Arcfchfoftop Manning.
t3g~ The above f 6rk will be printed from advance sheets.

IL The Oflkeof Holy Week, according to the Roman Missal
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IH tflte Mistress of Novices enlightened upon her Duties. .

Translated by a Sister of Mercy. Cloth, . . - 1 50
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SACRUM SEPPENARIUM; or, The Seven Gifts of the Holy |
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The Catholic Publication Society,

a WRENCE KEHOE, Gen. Agent, 9 WARREN ST., N. Y. I



His Grace the Duke of Norfolk,


Mr. Gladstone's Recent Expostulation.




• • •

•••• • • . • •

• • . •

9 Warren Street.


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» • • •

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Hereditary Earl Marshal of England,
Etc., Etc.


My Dear Duke of Norfolk:

When I* yielded to the earnest wish which you, to-
gether with many others, urged upon me, that I should
reply to Mr.' Gladstone's recent Expostulation, a friend
suggested that I ought to ask your Grace's permission
to address my remarks to you. Not that for a moment
he or I thought of implicating you, in any sense or
measure, in a responsibility which is solely and entire-
ly my own ; but on a very serious occasion, when such
heavy charges had been made against the Catholics of
England by so powerful and so earnest an adversary, it
seemed my duty, in meeting his challenge, to gain the
support, if I could, of a name which is the special re-
presentative and the fitting sample of a laity, as zealous
for the Catholic religion as it is patriotic.

You consented with something of the reluctance
which I had felt myself when called upon to write ; for

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it was hard to be summoned at any age, early or late,
from a peaceful course of life and the duties of one's
station, to a scene of war. Still, you consented ; and,
for myself, it is the compensation for a very unpleasant
task, that I, who belong to a generation that is fast flit-
ting away, am thus enabled, in what is likely to be my
last publication, to associate myself with one, on many-
accounts so dear to me, — so full of young promise —
whose career is before him*.

/ I deeply grieve that Mr. Gladstone has felt it his
*duty to speak with such extraordinary severity of our
Religion and of ourselves. I consider he has committed
himself to a representation of ecclesiastical documents
which will not hold, and to a view of our position in
the country which we have neither deserved nor can be
patient under. None but the Schola Theolbgorum is
competent to determine the force of Papal and Synodal
utterances, and the exact interpretation of them is a
work of time. But so much may be safely said of the
decrees which have lately been promulgated, and of the
faithful w T ho have received them, that Mr. Gladstone's
account, both of them and of us, is neither trustworthy
nor charitable.

Yet not a little may be said in explanation of a step,
which so many of his admirers and well-wishers de-
plore. I own to a deep, feeling, that Catholics may in
good measure thank themselves, and no one else, for
having alienated from them so religious a mind. There
are those among us, as it must be confessed, who for
years past have conducted themselves as if no responsi-
bility attached to wild words and overbearing deeds ;
who have stated truths in the most paradoxical form,

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and stretched principles till they were close upon snap-
ping ; and who at length, having done their best to set
the house on fire, leave to others the task of putting
out the flame. The English people are sufficiently
sensitive of the claims of the Pope, without having
them, as if in defiance, flourished in their faces. Those
claims most certainly I am not going to deny ; I have
never denied them. I have no intention, now that I
have to write upon them, to conceal any part of them.
And I uphold them as heartily as I recognize my duj:y
of loyalty to the constitution, the laws, and the gov-
ernment of England. I see no inconsistency in my \
being at once a good Catholic and a good Englishman. *
Yet it is one thing to be able to satisfy myself as to
my consistency, quite another to satisfy others ;
and, undisturbed as I am in my own conscience,
I have great difficulties in the task before me. I have
one difficulty to overcome in the present excitement of
the public mind against our Religion, caused partly by
the chronic extravagances of. knots of Catholics here
and there, partly by the vehement rhetoric which is the
occasion of my writing to you. A worse difficulty lies
in getting people, as they are commonly found, to put
off the modes of speech and language which are usual
with them, and to enter into scientific distinctions and
traditionary rules of interpretation, which, as being new
to them, appear evasive and unnatural. And a third •
difficulty, as I may call it, is this— that in so very wide
a subject, opening so great a variety of questions, and
of opinions upon them, while it will be simply necessary
to take the objections made against us and our faith,
one by one, readers may think me trifling with their

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patience, because they do not find those points first
dealt with, on which they lay most stress themselves.

But I have said enough by way of preface ; and
without more delay turn to Mr. Gladstone's pamphlet.

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§ i. Introductory Remarks. i

The main question which Mr. Gladstone has started
I consider to be this : — Can Catholics be trustworthy *
subjects of the State ? has not a foreign Power a hold
over their consciences such, that it may at any time be
used to the serious perplexity and injury of the civil
government under which they live ? Not that Mr.
Gladstone confines himself to these questions, for he
goes out of his way, I am sorry to say, to taunt us with
our loss of mental and moral freedom, a vituperation
which is not necessary for his purpose at all. He
informs us too that we have " repudiated ancient his-
tory," and are rejecting" modern thought," and that
our Church has been " refurbishing her rusty tools,"
and has been lately aggravating, and is likely still more
to aggravate, our state of bondage. I think it unwor-
thy of Mr. Gladstone's high character thus to have
inveighed against us ; what intellectual manliness is
left to us, according to him ? yet his circle of acquaint-
ance is too wide, and his knowledge of his countrymen
on the other hand top accurate, for him not to know
that he is bringing a great amount of odium and bad
feeling upon excellent men, whose only offence is their
religion. The more intense is the prejudice with
which we are regarded by whole classes of men, the less
is there of generosity in his pouring upon us superflu-
ous reproaches. The graver the charge, which is the
direct occasion of his writing against us, the more care-
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8 Introductory Remarks.

ful should he be not to prejudice judge and jury to our
disadvantage. No rhetoric is needed in England
against an unfortunate Catholic at anytime; but so
little is Mr. Gladstone conscious of his treatment of us
that in one place of his Pamphlet, strange as it may
seem, he makes -it his boast that he has been careful to
" do nothing towards importing passion into what is
matter of pure argument/' pp. 15, 16. I venture to
^think he will one day be sorry for what he has said.

tlowever, we must take things as we find them ;
and what I propose to do is this : to put aside, unless
it comes directly in my way, his accusation against
us of repudiating ancient history, rejecting modern
thought, and renouncing our mental freedom, and to
confine myself for the most part to what he principally
insists upon, that Catholics, if they act consistently
with their principles, cannot "be loyal subjects. I shall
not, however, omit notice of his attack upon our moral

The occasion and the grounds of Mr. Gladstone's
impeachment of us, if I understand him, are as follows :
— He was alarmed, as a statesman, ten years ago by the
Pope's Encyclical of December 8, and by the Syllabus
of Erroneous Propositions which, by the Pope's au-
thority, accompanied its transmission to the bishops.
Then came the Definitions of the Vatican Council in
1870, upon the universal jurisdiction and doctrinal in-
fallibility of the Pope. And lastly, as the event which
turned alarm into indignation, and into the duty of
public remonstrance, " the Roman Catholic Prelacy of
Ireland thought fit to procure the rejection of " the.
Irish University Bill of February, 1873, " by the direct

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Introductory Remarks. 9

influence which they exercised over a certain number
of Irish Members of Parliament, etc.," p. 60. This
step on the part of the bishops showed, if I understand
him, the new and mischievous force which had been
acquired at Rome by the late acts there, or at least
left him at liberty, by causing his loss of power, to de-
nounce it. " From that time forward the situation
was changed/' and an opening was made for a " broad
political discussion " on the subject of the Catholic re-
ligion and its professors, and " a debt to the country
ljad to be disposed of." That debt, if I am right, will
be paid, ii he can ascertain, on behalf of the country,
that there is nothing in the Catholic Religion to hinder
its professors from being as loyal as other subjects of
the State, and that the See of Rome cannot interfere
with their civil duties so as to give the civil power
trouble or alarm. The main ground on which he relies
for the necessity of some such inquiry is, first, the text
of the authoritative documents of 1864 and 1870; next,
and still more, the ammus which they breathe, and the
sustained aggressive spirit which they disclose ; and,
thirdly r the daring deed of aggression in 1873, when
the Pope, acting (as it is alleged) upon the Irish Mem-
bers of Parliament, succeeded in ousting from their seats
a ministry who, besides past benefits, were at that very
time doing for Irish Catholics, and therefore ousted for
doing, a special service.

Now, it would be preposterous and officious in me
to put myself forward as champion for the Venerable
Prelacy of Ireland, or to take upon myself the part of
advocate and representative of the Holy See. " Non
tali auxilio " ; in neither character could I come forward

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i a Introductory Remarks.

without great presumption ; not the least for this
reason, because I cannot know the exact points which
are really the gist of the affront, which Mr. Gladstone
conceives he has sustained, whether from the one
quarter or from the other ; yet in a question so nearly
interesting myself as that February bill, which he
brought into the House, in great sincerity and kindness,
for the benefit of the Catholic University in Ireland, I
may be allowed to say thus much — that I, who now
have no official relation to the Irish Bishops, and am
not in any sense in the counsels of Rome, felt at once,
when I first saw the outline of that bill, the greatest
astonishment on reading one of its provisions, and a
dread which painfully affected me, lest Mr. Gladstone
perhaps was acting on an understanding with the Ca-
tholic Prelacy. I did not see how in honour they could
accept it. It was possible, did the question come over
again, to decide in favor of the Queen's Colleges, and
to leave the project of a Catholic University alone.
The Holy See might so have decided in 1847. But at
or about that date, three rescripts had come from Rome
in favor of a distinctively Catholic Institution ; a Na-
tional Council had decided in its favour ; large offers of
the Government had been rejected ; great commotions
had been caused in the political world, munificent con-
tributions had been made, all on the sole principle that
Catholic teaching was to be upheld in the country in-
violate. If, then, for the sake of a money grant, or
other secular advantage, this ground of principle was
deserted, and Catholic youths after all were allowed to
attend the lectures of men of no religion, or of the Pro-
testant, the contest of thirty ye?irs would have been stul-



Introductory Remarks. n

tified, and the Pope and the Bishops would seem to have
be9n playing a game, while putting forward the plea
of conscience and religious duty. I hoped that the
clause in the Bill, which gave me such uneasiness,
cauld have been omitted from it ; but, anyhow, it was
an extreme relief to me when the papers announced
that the Bishops had expressed their formal dissatis- ,
faction with it.

They determined to decline a gift laden with such
a condition, and who can blame them for so doing ?
who can be surprised that they should now do what
they did in 1847 ? what new move in politics was it, if
they so determined ? what was there in it of a fac-
tious character? Is the Catholic Irish interest the
only one which is not to be represented in the House
of Commons ? Why is not that interest as much a
matter of right as any other? I fear to expose my
own ignorance of Parliamentary rules and proceedings,
but I had supposed that the railway interest, and what
is called the publican interest, were very powerful there ;
in Scotland, too, I believe, a government has a formi-
dable party to deal with ; and, to revert to Ireland, there
are the Home-rulers, who have objects in view quite
distinct from, or contrary to v those of the Catholic
hierarchy. As to the Pope, looking at the surface of
things, there is nothing to suggest that he interfered,
there was no necessity of interference, on so plain a
point ; and, when an act can be sufficiently accounted
for without introducing an hypothetical cause, it is bad
logic to introduce it. Speaking according to my lights,
I altogether disbelieve the interposition of Rome in
the matter. In the proceedings which they adopted,


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12 Introductory Remarks.

the Bishops were only using civil rights, common to
all, which others also used and in their own way.
Why might it not be their duty to promote the inte-
rests of their religion by means of their political op-
portunities? Is there no Exeter Hall interest? I
thought it was a received theory of our Reformed
Constitution that Members of Parliament were repre-
sentatives, and in some sort delegates, of their consti-
tuents, and that the strength of each interest was
shown, and the course of the nation determined, by
the divisions in the House of Commons. I recollect
the Times intimating its regret, after one general elec-
tion, that there was no English Catholic in the new
House, on the ground that every class and party
should be represented there. Surely the Catholic reli-
gion has not a small party in Ireland ; why then should
it not have a corresponding number of exponents and
defenders at Westminster? So clear does this seem to
me, that I think there must be some defect in my
knowledge of facts to Explain Mr. Gladstone's surprise
and displeasure at the conduct of the Irish Prelacy in
1873 J y et I suspect none ; and, if there be none, then
his unreasonableness in this instance of Ireland makes
it not unlikely that he is unreasonable also in his
judgment of the Encyclical, Syllabus, and Vatican

However, the Bishops, I believe, not only opposed
Mr. Gladstone's bill, but, instead of it, they asked for
some money grant towards the expenses of their Uni-
versity. If so, their obvious argument was this — that
Catholics formed the great majority of the population
of Ireland, and it was not fair that the Protestant mi-

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Introductory Remarks. 13

nority should have all that was bestowed in endow-
ment or otherwise upon Education. To this the reply,
I suppose, would be, that it was not Protestantism but
liberal education that had the money, and that, if the
Bishops chose to give up their own principles and act
as Liberals, they might have the benefit of it too. I
am not concerned here with these arguments, but I
wish to notice the position which the Bishops would
occupy in urging such a request : — I must not say that
they were Irishmen first and Catholics afterwards, but
I do say that in such a demand they spoke not simply
as Catholic Bishops, but as the Bishops of a Catholic
nation. They did not speak from any promptings of
the Encyclical, Syllabus, or Vatican Decrees. They
claimed as Irishmen a share in the endowments of the
country ; and has not Ireland surely a right to speak
in such a matter, and might not her Bishops fairly
represent her? It seems to me a great mistake to
think that everything that is done by the Irish Bish-
ops and clergy is done on an ecclesiastical motive ;
why not on a national? but if so, such acts have no-
thing to do with Rome. I know well what simple
firm faith the great body of the Irish people have, and
how they put the Catholic Religion before anything
else in the world. It is their comfort, their joy, their
treasure, their boast, their compensation for a hundred
worldly disadvantages ; but who can deny that in poli-
tics their conduct at times — nay, more than at times —
has had a flavour rather of their nation than of their
Church ? Only in the last general election this was
said, when they were so earnest for Home Rule.
Why,- then, must Mr. Gladstone come down upon the


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14 Introductory Remarks.

Catholic Religion, because the Irish love dearly the
Green Island, and its interests? Ireland is not the
only country in which politics, or patriotism, or party
has been so closely associated with religion in the
nation or a class, that it is difficult to say which of the
various motive principles was uppermost. " The
Puritan/' says Macaulay, "prostrated himself in the
dust before his Maker, but he set his foot on the neclc
of his king." I am not accusing such a man of hypo-
crisy on account of this ; having great wrongs, as he
considered, both in religious and temporal matters, and
the authors of these distinct wrongs being the same
persons, he did not nicely discriminate between the
acts which he did as a patriot and the acts which he
did as a Puritan. And so as regards Irishmen, they
do not, cannot, distinguish between their love of Ire-
land and their love of religion ; their patriotism is
religious, and their religion is strongly tinctured with
patriotism ; and it is hard to recognize the abstract
and ideal Ultramontane, pure and simple, in the con-
crete exhibition of him in flesh and blood as found in
the polling booth or in his chapel. I do not see how
the Pope can be made answerable for him in any of
his political acts during the last fifty years.

This leads me to a subject, of which Mr. Gladstone
makes a good deal in his Pamphlet. I will say of a great
man, whom he quotes, and for whose memory I have a
great respect, I mean Bishop Doyle, that there was just
a little tinge of patriotism in the way in which, on one
occasion, he speaks of the Pope. I dare say any of us
would have done the same, in the heat of a great
struggle for national liberty, for he said nothing but

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Introductory Remarks. 15

what was true and honest ; I only mean that the ener-
getic language which he used was not exactly such as
would have suited the atmosphere of Rome. He says
to Lord Liverpool, " We are taunted with the pro-
ceedings of Popes. What, my Lord, have we Catho-
lics to do with the proceedings of Popes, or why should
we be made accountable for them ? " p. 27. Now, with
some proceedings of Popes, we Catholics have very
much to do indeed ; but, if the context of his words is
consulted, I make no doubt it will be found that he
was referring to certain proceedings of certain Popes,

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Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanA letter addressed to His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, on occasion of Mr. Gladstone's recent expostulation → online text (page 1 of 16)