John Henry Newman.

Addresses to Cardinal Newman with his replies, etc., 1879-81 online

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naturally leads me on to one sad
thought, which you yourselves, to-
wards the end of your Address, have
suggested. A great Prelate has been
lately taken from us, to whose simple
faith and noble constancy in the cause
of the University it is owing that the
University maintains its place amid
the many obstacles by which its pro-
gress has been beset. I ever had the
greatest, the truest reverence for the
good Cardinal Cullen. I used to say
of him that his countenance had a


light upon it which made me feel as
if, during his many years at Rome,
all the saints of the Holy City had
been looking into it and he into
theirs. And I have cause to know
from the mouth of Pope Pius himself,
that on a very critical occasion, he
promptly, emphatically, and success-
fully, stood my friend. That was in
the year 1867. How sincere would
have been his congratulations to me
at this time ! I am deprived of them ;
but by thus expressing my sense of
my loss, I best relieve myself of the
pain of it.

I cannot bring these acknowledg-
ments to an end without tendering in
turn my congratulations to you that
the serious loss which you have lately
sustained by the elevation to the
Episcopate of my dear friend, your
Rector, who has laboured for the Uni-
versity so long and with such devo-
tion, has been so happily repaired by
the appointment in his place of an
Ecclesiastic whose antecedents are a
guarantee for its prosperous advance
in that enlarged field which is now
open to its activity and its usefulness.

And now, thanking you from a
full heart for your indulgence and
abundant kindness towards me, I will


make no further claim upon your
time, I subscribe myself, my dear
friends, with much respect, your de-
voted servant,


Oct. 28, 1879.


[Printed from the Cardinal's MS.]
January 27, 1880.

It was natural, my dear friends, when I
found myself honoured by your request to
preside at this great annual meeting of
Catholics, being aware that, according to cus-
tom, I should have to address them, that I
should be anxious to find some subject which
was both seasonable in itself and interesting
to my hearers.

But how could I hope to hit upon any
topic which had not been anticipated by those
who have preceded me in this chair ? It has
for more than twenty years been filled suc-
cessively by men conspicuous in various lines
of eminence ; by great ecclesiastics, by noble-
men and statesmen, by men of high position
and distinguished name, by country gentle-
men, by men of high talent or wide experi-
ence ; who have made this one of the most
remarkable Catholic gatherings in the country.
And these former Presidents have had the
pick of all subjects, and the judgment and
tact to select those which were most suitable
to the occasion. This reflection came to me
with great force, and I felt that it would
serve as my apology if I failed in finding a
subject equal to the duty which lay upon me.

However, I am not so badly off as it may
appear at first sight. The lapse of time is
itself a subject, and I shall find one to-night
far larger than I need, nay, one which rather
is embarrassing from its very largeness, if I
remind you of the circumstances under which


you began these social meetings, and the
great change which has taken place in our
condition as Catholics since then.

Not long before these annual gatherings
commenced, and close upon thirty years ago,
Catholics had suddenly become very unpopu-
lar, both in Birmingham and through the
whole country. I am not proposing to enter
into the history of an unhappy time. This
misfortune to us arose from a singular mis-
understanding, which Catholics would have
hindered by anticipation could they have con-
jectured that it would take place. It was
generally fancied that in some way or other
our authorities at Rome were conspiring to-
gether against the religious liberties of Eng-
land ; and that by appointing an English
Cardinal and English Bishops they intended
or hoped in some unjustifiable way or other
to propagate in this country the Catholic Re-
ligion. It was thought also to be a great
insult to the religion of the country not to
recognise that there was established here al-
ready a Christian Hierarchy, and that to set
up another as if in its stead was a great
offence. And, when the Government of the
day, or at least some very distinguished
statesmen, took the same view, the excitement
became extreme. We were thought very ill
of, and very unmindful of the tolerance al-
ready extended to us, and then, as it will
happen at such a time, all the old stories
against us were brought out anew and put
into circulation, and, as we have lasted 1800
years and the Protestant sects around us only
300, it need not surprise any one, if more
could be said by our enemies against us,
truths or falsehoods, exaggerations or mis-
statements, than could be said against them,
even if we tried; especially, since from our
very greatness we have had vastly more temp-
tations and opportunities to act wrongly than
they had had. And, since (bad luck for us)
we have never kept a register of Protestant
scandals, as our enemies had kept of ours,
and in consequence were in no condition to
show that what there had been evil or faulty
in times past in our body, was to be laid to
the charge, not of our religion, but of de-
praved human nature, we were at a great dis-
advantage, and even good and well-meaning


Protestants got to entertain a bad opinion of
us ; and a great prejudice, distrust, and dislike
of us was diffused through the country, and
an animosity leading in many cases both to
cruel and to violent acts.

Things are very different now with us, and
we have cause to be grateful to the inhabi-
tants of this great town that so it is. Not
that the ill-opinion of those among whom one
lives is the worst of trials there are others
far worse than it ; but words break no bones ;
and calumny is generally short - lived ; but,
though popular disfavour, if it does not go
further, is not an extraordinary trial, the good
opinion of others, their respect, their good
wishes, their sympathy, their kindness, is a
very great pleasure, a very great gain ; and
therefore I think it quite a point to be re-
membered and recorded, a matter for congrat-
ulating each other upon, and rejoicing in, so
far as we have it. And certainly there is a
very striking contrast in the sort of welcome
given by Englishmen to the late Cardinal
Wiseman when he came as Cardinal to Eng-
land in Michaelmas 1850 and their conduct
towards us at the present time.

The contrast is striking, and I may be
allowed perhaps to set before you one or two
causes of the change of which that contrast
is the evidence ; and in the remarks which I
am about to make, and especially in any
criticism I may incidentally pass on some
acts of my countrymen, I hope I may say
nothing which can be taken as inconsistent
with the true affection and esteem I feel for
them, or with my gratitude to that great
aggregate of ranks and classes which con-
stitute what is called the public, from whom,
though sometimes unfair to me, I have of
late years, and now again recently, received
such abounding marks of good-will.

First, the adverse sentiment was too violent,
too unjust, sometimes too extravagant to last.
No wonder there was so wide-spread an
alarm, and no wonder again it was of such
short continuance, when we recollect what it
was that was said about us. For instance, in
a village which I happened to know, it had
been prophesied even at an earlier date, that
if the Papists got the upper hand, the street
of the village would run with blood. A


statement of a less prodigious character, but
one far more cruel in its action on an un-
offending and defenceless class, came from a
high ecclesiastical quarter in the Establish-
ment, and was to the effect that Protes-
tant families would do well to be on their
guard against Catholic servants, for these
were spies on their masters and mistresses,
and told all that happened indoors to their

Such extreme sayings, and they were not
few, would necessarily lead to a reaction, and
thereby do us a service, though not so in-
tended ; and in fact in a little time the public
did begin to be ashamed of saying them and
believing them. Englishmen are a kind-
hearted people at bottom, when they have not
gone mad, which, alas, they do every now
and then. Accordingly, in a little time, after
passing an Act of Parliament against us, and
against the Catholics of Ireland, who had
nothing to do with the cause of the quarrel,
for they had had no need of a Hierarchy of
Bishops, having had one from time imme-
morial, after the Act of Parliament, I say,
they felt a satisfaction and relief, and calmed
down. And then a generous feeling came
over them, that perhaps they had been hard
upon us.

This is the first cause how we came to be
in happier relations with our countrymen now
than we were thirty years ago. It is an in-
stance of the operation of the psychological
law, that reaction of mind follows on great

. There was a second reason for a change
which followed close upon the first, and that
was the experience which came to the nation
as time went on, that after all, their alarm
somehow had been unnecessary. Their Act
of Parliament did not hinder us having
diocesan Bishops and Chapters, Cardinals and
Orders of religious men ; how could it ? it
could only hinder us using certain names,
calling our Bishops Bishops, and carrying out
the duties of our religion with certain
solemnities ; but Holy Church is intangible,
nor could they touch her children, unless
indeed they meant to proceed to actual perse-
cution. This they did not dream of; and
soon they made the second discovery that, as


they could not touch us, neither could we
touch them ; that we and they belonged to
different spheres of life, that their objects
were secular, and ours religious. I don't
mean to say that there could not be usurpa-
tions on our side or on theirs, but, while what
might be called a concordat was observed
between temporals and spirituals, there might
indeed be small collisions between the regale
and pontificate ; they might injure us in-
directly as by now and then troubling us by
their legislation, and we might employ our
civil rights in a way they did not like in the
interests of the rights of conscience, as other
religious bodies do ; but this was all ; there
was no reason for the grave prophecies of
danger, and the panic, fright, and the stringent
measures on the part of the executive and the
country, of which we had been the subjects
and the victims. We wished to live in peace
with our countrymen, and there was no reason
why they too should not be friendly, and
cherish good-will and act charitably towards

As time went on this was felt more and
more by candid minds, and even those who
had been prejudiced against us began to see
that there was no reason why the Church of
Rome should not have clergy for her people
in England, any more than that the Protes-
tant missionary bodies of England should
refrain from sending their clergy and ministers
to Africa or New Zealand, which is some-
times a great offence to the English Establish-
ment in foreign parts, and causes great
quarrels, as in Ceylon now.

But you may say that in thus speaking I
am not mending matters, because this was
just one of our greatest offences in the eyes
of our countrymen thirty years ago, viz., the
insult of proposing to convert Englishmen, as
if they were heathen, and such intention was
a great source of irritation. This was, I need
hardly say, a great misunderstanding, and
thus I am brought to what I consider to be
a third and most remarkable instrument in
the change of feeling in our favour which has
taken place of late years among Protestants.

That change has arisen in good part from
that very consequence which they anticipated
and so much dreaded, and which has actually


taken place, the conversions which have not
been few. Of course it would be very absurd
in us, and I may say, very wicked, if we said
that this was a heathen country, and needed
conversion as a heathen country needs it.
There is a wide-spread knowledge of Christi-
anity among us, a love of its main truths, a
zeal in their behalf, and an admirable prodig-
ality, as I may call it, of contributions in
furthering them. There are a great many
religious, a great many actively benevolent
men among Protestants. This is not incon-
sistent with our holding that they only know
half the Gospel, and, as we are sure that we
have the whole, not merely the half, this is a
good reason why we should wish to make
them Catholics, even though they be not
heathen. We never conceal that we would
make them Catholics if we could by fair and
honest means ; on the other hand, it is but
natural that they should oppose us, be angry
with us, and be afraid of us. True, but what
I wish to show, and what I believe to be the
remarkable fact is, that, whereas there have
been many conversions to the Catholic
Church during the last thirty years, and a
great deal of ill-will felt towards us in con-
sequence, nevertheless that ill-will has been
overcome, and a feeling of positive goodwill
has been created instead, in the minds of our
very enemies by means of those conversions
which they feared from their hatred of us;
and I will say how. The Catholics in Eng-
land fifty years ago were an unknown sect
among us ; now, there is hardly a family but
has brothers, or sisters, or cousins, or con-
nections, or friends and acquaintances, or
associates in business or work, of that re-
ligion ; not to mention the large influx of
population from the sister Island ; and such an
interpenetration of Catholics with Protestants,
especially in our great cities, could not take
place without there being a gradual accumula-
tion of experience, slow indeed, but there-
fore the more sure, about individual Catholics,
and what they really are in character, and
whether or not they can be trusted in the
concerns and intercourse of life. And I fancy
that Protestants, spontaneously and before
setting about to form a judgment, have
found them to be men whom they could be


drawn to like and to love, quite as much as
their fellow Protestants might be; to be
human beings in whom they could be in-
terested and sympathise with, and interchange
good offices with, before the question of re-
ligion came into consideration. Perhaps they
even got into intimacy and fellowship with
some one of them before they knew he was a
Catholic, for religious convictions in this day
do not show themselves in a man's exterior,
and then, when their minds turned back on
their existing prejudices against the Catholic
religion, it would be forced on them that
that hated creed at least had not destroyed
what was estimable and agreeable in him, or
at least that he was a being with human
affections and human tastes, whatever might
be his inner religious convictions. Perhaps,
the particular specimen of a Catholic whom I
have supposed, might only go half way in
possessing this sort of ethical appeal to the
goodwill of others, or a quarter way, but he
would have enough to destroy their imaginary
notions of what a Catholic, and much more,
a priest, must be, and to make short work,
once and for all, of that Guy Faux or Duke
of Alva sort of Papist who hitherto stood in
their minds for the normal representative of
a Roman Catholic.

I have been speaking of those ordinary and
visible traits of character, of what is human
merely, what is social in personal bearing,
which, as a moral magnetism, unites men to
each other ; of those qualities which are the
basis, the sine qua non of a political com-
munity; of those qualities which may be ex-
pressed by the word "neighbourly;" and I
say that Roman Catholics, as a body, are, to
say the least, quite as neighbourly as Protes-
tants, as attractive, as capable of uniting in
civil society; and I say that in consequence
their multiplication in England, by making
them visible, tangible, sensible, must, as an
inevitable consequence, create a more kindly
feeling to them than has existed hitherto, and
it has; I have not spoken of social virtues
such as make a man respected and honoured,
for that was not necessary for my purpose,
though, whatever our failings may be as sons
of Adam, I trust that at least we do not fall
below that standard which is received in our



Country as the condition of a good name.
And I might have enlarged on this, that,
much as members of a Protestant country
may dislike their relations being converted to
a religion not their own, and angry as they
may be with them at first, yet, as time goes
on, they take their part when others speak
against them, and anyhow feel the cruelty
as well as the baseness of the slanders circu-
lated against Catholics, when those slanders
include those dear to them, and they are in-
dignant at the slanderer and feel tender to-
wards the slandered, from the very fact that
among the subjects of such calumnious treat-
ment are persons who, as their experience
tells them, so little deserve it.

And now, had time admitted, I might have
gone on to other distinct causes of the
change which I have taken for my subject;
but since this cannot be, I will content my-
self with referring to another kind of know-
ledge of Catholics, which has operated in
their favour, a knowledge not to any great
extent experimental and personal, but public,
coming to the population at large from
special witnesses, perhaps few, and only on
special occasions, and by means of the
periodical press and the trustworthy infor-
mants of whose testimony it is the vehicle.
And, as an instance of what I mean, I will
notice the great figure presented in this way
to the whole world by the late Pope Pius IX.
and its effect in favour of Catholics. This
surely is a fair and striking instance of know-
ledge of Catholics, telling in their favour. If
there is any representative of the Roman
Church, from whom Protestants ought to
shrink, it is her Head. In their theory, in
their controversial publications, in their tradi-
tions, the Pope is all that is bad. You know
the atrocious name they give him ; he is the
embodiment of evil, and the worst foe of the
Gospel. Then, as to Pope Pius IX., no one
could, both by his words and deeds, offend
them more. He claimed, he exercised, larger
powers than any other Pope ever did; he
committed himself to ecclesiastical acts bolder
than those of any other Pope ; his secular
policy was especially distasteful to English-
men; he had some near him who put into
print just that kind of gossip concerning him


which would put an Englishman's teeth on
edge ; lastly, he it was who, in the beginning
of his reign, was the author of the very
measure which raised such a commotion
among us ; yet his personal presence was of
a kind which no one could withstand. I
believe one special cause of the abatement
of the animosity felt towards us by our
countrymen was the series of tableaux, as
I may call them, brought before them in the
newspapers, of his receptions of visitors in the

His misfortunes indeed had something to
do with his popularity. The whole world felt
that he was shamefully used as regards his
temporal possessions ; no foreign power had
any right to seize upon his palaces, churches,
and other possessions; and the injustice
shown him created a wide interest in him ;
but the main cause of his popularity was the
magic of his presence, which was such as to
dissipate and utterly destroy the fog out of
which the image of a Pope looms to the
ordinary Englishman. His uncompromising
faith, his courage, the graceful intermingling
in him of the human and the divine, the
humour, the wit, the playfulness with which
he tempered his severity, his naturalness, and
then his true eloquence, and the resources he
had at command for meeting with appropriate
words the circumstances of the moment, over-
came those who were least likely to be over-
come. A friend of mine, a Protestant, a man
of practised intellect and mature mind, told
me to my surprise, that, at one of the Pope's
receptions at the Vatican he was so touched
by the discourse made by his Holiness to
his visitors, that he burst into tears. And
this was the experience of hundreds ; how
could they think ill of him or of his children
when his very look and voice were so ethical,
so eloquent, so persuasive ? Yet, I believe,
wonderful as was the mode and the effect
with which Pius IX. preached our holy Religion,
we have not lost by his being taken away.
It is not decorous to praise the living; it is
not modest to panegyrise those whom rather
one should obey ; but in the Successor of Pius
IX. I recognise a depth of thought, a tender-
ness of heart, a winning simplicity, a power
answering to his name, which keeps me from


lamenting that Pope Pius IX. is no longer here.
But I must cut short what has been already
too long, though I have not reached the end.
I will only say in conclusion, that, though
Englishmen are much more friendly to us as
individuals, I see nothing to make me think
that they are more friendly to our religion.
They do not indeed believe, as they once be-
lieved, that the religion is so irrational that
a man who professes it must be wanting
either in honesty or in wit ; but this is not
much to grant, for the great question remains,
to decide whether it is possible for a country
to continue any long time in the unnatural
position of thinking ill of a religion and
thinking well of believers in it. One would
expect that either dislike of the religion
would create an unfriendly feeling towards
its followers, or friendliness towards its
followers would ensure goodwill towards the
religion. How this problem will be solved is
one of the secrets of the future.


(Presented, April 10, 1880.)

A private preliminary meeting was held,
on March 28 (1879), at the residence of the
Right Hon. Lord O'Hagan, with the object of
originating a movement for presenting a testi-
monial from Ireland to Dr. Newman on his
investiture with the Sacred Purple. Amongst
those present were :

Lord Emly, Judge Flanagan, Alderman M'Swiney,
Piers White, Q.C., Very Rev. Dr. Molloy, D.D., Chief
Justice Morris, T. H. Burke, Under Secretary, E. D.
Gray, M.P., P. J. Kennan, C.B , Very Rev. Dr.
Woodlock, J. Lentaigne, C.B., W. Gernon, H. O'Hara,
Q.C., Sir J. Mackey, Charles Kennedy, Rev. A. Murphy,
S.J., Rev. N. Walsh, S.J., Canon M'Mahon, James
M'Cann, James Coffey, Q.C., James Monahan, Q.C.,
Sir R. Kane, Richard Martin, Chief Baron Palles,
George Morris, M.P., Very Rev. R. White, O.P., Very


Rev. Patrick O'Neill, Adm., Alderman Campbell, Canon
Murphy, R. D. Lyons, M.D., John O'Hagan, Q.C.,
George Waters, Q.C., P. Maxwell, R. P. Carson, Q.C.,

On the motion of the Commendatore
M'Swiney, Lord Emly was requested to pre-

Lord Emly, after explaining that Lord
O'Hagan was detained in London to hear
some appeal cases before the House of Lords,


" Ireland would be untrue to her traditions if
she did not manifest, in the most open and
practical manner, her devotional love to the
man who in every hour of trial has been the
most powerful defender of the faith who
only the other day silenced and overthrew the
great and eminent statesman who, having
written his name in the history of Ireland as
the greatest of her benefactors, unhappily
thought it his duty to attack him whom we
reverence as the representative of God upon
earth. These are the Catholic reasons which
appeal to us as a united people. But in ad-
dition to them, there are the special services
which Dr. Newman has rendered to the cause
of Catholic Education in Ireland. In this city,
year after year, as you will recollect, the rich
abundance of Dr. 'Newman's intellect was
given up to the great question of Irish Educa-
tion. And I am proud to remember that it
was at my place, at Tervoe, that many of
those immortal lectures of his, afterwards de-
livered at the Catholic University, were com-
posed. As Catholics and as Irishmen our duty
then is plain ; we must not be behindhand in
the great work."

Letters apologising for absence were read
from the following:

Lord O'Hagan, Dr. Cruise, Rev. Mr. Walsh, O.S.A.,

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