John Henry Newman.

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

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affiliated. They thought, moreover, that
your Eminence would prefer the exercises
in their ordinary simplicity, and to assist
at them as did the first Cardinals of the
Oratory, in whatever town they might be
staying, not so much as Princes of the
Church as sons of St. Philip. Had they
spoken, there are two points to which

* See pp. 32, 33.

26 1

they would wish particularly to refer.
Some thirty years since your Eminence
delivered a series of Lectures on the
position of Catholics in this land. Those
Lectures brought upon yourself anxiety,
trial, and suffering, lightened only by the
expressions of gratitude they called forth
throughout the world ; but the result of
those Lectures was to contribute materi-
ally to the improvement of the position
of Catholics in this land. There are many
audiences, intellectual and distinguished,
to whom you might have addressed your-
self, for your Eminence has only to speak
to be heard, but you preferred one
audience, and that nearer home, the
brotherhood of the Oratory of Birming-
ham, and the brothers of that Oratory
are associated with your name wherever
those Lectures are read. On a more
recent occasion, when the civil allegiance
of Catholics in this land was called in
question, your Eminence came forward
and met the challenge, and proved to the
satisfaction of our countrymen that, in the
conscience of every true Catholic, faith
and loyalty go hand in hand. Again, to
whom did your Eminence address your-
self ? To one from whose name you were
pleased to say you gained support to one
who is known by all, as the leader of the
Catholic laity in this land, but known to
us and loved by us in this Chapel from
his boyhood as a devoted brother of the
Oratory and a son of St. Philip to his


heart's core. The Brothers then beg leave
to return you their most sincere thanks
for giving them the privilege of your
presence and allowing them to hear your
voice. By all of us those words which
you have spoken will be valued with a
deep and special interest. But there are
many here who have heard that voice
from childhood many who were told by
parents, now no more, that your voice
first awoke in those parents' souls the
desire for the faith, and therefore by that
faith their children are now procured the
priceless heritage of the truth. I beg one
favour more from you, My Lord Cardinal,
before you depart, and that is that you
will grant us your blessing that so the
benediction of the Patriarch may descend
upon the children, who will carry it and
the words you have spoken in their
memories to their lives' end.


(May 12, 1880.)

The First Half-Yearly Meeting for 1880
of the Catholic Union of Great Britain was
held at Willis's Rooms on Wednesday, the
12th of May ; His Grace the Duke of Norfolk,
E.M., President, in the chair.

* For the previous proceedings (Spring, 1879) of the
Catholic Union, see pp. 76-87.

i For the Presentation of the Testimonial from Aus-
tralia, see p. 275.

About three hundred members were present,
of whom the following gave their names :

The Earl of Denbigh, the Earl of Ashburnham, the
Earl of Gainsborough, the Lord Braye, the Lord
Arundell of Wardour, the Lord Stafford, the Viscount
Bury, the Lord Herries, the Lord Lovat, Lord
Edmund Talbot, Sir George Bowyer, Sir H. Beding-
feld, Sir R. H. Pollen, Sir Reginald Barnewall, the
Count Stuart d'Albanie, Sir Charles Clifford, Hon. W.
North, Hon. F. Stonor, Major-General Patterson, Mr.
Charles Langdale, Mr. T. W. Allies, Mr. St. George
Mivart, F.R.S., Mgr. Carter, Canon Macmullen, Rev.
Fr. Coleridge, Canon Drinkwater, Rev. J. F. Knox,
Admiral Jerningham, Mr. J Hasslacher, Mr. A. Gerard,
Mr. J. E. Doyle, Mr. J. G. Kenyon, Mr. G. Goldie, Mr.
R. Wilson, Mr. H. Gosselin, Col. Butler, C.B., Mr. R.
Davey, Mr. Watts, Rev. P. W. Dromgoole, Rev. W.
Davey, Rev. A. Burns, Mr. L. J. B. Dolan, Mr. Edwin
de Lisle, Mr. J. Bradney, Major Gape, Mr. Allen
Fennings, Mr. E. E. Sass, Mr. J. W. D. Mather, Dr.
Fincham, Rev. Reg. Tuke, Mr. H. Wheeler, Canon
Rymer, Mr. J. V. Harting, Mr. R. Ward, Mr. Reg.
Reynolds, Mr. H. Rymer, Mr. J. G. Sutcliffe, Mr. S. J.
Nicholl, Mr. Francis Kerr, Mr. O. Seagar, Canon Butt,
Mr. E. Walford, Mr. L. Bowring, Mr. E. De Poix,
Mr. L. P. Casella, Mr. E. L. Aves, Mr. W. F.
Mylius, Captain Jones, Mr. E. Meynell, Major Trevor,
Mr. A. Blount, Major W. Fletcher Gordon, Mr. S.
Ward, Mr. Lewis H. Perry, Mr. Charles Stonor, Mr.
Richard Mills, Mr. T. Longueville, Mr. E. Trevelyan
Smith, Mr. Osmund Lambert, Mr. R. B. Woodward,
Mr. J. H. Lilly, Mr. H. J. Lescher, Mr. M. Ellison,
Mr. E. Gresham Wells, Mr. Daniel O'Connell, Mr. G.
S. Lane-Fox, Canon Bamber, Mr. Henry Matthews,
Q.C., Mr. F. R. Wegg-Prosser, Mgr. Croskell, Rev. F.
H. Laing, Mr. Charles Kent, Canon Moore, Mr. Thos.
Walmesley, Rev. Fr. Bowden, Rev. Fr. Gordon, Rev.
Fr. Antrobus, Very Rev. G. Akers, Mr. J. Hansom.
Mr. C. A. Buckler, Mr. G. Elliot Ranken, Rev. J.

Letters of apology were received from the Marquis
of Ripon, Lord Petre, and Lord Henry Kerr.

The President: As I am quite sure that
you will not welcome many words from me
upon an occasion when an address is expected
from one who is so much more worthy, in
every way, of your attention, I shall content
myself, before resigning the chair, with ex-


plaining the reasons why this meeting has
been postponed from the ordinary date. It
should have been held, as no doubt you are
aware, last February, but His Eminence
Cardinal Newman, who had been asked to
address the Union, found it inconvenient
to attend then. The meeting was therefore
postponed until April, and then the dissolution
of Parliament having caused the absence from
town of many members of the Union who
were most anxious to hear and meet His
Eminence, a further postponement until the
present date was resolved upon. In taking
this course, the Council and myself have
acted, I am afraid, somewhat in excess of the
powers given us by the Rules ; but we felt
convinced that the general body of the
members would condone and forgive that
which has occurred in consideration of the
cause to which it is due. (Cheers.) . . .

His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, on re-
suming the chair as President, thanked the
members for again electing him to it, and
proceeded to call upon His Eminence Cardinal
Newman to address the meeting, as he had
graciously consented to do, in compliance
with a request from the Council.


The Conversion of England to the Catholic

[Printed from copy of his MS.]

" When I say to you, gentlemen, that
the question to which I shall ask your
attention bears upon the subject of the
conversion of England to the Catholic Faith,
you will think, perhaps, I am venturing with-
out necessity upon difficult and dangerous
ground difficult because it relates to the
future, and dangerous from the offence which
it may possibly give to our Protestant


brethren. But a man must write and speak
on such matters as interest and occupy his
mind. At the time when you paid me the
great compliment of asking me to address
you, you were aware who it was that you
were asking. You were aware what I could
attempt and what I could not attempt ; and I
claim in consequence and I know I shall
obtain your indulgence in case you should be
dissatisfied, whether with my subject or with
my mode of treating it. However, I am not
going to consider the prospect of this country
becoming Catholic, but to inquire what we
mean when we speak of praying for its con-
version. I cannot, indeed, say anything
which will strike you as new, for to be new
is to be paradoxical ; and yet if I can bring
out what is in my mind, I think something
may be said upon the subject. Now, of
course it is obviously an act of both simple
charity and religious duty on our part to use
our privilege of intercession on behalf of our
own people of charity, if we believe our
religion is true, and that there is only one
true religion ; and of strict religious duty in
the case of English Catholics, because such
prayer has been expressly enjoined upon them
by ecclesiastical authority. There is a third
reason, which comes to us all accompanied
with very touching and grateful reminiscences.
Our martyrs in the sixteenth century, and
their successors and representatives in the
times which followed, at home and abroad,
hidden in out-of-the-way nooks and corners
of England, or exiles and refugees in foreign
countries, kept up a tradition of continuous
fervent prayer for their dear England down
almost to our own day, when it was taken up
as if from a fresh beginning. It was a fresh
start on the part of a holy man, Father
Spencer of the Passion, himself a convert,
who made it his very mission to bring into
shape a system of prayer for the conversion
of his country, and we know what hardships,
mortifications, slights, insults, and disappoint-
ments he underwent for this object. We
know, too, how in spite of this immense dis-
couragement, or rather I should say by means
of it (for trial is the ordinary law of Pro-
vidence), he did a great work great in its
success. That success lies in the visible fact


of the conversions that have been so abun-
dant among us since he entered upon his
evangelical labour, coupled as it is with the
general experience which we all have in the
course of life of the wonderful answers which
are granted to persevering prayer. Nor must
we forget, while we bless the memory of his
charity, that such a religious service was one
of the observances which he inherited from
the Congregation which he had joined,
though he had begun it before he was one of
its members ; for St. Paul of the Cross, its
founder, for many years in his Roman mona-
stery had the conversion of England in his
special prayers. Nor, again, must we forget
the great aid which Father Spencer found
from the first in the zeal of Cardinal Wise-
man, who not only drew up a form of prayer
for England for the use of English Catholics,
but introduced Father Spencer's object to the
Bishops of France, and gained for us the
powerful intercession of an affectionate people,
who in my early days were considered in this
country to be nothing else than our natural
enemies. The experience, then, of what has
actually come of prayer for our country in this
and the foregoing generation is a third reason,
in addition to the claim of charity and the
duty of obedience, for steadily keeping up an
observance which we have inherited. And
now, after this introduction, let us consider
what it is we ask for when we ask for the
conversion of England. Do we mean the
conversion of the State, or of the nation, or
of the people, or of the race ? Of which of
these, or of all of these together ; for there is
an indistinctness in the word * England ' ?
And again, a conversion from what to what ?
This, too, has to be explained. Yet I think
that at all times, whether in the sixteenth
century or the nineteenth, those who have
prayed for it have mainly prayed for the same
thing. That is, I think they have ever meant,
first, by conversion, a real and absolute appre-
hension and acknowledgment, with an in-
ternal assent and consent, of the Catholic
Creed as true, and an honest acceptance of
the Catholic Roman Church as its divinely
ordained exponent ; and, next, by England,
the whole population of England, every man,
woman, and child in it. Nothing short of


this ought to satisfy the desire of those who
pray for the conversion of England. So far
our martyrs and confessors, and their sur-
roundings of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and
later centuries, are at one with each other ;
but so abstract an object is hardly all they
prayed for. They prayed for something con-
crete, and so did we ; but as times and cir-
cumstances have changed, so has what is
possible, desirable, assignable changed as re-
gards the objects of their and our prayers. It
must be recollected that the sixteenth and
following centuries have been a period of
great political movements and international
conflicts, and with those movements and con-
flicts, and their issues, religion has been in-
timately bound up. To pray for the triumph
of religion was in times past to pray for the
success in political and civil matters of certain
Sovereigns, Governments, parties, nations. So
it was in the fourth century, when Julian at-
tempted to revive and re-establish Paganism.
To pray for the Church then was to pray for
the overthrow of Julian. And so in England
Catholics in the sixteenth century would pray
for Mary, and Protestants for Elizabeth. But
those times are gone ; Catholics do not
now depend for the success of their religion
on the patronage of Sovereigns at least in
England and it would not help them much
if they gained it. Indeed, it is a question if
it succeeded here in England even in the
sixteenth century. Queen Mary did not do
much for us. In her short reign she per-
mitted acts, as if for the benefit of Catholics,
which were the cause, the excuse, for terrible
reprisals in the next reign, and have stamped
on the minds of our countrymen a fear and
hatred of us, viewed as Catholics, which at
the end of three centuries is as fresh and
keen as it ever was. Nor did James II. do
us any good in the next century by the exer-
cise of his regal power. The event has
taught us not to look for the conversion of
England to political movements and changes,
and in consequence not to turn our prayers
for it in that direction. At a time when
priests were put to death or forced out of
the country if they preached or said Mass,
there was no other way open for conversion
but the allowance or sanction of the Govern-


ment. It was as natural, therefore, then to
look for political intervention, to pray for the
success of dynasties, of certain heirs or
claimants to thrones, of parties, of popular
insurrections, of foreign influence, on behalf
of Catholic England, as it would be pre-
posterous and idle to do so now. I think the
best favour which Sovereigns, Parliaments,
municipalities, and other political powers can
do us is to let us alone. Yet, though we
cannot, as sensible men, because times have
changed, pray for the cause of the Catholic
religion among us with the understanding
and intention of those who went before us,
still, besides what they teach us ethically as
to perseverance amid disappointment, I think
we may draw two lessons from their mode of
viewing the great duty of which I am speak-
ing lessons which we ought to lay to heart,
and from which we may gain direction for
ourselves. And on these I will say a few
words. And first, they suggest to us that in
praying for the conversion of England we
ought to have, as they had, something in view
which may be thrown into the shape of an
object, present or immediate. An abstract
idea of conversion a conversion which is to
take place some day or other, without any
conception of what it is to be and how it is
to come about is, to my mind, very unsatis-
factory. I know, of course, that we must
ever leave events to the Supreme Disposer
of all things. I do not forget the noble lines,

Still raise for good the supplicating voice,

But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice.

But this great precept does not interfere
with our duty of taking pains to understand
what we pray for what our prayer definitely
means ; for the question is not what we shall
get, but for what we shall ask. The views of
our predecessors were clear enough ; on the
other hand, a want of distinctness is not
only unjust to our object, but is very likely
very apt to irritate those for whom we pray,
as if we had in mind some secret expedients
and methods against them, or else as if we
were giving expression to a feeling of
superiority and compassion about them, and
thus betaking ourselves to the only resource
left to men who have been beaten in argu-


ment. Certainly those who prayed for the
accession of Mary Tudor or Mary Stuart to
the throne of England did not lay them-
selves open to this charge. They were
definite enough in their petitions, and would
have been quite satisfied with ordinary* acts
of Providence in their favour, such as form
the staple of the world's history. And this is
the point as to which, I think, they give us
a second lesson for our own profit. I con-
sider, then, that when we pray we do not
ask for miracles, and that this limitation of our
prayers is neither a prescribing to Divine
mercy nor any want of faith. I do not forget
the displeasure of the prophet Eliseus with the
King of Israel, who smote the ground only
three times with his arrow instead of more
times. ' If thou hadst smitten five, six, or
seven times,' says the prophet ' then thou
hadst smitten Syria, even to utter destruction ;
but now three times shalt thou smite it ; '
but in this case there is no question of
miracles. Nor will it be to the purpose to
refer to the parable of the importunate widow,
for that has nothing to do with miracles
either. What I would urge is this ; the
Creator acts by a fixed rule, which we call a
system of laws, and ordinarily, and on the
whole, He honours and blesses His own ordin-
ance, and acts through it, and we best honour
Him when we follow His guidance in looking
for His presence where He has lodged it.
Moreover, what is very remarkable, even when
it is His will to act miraculously even when
He oversteps His ordinary system He is wont
to do honour to it while overstepping it.
Sometimes, indeed, He directly contradicts
His own laws, as in raising the dead; but
such rare acts have their own definite pur-
pose, which make them necessary for their
own sake ; but for the most part His miracles
are rather what may be called exaggerations,
or carrying out to an extreme point, of the
laws of Nature, than naked contrarieties to
them ; and if we would see more of His
wonder-working hand we must look for it as
thus mixed up with His natural appointments.
As Divine aid given to the soul acts through
and with natural reason, natural affection,
and conscience, so miraculous agency, when
exerted, is in many, nay, in most cases, a


co-operation with the ordinary ways of
physical nature. As an illustration, I may
take the division of the waters of the Red
Sea at the Word of Moses. This was a
miracle, yet it was effected with the in-
strurnentality of a natural cause, acting
according to its nature, but at the same time
beyond it. * When Moses,' says the sacred
writer, 'had stretched forth .his hands over
the sea, the Lord took it away by a strong
and burning wind blowing all the night and
turned it into dry ground.' The coincidence
that it happened at so critical a time and in
answer to prayers, and then the hot wind's
abnormal and successful action all this makes
it a miracle, but still it is a miracle co-
operating with the laws of Nature, and
recognising them while it surpasses them.
If the Almighty thus honours His own
ordinances, we may well honour them, too ;
and, indeed, this is commonly recognised as
a duty by Catholics in medical cases, not to
look to miracles until natural means had
failed. I do not say that they neglect this
rule in regard to their prayers for conversions,
but they have not it before their minds so
consistently and practically. For instance,
prayers for the conversion of given individuals,
however unlikely to succeed, are, in the case
of their relations, friends, benefactors, and the
like, obviously a sacred duty. St. Monica
prayed for her son ; she was bound to do so.
Had he remained in Africa he might have
merely exchanged one heresy for another. He
was guided to Italy by natural means, and
was converted by St. Ambrose. It was by
hoping against hope, by perseverance in
asking, that her request was gained, that
her reward was wrought out. However,
I conceive the general rule of duty is
to take likely objects of prayer, not un-
likely objects, about whom we know little
or nothing. But I have known cases when
good Catholics have said of a given Pro-
testant, 'We will have him,' and that with a
sort of impetuosity, and as if, so to say, they
defied Providence, and which have always re-
minded me of that doctrine of the Hindoo
theology represented in Southey's poem that
prayers and sacrifices had a compulsory force
on the Supreme Being, as if no implicit act


of resignation were necessary in order to make
our intercession acceptable. If, then, I am
asked what our predecessors in the faith, were
they on earth, would understand now by pray-
ing for the conversion of England, as two or
three centuries ago they understood by it the
success of those political parties and those
measures with which that conversion was
bound up, I answer that they would contem-
plate an object present, immediate, concrete,
and in the way of Providence, and it would
be, if worded with strict correctness, not the
conversion of England to the Catholic Church,
but the growth of the Catholic Church in
England. They would expect, again, by their
prayers nothing sudden, nothing violent, noth-
ing evidently miraculous, nothing inconsistent
with the free will of our countrymen, nothing
out of keeping with the majestic march and
slow but sure triumph of truth and right in
this turbulent world. They would look for
the gradual, steady, and sound advance of
Catholicity by ordinary means, and issues
which are probable, and acts and proceedings
which are good and holy. They would pray
for the conversion of individuals, and for a
great many of them, and out of all ranks and
classes, and those especially who are in faith
and devotion nearest to the Church, and seem,
if they do not themselves defeat it, to be the
objects of God's election ; for a removal from
the public mind of prejudice and ignorance
about us ; for a better understanding in all
quarters of what we hold and what we do
not hold; for a feeling of good-will and
respectful bearing in the population towards
our bishops and priests ; for a growing
capacity in the educated classes of entering
into a just appreciation of our characteristic
opinions, sentiments, ways, and principles ;
and in order to effect all this, for a blessing
on our controversialists, that they may be
gifted with an abundant measure of prudence,
self-command, tact, knowledge of men and
things, good sense, candour, and straightfor-
wardness, that their reputation may be high
and their influence wide and deep ; and, as a
special means and most necessary for our
success, for a larger increase in the Catholic
body of brotherly love and mutual sympathy,
unanimity, and high principle, for rectitude of


conduct and purity of life. I could not have
selected a more important subject to bring
before you ; but in proportion to my sense of
its importance is my consciousness that it de-
serves a treatment far superior to that which
I have given it. I have done as well as I
could, though poor is the best."

The Earl of Gainsborough : I have been
suddenly called upon to move a resolution
which I know you will willingly respond
to. ... The resolution which I have to move
is this : " That the best thanks of the Catholic
Union of Great Britain be respectfully offered
to Cardinal Newman for the honour His
Eminence has conferred upon the Union on
this occasion". (Great applause.)

Canon Macmullen : I feel that no speech
of mine is necessary to recommend to this
meeting the resolution which the Earl of
Gainsborough has proposed and which I have
been called upon by His Grace the President
to support. Cardinal Newman's voice has
carried me back to years that have long
passed away; years when, from week to
week, I enjoyed the blessedness of hearing
those words of His Eminence from the pulpit
of St. Mary's, Oxford, by which my mind was
first awakened to the truths of the Catholic
religion and guided on to the Catholic Church.
That time has come back to me in all its
vividness during the last half-hour, and I think
of it with feelings of the profoundest gratitude
to him, which no lapse of years can weaken,
and which no language can adequately de-
scribe. It is extremely gratifying to me, as it
must be to all of us this afternoon, to find
that even the physical power of His Emi-
nence's voice remains so unimpaired. Time
must no doubt have, to some extent, weakened
it, but it still retains not only all its old
sweetness, but its moral and spiritual influ-
ence. We all know in how many instances

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