John Henry Newman.

Apologia pro vita sua : being a history of his religious opinions online

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siorg of {is ^eltpus


Commit thy way to the Lord and trust in Him, and He will do it.
And He will bring forth thy justice as the light, and thy
judgment as the noon-day."








THE following History of my Religious Opinions,
now that it is detached from the context in which
it originally stood, requires some preliminary ex-
planation ; and that, not only in order to introduce
it generally to the reader, but specially to make
him understand, how I came to write a whole book
about myself, and about my most private thoughts
and feelings. Did I consult indeed my own im-
pulses, I should do my best simply to wipe out of
my Volume, and consign to oblivion, every trace of
the circumstances to which it is to be ascribed;
but its original title of " Apologia " is too exactly
borne out by its matter and structure, and these
again are too suggestive of correlative circum-
stances, and those circumstances are of too grave a
character, to allow of my indulging so natural a
wish. And therefore, though in this new Edition
I have managed to omit nearly a hundred pages of
my original Volume, which I could safely consider


to be of merely ephemeral importance, I am even
for that very reason obliged, by way of making up
for their absence, to prefix to my Narrative some
account of the provocation out of which it arose.

It is now more than twenty years that a vague
impression to my disadvantage has rested on the
popular mind, as if my conduct towards the Angli-
can Church, while I was a member of it, was incon-
sistent with Christian simplicity and uprightness,
An impression of this kind was almost unavoidable
under the circumstances of the case, when a man,
who had written strongly against a cause, and had
collected a party round him by virtue of such
writings, gradually faltered in his opposition to it,
unsaid his words, threw his own friends into per-
plexity and their proceedings into confusion, and
ended by passing over to the side of those whom
he had so vigorously denounced. Sensitive then
as I have ever been of the imputations which have
been so freely cast upon me, I have never felt much
impatience under them, as considering them to be
a portion of the penalty which I naturally and
justly incurred by my change of religion, even
though they were to continue as long as I lived.
I left their removal to a future day, when personal
feelings would have died out, and documents would
see the light, which were as yet buried in closets
or scattered through the country.

This was my state of mind, as it had been for


many years, when, in the beginning of 1864, I
unexpectedly found myself publicly put upon my
defence, and furnished with an opportunity of plead'
ing my cause before the world, and, as it so hap-
pened, with a fair prospect of an impartial hearing.
Taken indeed by surprise, as I was, I had much
reason to be anxious how I should be able to acquit
myself in so serious a matter ; however, I had long
had a tacit understanding with myself, that, in the
improbable event of a challenge being formally
made to me, by a person of name, it would be my
duty to meet it. That opportunity had now oc-
curred; it never might occur again; not to avail
myself of it at once would be virtually to give up
my cause ; accordingly, I took advantage of it, and,
as it has turned out, the circumstance that no time
was allowed me for any studied statements has com-
pensated, in the equitable judgment of the public,
for such imperfections in composition as my want
of leisure involved.


It was in the number for January 1864, of a

magazine of wide circulation, and in an Article
upon Queen Elizabeth, that a popular writer took
occasion formally to accuse me by name of thinking
so lightly of the virtue of Veracity, as in set terms
to have countenanced and defended that neglect of
it which he at the same time imputed to the Ca-
tholic Priesthood. His words were these :



" Truth, for its own sake, had never been a vir-
tue with the Roman clergy. Father Newman in-
forms us that it need not, and on the whole ought
not to he ; that cunning is the weapon which
heaven has given to the Saints wherewith to with-
stand the brute male force of the wicked world
which marries and is given in marriage. Whether
his notion he doctrinally correct or not, it is at least
historically so."

These assertions, going far beyond the popular
prejudice entertained against me, had no founda-
tion whatever in fact. I never had said, I never
had dreamed of saying, that truth for its own sake,
need not, and on the whole ought not to be, a
virtue with the Eoman Clergy ; or that cunning is
the weapon which heaven has given to the Saints
wherewith to withstand the wicked world. To
what work of mine then could the writer be refer-
ring ? In a correspondence which ensued upon the
subject between him and myself, he rested his
charge against me on a Sermon of mine, preached,
before I was a Catholic, in the pulpit of my Church
at Oxford ; and he gave me to understand, that, after
having done as much as this, he was not bound, over
and above such a general reference to my Sermon,
to specify the passages of it, in which the doctrine,
which he imputed to me, was contained. On my
part I considered this not enough ; and I demanded
of him to bring out his proof of his accusation in


form and in detail, or to confess he was unable to
do so. But he persevered in his refusal to cite any
distinct passages from any writing of mine; and,
though he consented to withdraw his charge, he
would not do so on the issue of its truth or false-
hood, but simply on the ground that I assured him
that I had had no intention of incurring it. This
did not satisfy my sense of justice. Formally to
charge me with committing a fault is one thing;
to allow that I did not intend to commit it, is
another; it is no satisfaction to me, if a man
accuses me of this offence, for him to profess that
he does not accuse me of that; but he thought
differently. Not being able then to gain redress
in the quarter, where I had a right to ask it, I
appealed to the public. I published the corre-
spondence in the shape of a Pamphlet, with some
remarks of my own at the end, on the course which
that correspondence had taken.

This Pamphlet, which appeared in the first weeks
of February, received a reply from my accuser to-
wards the end of March, in another Pamphlet of
48 pages, entitled, " What then does Dr. Newman
mean ?" in which he professed to do that which I had
called upon him to do; that is, he brought together
a number of extracts from various works of mine,
Catholic and Anglican, with the object of showing
that, if I was to be acquitted of the crime of teach-
ing and practising deceit and dishonesty, according to


his first supposition, it was at the price of my being
considered no longer responsible for my actions;
for, as he expressed it, "I had a human reason
once, no doubt, but I had gambled it away," and I
had " worked my mind into that morbid state, in
which nonsense was the only food for which it
hungered;" and that it could not be called "a
hasty or farfetched or unfounded mistake, when he
concluded that I did not care for truth for its own
sake, dr teach my disciples to regard it as a virtue ;"
and, though " too many prefer the charge of insin-
cerity to that of insipience, Dr. Newman seemed
not to be of that number."

He ended his Pamphlet by returning to his origi-
nal imputation against me, which he had professed
to abandon. Alluding by anticipation to my pro-
bable answer to what he was then publishing, he
professed his heartfelt embarrassment how he was
to believe any thing I might say in my exculpation,
in the plain and literal sense of the words. " I am
henceforth," he said, u in doubt and fear, as much
as an honest man can be, concerning every word Dr.
Newman may write. How can I tell, that I shall
not be the dupe of some cunning equivocation, of one
of the three kinds laid down as permissible by the
blessed St. Alfonso da Liguori and his pupils, even
when confirmed with an oath, because ' then we do
not deceive our neighbour, but allow him to deceive
himself V . . . How can I tell, that I may not in


this Pamphlet have made an accusation, of the truth
of which Dr. Newman is perfectly conscious ; but
that, as I, a heretic Protestant, have no business to
make it, he has a full right to deny it ?"

Even if I could have found it consistent with my
duty to my own reputation to leave such an elabo-
rate impeachment of my moral nature unanswered,
my duty to my Brethren in the Catholic Priesthood,
would have forbidden such a course. They were
involved in the charges which this writer, all along,
from the original passage in the Magazine, to the
very last paragraph of the Pamphlet, had so confi-
dently, so pertinaciously made. In exculpating my-
self, it was plain I should be pursuing no mere per-
sonal quarrel ; I was offering my humble service to
a sacred cause. I was making my protest in behalf
of a large body of men of high character, of honest
and religious minds, and of sensitive honour, who
had their place and their rights in this world,
though they were ministers of the world unseen,
and who were insulted by my Accuser, as the above
extracts from him sufficiently show, not only in my
person, but directly and pointedly in their own.
Accordingly, I at once set about writing the
Apologia pro vita sud, of which the present Volume
is a New Edition; and it was a great reward
to me to find, as the controversy proceeded, such
large numbers of my clerical brethren supporting
me by their sympathy in the course which I was


pursuing, and, as occasion offered, bestowing on me
the formal and public expression of their appro-
bation. These testimonials in my behalf, so im-
portant and so grateful to me, are, together with
the Letter, sent to me with the same purpose, from
my Bishop, contained in the last pages of this

This Edition differs from the first form of the
Apologia as follows : The original work consisted
of seven Parts, which were published in series on
consecutive Thursdays, between April 21 and
June 2. An Appendix, in answer to specific alle-
gations urged against me in the Pamphlet of
Accusation, appeared on June 16. Of these Parts
1 and 2, as being for the most part directly contro-
versial, are omitted in this Edition, excepting the
latter pages of Part 2, which are subjoined to this
Preface, as being necessary for the due explanation
of the subsequent five Parts, These, (being 3, 4,
5, 6, 7, of the Apologia,) are here numbered as
Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 respectively. Of the
Appendix, about half has been omitted, for the
same reason as has led to the omission of Parts
1 and 2. The rest of it is thrown into the shape
of Notes of a discursive character, with two new
ones on Liberalism and the Lives of the English
Saints of 1843-4, and another, new in part, on
Ecclesiastical Miracles. In the body of the work,


the only addition of consequence is the letter which
is found at p. 228, a copy of which has recently
come into my possession.

I should add that, since writing the Apologia last
year, I have seen for the first time Mr. Oakeley's
" Notes on the Tractarian Movement.'* This work
remarkably corroborates the substance of my Narra-
tive, while the kind terms in which he speaks of me
personally, call for my sincere gratitude.

May 2, 1865.



. /

I make these extracts from the first edition of my
Apologia, Part 1, pp. 3, 20 25, and Part 2, pp.
29 31 and pp. 41 51, in order to set before
the reader the drift I had in writing my Volume :

I CANNOT be sorry to have forced my Accuser to bring out
in fulness his charges against me. It is far better that he
should discharge his thoughts upon me in my lifetime,
than after I am dead. Under the circumstances I am
happy in having the opportunity of reading the worst that
can be said of me by a writer who has taken pains with
his work and is well satisfied with it. I account it a gain
to be surveyed from without by one who hates the principles
which are nearest to my heart, has no personal knowledge
of me to set right his misconceptions of my doctrine, and
who has some motive or other to be as severe with me as
he can possibly be. . . .

But I really feel sad for what I am obliged now to say.
I am in warfare with him, but I wish him no ill ; it is
very difficult to get up resentment towards persons whom
one has never seen. It is easy enough to be irritated
with friends or foes vis-a-vis ; but, though I am writing
with all my heart against what he has said of me, I am
not conscious of personal unkindness towards himself. I
think it necessary to write as I am writing, for my own
sake, and for the sake of the Catholic Priesthood ; but I
wish to impute nothing worse to him than that he has


been furiously carried away by his feelings. Yet what
shall I say of the upshot of all his talk of my economies
and equivocations and the like? What is the precise
work which it is directed to effect ? I am at war with
him; but there is such a thing as legitimate warfare : war
has its laws ; there are things which may fairly be done,
and things which may not be done. I say it with shame
and with stern sorrow ; he has attempted a great trans-
gression ; he has attempted (as I may call it) to poison the
wells. I will quote him and explain what I mean. . . .
He says,

"I am henceforth in doubt and fear, as much as any honest
man can be, concerning every word Dr. Newman may write.
How can I tell that I shall not be the dupe of some cunning
equivocation, of one of the three kinds laid down as per-
missible by the blessed Alfonso da Liguori and his pupils,
even when confirmed by an oath, because ' then we do not
deceive our neighbour, but allow him to deceive himself ? '
.... It .is admissible, therefore, to use words and sen-
tences which have a double signification, and leave the
hapless hearer to take which of them he may choose.
What proof have J, then, that by ' mean it ? I never said
it ! ' Dr. Newman does not signify, I did not say it, but I
did mean it?" Pp. 44,45.

Now these insinuations and questions shall be answered
in their proper places ; here I will but say that I scorn
and detest lying, and quibbling, and double-tongued
practice, and slyness, and cunning, and smoothness, and
cant, and pretence, quite as much as any Protestants hate
them ; and I pray to be kept from the snare of them.
But all this is just now by the bye ; my present subject is
my Accuser ; what I insist upon here is this unmanly
attempt of his, in his concluding pages, to cut the ground
from under my feet ; to poison by anticipation the public
mind against me, John Henry Newman, and to infuse


into the imaginations of my readers, suspicion and mis-
trust of everything that I may say in reply to him.
This I call poisoning the wells.

" I am henceforth in doubt and fear" he says, " as much
as any honest man can be, concerning every word Dr. New-
man may write. How can I tell that I shall not be the dupe
of some cunning equivocation ? " . . . .

Well, I can only say, that, if his taunt is to take effect,
I am but wasting my time in saying a word in answer to
his calumnies ; and this is precisely what he knows and
intends to be its fruit. I can hardly get myself to protest
against a method of controversy so base and cruel, lest in
doing so, I should be violating my self-respect and self-
possession ; but most base and most cruel it is. We all
know how our imagination runs away with us, how
suddenly and at what a pace ; the saying, " Caesar's wife
should not be suspected," is an instance of what I mean.
The habitual prejudice, the humour of the moment, is the
turning-point which leads us to read a defence in a good
sense or a bad. We interpret it by our antecedent im-
pressions. The very same sentiments, according as our
jealousy is or is not awake, or our aversion stimulated, are
tokens of truth or of dissimulation and pretence. There
is a story of a sane person being by mistake shut up in
the wards of a Lunatic Asylum, and that, when he pleaded
his cause to some strangers visiting the establishment, the
only remark he elicited in answer was, " How naturally
he talks ! you would think he was in his senses." Con-
troversies should be decided by the reason ; is it legitimate
warfare to appeal to the misgivings of the public mind
and to its dislikings ? Any how, if my accuser is able
thus to practise upon my readers, the more I succeed, the
less will be my success. If I am natural, he will tell
them " Ars est celare artem ;" if I am convincing, he will
suggest that I am an able logician ; if I show warmth, I


am acting the indignant innocent ; if I am calm, I am
thereby detected as a smooth hypocrite ; if I clear up
difficulties, I am too plausible and perfect to be true. The
more triumphant are my statements, the more certain will
be my defeat.

So will it be if my Accuser succeeds in his manoeuvre ;
but I do not for an instant believe that he will. What-
ever judgment my readers may eventually form of me
from these pages, I am confident that they will believe me
in what I shall say in the course of them. I have no
misgiving at all, that they will be ungenerous or harsh
towards a man who has been so long before the eyes of the
world ; who has so many to speak of him from personal
knowledge; whose natural impulse it has ever been to
speak out ; who has ever spoken too much rather than too
little ; who would have saved himself many a scrape, if he
had been wise enough to hold his tongue ; who has ever
been fair to the doctrines and arguments of his opponents ;
who has never slurred over facts and reasonings which
told against himself; who has never given his name or
authority to proofs which he thought unsound, or to testi-
mony which he did not think at least plausible ; who has
never shrunk from confessing a fault when he felt that he
had committed one ; who has ever consulted for others
more than for himself; who has given up much that he
loved and prized and could have retained, but that he
loved honesty better than name* and Truth better than
dear friends. . . .

What then shall be the special imputation, against which I
shall throw myself in these pages, out of the thousand and
one which my Accuser directs upon me ? I mean to con-
fine myself to one, for there is only one about which I
much care, the charge of ^DJQtrathfulness. He may cast
upon me as many other imputations as he pleases, and they


may stick on me, as long as they can, in the course of
nature. They will fall to the ground in their season.

And indeed I think the same of the charge of Untruth-
fulness, and select it from the rest, not because it is more
formidable but because it is more serious. Like the rest, it
may disfigure me for a time, but it will not stain : Arch-
bishop Whately used to say, "Throw dirt enough, and
some will stick ; " well, will stick, but not, will stain. I
think he used to mean " stain/' and I do not agree with
him. Some dirt sticks longer than other dirt ; but no dirt
is immortal. According to the old saying, Praevalebit
Veritas. There are virtues indeed, which the world is not
fitted to judge of or to uphold, such as faith, hope, and
charity : but it can judge about Truthfulness ; it can judge
about the natural virtues, and Truthfulness is one of them.
Natural virtues may also become supernatural ; Truthful-
ness is such ; but that does not withdraw it from the juris-
diction of mankind at large. It may be more difficult in
this or that particular case for men to take cognizance of
it, as it may be difficult for the Court of Queen's Bench at
Westminster to try a case fairly which took place in Hin-
dostan : but that is a question of capacity, not of right.
Mankind has the right to judge of Truthfulness in a
Catholic, as in the case of a Protestant, of an Italian, or of
a Chinese. I have never doubted, that in my hour, in
God's hour, my avenger will appear, and the world will
acquit me of untruthfulness, even though it be not while
I live.

Still more confident am I of such eventual acquittal, see-
ing that my judges are my own countrymen. I consider,
indeed, Englishmen the most suspicious and touchy of man-
kind ; I think them unreasonable, and unjust in their
seasons of excitement ; but I had rather be an Englishman,
(as in fact I am,) than belong to any other race under
heaven. They are as generous, as they are hasty and


burly ; and their repentance for their injustice is greater
than their sin.

For twenty years and more I have borne an imputation,
of which I am at least as sensitive, who am the object of
it, as they can be, who are only the judges. I have not
set myself to remove it, first, because I never have had an
opening to speak, and, next, because I never saw in them
the disposition to hear. I have wished to appeal from
Philip drunk to Philip sober. "When shall I pronounce
him to be himself again ? If I may judge from the tone
of the public press, which represents the public voice, I
have great reason to take heart at this time. I have been
treated by contemporary critics in this controversy with
great fairness and gentleness, and I am grateful to them
for it. However, the decision oi the time and mode of my
defence has been taken out of my hands ; and I am thank-
ful that it has been so. I am bound now as a duty to
myself, to the Catholic cause, to the Catholic Priesthood,
to give account of myself without any delay, when I am so
rudely and circumstantially charged with -Untruthfulness.
I accept the challenge ; I shall do my best to meet it, and
I shall be content when I have done so.

It is not my present accuser alone who entertains, and
has entertained, so dishonourable an opinion of me and of
my writings. It is the impression of large classes of men ;
the impression twenty years ago and the impression now.
There has been a general feeling that I was for years where
I had no right to be ; that I was a " Komanist" in Pro-
testant livery and service ; that I was doing the work of a
hostile Church in the bosom of the English Establishment,
and knew it, or ought to have known it. There was no
need of arguing about particular passages in my writings,
when the fact was so patent, as men thought it to be.

First it was certain, and I could not myself deny it, that


I scouted the name " Protestant." It was certain again,
that many of the doctrines which I professed were popu-
larly and generally known as badges of the Roman Church,
as distinguished from the faith of the Reformation. Next,
how could I have come by them ? Evidently, I had cer-
tain friends and advisers who did not appear ; there was
some underground communication between Stony hurst or
Oscott and my rooms at Oriel. Beyond a doubt, I was
advocating certain doctrines, not by accident, but on an
understanding with ecclesiastics of the old religion. Then
men went further, and said that I had actually 'been re-
ceived into that religion, and withal had leave given me
to profess myself a Protestant still. Others went even
further, and gave it out to the world, as a matter of fact,
of which they themselves had the proof in their hands,
that I was actually a Jesuit. And when the opinions
which I advocated spread, and younger men went further
than I, the feeling against me waxed stronger and took a
wider range.

And now indignation arose at the knavery of a conspi-
racy such as thio : and it became of course all the greater
in consequence of its being the received belief of the public
at large, that craft and intrigue, such as they fancied they
beheld with their eyes, were the very instruments to which
the Catholic Church has in these last centuries been in-
debted for her maintenance and extension.

There was another circumstance still, which increased
the irritation and aversion felt by the large classes, of whom
I have been speaking, against the preachers of doctrines,
so new to them and so unpalatable ; and that was, that
they developed them in so measured a way. If they were
inspired by Roman theologians, (and this was taken for

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanApologia pro vita sua : being a history of his religious opinions → online text (page 1 of 33)