John Henry Newman.

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

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opposite sentiments, I have long been aware. The time
and mode has been in the hand of Providence ; I do not
mean to exclude my own great imperfections in bringing



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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 171

it about; yet I stUl feel obliged to think tho Tract
necessary."

The second is taken from the notes of a letter which I
sent to Dr. Pusey in the next year :

"October 16, 1842. As to my being entirely with
Ward, I do not know the limits of my own opinions. If
Ward says that this or that is a development from what
I have said, I cannot say Yes or No. It is plausible, it
may be true. Of course the fact that the Roman Church
has so developed and maintained, adds great weight to the
antecedent plausibility. I cannot assert that it is not
true ; but I cannot, with that keen perception which some
people have, appropriate it. It is a nuisance to me to be
forced beyond what I can fairly accept.

There was another source of the perplexity with which
at this time I was encompassed, and of the reserve and
mysteriousness, of which that perplexity gained for me the
credit. After Tract 90 the Protestant world would not let
me alone; they pursued me in the public journals to
Littlemore. Reports of all kinds were circulated about
me. " Imprimis, why did I go up to Littlemore at all ?
For no good purpose certainly; I dared not tell why."
Why, to be sure, it was hard that I should be obliged to
say to the Editors of newspapers that I went up there to '—
say my prayers ; it was hard to have to tell the world in
confidence, that I had a certain doubt about the Anglican
system, and could not at that moment resolve it, or say
what would come of it ; it was hard to have to confess
that I had thought of giving up my Livmg a year or two
before, and that this was a first step to it. It was hard to
have to plead, that, for what I knew, my doubts would
vanish, if the newspapers would be so good as to give me
time and let me alone. Who would ever dream of making
the world his confidant P yet I was considered insidious*



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172 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

sly, dishonest, if I would not open my heart to the tender
mercies of the world. But they persisted : " What was I
doing at Littlemore ?'* Doing there ! have I not retreated
from you P have I not given up my position and my place?
am I alone, of Englishmen, not to have the privilege
to go where I will, no questions asked? am I alone to
be followed about by jealous prying eyes, which take note
whether I go in at a back door or at the front, and who
the men are who happen to call on me in the afternoon ?
Cowards ! if I advanced one step, you would run away ; it
is not you that I fear : " Di me torrent, et Jupiter hostis."
It is because the Bishops still go on charging against
me, though I have quite given up : it is that secret mis-
giving of heart which tells me that they do well, for I
have neither lot nor part with them: this it is which
weighs me down. I cannot walk into or out of my house,
but curious eyes are upon me. Why will you not let me
die in peace ? Wounded brutes creep into some hole to
die in, and no one grudges it them. Let me alone, I shall
not trouble you long. This was the keen feeling which
pierced me, and, I think, these are the very words in
which I expressed it to myself. I asked, in the words of
a great motto, " Ubi lapsus ? quid feci ?" One day when
I entered my house, I found a flight of Under-graduates
inside. Heads of Houses, as mounted patrols, walked
their horses round those poor cottages. Doctors of Di-
vinity dived into the hidden recesses of that private tene-
ment uninvited, and drew domestic conclusions from what
they saw there. I had thought that an Englishman's house
was his castle ; but the newspapers thought otherwise, and
at last the matter came before my good Bishop. I insert
his letter, and a portion of my reply to him : —

" April 12, 1842. So many of the charges against your-
self and your friends which I have seen in the public
journals have been, within my own knowledge, false and



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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 173

calumnious, that I am not apt to pay much attention to
what is asserted with respect to you in the newspapers.

"In*' [a newspaper] "however, of April 9, there
appears a paragraph in which it is asserted, as a matter
of notoriety, that a * so-called Anglo-Catholic Monastery
is in process of erection at Littlemore, and that the cells of
dormitories, the chapel, the refectory, the cloisters all may
be seen advancing to perfection, under the eye of a Parish
Priest of the Diocese of Oxford.*

" Now, as I have understood that you really are possessed
of some tenements at Littlemore, — as it is generally be-
lieved that they are destined for the purposes of study and
devotion, — and as much suspicion and jealousy are felt
about the matter, I am anxious to afford you an oppor-
tunity of making me an explanation on the subject.

" I know you too well not to be aware that you are the
last man living to attempt in my Diocese a revival of the
Monastic orders (in any thing approaching to the Romanist
sense of the term) without previous communication with
me, — or indeed that you should take upon yourself to
originate any measure of importance without authority
from the heads of the Church, — and therefore I at once
exonerate you from the accusation brought against you by
the newspaper I have quoted, but I feel it nevertheless a
duty to my Diocese and myself, as well as to you, to ask
you to put it in my power to contradict what, if uncon-
tradicted, would appear to imply a glaring invasion of all
ecclesiastical discipline on your part, or of inexcusable
neglect and indifference to my duties on mine.*'

I wi'ote in answer as follows : —

"April 14, 1842. I am very much obliged by your
Lordship's kindness in allowing me to write to you on the
subject of my house at Littlemore ; at the same time I feel
it hard both on your Lordship and myself that the rest-



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174 niSTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

lessness of the public mind should oblige you to require an
explanation of me.

" It is now a whole year that I have been the subject of
incessant misrepresentation. A year since I submitted
entirely to your Lordship's authority; and, with the in-
tention of following out the particular act enjoined upon
me, I not only stopped the series of Tracts, on which I
was engaged, but withdrew from all public discussion of
Church matters of the day, or what may be called ecclesi-
astical politics. I turned myself at once to the prepara-
tion for the Press of the translations of St. Athanasius to
which I had long wished to devote myself, and I intended
and intend to employ myself in the like theological studies,
and in the concerns of my own parish and in practical
works.

" "With the same view of personal improvement I was
led more seriously to a design which had been long on my
mind. For many years, at least thirteen, I have wished
to give myself to a life of greater religious regularity than
I have hitherto led ; but it is very unpleasant to confess
such a wish even to my Bishop, because it seems arrogant,
and because it is comiiiitting me to a profession which
may come to nothing. For what have I done that I am
to be called to account by the world for my private actions,
in a way in which no one else is called P Why may I not
have that liberty which all others are allowed P I am often
accused of being imderhand and imcandid in respect to the
intentions to which I have been alluding ; but no one likes
his own good resolutions noised about, both from mere
common delicacy and from fear lest he should not be able
to fulfil them. I feel it very cruel, though the parties in
fault do not know what they are doing, that very sacred
matters between me and my conscience are made a matter
of public talk. May I take a case parallel though differ-



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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 175

ent? suppose a person in prospect of marriage ; would he
like the subject discussed in newspapers, and parties, cir-
cumstances, &o., &c., publicly demanded of him, at the
penalty of being accused of craft and duplicity ?

" The resolution I speak of has been taken with refer-
ence to myself alone, and has been contemplated quite
independent of the co-operation of any other human being,
and without reference to success or failure other than per-
sonal, and without regard to the blame or approbation of
man. And being a resolution of years, and one to which
I feel God has called me, and in which I am violating no
rule of the Church any more than if I married, I should
have to answer for it, if I did not pursue it, as a good
Providence made openings for it. In pursuing it then I
am thinking of myself alone, not aiming at any ecclesiasti-
cal or external effects. At the same time of course it would
be a great comfort to me to know that God had put it into
the hearts of others to pursue their personal edification in
the jsame way, and unnatural not to wish to have the
benefit of their presence and encouragement, or not to
think it a great infringement on the rights of conscience
if such personal and private resolutions were interfered
with. Your Lordship will allow me to add my firm con-
viction that such religious resolutions are most necessary
for keeping a certain class of minds firm in their allegiance
to our Church ; but stiU I can as truly say that my own
reason for any thing I have done has been a personal one,
without which I should not have entered upon it, and
which I hope to pursue whether with or without the sym-
pathies of others pursuing a similar course

" As to my intentions, I purpose to liv6 there myself a
good deal, as I have a resident curate in Oxford. In doing
this, I believe I am consulting for the good of my parish,
as my population at* Lifctlemore is at least equal to that of
St. Mary's in Oxford, and the whole of Littlemore is double



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176 HISTORY OF MY KEl.IGIOUS OPINIONS

of it. It has been very much neglected ; and in providing
a parsonage-house at Littlemore, as this will be, and will
be called, I conceive I am doing a very great benefit to
my people. At the same time it has appeared to me that
a partial or temporary retirement from St. Mary's Church
might be expedient under the prevailing excitement.

"As to the quotation from the [newspaper], which I
have not seen, your Lordship will perceive from what I
have said, that no 'monastery is in process of erection;'
there is no ' chapel ;' no ' refectory,' hardly a dining-room
or parlour. The ' cloisters ' are my shed connecting the •
cottages. I do not understand what * cells of dormitories '
means. Of course I can repeat your Lordship's words
that 'I am not attempting a revival of the Monastic
Orders, in any thing approaching to the Romanist sense
of the term,' or * taking on myself to originate any measure
of importance without authority from the Heads of the
Church.' I am attempting nothing ecclesiastical, but
something personal and private, and which can only be
made public, not private, by newspapers and letter- writers,
in which sense the most sacred and conscientious resolves
and acts may certainly be made the objects of an unman-
nerly and unfeeling curiosity."

One calumny there was which the Bishop did not be-
lieve, and of which of course he had no idea of speaking.
It was that I was actually in the service of the enemy. I
had forsooth been already received into the Catholic
Church, and was rearing at Littlemore a nest of Papists,
who, like me, were to take the Anglican oaths which they
disbelieved, by virtue of a dispensation from Rome, and
thus in due time were to bring over to that unprincipled
Church great numbers of the Anglican Clergy and Laity.
Bishops gave their countenance to this imputation against
me. The case was simply this : — as I made Littlemore a



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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 177

place of retirement for myself, so did I oflfer it to others.
There were young men in Oxford, whose testimonials for
Orders had been refused by their Colleges; there were
young clergymen, who had found themselves imable from
conscience to go on with their duties, and had thrown up
their parochial engagements. Such men were already
going straight to Rome, and I interposed; I interposed
for the reasons I have given in the beginning of this por-
tion of my narrative. I interposed from fidelity to my
clerical engagements, and from duty to my Bishop ; and
from the interest which I was bound to take in them, and
from belief that they were premature or excited. Their
friends besought me to quiet them, if I could. Some of
them came to live with me at Littlemore. They were lay-
men, or in the place of laymen. I kept some of them
back for several years from being received into the Catho-
lic Church. Even when I had given up my living, I was
still bound by my duty to their parents or friends, and I
did not forget still to do what I could for them. The
immediate occasion of my resigning St. Mary's, was the
unexpected conversion of one of them. After that, I felt
it was impossible to keep my post there, for I had been
imable to keep my word with my Bishop.

The following letters refer, more or less, to these men,
whether they were actually with me at Littlemore or
not: —

1. "March 6, 1842. Church doctrines are a powerful
weapon ; they were not sent into the world for nothing.
God's word does not return unto Him void : If I have
said, as I have, that the doctrines of the Tracts for the
Times would build up our Church and destroy parties, I
meant, if they were used, not if they were denounced.
Else, they will be as powerful against us, as they might
be powerful for us.

"If people who have a liking for another, hear him

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178 mSTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

called a Roman Catholic, they will say, *Then after all
Romanism is no such bad thing.' All these persons, who
are making the cry, are fulfilling their own prophecy.
If all the world agree in telling a. man, he has no business
in our Church, he will at length begin to think he has
none. How easy is it to persuade a man of any thing,
when numbers affirm it ! so great is the force of imagina-
tion. Did every one who met you in the streets look hard
at you, you woidd think you were somehow in fault. I do
not know any thing so irritating, so unsettling, especially
in the case of young persons, as, when they are going on
calmly and unconsciously, obeying their Church and fol-
lowing its divines, (I am speaking from facts,) as sud-
denly to their surprise to be conjured not to make a leap,
of which they have not a dream and from which they are
far removed."

2. 1843 or 1844. " I did not explain to you sufficiently
the state of mind of those who were in danger. I only
spoke of those who were convinced that our Church was
external to the Church Catholic, though they felt it unsafe
to trust their own private convictions ;" but there are two
other states of mind; 1. that of those who are uncon-
sciously near Rome, and whose despair about our Church
would at once develope into a state of conscious approxi-
mation, or a quasi'TQ^olviiion to go over ; 2. those who feel
they can with a safe conscience remain with us tchile they
are allowed to testify in behalf of Catholicism, i. e. as if by
such acts they were putting our Church, or at least that
portion of it in which they were included, in the position
of catechumens."

3. " June 20, 1843. I return the very pleasing letter
you have permitted me to read. What a sad thing it is,
that it should be a plain duty to restrain one's sympathies,
and to keep them from boiling over ; but I suppose it is a
matter of common prudence.



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FiiOM 1841 TO 1845. 179

"Things are very serious here; but I should not like
you to say so, as it might do no good. The Authorities
find, that, by the Statutes, they have more than military
power ; and the general impression seems to be, that they
intend to exert it, and put down Catholicism at any risk.
I believe that by the Statutes, they can pretty nearly sus-
pend a Preacher, as seditiosus or causing dissension, without
assigning their grounds in the particular case, nay, banish
him, or imprison him. If so, all holders of preferment in
the University should make as quiet an exit as they can.
There is more exasperation on both sides at this moment,
as I am told, than ever there was."

4. " July 16, 1843. I assure you that I feel, with only
too much sympathy, what you say. You need not be told
that the whole subject of our position is a subject of
anxiety to others beside yourself. It is no good attempt-
ing to offer advice, when perhaps I might raise diflBculties
instead of removing them. It seems to me quite a case,
in which you should, as far as may be, make up your mind
for yourself. Come to Littlemore by all means. We shall
all rejoice in your company ;^ and, if quiet and retirement
are able, as they very likely will be, to reconcile you to
things as they are, you shall have your fill of them. How
distressed poor Henry Wilberforce must be ! Knowing
how he values you, I feel for him ; but, alas ! he has his
own position, and every one else has his own, and the
misery is that no two of us have exactly the same.

" It is very kind of you to be so frank and open with
me, as you are ; but this is a time which throws together
persons who feel alike. May I without taking a liberty
sign myself, yours affectionately, &c."

5. "August 30, 1843. A. B. has suddenly conformed
to the Church of Rome. He was away for three weeks.
I suppose I must say in my defence, that he promised me



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180 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

distinctly to remain in our Clmrch three years, before I
received him here."

6. " June 17, 1845. I am concerned to find you speak
of me in a tone of distrust. If you knew me ever so little,
instead of hearing of me from persons who do not know me
at all, you would think differently of me, whatever you
thought of my opinions. Two years since, I got your son to
tell you my intention of resigning St. Mary's, before I made
it public, thinking you ought to know it. When you ex-
pressed some painful feeling upon it, I told him I could not
consent to his remaining here, painful as it would be to
me to part with him, without your wiitten sanction. And
this you did me the favour to give.

" I believe you will find that it has been merely a deli-
cacy on your son's part, which has delayed his speaking to
you about me for two months past ; a delicacy, lest he
should say either too much or too little about me. I have
urged him several times to speak to you.

" Nothing can be done after your letter, but to recom-
mend him to go to A. B. (his home) at once. I am very
sorry to part with him."

7. The following letter is addressed to Cardinal Wise-
man, then Vicar Apostolic, who accused me of coldness in
my conduct towards him : —

" April 16, 1845. I was at that time in charge of a
ministerial office in the English Church, with persons
entrusted to me, and a Bishop to obey ; how could I pos-
sibly write otherwise than I did without violating sacred
obligations and betraying momentous interests which were
upon me P I felt that my immediate, undeniable duty,
clear if any thing was clear, was to fulfil that trust. It
might be right indeed to give it up, that was another
thing ; but it never could be right to hold it, and to act
as if I did not hold it If you knew me, you



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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 181

woiild acquit me, I think, of having ever felt towards your
Lordship in an unfriendly spirit, or ever having had a
shadow on my mind (as far as I dare witness about myself)
of what might be called controversial rivalry or desire of
getting the better, or fear lest the world should think I
had got the worse, or irritation of any kind. You are too
kind indeed to imply this, and yet your words lead me to
say it. And now in like manner, pray believe, though I
cannot explain it to you, that I am encompassed with
responsibilities, so great and so various, as utterly to over-
come me, unless I have mercy from Him, who all through
my life has sustained and guided me, and to whom I can
now submit myself, though men of all parties are thinking
evil of me."

Such fidelity, however, was taken in malam partem by
the high Anglican authorities ; they thought it insidious.
I happen still to have a correspondence which took place
in 1843, in which the chief place is filled by one of
the most eminent Bishops of the day, a theologian and
reader of the Fathers, a moderate man, who at one time was
talked of as likely on a vacancy to succeed to the Primacy.
A young clergyman in his diocese became a Catholic ; the
papers at once reported on authority from " a very high
quarter,'* that, after his reception, " the Oxford men had
been recommending him to retain his living." I had
reasons for thinking that the allusion was made to me, and
I authorized the Editor of a Paper, who had inquired of me
on the point, to " give it, as far as I was concerned, an
unqualified contradiction ;" — when from a motive of deli-
cacy he hesitated, I added " my direct and indignant con-
tradiction." " Whoever is the author of it," I continued!
to the Editor, " no correspondence or intercourse of any
kind, direct or indirect, has passed between Mr. S. and
myself, since his conforming to the Church of Rome,



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182 HISTOEY OF MY BELIGIOUS OPINIONS

except my formally and merely acknowledging the receipt
of his letter, in which he informed me of the fact, without,
as far as I recollect, my expressing any opinion upon it.
You may state this as broadly as I have set it down." My
denial was told to the Bishop ; what took place upon it is
given in a letter from which I copy. " My father showed
the letter to the Bishop, who, as he laid it down, said,
* Ah, those Oxford men are not ingenuous.' ' How do you
mean P' asked my father. * Why,' said the Bishop, * they
advised Mr. B. S. to retain his living after he turned
Catholic. I know that to be a fact, because A. B. told mo
80.'" "The Bishop," continues the letter, "who is per-
haps the most influential man in reality on the bench,
evidently believes it to be the truth." Upon this Dr.
Pusey wrote in my behalf to the Bishop ; and the Bishop
instantly beat a retreat. " I have the honour," he says in
the autograph which I transcribe, " to acknowledge the
receipt of your note, and to say in reply that it has not
been stated by me, (though such a statement has, I believe,
appeared in some of the Public Prints,) that Mr. Newman
had advised Mr. B. S. to retain his living, after he had
forsaken our Church. But it has been stated to me, that
Mr. Newman was in close correspondence with Mr. B. S.,
and, being fully aware of his state of opinions and feelings,
yet advised him to continue in our communion. Allow
me to add," he says to Dr. Pusey, "that neither your
name, nor that of Mr. Keble, was mentioned to me in con-
nexion with that of Mr. B. S."

I was not going to let the Bishop off on this evasion, so
I wrote to him myself. After quoting his Letter to Dr.
Pusey, I continued, " I beg to trouble your Lordship with
my own account of the two allegations" \_close correspoiid-
mce Qjii fully aware, &c.] "which are contained in your
statement, and which have led to your speaking of me in
terms which I hope never to deserve. 1. Since Mr. B. S.



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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 183

has been in your Lordship's diocese, I have seen hini in
Common rooms or private parties in Oxford two or three
times, when I never (as far as I can recollect) had any
conversation with him. During the same time I have, to
the best of my memory, written to him three letters. One
was lately, in acknowledgment of his infonning me of his
change of religion. Another was last summer, when I
asked him (to no purpose) to come and stay with me in
this place. The earliest of the three letters was written
just a year since, as far as I recollect, and it certainly was
on the subject of his joining the Church of Home. I wrote
this letter at the earnest wish of a friend of his. I cannot
be sure that, on his replying, I did not send him a brief
note in explanation of points in my letter which he had
misapprehended. I cannot recollect any other correspond-
ence between us.

** 2. As to my knowledge of his opinions and feelings,
as far as I remember, the only point of perplexity which I



Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanApologia pro vita sua: being a history of his religious opinions → online text (page 16 of 33)