John Henry Newman.

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

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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 221

"I do not say all this to every body, as you may sup-
pose ; but I do not like to make a secret of it to you."

2. " Oct. 25, 1843. You have engaged in a dangerous
correspondence ; I am deeply sorry for the pain I shall
give you.

" I must tell you then frankly, (but I combat arguments
vhich to me, alas, are shadows,) that it is not from disap-
pointment, irritation, or impatience, that I have, whether
rightly or wrongly, resigned St. Mary's; but because I
think the Church of Rome the Catholic Church, and ours
not part of the Catholic Church, because not in communion
with Rome ; and because I feel that I could not honestly
be a teacher in it any longer.

"This thought came to me last summer four years.
. . I mentioned it to two friends in the autumn. . . It
arose in the first instance from the Monophysite and
Donatist controversies, the former of which I was engaged
with in the course of theological study to which I had
given myself. This was at a time when no Bishop, I
believe, had declared against us*, and when all was
progress and hope. I do not think I have ever felt
disappointment or impatience, certainly not then ; for
I never looked forward to the future, nor do I realize
it now.

" My first eflPort was to write that article on the Catho-
licity of the English Church ; for two years it quieted me.
Since the summer of 1839 I have written little or nothing
on modern controversy. . . You know how unwillingly I
wrote my letter to the Bishop in which I committed
myself again, as the safest course under circumstances, i
The article I speak of quieted me till the end of 1841,
over the affair of No. 90, when that wretched Jerusalem
Bishopric (no personal matter) revived all my alarms.

* I think Sumner, Bishop of Chester, must have done so abready.



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222 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

They have increased up to this moment. At that time I
told my secret to another person in addition.

" You see then that the various ecclesiastical and quasi-
ecclesiastical acts, which have taken place in the course of
the last two years and a half, are not the cause of my state
of opinion, but are keen stimulants and weighty confirma-
tions of a conviction forced upon me, while engaged in the
course of duty, viz. that theological reading to which I had
given myself. And this last-mentioned circumstance is a
fact, which has never, I think, come before me till now
that I write to you.

"It is three years since, on account of my state of
opinion, I urged the Provost in vain to let St. Mary's be
separated from Littlemore ; thinking I might with a safe
conscience serve the latter, though I could not comfortably
continue in so public a place as a TJniversity. This was
before No. 90.

" Finally, I have acted under advice, and that, not of
my own choosing, but what came to me in the way of
duty, nor the advice of those only who agree with me, but
of near friends who differ from me.

" I have nothing to reproach myself with, as far as I
see, in the matter of impatience ; i. e. practically or in
conduct. And I trust that He, who has kept me in the
slow course of change hitherto, will keep me still from
hasty acts, or resolves with a doubtful conscience.

**This I am sure of, that such interposition as yours,
kind as it is, only does what you would consider harm.
It makes me realize my own views to myself ; it makes
me see their consistency ; it assures me of my own deli-
berateness ; it suggests to me the traces of a Providential
Hand ; it takes away the pain of disclosures ; it relieves
me of a heavy secret.

"You may make what use of my letters you think
right.''



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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 223

3. My correspondent wrote to me once more, and I repKed
thus : " October 31, 1843. Your letter has made my heart
ache more, and caused me more and deeper sighs than any
I have had a long while, though I assure you there is
much on all sides of me to cause sighing and heartache.
On all sides : — I am quite haunted by the one dreadful
whisper repeated from so many quarters, and causing the
keenest distress to friends. You know but a part of my
present trial, in knowing that I am unsettled myself.

" Since the beginning of this year I have been obliged
to tell the state of my mind to some others ; but never, I
think, without being in a way obliged, as from friends
writing to me as you did, or guessing how matters stood.
No one in Oxford knows it or here" [Littlemore], "but
one near friend whom I felt I could not help telling the
other day. But, I suppose, many more suspect it."

On receiving these letters, my correspondent, if I recol-
lect rightly, at once communicated the matter of them to
Dr. Pusey, and this will enable me to describe, as nearly as I
can, the way in which he first became aware of my changed
state of opinion.

I had from the first a great difficulty in making Dr.
Pusey understand such diflferences of opinion as existed
between himself and me. When there was a proposal
about the end of 1838 for a subscription for a Cranmer
Memorial, he vrished us both to subscribe together to it.
I could not, of course, and wished him to subscribe by
himself. That he would not do ; he could not bear the
thought of our appearing to the world in separate posi-
tions, in a matter of importance. And, as time went on,
he would not take any hints, which I gave him, on the
subject of my growing inclination to Rome. When I
found him so determined, I often had not the heart to go
on. And then I knew, that, from afiection to me, he so
often took up and threw himself into what I said, that 1



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224 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

felt the great responsibility I should incur, if I put things
before him just as I might view them myself And, not
knowing him so well as I did afterwards, I feared lest I
should unsettle him. And moreover, I recollected well,
how prostrated he had been with illness in 1832, and I used
always to think that the start of the Movement had given
him a fresh life. I fancied that his physical energies even
depended on the presence of a vigorous hope and bright
prospects for his imagination to feed upon ; so much so,
that when he was so unworthily treated by the authorities
of the place in 1843, 1 recollect writing to the late Mr.
Dodsworth to state my 'anxiety, lest, if his mind became
dejected in consequence, his health should suffer seriously
also. These were difficulties in my way ; and then again,
another difficulty was, that, as we were not together under
the same roof, we only saw each other at set times ; others
indeed, who were coming in or out of my rooms freely,
and according to the need of the moment, knew all my
thoughts easily ; but for him to know them well, formal
efforts were necessary. A common friend of ours broke it
all to him in 1841, as far as matters had gone at that
time, and showed him clearly the logical conclusions
which must lie in propositions to which I had committed
myself; but somehow or other in a little while, his mind
fell back into its former happy state, and he could not
bring himself to believe that he and I should not go on
pleasantly together to the end. But that affectionate
dream needs must have been broken at last; and two
years afterwards, that friend to whom I wrote the letters
which I have just now inserted, set himself, as I have
said, to break it. Upon that, I too begged Dr. Pusey to
tell in private to any one he would, that I thought in the
event I should leave the Church of England. However,
he would not do so ; and at the end of 1844 had almost
relapsed into his former thoughts about me, if I may



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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 225

judge from a letter of his which I have found. Nay, at
the Commemoration of 1845, a few months before I left
the Anglican Church, I think he said about me to a friend,
" I trust after all we shall keep him."

In that autumn of 1843, at the time that I spoke to
Dr. Pusey, I asked another friend also to communicate in
confidence, to whom he would, the prospect which lay be-
fore me.

To another friend, Mr. James Hope, now Mr. Hope
Scott, I gave the opportimity of Imowing it, if he would,
in the following Postscript to a letter : —

" While I write, I will add a word about myself. You
may come near a person or two who, owing to circum-
stances, know more exactly my state of feeling than you
do, though they would not tell you. Now I do not like
that you should not be aware of this, though I see no
reason why you should know what they happen to know.
Your wishing it would he a reason."

I had a dear and old friend, near his death ; I never
told him my state of mind. Why should I unsettle that
Bweet calm tranquillity, when I had nothing to oflPer him
instead ? I could not say, " Go to Rome ;" else I should
have shown him the way. Yet I offered myself for his
examination. One day he led the way to my speaking
out ; but, rightly or wrongly, I could not respond. My
reason was, " I have no certainty on the matter myself.
To say * I think ' is to tease and to distress, not to per-
suade.*'

I wrote to him on Michaelmas Day, 1843: "As you
may suppose, I have nothing to write to you about,
pleasant. I could tell you some very painful things ; but
it is best not to anticipate trouble, which after all can but
happen, and, for what one knows, may be averted. You
are always so kind, that sometimes, when I part with you,
I am nearly moved to tears, and it would be a relief to be

Q

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226 HISTORY OF MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

60, at yoiir kindness and at my hardness. I think no one
ever had such kind friends as I have."

The next year, January 22, I wrote to him : " Pusey
has quite enough on him, and generously takes on him-
self more than enough, for me to add burdens when I am
not obliged ; particularly too, when I am very conscious,
that there are burdens, which I am or shall be obliged to
lay upon him some time or other, whether I will or no."

And on February 21 : " Half-past ten. I am just up,
having a bad cold; the like has not happened to me
(except twice in January) in my memory. You may
think you have been in my thoughts, long before my
rising. Of course you are so continually, as you well
know. I could not come to see you ; I am not worthy of'
friends. With my opinions, to the full of which I dare
not confess, I feel like a guilty person with others, though
I trust I am not so. People kindly think that I have
much to bear externally, disappointment, slander, &c.
No, I have nothing to bear, but the anxiety which I feel
for my friends' anxiety for me, and their perplexity. This
is a better Ash- Wednesday than birthday present ; " [his
birthday was the same day as mine ; it was Ash- Wednes-
day that year ;] " but I cannot help writing about what
is uppermost. And now, my dear A., all kindest and best
wishes to you, my oldest friend, whom I must not speak
more about, and with reference to myself, lest you should
be angry." It was not in his nature to have doubts : he
used 4)0 look at me with anxiety, and wonder what had
come over me.

On Easter Monday: "All that is good and gracious
descend upon you and yours from the influences of this
Blessed Season ; and it will be so, (so be it !) for what is
the life of you all, as day passes after day, but a simple
endeavour to serve Him, from whom all blessing comes ?
Though we are separated in place, yet this we have in



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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 227

common, that you are living a calm and cheerful time, and
I am enjoying the thought of you. It is your blessing to
have a clear heaven, and peace around, according to the
blessing pronounced on Benjamin '. So it is, my dear A.,
and so may it ever be."

He was in simple good faith. He died in September of
the same year. I had expected that his last illness would
have brought light to my mind, as to what I ought to do.
It brought none. I made a note, which runs thus : " I
sobbed bitterly over his coflin, to think that he left me still
dark as to what the way of truth was, and what I ought
to do in order to please God and fulfil His wiU." I think
I wrote to Charles Marriott to say, that at that moment,
with the thought of my friend before me, my strong view
in favour of Rome remained just what it was. On the
other hand, my firm belief that grace was to be found
within the Anglican Church remained too*. I wrote to
another friend thus : —

"Sept. 16, 1844. I am full of wrong and miserable
feelings, which it is useless to detail, so grudging and
sullen, when I should be thankful. Of course, when one
sees so blessed an end, and that, the termination of so
blanieless a life, of one who really fed on our ordinances
and got strength from them, and sees the same continued
in a whole family, the little children finding quite a solace
of their pain in the Daily Prayer, it is impossible not to
feel more at ease in our Church, as at least a sort of Zoar,
a place of refuge and temporary rest, because of the steep-
ness of the way. Only, may we be kept from unlawful
security, lest we have Moab and Ammon for our progeny,
the enemies of Israel."



* Deut. xxxiii. 12.

* On this subject, vide my Third Lecture on ** Anglican Difficulties" also
Note £, Anglican Church,



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228 HISTORY OF MY EELIGIOUS OPINIONS

I could not continue in this state, either in the light of
duty or of reason. My difficulty was this : I had been
• deceived greatly once ; how could I be sure that I was not
deceived a second time P I thought myself right then ;
how was I to be certain that I was right now ? How
many years had I thought myself sure of what I now re-
jected P how could I ever again have confidence in myself?
As in 1840 I listened to the rising doubt in favour of
Eome, now I listened to the waning doubt in favour of
the Anglican Church. To be certain is to know that one
knows ; what inward test had I, that I should not change
again, after that I had become a Catholic ? I had still
apprehension of this, though I thought a time would come,
when it would depart. However, some limit ought to be
put to these vague misgivings; I must do my best and then
leave it to a higher Power to prosper it. So, at the end of
¥ 1844, 1 came to the resolution of writing an Essay on Doc-
trinal Development ; and then, if, at the end of it, my con-
victions in favour of the Roman Church were not weaker,
of taking the necessary steps for admission into her fold.

By this time the state of my mind was generally known,
and I made no great secret of it. I will illustrate it by
letters of mine which have been put into my hands.

" November 16, 1844. I am going through what must
be gone through ; and my trust only is that every day of
pain is so much taken from the necessary draught which
must be exhausted. There is no fear (humanly speaking)
of my moving for a long time yet. Thi3 has got out
without my intending it ; but it is all well. As far as I
know myself, my one great distress is the perplexity, xm-
i^ettlement, alarm, scepticism, which I am causing to so
many ; and the loss of kind feeling and good opinion on
the part of so many, known and unknown, who have
wished well to me. And of these two sources of pain it is
the former that is the constant, urgent, unmitigated one.



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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 229

I had for days a literal ache all about my heart ; and from
time to time all the complaints of the Psalmist seemed to
belong to me.

" And as far as I know myself, my one paramount reason
for contemplating a change is my deep, imvarying convic-
tion that our Church is in schism, and that my salvation
depends on my joining the Church of Rome. I may use
argumentaad hominem to this person or that*; but I am not
conscious of resentment, or disgust, at any thing that has
happened to me. I have no visions whatever of hope, no
schemes of action, in any other sphere more suited to me.
I have no existing sympathies with Eoman Catholics ; I
hardly ever, even abroad, was at one of their services ; I
know none of them, I do not like what I hear of them.

" And then, how much I am giving up in so many ways !
and to me sacrifices irreparable, not only from my age,
when people hate changing, but from my especial love of
old associations and the pleasures of memory. Nor am I
conscious of any feeling, enthusiastic or heroic, of pleasure
in the sacrifice ; I have nothing to support me here.

" What keeps me yet is what has kept me long ; a fear
that I am under a delusion ; but the conviction remains
firm under all circimistances, in all frames of mind. And
this most serious feeling is growing on me ; viz. that the
reasons for which I believe as much as our system teaches,
mtist lead me to believe more, and that not to believe jfnore
is to fall back into scepticism.

"A thousand thanks for your most kind and consoling
letter ; though I have not yet spoken of it, it was a great
gift-
Shortly after I wrote to the same friend thus : " My
intention is, if nothing comes upon me, which I cannot



s Vide sapr. p. 219, &c Letter of Oct. 14, 1843, compared with that of
Oct 25.



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230 HISTORY OF BfY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

foresee, to remain quietly in statu quo for a considerable
time, trusting that my friends will kindly remember me
and my trial in their prayers. And I should give up my
fellowship some time before any thing further took place.'*
There was a lady, who was very anxious on the subject,
and I wrote to her the following letters : —

1. "November 7, 1844. I am still where I was; I am
not moving. Two things, however, seem plain, that every
one is prepared for such an event, next, that every one
expects it of me. Few, indeed, who do not think it suit-
able, fewer still, who do not think it likely. However, I
do not think it either suitable or likely. I have very little
reason to doubt about the issue of things, but the when and
the how are known to Him, from whom, I trust, both the
course of things and the issue come. The expression of
opinion, and the latent and habitual feeling about me,
which is on every side and among all parties, has great
force. I insist upon it, because I have a great dread of
going by my own feelings, lest they should mislead me.
By one's sense of duty one must go ; but external facts
support one in doing so.'*'

2. " January 8, 1845. What am I to say in answer to
your letter ? I know perfectly well, I ought to let you
know more of my feelings and state of mind than you do
know. But how is that possible in a few words P Any
thing I say must be abrupt ; nothing can I say which will
not leave a bewildering feeling, as needing so much to ex-
plain it, and being isolated, and (as it were) unlocated,
and not having any thing with it to show its bearings upon
other parts of the subject.

" At present, my full belief is, in accordance with your
letter, that, if there is a move in our Church, very few
persons indeed will be partners to it. I doubt whether
one or two at the most among residents at Oxford. And
I don't know whether I can wish it. The state of the



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FROM 1841 TO 1845. 231

Roman Catholics is at present so unsatisfactory. This I
am sure of, that nothing but a simple, direct call of duty
is a warrant for any one leaving our Church ; no prefer-
ence of another Church, no delight in its services, no hope
of greater religious advancement in it, no indignation, no
disgust, at the persons and things, among which we may
find ourselves in the Church of England. The simple
question is. Can I (it is personal, not whether another, but I
can I) be saved in thft English Church ? am / in safety, \
were I to die to-night ? Is it a mortal sin in me, not join- I
ing another communion P

"P.S. I hardly see my way to concur in attendance,
though occasional, in the Roman Catholic chapel, unless a
man has made up his mind pretty well to join it eventually.
Invocations are not required in the Church of Rome ; some-
how, I do not like using them except under the sanction of
the Church, and this makes me unwilling to admit them
in members of our Church."

3. " March 30. Now I will tell you more than any one
knows except two friends. My own convictions are as
strong as I suppose they can become : only it is so difficult
to know whether it is a call of reason or of conscience. I
cannot make out, if I am impelled by what seems clear , or
by a sense of duty. You can understand how painful this
doubt is ; so I have waited, hoping for light, and using the
words of the Psalmist, * Show some token upon me.' But
I suppose I have no right to wait for ever for this. Then
I am waiting, because friends are most considerately bear-
ing me in mind, and asking guidance for me ; and, I trust,
I should attend to any new feelings which came upon me,
should that be the eflfect of their kindness. And then this
waiting subserves the purpose of preparing men's minds.
I dread shocking, unsettling people. Any how, I can't
avoid giving incalculable pain. So, if I had my will, I
should like to wait till the summer of 1846, which would



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232 HISTORY OP MY RELIGIOUS OPINIONS

be a full seven years from the time that my convictions
first began to fall on me. But I don't think I shall last
so long.

" My present intention is to give up my Fellowship in
October, and to publish some work or treatise between that
and Christmas. I wish people to know why I am acting,
as well as tchat I am doing ; it takes off that vague and
distressing surprise, ' What can have made him ? "

4. "June 1. What you tell me of yourself makes it
plain that it is your duty to remain quietly and patiently,
till you see more clearly where you are ; else you are leap-
ing in the dark."

In the early part of this year, if not before, there was
an idea afloat that my retirement from the Anglican
Church was owing to my feeling that I had so been thrust
aside, without any one's taking my part. Various measures
were, I believe, talked of in consequence of this surmise.
Coincidently with it appeared an exceedingly kind article
about me in a Quarterly, in its April number. The writer
praised me in kind and beautiful language far above my
deserts. In the course of his remarks, he said, speaking
of me as Vicar of St. Mary's : ** He had the future race of
clergy hearing him. Did he value and feel tender about,
and cling to his position? .... Not at all. ... No
sacrifice to him perhaps, he did not care about such
things.'* ,

There was a censure implied, however covertly, in these
words ; and it is alluded to in the following letter, addressed
to a very intimate friend : —

"April 3, 1845. . . . Accept this apology, my dear
Church, and forgive me. As I say so, tears come into my
eyea; — that arises from the accident of this time^ when I
am giving up so much I love. Just now I have been over-
set by A.'s article in the Christian Kemembrancer ; yet
really, my dear Church, I have never for an instant had



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FKOM 1841 TO 1846. 233

even the temptation of repenting my leaving Oxford. The
feeling of repentance has not even come into my mind.
How could it ? How could I remain at St. Mary's a hypo-
crite ? how could I be answerable for souls, (and life so
imcertain,) with the convictions, or at least persuasions,
which I had upon me P It is indeed a responsibility to
act as I am doing ; and I feel His hand heavy on me
without intermission, who is all Wisdom and Love, so that
my heart and mind are tired out, just as the limbs might
be from a load on one's back. That sort of dull aching
pain is mine ; but my responsibility really is nothing to
what it would be, to be answerable for souls, for confiding
loving souls, in the English Church, with my convictions.
My love to Marriott, and save me the pain of sending him
a line.'*

I am now close upon the date of my reception into the
Catholic Church ; at the beginning of the year a letter had
been addressed to me by a very dear friend, now no more,
Charles Marriott. I quote some sentences from it, for the love
which I bear him and the value that I set on his good word.

"January 15, 1845. You know me well enough to be
aware, that I never see through any thing at first. Your
letter to Badeley casts a gloom over the future, which you
can understand, if you have understood me, as I believe
you have. But I may speak out at once, of what I see and
feel at once, and doubt not that I shall ever feel : that your
whole conduct towards the Church of England and towards



Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanApologia pro vita sua: being a history of his religious opinions → online text (page 20 of 33)