John Henry Newman.

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

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throughout our tour. I had a conversation with the Dean
of Malta, a most pleasant man, lately dead ; but it was

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TO THE TEAR 1833. 35

about the Fathers, and the Library of the great church.
I knew the Abbate Santiniy at Rome, who did no more
than copy for me the Gregorian tones. Froude and I
made two calls upon Monsignore (now Cardinal) Wiseman
at the CoUegio Inglese, shortly before we left Rome. Once
we heard him preach at a church in the Corso. I do not
recollect being in a room with any other ecclesiastics,
except a Priest at Castro-Giovanni in Sicily, who called
on me when I was ill, and with whom I wished to hold a
controversy. As to Church Services, we attended the
Tenebrse, at the Sestine, for the sake of the Miserere ; and
that was all. My general feeling was, " All, save the
spirit of man, is divine." I saw nothing but what was
external ; of the hidden life of Catholics I know nothing.
I was still more driven back into myself, and felt my
isolation. England was in my thoughts solely, and the
news from England came rarely and imperfectly. The
Bill for the Suppression of the Irish Sees was in progress,
and filled my mind. I had fierce thoughts against the

It was the success of the Liberal cause which fretted me
inwardly. I became fierce against its instruments and its
manifestations. A French vessel was at Algiers ; I would
not even look at the tricolour. On my return, though
forced to stop twenty-four hours at Paris, I kept indoors
the whole time, and all that I saw of that beautiful city was
what I saw from the Diligence. The Bishop of London
had already sounded me as to my filling one of the White-
hall preacherships, which he had just then put on a new
footing; but I was indignant at the line which he was
taking, and from my Steamer I had sent home a letter
declining the appointment by anticipation, should it be
offered to me. At this time I was specially annoyed with
Dr. Arnold, though it did not last into later years. Some
one, I think, asked, in conversation at Borne, whether a


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certain interpretation of Scripture was Christian ? it was
answered that Dr. Arnold took it ; I interposed, " But is
he a Christian?" The subject went out of my head at
once ; when afterwards I was taxed with it, I could say
no more in explanation, than (what I believe was the
fact) that I must have had in mind some free views of
Dr. Arnold about the Old Testament : — I thought I must
have meant, " Arnold answers for the interpretation, but
who is to answer for Arnold ?'* It was at Rome, too,
that we began the Lyra Apostolica which appeared
monthly in the British Magazine. The motto shows the
feeling of both Froude and myself at the time: we
borrowed from M. Bunsen a Homer, and Froude chose
the words in which Achilles, on returning to the battle,
says, " You shall know the difference, now that I am back

Especially when I was left by myself, the thought came
upon me that deliverance is wrought, not by the many but
by the few, not by bodies but by persons. Now it was, I
think, that I repeated to myself the words, which had
ever been dear to me from my school days, "Exoriare
aliquis!" — ^now too, that Southey's beautiful poem of
Thalaba, for which I had an immense liking, came
forcibly to my mind. I began to think that I had a
mission. There are sentences of my letters to my friends
to this effect, if they are not destroyed. When we took
leave of Monsignore Wiseman, he had courteously expressed
a wish that we might make a second visit to Eome; I
said with great gravity, " We have a work to do in Eng-
land." I went down at once to Sicily, and the presenti-
ment grew stronger. I struck into the middle of the
island, and fell ill of a fever at Leonforte. My servant
thought that I was dying, and begged for my last directions.
I gave them, as he wished ; but I said, " I shall not die."
r I repeated, " I shall not die, for I have not sinned against

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TO THE YEAR 1833. 35

light, I have not sinned against Kght." I never have
been able to make out at all what I meant.

I got to Castro-Giovanni, and was laid np there for
nearly three weeks. Towards the end of May I left for
Palermo, taking three days for the journey. Before start-
ing from my inn in the morning of May 26th or 27th, I
sat down on my bed, and began to sob bitterly. My
servant, who had acted as my nurse, asked what ailed
me. I could only answer him, " I have a work to do in

I was aching to get home ; yet for want of a vessel I
was kept at Palermo for three weeks. I began to visit
the Churches, and they calmed my impatience, though I
did not attend any services. I knew nothing of the Pre-
sence of the Blessed Sacrament there. At last I got off
in an orange boat, bound for Marseilles. Then it was
that I wrote the lines, " Lead, kindly light," which have <-
since become well known. We were becalmed a whole
week in the Straits of Bonifacio. I was writing verses the
whole time of my passage. At length I got to Marseilles,
and set off for England. The fatigue of travelling was
too much for me, and I was laid up for several days at
Lyons. At last I got off again, and did not stop night or
day, (except a compulsory delay at Paris,) tiU I reached
England, and my mother's house. My brother had arrived
from Persia only a few hours before. This was on the
Tuesday. The following Sunday, July 14th, Mr. Keble ^
preached the Assize Sermon in the University Pulpit. It
was published under the title of "National Apostasy."
I have ever considered and kept the day, as the start bf
the religious movement of 1833t

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In spite of the foregoing pages, I have no romantic story
to tell ; but I have written them, because it is my duty to
tell things as they took place. I have not exaggerated
the feelings with which I returned to England, and I have
no desire to dress up the events which followed, so as to
make them in keeping with the narrative which has gone
before. I soon relapsed into the every-day life which I
had hitherto led ; in all things the same, except that a
new object was given me. I had employed myself in my
own rooms in reading and writing, and in the care of a
Church, before I left England, and I returned to the same
occupations when I was back again. And yet perhaps
those first vehement feelings which carried me on, were
necessary for the beginning of the Movement ; and after-
wards, when it was once begun, the special need of me
was over.

When I got home from abroad, I found that already a
movement had commenced, in opposition to the specific
danger which at that time was threatening the religion of
the nation and its Church. Several zealous and able men
had united their counsels, and were in correspondence with
each other. The principal of these were Mr. Keble,
HurreU Froude, who had reached home long before me.

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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 37

Mr. William Palmer of Dublin and Worcester College
(not Mr. William Palmer of Magdalen, who is now a
Catholic), Mr. Arthur Perceval, and Mr. Hugh Rose.

To mention Mr. Hugh Rose's name is to kindle in the
minds of those who knew him a host of pleasant and affec-
tionate remembrances. He was the man above all others
fitted by his cast of mind and literary powers to make a
stand, if a stand could be made, against the calamity of
the times. He was gifted with a high and large mind,
and a true sensibility of what was great and beautiful ; he
wrote with warmth and energy ; and he had a cool head
and cautious judgment. He spent his strength and short-
ened his life, Pro Ecclesia Dei, as he imderstood that '
sovereign idea. Some years earlier he had been the first
to give warning, I think from the University Pulpit at
Cambridge, of the perils to England which lay in the
biblical and theological speculations of Germany. The
Reform agitation followed, and the Whig Government
came into power ; and he anticipated in their distribution
of Church patronage the authoritative introduction of
liberal opinions into the country. He feared that by the
Whig party a door would be opened in England to the
most grievous of heresies, which never could be closed
again. In order under such grave circumstances to unite
Churchmen together, and to make a front against the
coming danger, he had in 1832 commenced the British
Magazine, and in the same year he came to Oxford in the
summer term, in order to beat up for writers for his publi-
cation ; on that occasion I became known to him through
Mr. Palmer. His reputation and position came in aid of
his obvious fitness, in point of character and intellect, to
become the centre of an ecclesiastical movement, if such a
movement were to depend on the action of a party. His
delicate health, his premature death, would have frustrated
the expectation, even though the new school of opinion

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had been more exactly tlirown into the shape of a party,
than in fact was the case. But he zealously backed up
the first efforts of those who were principals in it ; and,
when he went abroad to die, in 1838, he allowed me the
solace of expressing my feelings of attachment and grati-
tude to him by addressing him, in the dedication of a
volume of my Sermons, as the man " who, when hearts
were failing, bade us stir up the gift that was in us, and
betake ourselves to our true Mother.**

But there were other reasons, besides Mr. Rose's state
of health, which hindered those who so much admired him
from availing themselves of his close co-operation in the
coming fight. United as both he and they were in the
general scope of the Movement, they were in discordance
with each other from the first in their estimate of the
means to be adopted for attaining it. Mr. Eose had a
position in the Church, a name, and serious responsibilities;
he had direct ecclesiastical superiors ; he had intimate re-
lations with his own University, and a large clerical con-
nexion through the country. Froude and I were nobodies;
with no characters to lose, and no antecedents to fetter us.
Eose could not go a-head across country, as Froude had
no scruples in doing. Froude was a bold rider, as on
horseback, so also in his speculations. After a long con-
versation with him on the logical bearing of his principles,
Mr. Eose said of him with quiet humour, that " he did
not seem to be afraid of inferences." It was simply the
truth ; Froude had that strong hold of first principles, and
that keen perception of their value, that he was compara-
tively indifferent to the revolutionary action which would
attend on their application to a given state of things;
whereas in the thoughts of Eose, as a practical man, exist-
ing facts had the precedence of every other idea, and the
chief test of the soundness of a line of policy lay in tho
consideration whether it would work. This was one of

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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 39

the first questions, which, as it seemed to me, on every
occafidon occurred to his mind. With Froude, Erastianism, ^
— ^that is, the union (so he viewed it) of Church and State,
— was the parent, or if not the parent, the serviceable and
sufficient tool, of liberalism. Till that union was snapped.
Christian doctrine never could be safe ; and, while he well
knew how high and unselfish was the temper of Mr. Eose,
yet he used to apply to him an epithet, reproachful in his
own mouth ; — Rose was a " conservative." By ]?ad luck,
I brought out this word to Mr. Rose in a letter of my
own, which I wrote to him in criticism of something he
had inserted in his Magazine : I got a vehement rebuke
for my pains, for though Rose pursued a conservative line,
he had as high a disdain, as Froude could have, of a
worldly aimbition, and an extreme sensitiveness of such an

But there was another reason still, and a more elemen-
tary one, which severed Mr. Rose from the Oxford Move-
ment. Living movements do not come of committees, nor •-
are great ideas worked out through the post, even though
it had been the penny post. This principle deeply pene-
trated both Froude and myself from the first, and re-
commended to us the course which things soon took
spontaneously, and without set purpose of our own. Uni-
versities are the natural centres of intellectual movements.
How could men act together, whatever was their zeal,
imless they were united in a sort of individuality ? Now,
first, we had no unity of place. Mr. Rose was in Sufiblk,
Mr. Perceval in Surrey, Mr. Keble in Gloucestershire ;
Hurrell Froude had to go for his health to Barbadoes.
Mr. Palmer was indeed in Oxford ; this was an important
advantage, and iold well in the first months of the Move-
ment ; — but another condition, besides that of place, was

A far more essential unity was that of antecedents,— a

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coTumon history, common memories, an intercourse of
mind witt mind in the past, and a progress and increase
in that intercourse in the present. Mr. Perceval, to be
sure, was a pupil of Mr. Keble's ; but Keble, Eose, and
Palmer, represented distinct parties, or at least tempers,
in the Establishment. Mr. Palmer had many conditions
of authority and influence. He was the only really learned
man among us. He understood theology as a science ; he
was practised in the scholastic mode of controversial
writing ; and, I believe, was as well acquainted, as he was
dissatisfied, with the Catholic schools. He was as decided
in his religious views, as he was cautious and even subtle
in their expression, and gentle in their enforcement. But
he was deficient in depth; and besides, coming from a
distance, he never had really grown into an Oxford man,
nor was he generally received as such ; nor had he any
insight into the force of personal influence and congeniality
of thought in carrying out a religious theory,— a condition
which Froude and I considered essential to any true success
in the stand which had to be made against Liberalism.
Mr. Palmer had a certain connexion, as it may be called,
in the Establishment, consisting of high Church digni-
taries. Archdeacons, London Rectors, and the like, who
belonged to what was commonly called the high-and-dry
school. They were far more opposed than even he was to
the irresponsible action of individuals. Of course their
beau ideal in ecclesiastical action was a board of safe, sound,
sensible men. Mr. Palmer was their organ and represen-
tative; and he wished for a Committee, an Association,
with rules and meetings, to protect the interests of the
Church in its existing peril. He was in some measure
supported by Mr. Perceval.

I, on the other hand, had out of my own head begun
the Tracts; and these, as representing the antagonist
principle of personality, were looked upon by Mr. Palmer's

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FKOM 1833 TO 1839. 41

friends with considerable alarm. The great point at the
time with these good men in London, — some of them men
of the highest principle, and far from influenced by what
we used to call Erastianism, — was to put down the Tracts.
I, as their editor, and mainly their author, was of course
willing to give way. Keble and Froude advocated their
continuance strongly, and were angry with me for consent-
ing to stop them. Mr. Palmer shared the anxiety of his
own friends ; and, kind as were his thoughts of us, he still
not unnaturally felt, for reasons of his own, some fidget
and nervousness at the course which his Oriel friends were
taking. Eroude, for whom he had a real liking, took a
high tone in his project of measures for dealing with
bishops and clergy, which must have shocked and scan-
dalized him considerably. As for me, there was matter
enough in the early Tracts to give him equal disgust ; and
doubtless I much tasked his generosity, when he had to
defend me, whether against the London dignitaries or the
country clergy. Oriel, from the time of Dr. Copleston to
Dr. Hampden, had had a name far and wide for liberality
of thought ; it had received a formal recognition from the
Edinburgh Review, if my memory serves me truly, as the
school of speculative philosophy in England ; and on one
occasion, in 1833, when I presented myself, with some of
the first papers of the Movement, to a country clergyman
in Northamptonshire, he paused awhile, and then, eyeing
me with significance, asked, " Whether Whately was at
the bottom of them ?*'

Mr. Perceval wrote to me in support of the judgment of
Mr. Palmer and the dignitaries. I replied in a letter,
which he afterwards published. "As to the Tracts,'* I
said to him (I quote my own words from his Pamphlet),
" every one has his own taste. You object to some things,
another to others. If we altered to please every one, the
effect would be spoiled. They were not intended as

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symbols'^ cathedra^ but as the expression of individual
minds; and individuals, feeling strongly, while on the
one hand, they are incidentally faulty in mode or language,
are still peculiarly effective. No great work was done by
a eystem ; whereas systems rise out of individual exertions.
Luther was an individual. The very faults of an indivi-
dual excite attention ;, he loses, but his cause (if good and
he powerful-minded) gains. This is the way of things;
we promote truth by a self-sacrifice."

The visit which I made to the Northamptonshire Rec-
tor was only one of a series of similar expedients, which I
adopted during the year 1833. I called upon clergy in
various parts of the country, whether I was acquainted
with them or not, and I attended at the houses of friends
where several of them were from time to time assembled.
I do not think that much came of such attempts, nor were
they quite in my way. Also I wrote various letters to
clergymen, which fared not much better, except that they
advertised the fact, that a rally in favour of the Church
was commencing. I did not care whether my visits were
made to high Church or low Church ; I wished to make a
strong pull in union with all who were opposed to the
principles of liberalism, whoever they might be. Giving
my name to the Editor, I commenced a series of letters in
the Record Newspaper : they ran to a considerable length ;
and were borne by him with great courtesy and patience.
The heading given to them was, " Church Reform." The
first was on the revival of Church Discipline ; the second,
on its Scripture proof; the third, on the application of the
doctrine ; the fourth was an answer to objections ; the
fifth was on the benefits of discipline. And then the
series was abruptly brought to a termination. I had said
what I really felt, and what was also in keeping with the
strong teaching of the Tracts, but I suppose the Editor
discovered in me some divergence from his own line of

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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 43

thought ; for at length he sent a very civil letter, apolo-
gizing for the non-appearance of my sixth communication,
on the ground that it contained an attack upon " Tempe-
rance Societies/' about which he did not wish a controversy
in his columns. He added, however, his serious regret at
the theological views of the Tracts. I had subscribed a
small sum in 1828 towards the first start of the Record.

Acts of the officious character, which I have been de-
scribing, were uncongenial to my natural temper, to the
genius of the Movement, and to the historical mode of its
success : — ^they were the fruit of that exuberant and joyous
energy with which I had returned from abroad, and which
I never had before or since. I had the exultation of health
restored, and home regained. While I was at Palermo
and thought of the breadth of the Mediterranean, and
the wearisome journey across France, I could not imagine
how I wast ever to get to England ; but now I was amid
familiar scenes and faces once more. And my health and
strength came back to me with such a reboimd, that some
friends at Oxford, on seeing me, did not well know that it
was I, and hesitated before they spoke to me. And I had
the consciousness that I was employed in that work which
I had been dreaming about, and which I felt to be so mo-
mentous and inspiring. I had a supreme confidence in
our cause ; we were upholding that primitive Christianity
which was delivered for all time by the early teachers of
the Church, and which was registered and attested in the
Anglican formularies and by the Anglican divines. That
ancient religion had well nigh faded away out of the land,
through the political changes of the last 150 years, and it
miist be restored. It would be in fact a second Reforma-
tion : — a better reformation, for it would be a return not
to the sixteenth century, but to the seventeenth. No
tune was to be lojst, for the Whigs had come to do their
worst, and the rescue might come too late. Bishopricks

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were already in course of suppression ; Churcli property
was in course of confiscation ; Sees would soon be receiving
unsuitable occupants. We knew enough to begin preach-
ing upon, and there was no one else to preach. I felt as
on board a vessel, which first gets under weigh, and then
the deck is cleared out, and luggage and live stock stowed
away into their proper receptacles.

Nor was it only that I had confidence in our cause, both
in itself, and in its polemical force, but also, on the other
hand, I despised every rival system of doctrine and its argu-
ments too. As to the high Church and the low Church,
I thought that the one had not much more of a logical
basis than the other ; while* I had a thorough contempt
for the controversial position of the latter. I had a real
respect for the character of many of the advocates of each
party, but that did not give cogency to their arguments;
and I thought, on the contrary, that the Apostolical form
of doctrine was essential and imperative, and its grounds
of evidence impregnable. Owing to this supreme confi-
dence, it came to pass at that time, that there was a
double aspect in my bearing towards others, which it is
necessary for me to enlarge upon. My behaviour had a
mixture in it both of fierceness and of sport; and on
this account, I dare say, it gave offence to many; nor
am I here defending it.

I wished men to agree with me, and I walked with them,
step by step, as far as they would go 5 this I did sincerely ;
but if they would stop, I did not much care about it, but
walked on, with some satisfaction that I had brought them
so far. I liked to make them preach the truth without
knowing it, and encouraged them to do so. It was a satis-
faction to me that the Record had allowed me to say so
much in its columns, without remonstrance. I was amused
to hear of one of the Bishops, who, on reading an early-
Tract on the Apostolical Succession, could not make up

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FROM 1833 TO 1839. 45

his mind whether he held the doctrine or not. I was
not distressed at the wonder or anger of dull and self-
conceited men, at propositions which they did not under-
stand. When a correspondent, in good faith, wrote to a
newspaper, to say that the " Sacrifice of the Holy Eu-
charist," spoken of in the Tract, was a false print for
"Sacrament," I thought the mistake too pleasant to be
corrected before I was asked about it. I was not im-
willing to draw an opponent on step by step, by virtue
of his own opinions, to the brink of some intellectual
absurdity, aiid to leave him to get back as he could. I
was not unwilling to play with a man, who asked me
impertinent questions. I think I had in my mouth the
words of the Wise man, "Answer a fool according to
his folly," especially if he was prying or spiteful. I was
reckless of the gossip which was circulated about me ; and,
when I might easily have set it right, did not deign to
do so. Al s o I used irony in conversation, when matter-of-
fact-men would not see what I meant.
\ This kind of behaviour was a sort of habit with me. If

I have ever trifled with my subject, it was a more serious
^ faidt. I never used arguments which I saw clearly to be
unsoimd. The nearest approach which I remember to such
conduct, but which I consider was clear of it nevertheless,
was in the case of Tract 15. The matter of this Tract was

Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanApologia pro vita sua: being a history of his religious opinions → online text (page 5 of 33)