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knowledge, except for this world ? Will it be much
matter in the world to come whether our bodily
health or whether our intellectual strength was more
or less, except of course as this world is in all its
circumstances a trial for the next ? If then a Univer-
sity is a direct preparation for this world, let it be

1 Vid. the Author's Oxford Sermons, vol. i.


what it professes. It is not a Convent, it is not a
Seminary ; it is a place to fit men of the world for
the world. We cannot possibly keep them from
plunging into the world, with all its ways and princi-
ples and maxims, when their time comes ; but we can
prepare them against what is inevitable ; and it is not
the way to learn to swim in troubled waters, never to
have gone into them. Proscribe (I do not merely
say particular authors, particular works, particular
passages), but Secular Literature as such; cut out
from your class books all broad manifestations of the
natural man ; and those manifestations are waiting
for your pupil's benefit at the very doors of your
lecture room in living and breathing substance. They
will meet him there in all the charm of novelty, and
all the fascination of genius or of amiableness. To-
day a pupil, to-morrow a member of the great world :
to-day confined to the Lives of the Saints, to-morrow
thrown upon Babel ; thrown on Babel, without the
honest indulgence of wit and humour and imagination
ever permitted to him, without any fastidiousness
of taste wrought into him, without any rule given
him for discriminating " the precious from the vile,"
beauty from sin, the truth from the sophistry of
nature, what is innocent from what is poison. You
have refused him the masters of human thought, who
would in some sense have educated him because of
their incidental corruption: you have shut up from
him those whose thoughts strike home to our hearts,
whose words are proverbs, whose names are indi-
genous to all the world, the standard of their mother
tongue, and the pride and boast of their countrymen,
Homer, Ariosto, Cervantes, Shakespeare, because the
old Adam smelt rank in them ; and for what have


you reserved him ? You have given him " a liberty
unto " the multitudinous blasphemy of his day ; you
have made him free of its newspapers, its reviews, its
magazines, its novels, its controversial pamphlets, of
its Parliamentary debates, its law proceedings, its
platform speeches, its songs, its drama, its theatre,
of its enveloping, stifling atmosphere of death. You
have succeeded but in this in making the world his

Difficult then as the question may be, and much as
it may try the judgments and even divide the opinions
of zealous and religious Catholics, I cannot feel any
doubt myself, gentlemen, that the Church's true
policy is not to aim at the exclusion of Literature
rrom Secular Schools, but her own admission into
them. Let her do for Literature in one way what
she does for Science in another ; each has its imper-
fection, and she supplies it for each. She fears no
knowledge, but she purifies all ; she represses no
element of our nature, but cultivates the whole.
Science is grave, methodical, logical ; with Science
then she argues, and opposes reason to reason. Litera-
ture does not argue, but declaims and insinuates; it
is multiform and versatile : it persuades instead of
convincing, it seduces, it carries captive ; it appeals to
the sense of honour, or to the imagination, or to the
stimulus of curiosity; it makes its way by means of
gaiety, satire, romance, the beautiful, the pleasurable.
Is it wonderful that with an agent like this the
Church should claim to deal with a vigour corre-
sponding to its restlessness, to interfere in its pro-
ceedings with a higher hand, and to wield an authority
in the choice of its studies and of its books which
would be tyrannical, if reason and fact were the only


instruments of its conclusions ? But, anyhow, her
principle is one and the same throughout : not to
prohibit truth of any kind, but to see that no doctrines
pass under the name of Truth but those which claim
it rightfully.

Such at least is the lesson which I am taught by all
the thought which I have been able to bestow upon
the subject : such is the lesson which I have gained
from the history of my own special Father and
Patron, St. Philip Neri. He lived in an age as
traitorous to the interests of Catholicism as any that
preceded it, or can follow it. He lived at a time
when pride mounted high, and the senses held rule ;
a time when kings and nobles never had more of state
and homage, and never less of personal responsibility
and peril ; when mediaeval winter was receding, and
the summer sun of civilisation was bringing into leaf
and flower a thousand forms of luxurious enjoyment ;
when a new world of thought and beauty had opened
upon the human mind, in the discovery of the treasures
of classic literature and art. He saw the great and
the gifted, dazzled by the Enchantress, and drinking
in the magic of her song ; he saw the high and the
wise, the student and the artist, painting, and poetry,
and sculpture, and music, and architecture, drawn
within her range, and circling round the abyss: he
saw heathen forms mounting thence, and forming in
the thick air : all this he saw, and he perceived that
the mischief was to be met, not with argument, not
with science, not with protests and warnings, not by
the recluse or the preacher, but by means of the great
counter-fascination of purity and truth. He was
raised up to do a work almost peculiar in the Church,
not to be a Jerome Savonarola, though Philip had


a true devotion towards him and a tender memory of
his Florentine house ; not to be a St. Carlo, though
in his beaming countenance Philip had recognised the
aureol of a saint; not to be a St. Ignatius, wrestling
with the foe, though Philip was termed the Society's
bell of call, so many subjects did he send to it ; not
to be a St. Francis Xavier, though Philip had longed
to shed his blood for Christ in India with him ; not
to be a St. Caietan, or hunter of souls, for Philip
preferred, as he expressed it, tranquilly to cast in his
net to gain them ; he preferred to yield to the stream,
and direct the current which he could not stop, of
science, literature, art, and fashion, and to sweeten and
to sanctify what God had made very good and man
had spoilt.

And so he contemplated as the idea of his mission,
not the propagation of the faith, nor the exposition of
doctrine, nor the catechetical schools ; whatever was
exact and systematic pleased him not ; he put from
him monastic rule and authoritative speech, as David
refused the armour of his king. No ; he would be
but an ordinary individual priest as others : and his
weapons should be but unaffected humility and unpre-
tending love. All he did was to be done by the
light, and fervour, and convincing eloquence of his
personal character and his easy conversation. He
came to the Eternal City and he sat himself down
there, and his home and his family gradually grew up
around him, by the spontaneous accession of materials
from without. He did not so much seek his own as
draw them to him. He sat in his small room, and
they in their gay worldly dresses, the rich and the
wellborn, as well as the simple and the illiterate,
crowded into it. In the mid-heats of summer, in the


frosts of winter, still was he in that low and narrow
cell at San Girolamo, reading the hearts of those who
came to him, and curing their souls' maladies by the
very touch of his hand. It was a vision of the Magi
worshipping the infant Saviour, so pure and innocent,
so sweet and be|utiful was he ; and so loyal and so
dear to the gracious Virgin Mother. And they who
came remained gazing and listening, till at length, first
one and then another threw off their bravery, and took
his poor cassock and girdle instead : or, if they kept
it, it was to put haircloth under it, or to take on
them a rule of life, while to the world they looked
as before.

In the words of his biographer, "he was all things
to all men. He suited himself to noble and ignoble,
young and old, subjects and prelates, learned and
ignorant ; and received those who were strangers to
him with singular benignity, and embraced them with
as much love and charity as if he had been a long
while expecting them. When he was called upon to
be merry he was so ; if there was a demand upon his
sympathy he was equally ready. He gave the same
welcome to all : caressing the poor equally with the
rich, and wearying himself to assist all to the utmost
limits of his power. In consequence of his being so
accessible and willing to receive all comers, many went
to him every day, and some continued for the space
of thirty, nay forty years to visit him very often both
morning and evening, so that his room went by the
agreeable nickname of the Home of Christian mirth.
Nay, people came to him, not only from all parts of
Italy, but from France, Spain, Germany, and all
Christendom ; and even the infidels and Jews, who
had ever any communication with him, revered him


as a holy man." 1 The first families of Rome, the
Massimi, the Aldobrandini, the Colonna, the Altieri,
the Vitelleschi, were his friends and his penitents.
Nobles of Poland, Grandees of Spain, Knights of
Malta, could not leave Rome without coming to him.
Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishoys were his inti-
mates ; Federigo Borromeo haunted his room and got
the name of " Father Philip's soul." The Cardinal-
Archbishops of Verona and Bologna wrote books in
his honour. Pope Pius the Fourth died in his arms.
Lawyers, painters, musicians, physicians, it was the
same too with them. Baronius, Zazzara, and Ricci,
left the law at his bidding, and joined his congrega-
tion, to do its work, to write the annals of the Church,
and to die in the odour of sanctity. Palestrina had
Father Philip's ministrations in his last moments.
Animuccia hung about him during life, sent him a
message after death, and was conducted by him
through Purgatory to Heaven. And who was he,
I say, all the while, but an humble priest, a stranger
in Rome, with no distinction of family or letters, no
claim of station or of office, great simply in the attrac-
tion with which a Divine Power had gifted him?
and yet thus humble, thus unennobled, thus empty-
handed, he has achieved the glorious title of Apostle
of Rome.

Well were it for his clients and children, gentlemen,
if they could promise themselves the very shadow of
his special power, or could hope to do a miserable
fraction of the sort of work in which he was pre-
eminently skilled. But so far at least they may at-
tempt to take his position, and to use his method, and

1 Bacci, rol. i. p. 192, ii. p. 98



to cultivate the arts of which he was so bright a
pattern. For me, if it be God's blessed will that in
the years now coming I am to have a share in the
great undertaking, which has been the occasion and
the subject of these Discourses, so far I can say for
certain that, whether or not I can do anything at all
in St. Philip's way, at least I can do nothing in any
other. Neither by my habits of life, nor by vigour
of age, am I fitted for the task of authority, or of rule,
or of initiation. I do but aspire, if strength is given
me, to be your minister in a tyork which must employ
younger minds and stronger lives than mine. I am
but fit to bear my witness, to proffer my suggestions, to
express my sentiments, as has in fact been my occupa-
tion in these discussions ; to throw such light upon
general questions, upon the choice of objects, upon the
import of principles, upon the tendency of measures, as
past reflection and experience enable me to contribute.
I shall have to make appeals to your consideration, your
friendliness, your confidence, of which I have had so
many instances, on which I so tranquilly repose ; and
after all, neither you nor I must ever be surprised,
should it so happen that the Hand of Him, with whom
are the springs of life and death, weighs heavy on me,
and makes me unequal to anticipations in which you
have been too kind, and to hopes in which I may have
been too sanguine.




THIS is a time, Gentlemen, when not only the Classics,
but much more the Sciences, in the largest sense of the
word, are looked upon with anxiety, not altogether
ungrounded, by religious men, and, whereas, a Uni-
versity such as ours professes to embrace all depart-
ments and exercises of the intellect, and since I for my
part wish to stand on good terms with all kinds of
knowledge, and have no intention of quarrelling with
any, and would open my heart, if not my intellect (for
that is beyond me) to the whole circle of truth, and
would tender at least a recognition and hospitality
even to those studies which are strangers to me, and
would speed them on their way; therefore, as I have
already been making overtures of reconciliation, first
between Polite Literature and Religion, and next
between Physics and Theology, so I would now say a
word by way of deprecating and protesting against
the needless antagonism, which sometimes exists in
fact, between divines and the cultivators of the Sciences

1 This Lecture, which was never delivered, was addressed
to the School of Science.



Here I am led at once to expatiate on the grandeur
of an institution which is comprehensive enough to
admit the discussion of a subject such as this. Among
the objects of human enterprise, I may say it surely
without extravagance, Gentlemen, none higher or
nobler can be named, than that which is contemplated
in the erection of a University. To set on foot and to
maintain in life and vigour a real University, is con-
fessedly, as soon as the word " University " is under-
stood, one of those greatest works, great in their
difficulty and their importance, on which are deservedly
expended the rarest intellects and the most varied
endowments. For, first of all, it professes to teach
whatever has to be taught in any whatever department
of human knowledge, and it embraces in its scope the
loftiest subjects of human thought, and the richest
fields of human inquiry. Nothing is too vast, nothing
to subtle, nothing too distant, nothing too minute,
nothing too discursive, nothing too exact, to engage
its attention.

This, however, is not why I claim for it so sovereign
a position; for, to bring schools of all knowledge under
one name, and call them a University, may be fairly
said to be a mere generalisation ; and to proclaim that
the prosecution of all kinds of knowledge to their ut-
most limits demands the fullest reach and range of our
intellectual faculties, is but a truism. My reason for
speaking of a University in the terms on which I have
ventured, is, not that it occupies the whole territory
of knowledge merely, but that it is the very realm;
that it professes much more than to take in and to
lodge as in a caravanserai, all art and science, all
history and philosophy. In truth, it professes to assign


to each study, which it receives, its own proper place
and its just boundaries; to define the rights, to estab-
lish the mutual relations, and to effect the inter-
communion of one and all ; to keep in check the ambi-
tious and encroaching, and to succour and maintain
those which from time to time are succumbing under
the more popular or the more fortunately circum-
stanced; to keep the peace between them all, and to
convert their mutual differences and contrarieties into
the common good. This, Gentlemen, is why I say that
to erect a University is at once so arduous and bene-
ficial an undertaking, viz., because it is pledged to
admit without fear, without prejudice, without com-
promise, all comers, if they come in the name of Truth;
to adjust views, and experiences, and habits of mind
the most independent and dissimilar; and to give full
play to thought and erudition in their most original
forms, and their most intense expressions, and in their
most ample circuit. Thus to draw many things into
one, is its special function; and it learns to do it, not
by rules reducible to writing, but by sagacity, wisdom,
and forbearance, acting upon a profound insight
into the subject-matter of knowledge, and a vigilant
repression of aggression or bigotry in any quarter.

We count it a great thing, and justly so, to plan and
carry out a wide political organisation. To bring under
one yoke, after the manner of old Rome, a hundred
discordant peoples; to maintain each of them in its
own privileges within its legitimate range of action ; to
allow them severally the indulgence of national feelings,
and the stimulus of rival interests; and yet withal to
blend them into one great social establishment, and to
pledge them to the perpetuity of the one imperial


power; this is an achievement which carries with it
the unequivocal token of genius in the race which
effects it.

" Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento."
This was the special boast, as the poet considered it,
of the Roman; a boast as high in its own line, as that
other boast, proper to the Greek nation, of literary
pre-eminence, of exuberance of thought, and of skill
and refinement in expressing it.

What an empire is in political history, such is a
University in the sphere of philosophy and science. It
is, as I have said, the high protecting power of all
knowledge and science, of fact and principle, of inquiry
and discovery, of experiment and speculation; it
maps out the territory of the intellect, and sees that
the boundaries of each provinces are religiously re-
spected, and that there is neither encroachment nor
surrender on any side. It acts as umpire between
truth and truth, and, taking into account the nature
and importance of each, assigns to all their due order
and precedence. It maintains no one department
of thought exclusively, however ample and noble;
and it sacrifices none. It is deferential and loyal,
according to their respective weight, to the claims of
literature, of physical research, of history, of meta-
physics, of theological science. It is impartial towards
them all, and promotes each in its own place and for
its own object. It is ancillary, certainly, and of neces-
sity, to the Catholic Church ; but in the same way that
one of the Queen's judges is an officer of the Queen's,
and nevertheless determines certain legal proceedings
between the Queen and her subjects. It is ministrative
to the Catholic Church, first, because truth of any kind



can but minister to truth; and next, still more, because
Nature ever will pay homage to Grace, and Reason
cannot but illustrate and defend Revelation; and
thirdly, because the Church has a sovereign authority,
and when she speaks ex cathedra, must be obeyed. But
this is the remote end of a University; its immediate
end (with which alone we have here to do) is to secure
the due disposition, according to one sovereign order t
and the cultivation in that order, of all the provinces
and methods of thought which the human intellect has

* In this point of view, its several professors are like
the representatives of various political powers at one
court or conference. They represent their respective
sciences, and attend to their private interests respec-
tively; and, should dispute arise between those
sciences, they are the persons to talk over and arrange
it, without risk of extravagant pretensions on any side^
of angry collision, or of popular commotion. A liberal
philosophy becomes the habit of minds thus exercised;
a spaciousness of thought, in which lines, seemingly
parallel, may converge at leisure, and principles, recog-
nised as incommeasurable, may be safely antagonistic.
And here, Gentlemen, we recognise the special
character of the Philosophy I am speaking of, if
Philosophy it is to be called, in contrast with the
method of a strict science or system. Its teaching is
not founded on one idea, or reducible to certain
formulae. Newton might discover the great law of
motion in the physical world, and the key to ten
thousand phenomena; and a similar resolution of
complex facts into simple principles may be possible
in other departments of nature; but the great Universe


itself, moral and material, sensible and supernatural,
cannot be gauged and meted by even the greatest of
human intellects, and its constituent parts admit
indeed of comparison and adjustment, but not of
fusion. This is the point which bears directly on the
subject which I set before me when I began, and
towards which I am moving in all I have said or shall
be saying. I observe then, and ask you, Gentlemen, to
bear in mind, that the philosophy of an imperial
intellect, for such I am considering a University to be,
is based, not so much on simplification, as on dis-
crimination. Its true representative defines, rather
than analyses. He aims at no complete catalogue or
interpretation of the subjects of knowledge, but at
following out, as far as man can, what in its fulness is
mysterious and unfathomable. Taking into its charge
1 all sciences, methods, collections of facts, principles,
doctrines, truths, which are the reflexions of the
universe upon the human intellect, he admits them all,
he disregards none, and, as disregarding none, he
allows none to exceed or encroach. His watchword is,
Live and let live. He takes things as they are; he
submits to them all, as far as they go; he recognises
the insuperable lines of demarcation which run between
subject and subject; he observes how separate truths
lie relatively to each other, where they concur, where
they part company, and where, being carried too far,
they cease to be truths at all. It is his office to deter-
mine how much can be known in each province of
thought; when we must be contented not to know;
in what direction inquiry is hopeless, or on the other
hand full of promise; where it gathers into coils
insoluble by reason, where it is absorbed hi mysteries,


or runs into the abyss. It will be his care to be familiar
with the signs of real and apparent difficulties, with the
methods proper to particular subject-matters, what in
each particular case are the limits of a rational sceptic-
ism, and what the claims of a peremptory faith. If he
has one cardinal maxim in his philosophy, it is, that
truth cannot be contrary to truth; if he has a second,
it is, that truth often seems contrary to truth; and, if
a third, it is the practical conclusion, that we must be
patient with such appearances, and not be hasty to
pronounce them to be really of a more formidable

It is the very immensity of the system of things,
the human record of which he has in charge, which is
the reason of this patience and caution; for that
immensity suggests to him, that the contrarities and
mysteries, which meet him in the various sciences,
may be simply the consequence of our necessarily
defective comprehension. There is but one thought
greater than the universe, and that is the thought of
its Maker. If, Gentlemen, for one single instant,
leaving my proper train of thought, I allude to our
knowledge of the Supreme Being, it is in order to
deduce an illustration bearing upon it. He, though
One, is a sort of world of worlds in Himself, giving
birth in our minds to an indefinite number of distinct
truths, each ineffably more mysterious than anything
that is found in this universe of space and time. Any
one of His attributes, considered by itself, is the object
of an inexhaustible science; and the attempt to recon-
cile any two or three of them together, love, power,
justice, sanctity, truth, wisdom, affords matter for
an everlasting controversy. We are able to apprehend
241 Q


and receive each divine attribute in its elementary
form, but still we are not able to accept them in their
infinity, either in themselves or in union with each
other. Yet we do not deny the first, because it cannot
be perfectly reconciled with the second, nor the second,
because it is in apparent contrariety with the first and
the third. The case is the same in its degree with His
creation, material and moral. It is the highest wisdom

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Online LibraryJohn Henry NewmanOn the scope & nature of university education → online text (page 20 of 22)