Chapter 8. Advancing Estrangements—Tract 90, and the Jerusalem Bishopric

{138} LONG before 1841 Newman had found that the Tracts for the Times caused much alarm in the minds of steady Anglicans, indeed in some of those who were not in any sense of the word Low Churchmen. In 1838 the then Bishop of Oxford (Dr. Bagot) made some slight animadversion on their character which was more or less of the nature of censure. Newman offered to stop them at once if his Bishop wished it. But at that time the Bishop declined to express any such wish. The truth is, that Newman was at the head of a movement of which, as he afterwards recognized very frankly, he was by no means the master. It did not move as he had hoped that it would move; it had a law of its own, like a mass of snow or a flood once set in motion, which can be controlled only by the laws of gravitation and by the general conformation of the surface of the country over which it passes. The Lectures on Anglican Difficulties, published after Newman became a Roman Catholic, confessed this plainly; and in a more biographic form, though not, I think, the form which the Cardinal would have given to the "History of his {139} religious opinions," if he had written it after the temporary estrangement between himself and the late William George Ward was at an end, he reiterated the confession in the autobiography. In the Apologia [Note 1] he says—"While my old and true friends were thus in trouble about me, I suppose they felt not only anxiety, but pain, to see that I was gradually surrendering myself to the influence of others, who had not their own claims upon me, younger men, and of a cast of mind uncongenial to my own. A new school of thought was rising, as is usual in such movements, and was sweeping the original party of the movement aside, and was taking its place. The most prominent person in it was a man of elegant genius, of classical mind, of rare talent in literary composition—Mr. Oakeley."

The most prominent person in this new party was certainly not Mr. Oakeley, who, accomplished and scholarly as he was, was hardly a man to lead a phalanx which, as Newman says, "cut into the original movement at an angle, fell across its line of thought, and then set about turning that line in its own direction," but a much more vigorous thinker and much more trenchant exponent of thought, William George Ward. In the very charming and brilliant account of this remarkable man's earlier career, which was published in 1889 by his son, Wilfrid Ward, we get such a picture of him as we have seldom had painted of a subordinate leader embarked in a great movement. Without any of Newman's clinging affection for the English Church, and with very little of his profound distrust of mere logic, Mr. Ward exhibited a willingness to carry Church principles into {140} action, and a certain hilarity in braving the dismay which that willingness produced, that made him to a very real extent a thorn in Newman's side, though Ward was at the same time one of the most loyal and ardent of Newman's followers. He was indeed in almost every respect a difficult and restless disciple. He loved a certain bareness, not to say nakedness, both of logic and expression, which stand in very strong contrast to Newman's carefully and delicately shaded studies of the many modifying circumstances which tend to qualify the principles he enunciated. Newman speaks of the difficulty he found in dealing with persons who called on him on purpose to "pump" him as to how he got over this and the other difficulty in the Anglican position. Of these inveterate pumpers Ward must have been much the ablest and most indefatigable. He loved just those things in the Roman Catholic tendencies of the movement from which Newman most sensitively shrank. He seems to me to have loved best the most carnal forms of the Roman Catholic devotions, just those which repelled Newman, because they put in a broad popular form what Newman could only endure when veiled in an abstract principle. Ward heartily admired what I have elsewhere called the "glare" of the continental piety. To dwell on and even exaggerate the Roman Catholic view of the infallibility of the Church was his delight. The cultus of the saints was no trouble to him. The stress laid upon the worship of the Virgin filled him with exultation. He held "Justification by Faith" to be almost a diabolic doctrine, and asked Mr. Oakeley whether it was not true that Melancthon was less "detestable" than most of the Reformers. To such a disciple the Via Media was like a strait waistcoat. {141} And he delighted in asking Newman questions which were difficult to answer in any spirit loyal to that Via Media view of the Anglican position, and then in retailing far and wide the concessions to his own difficulties which he had obtained.

There was a singular naïveté about Mr. Ward, a glee in either giving or receiving a severe intellectual cudgelling, which rendered it almost impossible to take offence at his hard hitting. He was the most bland of logical swordsmen, and would smile as sweetly if his view were denounced as wicked, as he would when declaring the view of his opponent to be an utterly abominable though logical inference from premisses which no healthy conscience would ever have admitted. Far from loving, as Newman did, the sobriety of the English Church, and finding in its studious moderation a note of divinity, Ward loved all the ostensibilities, not to say the ostentations, of the Church of Rome, as it had developed itself in its war with the world, the haughty claim of its priesthood to override worldly dignities, the effusion and the fame of its saints, the multiplicity of its miracles, the pageantry of its pilgrimages, the pride of its humility, the military grandeur of its organization, and the calm defiance with which it treated the imputation of superstition and of ignorant credulity. No doubt he was one of the most exacting of the many followers of whom Newman repeats that they kept saying to him, "What will you make of the Articles?" For the Articles not only specially excited Ward's doctrinal detestation of the Lutheran view of faith, but excited also that dislike of compromise, that profound contempt for judicious trimming, which was one of the most marked of his characteristics, and which {142} soon carried him far beyond Newman and his ultra-montanism, when once they had joined the Roman Catholic Church.

Newman declares with obvious truth in his Apologia, that he himself did not share the apprehensions which the question, "What will you make of the Articles?" implied. It was not in the least his own sense of difficulty—as it usually had been—which led him to deal with the Articles in the famous Tract 90; it was rather "the restlessness actual and prospective of those who neither liked the Via Media, nor my strong judgment against Rome," and of these Ward was much the most active and the most vivid. "I had been enjoined, I think by my Bishop, to keep these men straight, and I wished so to do; but their tangible difficulty was subscription to the Articles; and thus the question of the Articles came before me. It was thrown in our teeth, 'How can you manage to sign the Articles? They are directly against Rome.' 'Against Rome!' I made answer. 'What do you mean by Rome?' and then I proceeded to make distinctions," [Note 2] of which the upshot was Tract 90, the tract which practically determined that the goal of what Newman calls "The Providential Movement of 1838," was not to be in a Branch Church. Newman held (1) that the Articles were really drawn up against the political supremacy of the Pope much more than against the doctrines of the Church of Rome, and he himself did not favour the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome over foreign Churches. (2) He held that the Articles were expressly intended by the Government of the day which prepared them, to gain over the moderate {143} Romanists, and that they were therefore intentionally so drawn up that "their bark should prove worse than their bite." [Note 3] And (3) he insisted that in recognizing the doctrine of the Homilies as "godly and wholesome," and insisting on subscription to that proposition, they virtually declared themselves Roman Catholic in spirit, for they treat several of the Apocryphal books as in the highest sense authoritative; they treat the Primitive Church for nearly seven hundred years as quite pure; they recognize six councils as allowed and received by all Christians; they speak of the Bishops of the first eight centuries as of good authority and credit with the people; they speak of many of the Fathers as endowed with the Holy Ghost; they quote from the Fathers the teaching that the Lord's Supper is "the salve of immortality, the sovereign preservative against death;" they speak of the meat received in the Sacrament as an "invisible meat and a ghostly substance;" they speak of Ordination and Matrimony as Sacraments, and expressly say that there are other Sacraments besides Baptism and the Lord's Supper; they speak of "alms-deeds" as purging the soul from sin; they talk of fasting, used with prayer, as of great efficacy with God. All these doctrines are then promulgated in a book, whose general teaching is declared in the Articles to be godly and wholesome, so that it is hardly possible that they were really meant to effect a complete breach with Roman Catholic doctrine. And (4) Newman urged that when the Articles were drawn up the Council of Trent was not over, and its decrees were not promulgated, and this showed that the Articles were not directed against {144} the Council of Trent, but against something else. Indeed the Homilies, which are the best commentaries on the Articles, being recommended to us by the Articles, teach us clearly enough what the object of the compilers of the Articles was, namely, to get rid of the popular corruptions practically sanctioned in the Church of Rome, though not for the most part supported by any dogmatic decrees. Again, (5) the Convocation of 1571 enjoined that nothing should be preached except what could be proved from the Old and New Testament, and what "the Catholic Fathers and ancient Bishops have collected from that very doctrine." Here is clear evidence, in Newman's opinion, that the Convocation which imposed the Articles was very jealous of any attempt to break with Catholic antiquity. No wonder that Newman believed that wherever the Articles are vague, and do not define what they mean, their vagueness was intentional, and was to be interpreted in the most comprehensive and not in the most narrow and exclusive sense.

But what Newman did not sufficiently consider was, that the Anglican Church, partly in consequence of its alliance with the State, and the consequent loss of individual energy, and partly in consequence of the temper of the people among whom it ministered, and their inclinations to distrust Rome both for its political and for its hierarchical tendencies, had become identified more and more in popular estimation with the Protestant aspects of its teaching, and less and less with the views dear to the moderate Romanizers, whom the ecclesiastical authors of the Articles had felt so anxious a desire to win. The prevalent impression certainly was that the Articles had effected a breach with Rome, and though {145} there was plenty of room for a sincere interpretation of them in Newman's sense, there can be no doubt at all that to the world at large that interpretation was a shock and a surprise, and a clear evidence that the aim of the Tractarians was gradually to reconcile the two Churches, one of which had been often denounced by the other as the true Antichrist. Ward at any rate hailed Tract 90 not so much as explaining a legitimate interpretation to be put on the Articles, still less as explaining the true sense in which they were conceived and imposed, but rather as finding for them a non-natural sense indeed, but still a sense not at all more non-natural than that which would have to be put on many portions of the Prayer-book by anybody who regarded the natural sense of the Articles as expressing his real faith, and whose difficulty would therefore lie in the straightforward and candid use of the liturgy of the Church. Ward's view was, I think, the true one, that either the Articles must be strained very hard to reconcile them with the Prayer-book, or the Prayer-book must be strained very hard to reconcile it with the Articles, and that this being once admitted, Newman's arguments were sufficient to justify the choice of the Articles as the more proper of the two documents to be furnished with a non-natural meaning.

There was, as I have shown, real ground for supposing that those who framed the Articles were not anxious to offend the more moderate Romanists; there was no pretext for supposing that those who drew up the Prayer-book were not genuinely opposed to the Puritan theology; so that if one of the two had to be wrested from the meaning that plain men would naturally put upon it, Ward saw every reason why it ought to be the {146} Articles and not the Prayer-book. But Newman would not so much as admit that the sense he preferred to give to the Articles was a non-natural sense at all. I believe that he sincerely thought it the most natural sense of which, all things considered, they admitted, and was astonished and indignant at the outcry which Tract 90 raised. Ward must have kicked violently against the naturalness of Newman's interpretation of the Eleventh Article, "that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine." This meant, said Newman, that we are justified by faith only as being the only internal instrument of justification, but not that Baptism is not necessary—as of course he held it to be—as an external instrument of justification. Nor does the Article exclude even "works" as a means of justification, if these works are done under the prompting of Divine influence, for it is Newman's very wholesome doctrine that there are Divine influences at work all over the world, amongst those who neither have received Baptism nor can be said to have faith in any full sense, and that the works which are done in obedience to these sporadic Divine influences do dispose men to receive that fuller grace which brings with it a justifying faith. "Such," he says, "were Cornelius's alms, fasting and prayers, which led to his baptism;" so that, according to Newman, the Eleventh Article neither makes faith the sole instrument of justification (but only the sole internal instrument), nor even the sole internal instrument which prepares the way for justification, since works done in deference to Divine promptings prepare the way for the gift of justifying faith. {147}

Justification by Faith, and elaborate limitation of it, was wormwood to Mr. Ward, and no doubt induced him to write a kind of defence of Tract 90, which was, in its tone, decidedly displeasing to Newman, who had no wish at all to see his view of the Articles treated as a mere pis-aller, excusable only because on any other view of them some still more weighty expression of the Church's faith must have been sacrificed. Still more questionable was Newman's mode of explaining away the Twenty-second Article on "Purgatory, Pardon, Images, Relics, and Invocation of Saints," so as to admit all these, though not in the form in which "the Romish doctrine" admits them. For example, Invocation of Saints is, Newman thinks, admissible, so long as it is not the kind of invocation proper to prayers addressed to God. I think this view would have been altogether over-strained and inadmissible if the Books of Homilies had not been sanctioned by the Articles; but as these Books—of which the English people virtually know nothing—do distinguish between invoking the aid of angels and saints, and giving them the sort of worship "due and proper unto God," Newman had a case for insisting on this distinction, though it must be admitted that the article on the subject, if it intended to allow that distinction, was one of the most misleading Articles of Religion ever devised.

On the whole, Tract 90 certainly gave a very false impression of Newman's mind and genius to the English people, and yet for a long time it was the one publication with which his name was chiefly associated. Oxford men indeed knew what he was as a preacher, and how deep as well as justly grounded was his spiritual influence over men. But for a long time the only conception of {148} Newman in the minds of the English middle-class was the conception of a subtle-minded ecclesiastical special pleader, who could explain away the force of the most unmistakable language, and show how to drive a coach-and-six through the accidental gaps in a Protestant formula. As a matter of fact, nothing less deeply characteristic of Newman than Tract 90 has ever been issued by him. It was very far indeed from an insincere document; it expressed, as I have said, what he thought to be the almost inevitable interpretation to be put on a far from straightforward ecclesiastical manifesto, looking to the time when it was drawn up, the persons on whose behalf it was put forth, and the Convocation by which it was promulgated. But though Newman really thought it the best interpretation of which the Articles admitted, that was only because, looked at from the historical point of view, they admitted of no very natural or straightforward interpretation at all. And it is never a very pleasant office for a man who is himself in passionate earnest, as Newman was, to take refuge behind the ambiguities of a creed artfully devised to suit the views of two very distinct parties, whose whole drift was at bottom irreconcilable. I have never quite understood how, with Newman's view of the Church, he was willing to belong to one which had gone so far in the direction of superficially at least disavowing doctrines which he himself was disposed to hold very sacred.

It is not necessary to describe what has been described hundreds of times—the storm of indignation which Tract 90 aroused. Newman, as he tells us in his Apologia, was quite unprepared for it, and startled by its violence, but his feeling on the whole was one {149} of relief that he was so distinctly pointed out as unfit to retain any longer his place at the head of the movement. He says in his Apologia, in relation to the attack upon Tract 90, "I recognize" [in it] "much of real religious feeling, much of honest and true principle, much of straightforward, ignorant common-sense." But his Oxford leadership was gone for ever. "It was simply an impossibility that I could say anything henceforth to good effect when I had been posted up by the marshal on the buttery-hatch of every College of my University, after the manner of discommoned pastry-cooks; and when in every part of the country and every class of society, through every organ and occasion of opinion, in newspapers, in periodicals, at meetings, in pulpits, at dinner-tables, in coffee-rooms, in railway carriages, I was denounced as a traitor who had laid his train, and was detected in the very act of firing it against the time-honoured Establishment." [Note 4]

But what affected Newman more profoundly than the popular stir and indignation, was the evidence given in episcopal charges, that the ecclesiastical leaders of his Church utterly disowned the principles which attributed to them so much higher a function as the channels of Divine grace than was attributed to them by any other Church party. "A bishop's lightest word ex cathedrâ is heavy," he had written. And an archbishop answered to the effect, that neither a bishop's lightest word nor his gravest word is of any special account at all. "Many persons look with considerable interest to the declarations on such matters that from time to time are put forth by bishops in their charges, or on other {150} occasions. But on most of the points to which I have been alluding, a bishop's declarations have no more weight, except what they derive from his personal character, than any anonymous pamphlet would have. The points are mostly such as he has no official power to decide, even in reference to his own diocese; and as to legislation for the Church, or authoritative declarations on many of the most important matters, neither any one bishop, nor all collectively, have any more right of this kind than the ordinary magistrates have to take on themselves the functions of Parliament." [Note 5]

And how did the bishops' charges in general deal with the Tracts? One of them replied in the words of the Homily, "'Let us diligently search the well of life, and not run after the stinking puddles of tradition devised by man's imagination?' A second, 'It is a subject of deep concern that any of our body should prepare men of ardent feelings and warm imaginations for a return to the Roman mass-book.' And a third, 'Already are the foundations of apostasy laid; if we once admit another Gospel, Antichrist is at the door. I am full of fear: everything is at stake; there seems to be something judicial in the rapid spread of these opinions.' And a fourth, 'It is impossible not to remark upon the subtle wile of the adversary; it has been signally and unexpectedly exemplified in the present day by the revival of errors which might have been supposed buried for ever.' And a fifth, 'Under the specious pretence of deference to antiquity, and respect for primitive models, the foundations of our Protestant Church are undermined by men who dwell within her walls, and {151} those who sit in the Reformers' seat are traducing the Reformation.' 'Our glory is in jeopardy,' says a sixth. 'Why all this tenderness for the very centre and core of corruption?' asks a seventh. 'Among other marvels of the present day,' says an eighth, 'may be accounted the irreverent and unbecoming language applied to the chief promoters of the Reformation in this land. The quick and extensive propagation of opinions tending to exalt the claims of the Church and of the clergy can be no proof of their soundness.' 'Reunion with Rome has been rendered impossible,' says a ninth, 'yet I am not without hope that more cordial union may in time be effected among all Protestant Churches.' 'Most of the bishops,' says a tenth, 'have spoken in terms of disapproval of the Tracts for the Times, and I certainly believe the system to be most pernicious, and one which is calculated to produce the most lamentable schism in a Church already fearfully disunited.' 'Up to this moment,' says an eleventh, 'the movement is advancing under just the same pacific professions, and the same imputations are still cast upon all who in any way impede its progress. Even the English bishops who have officially expressed any disapprobation of the principles or proceedings of the party have not escaped such animadversions.' 'Tractarianism is the masterpiece of Satan,' says a twelfth." [Note 6]

This was exactly the sort of testimony which Newman wanted to convince him that the life of the Anglican Church rejected the teaching of the Tracts, as every living organism will reject that which is alien to it, and inappropriate for its nourishment. {152}

Nothing seems to me a greater proof of Newman's sincerity and fidelity to his own intellectual convictions than the long period of hesitation through which he passed between 1841, when Tract 90 was condemned by the almost unanimous acclamation of the Anglican Church, and 1845, when he joined the Church of Rome. Even as early as 1837 he had received his first shock as to the tenability of the Via Media. In that year he was struck by the similarity between the position of the Monophysites of the fifth century—who denied the human nature in Christ, and who leaned on the Emperor, just as the Anglican Church leans on the State—and the Anglicans of our own time, who have so little of an independent doctrinal position, and who would have no popular strength at all if they did not receive help from their connection with the State, which always prefers a religious party that cannot stand alone, that is not stronger than itself, to a religious party which has so clear a doctrinal basis as to appear in no need of the sustaining power of the State. This impression Newman got rid of for a time, but it returned upon him after the outbreak against Tract 90. He had always ridiculed and denounced the notion of taking his stand on moderation alone. Before 1839 he took his stand upon antiquity. Between 1841 and 1845 he grounded his position on the impossibility of joining a Church which tolerated so many popular corruptions as that of Rome; but he never ceased to think and speak with scorn of those who balanced one admission against another without putting forward one clear principle, the men who held "that Scripture is the only authority, yet that the Church is to be deferred to; that faith only justifies, yet that it does not justify {153} without works; that grace does not depend on the sacraments, yet is not given without them; that bishops are a Divine ordinance, yet those who have them not are in the same religious condition as those who have." "This," he said, "is your safe man, and the hope of the Church; this is what the Church is sure to want, not party men, but sensible, temperate, sober, well-judging persons, to guide it through the channel of no-meaning between the Scylla and Charybdis of Aye and No." [Note 7]

For while Newman could rely on antiquity,—on his belief that the Roman Church had departed from the faith of the Apostles,—he was comparatively at ease in denouncing this meaningless moderation. But when he had convinced himself that Rome had only proceeded on the same principle in condemning those who denied the reality of Christ's human nature, on which she now proceeds in condemning the hesitating and half-and-half doctrine of the Anglican Church, he was no longer easy in his mind, and fell back on the negative position that it was impossible to join hands with a Church that tolerated so many popular frivolities, and that welcomed the aid of such unscrupulous controversialists. He said of Rome in 1840, "'By their fruits ye shall know them.' ... We see it attempting to gain converts among us by unreal representations of its doctrines, plausible statements, bold assertions, appeals to the weakness of human nature, to our fancies, our eccentricities, our fears, our frivolities, our false philosophies. We see its agents smiling, and nodding, and ducking to attract attention, as gipsies make up to truant boys, holding out tales for the nursery, and pretty pictures, {154} and gilt gingerbread, and physic concealed in jam, and sugar-plums for good children ... We Englishmen like manliness, openness, consistency, truth. Rome will never gain on us till she learns these virtues and uses them; and then she may gain us, but it will be by ceasing to be what we now mean by Rome, by having a right, not to 'have dominion over our faith,' but to gain and possess our affections in the bonds of the Gospel. Till she ceases to be what she practically is, a union is impossible between her and England; but if she does reform (and who can presume to say that so large a part of Christendom never can?), then it will be our Church's duty at once to join in communion with the continental Churches, whatever politicians at home may say to it, and whatever steps the civil power may take in consequence." [Note 8]

In July 1841 came the still-birth of a Bishopric of Jerusalem, the bishop to have jurisdiction over such other Protestant congregations as might desire to accept the bishop's authority, and this without any condition that such Protestants should renounce their errors and accept Baptism and Confirmation, where there was any doubt of their formal baptism. This seemed to Newman as decisive an admission that the Anglican Church did not insist on her Church principles, as the repudiation of Tract 90 had been that she did insist on her Protestant principles.

With reference to this matter, Newman says in the Apologia, "The Anglican Church might have the Apostolical succession, as had the Monophysites; but such acts as were in progress led me to the gravest {155} suspicion, not that it would soon cease to be a Church, but that it had never been a Church all along." For the following four or five years Newman calls himself "upon his death-bed" as an Anglican. Like Heine's very different and much more penal sufferings in his Mattrass-Gruft, the experiences through which Newman went on his long death-bed certainly could not be said to constitute a euthanasia. He found many of his intimate friends very much disposed to take lightly the repudiation of the Tracts by all the chief authorities of the Church of England, and to go on much as before pleading the claims of the Church of England to the faith of baptized Anglicans on the old grounds. He himself could not do this. He regarded what had taken place as a virtual rejection of Church doctrines by the Church, and as practically confessing that the Anglican Church did not wish to be in communion with the Catholic Church. He accordingly fell back upon a new theory of his position—a new and weaker theory. He could not join the Church of Rome while it tolerated what he still thought such abuses as giving to the Virgin Mary and to the Saints a worship that he thought incompatible with the worship due to God, and therefore he held that he had no choice but to stay by the old Church in which he was born, and to justify that course as best he could. And the new defence was this. He observed that the Church of Israel from the time of Jeroboam was definitely excommunicated by the Church of the other two tribes, which remained the only Church of the true worship; but yet, in spite of this, two great prophets, Elijah and Elisha, were sent to this excommunicated Church, and moreover, the whole history assumes that Samaria was still under the Divine care, {156} and that too without any condition being imposed on her people that they should submit to the Church whose worship was in the Temple of Jerusalem.

Under the awkward circumstances of the case, being unable to deny that his own Church strenuously repudiated what he thought the true principles of Catholicity, and yet unable to retreat to any Church that asserted them, Newman comforted himself by declaring that England was in truth in the position of Samaria, and that it was the duty of true Anglicans to remain where they were, waiting for light, making the most of their Apostolical succession and their private right to cherish the doctrinal truth of which they had possessed themselves, in spite of the admission they were compelled to make, that their Church as a whole rejected that true doctrine.

This position Newman set forth in four sermons, preached in 1841, on the duty of remaining Anglicans under the great discouragement, as he held it to be, of the Jerusalem bishopric and the condemnation of Tract 90, Sermons 21 to 24 inclusive, of the volume on Subjects of the Day. They are amongst the most touching he ever preached, expressing with his usual pathos the pain of his position as a member of a Church whose mission appeared to have "failed," who "honoured not the precept of unity," who "had no heart for that outward glory of older times," but who, like Elijah fleeing to Horeb, the sacred mountain of the older covenant, "fled to Antiquity, and would not stop short of it," and "so heard the words of comfort which reconciled him to his work and to its issue." The comfort consisted in the assurance that after all, outward signs like tempest, and earthquake, and fire, even though the fire be the fire of cloven tongues such {157} as descended at Pentecost, are not the final signs of God's presence, which is most truly discerned in a "still small voice," such as that which the prophet, even of a nation in apostasy, was permitted to hear.

Nothing could express more powerfully the mixture of anguish and of faith which filled Newman's heart at this time than the conclusion of the last of these sermons—"What want we then but faith in our Church? With faith we can do everything; without faith we can do nothing. If we have a secret misgiving about her all is lost; we lose our nerve, our powers, our position, our hope. A cold despondency and sickness of mind, a niggardness and peevishness of spirit, a cowardice and a sluggishness envelop us, penetrate us, stifle us. Let it not be so with us; let us be of good heart; let us accept her as God's gift and our portion; let us imitate him who, 'when he was by the bank of Jordan, took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah?' She is like the mantle of Elijah, a relic from Him who is gone up on high."

Newman had thus already come to consider his Church a "relic" of older and better days. Evidently he had that secret misgiving about his Church which he here condemns, and it was a misgiving which grew upon him steadily. His resolve to remain in the Anglican Church was really hanging by a thread, though it hung by this thread for a considerable time, for even the threads of Newman's nature are very tenacious threads. In the four sermons from which I have just quoted he made it clear that in his belief Elijah and Elisha could only have acted as they did under explicit Divine instruction,—explicit instruction which he assumes but of course {158} could not prove to have been given,—and that it is only right for men to remain in their original communion after they have once been compelled to entertain doubts of the grace vouchsafed to that communion, so long as they are in serious doubt of the claim of any other Church on their allegiance. So long as his conviction lasted that the corruptions of Rome were too serious to admit of his passing into her fold, he stayed in the communion in which he was born—so long and no longer. But the language which he had used against Rome was, as he afterwards said, rather the language he had learned from the Anglican divines of the seventeenth century than the language which he himself had felt it his personal duty to apply to her. When he retracted that language in 1843, he declared that he had not been speaking his own words, but had been following "almost a consensus of the divines of my own Church;" and in the Apologia—treating of these charges against Rome and their retractation—he likened his position to that of the convict who on the scaffold bit off his mother's ear, on the ground that her indulgence of him as a child had brought him to the scaffold at last. So Newman accused the Fathers of the Church in which he was born of having misled him into language against Rome which, on thorough examination, he found himself unable to justify, but which he had accepted in a filial spirit. Apparently he felt disposed to bite off the ear of his own Anglican mother for having taught him to revile her whom he found to be worthy of all honour.

But while he was slowly finding this out in his retirement at Littlemore,—he had resigned his living at St. Mary's on the 18th September, 1843,—he became the object of unbridled curiosity, and the subject of an {159} unlimited number of rumours. "I cannot walk into or out of my house," he said, "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, heavy feeling which pierced me, and I think these are the very words that I used 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 undergraduates inside. Heads of Houses, as mounted patrols, walked their horses round those poor cottages; Doctors of Divinity dived into the hidden recesses of that private tenement uninvited, and drew domestic conclusions from what they saw there." [Note 9]

In fact, the Bishop of Oxford (Dr. Bagot) was pelted with complaints that Newman was erecting an Anglo-Catholic monastery at Littlemore, and that the cells, chapel, dormitories belonging thereto were all advancing rapidly to completion. This was in 1842, before Newman had resigned the vicarage of St. Mary's. It was even alleged that Newman had already been received into the Catholic Church, and was founding a pseudo-Anglican monastery, which was really to be under the guidance of Rome; but this calumny the then Bishop of Oxford—a very excellent man—did not think it worth while even to repeat to Newman, in order that it might be contradicted. The charge that he was erecting an Anglo-Catholic monastery without even asking the consent of his bishop was mentioned, and was contradicted. Newman merely said that he was {160} building a parsonage for Littlemore, which it much needed, without a chapel, by connecting together a few cottages, and that for himself he intended to devote himself more and more to religious meditation, though not at the expense of the parish work, which he zealously attended to; and that so far as regarded like-minded friends, he was of course glad that they should share his mode of life if they wished, but that no sort of institution of any kind was in process of formation. "I am attempting nothing ecclesiastical," he said, "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 unmannerly and unfeeling curiosity." [Note 10]

Newman was even accused of recommending those who had already become Roman Catholics to retain their preferment in the Church of England, and the Bishop of Oxford was even misled into believing for a time this accusation against him. This of course he did not do, and indignantly resented the imputation of doing, for he himself had set the example of resigning his living long before he became a convinced Roman Catholic. For more than two years after feeling something approaching to a belief that the Church of Rome was the only Catholic Church of Christ, though he still held it to be corrupted by a devotion to the Virgin and the saints which amounted to a grave unfaithfulness to the primitive teaching, Newman remained in lay communion with the Anglican Church, though he would not remain a clergyman of that {161} Church, and this was the course which he also recommended to those who consulted him on such subjects. His own state of mind and feeling during these last two years of hesitation was very painful. One of his most intimate friends, an Anglican to the last, died in 1844, and he had expected, he says, that his death would have brought light to his mind as to what he ought to do. It did not. He wrote in his diary, "I sobbed bitterly over his coffin, 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 will." [Note 11]

In such anxieties, hesitations, and doubts the period wore away during which Newman was on what he called his Anglican death-bed. There were many miserable searchings of heart, many seemingly unanswered prayers for more light, many slanders to be repelled, many unmerited but not unkind reproaches to be borne. And then at last the end came. The Essay on Development, of which I must speak next, written while Newman was nominally an Anglican, though substantially a Roman Catholic, was nearly finished, when in October, 1845, he felt that his conversion was really complete, and that he should imperil his salvation by remaining longer outside the communion of the Roman Catholic Church. But before I come to his reconciliation to Rome I must give some account of the remarkable essay with the composition of which his Anglican life terminated.

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1. P. 277, 1st edition.
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2. Apologia, pp. 158-9.
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3. Apologia, p. 163.
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4. Apologia, p. 173.
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5. Lectures on Anglican Difficulties, p. 93, 1st edition.
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6. Lectures on Anglican Difficulties, p. 92-3.
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7. Apologia, p. 193.
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8. Apologia, p. 227-8.
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9. Apologia, p. 289.
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10. Apologia, pp. 294-5.
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11. Apologia, p. 359.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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