Chapter 34. Final Tasks (1880-1886)

{472} SO far as the weight of nearly fourscore years permitted it, the period which followed the conferring of the Cardinalate was a very happy one. Tokens of universal reverence multiplied on Newman's return from Rome. The formal receptions which were held to do him honour gave opportunity also for expressions of gratitude from the many who had owed to him their Christian faith or their religious peace, and it was brought home to him that during the years which had seemed to him simply years of failure he had in fact been doing a work as real (if less conspicuous) as the work he had done at Oxford.

A great reception was given at Norfolk House, for which others besides the Catholic world accepted invitations in order to meet the new Cardinal [Note 1]. Lord Salisbury came from Hatfield and reopened his London house for the occasion. And many other men prominent in public life availed themselves of the opportunity to pay honour to the new Cardinal. His brethren at the London Oratory also entertained him at Brompton. In the diary of one of the Fathers we read as follows:

'The Cardinal assisted at Vespers and gave Benediction at the London Oratory, and gave an address afterwards to the Brothers of the Little Oratory. I believe it was touching. Lord Emly quite broke down. Anthony Froude wrote a {473} mournfully affecting letter to the Duke, asking if he might come to the Oratory to hear it. "Since last I heard that musical voice my faith has all been shattered: perhaps if I might hear it again it would at least awaken in me some echoes of those old days." I do not know how far exactly these words are his own; I have them from the account Fr. John gave me in conversation.'

Trinity College, Oxford, invited the new Cardinal to dine at the College Gaudy on Trinity Monday 1880. The Cardinal accepted, and preached on Trinity Sunday at the Jesuit Church in Oxford to a crowded congregation. The dinner on the Monday was a far more stately function than that which he had attended in February 1878, after his election as Honorary Fellow. There were numerous guests, and ladies were invited to a reception in the evening. These were presented in turn to the Cardinal, who received them in semi-royal state. The late Sir Richard Jebb was at the dinner, and told the present writer that Newman's informal speech on the occasion was a model of perfect tact and grace. For half an hour or so, sitting in his chair, he talked to the table of Oxford memories—of Whately, Pusey, Blanco White, Hawkins, and many another, not forgetting his old Trinity tutor Thomas Short, who had passed away since his visit of 1878.

These functions were physically exhausting to the Cardinal, but they were the outward symbols of work done for the good cause and were intensely grateful to him.

Cardinal Newman had no thought of otium cum dignitate for his declining years. The whole value of his new position consisted in the influence it gave him. 'His strength,' writes Father Neville, 'which had been so severely tried in Rome, was rapidly regained, his health was good, and he had the happiness of being conscious that the readiness and vigour of his mind were undiminished. But fatigue during exertion came upon him more quickly than heretofore. It was a warning to him that he would have less and less opportunity to make up for loss of time.' He determined forthwith to do his best to make the Holy Father realise the difficulties which had for so many years oppressed him, as to the position of educated Christians, in view of the now rapidly rising tide {474} of anti-Christian thought. The sad question which he had asked in 1877 in respect of tendencies which he deplored, 'What can one writer do against this misfortune?' was no longer in place. There was since then a new Pontiff, whose policy might well depart from the 'non possumus' which Pius IX.'s later history had forced upon him in politics, and which he had sometimes extended to the intellectual movements of the day as well as to the political. And Newman himself, as a Cardinal of Holy Church, might have an influence in high quarters which as a mere writer he could never attain. He meant to lose no time in urging on Rome itself the policy which since the days of his Dublin campaign he had so keenly felt to be necessary for the education of Catholics—of admitting again within the Church something of the free discussions which the thirteenth century had witnessed, with a view to revising the defences of Christianity to meet new dangers. This involved doing full justice to all that was strongest in the anti-Christian arguments, and replying to them, in place of either banishing them as temptations or caricaturing what was cogent as though it were inept. Not that for a moment he desired the average weak mind to face arguments against Christian faith which might easily perplex it. Indeed, some of his most characteristic letters of this time are directed against such intercourse, on the part of Catholics in general, with anti-Christian thinkers as might weaken the hold of religion on their imagination. But there must (he held) be a body of really cogent theological and philosophical reasoning in the Catholic schools, to fall back upon and to inspire confidence in thoughtful men; and this could only be elaborated by frankly and freely testing in actual warfare the strength of the existing apologetic and discarding what was inadequate. 'When I see a clever and thoughtful young man,' he used to say at this time, 'I feel a kind of awe and even terror in thinking of his future. How will he be able to stand against the intellectual flood that is setting in against Christianity?'

In his reminiscences of the thoughts and tasks which occupied the Cardinal in his last years, Father Neville, his constant companion, writes as follows: {475}

'He gave himself much to the aid of persons of high culture and power of thought, whose difficulties were intellectual with regard to the faith, even as to belief in God; yet were earnest to do right if only they could be sure of the Truth. Trials such as these appealed to him especially, and drew forth his most tender sympathy. Moreover, he was conscious that he himself could do much for the relief of these persons, which others ordinarily could not; and he had it greatly at heart to draw them nearer to the Church and nearer to God. To make persons who were Catholics happy in their religion was also, to him, another great aim.

'Services such as these occupied him a great deal, and influenced him very much in works which he undertook to do.'

In a memorandum belonging to his last years Cardinal Newman thus expresses himself:

'From the time that I began to occupy my mind with theological subjects I have been troubled at the prospect, which I considered to lie before us, of an intellectual movement against religion, so special as to have a claim upon the attention of all educated Christians. As early as 1826 I wrote, "As the principles of science are in process of time more fully developed, and become more independent of the religious system, there is much danger lest the philosophical school should be found to separate from the Christian Church, and at length disown the parent to whom it has been so greatly indebted. And this evil has in a measure befallen us," &c. &c. ("Univ. Serm.," p. 14). This grave apprehension led me to consider the evidences, as they are called, of Religion generally, and the intellectual theory on which they are based. This I attempted with the purpose, as far as lay in my power, not certainly of starting doubts about religion, but of testing and perfecting the proofs in its behalf. In literal warfare, weapons are tested before they are brought into use, and the men are not called traitors who test them.'

In another memorandum, a copy of which he sent during his last years [Note 2] to the present writer, the Cardinal urged the necessity of drawing up a systematic statement of the main points on which there was a divergence between the conclusions generally received among men of science, including the Biblical and historical critics, and the generally received opinions in the theological schools. Such a statement ought, {476} he said, to be forwarded to Rome with strong representations as to the urgent necessity, with a view to protecting the faith of the young, that these questions should be fully and candidly discussed among Catholic theologians and men of science with the sanction of Rome itself. Such frank debate would result in the erection of an authority on the subjects in question, which would inspire general confidence.

Newman's first thought was to return to Rome himself and open his mind to his brother Cardinals and, above all, to the Holy Father. In his 'Reminiscences' Father Neville states that 'on the occasion of his visit to Rome in 1879, some of the Cardinals had greatly attracted Newman, and he desired to resume conversation with his colleagues on subjects which had largely inspired his own writings.

'He determined, therefore,' writes Father Neville, 'to return to Rome for a time, as soon as the re-establishment of his health would allow it, looking forward to talking with some who had not followed him in all his writings, and to becoming conversant with many matters of interest and importance. Moreover, and above all things, he desired to open his mind fully to the Holy Father on those educational subjects which had occupied him so much, and concerning which his knowledge and experience were exceptional.

'The earliest days of the approaching March (1880) had been fixed by him for his departure, but disappointment again overtook him; an accident which fractured two of his ribs confined him to his home, and the opportunity thus lost never returned. Each successive year left its deeper mark of age upon him. One thing and another made the prospect of his going to Rome more and more distant, till it became contemplated only in case of some emergency incidental to his position as Cardinal calling him thither; or, should the Holy Father's position become perilous, as at one time seemed not unlikely, then he, as would beseem a Cardinal, would be at his side.'

One extremely interesting fact is recorded by Father Neville in the same connection. A Cardinal was eligible to the Papacy, and Father Neville drew from Newman a statement as to what he should do in the highly improbable, but still not impossible event that he should some day be called on himself to decide the policy of the Church on the questions of the day. {477}

'Speaking in a matter-of-fact manner, but with grave seriousness,' writes Father Neville, 'he went on to say that his time would necessarily be too brief for him to do anything himself, "but this I could do," he said, "appoint and organise commissions on various subjects, and thus advance work for another to take up if he willed. That would be the work for me to do. It would have to begin at once, without any delay." Having said that, then with the briskness and relief as of one now seeing and knowing his way, he made mention of a Pope elected at ninety-three and dying at ninety-six, who had done a great work at that age and in that short time.'

The subjects he specified to Father Neville, as specially needing such commissions for their consideration, were Biblical criticism and the history of the Early Church; and the commissions would have to make a full and candid report to be dealt with by his successor as he should think fit.

While thus anxious for a satisfactory intellectual treatment of the bearing on Christian faith of those researches which were leading so many to reject it, Newman showed in his letters—as I have already intimated—a keen sense of the part played by intercourse with unbelievers in predisposing the mind to exaggerate the force of their arguments.

The following letters illustrate this view. They are addressed to Miss Bowles, who had told him of a common friend who lived much in the intellectual world of London and had ceased to be a Catholic or Christian:


'January 5, 1882.
'I think those shocking imaginations against everything supernatural and sacred, are as really diseases of the soul, as complaints of the body are, and become catching and epidemic, by contact or neighbourhood or company, (of course the will comes in, as a condition of their being caught, as, on the other hand, in the cures effected by St. Paul's handkerchiefs and aprons, faith would be a condition). But were I deliberately to frequent the society, the parties of clever infidels, I should expect all sorts of imaginations contrary to Revealed Truth, not based on reason, but fascinating or distressing, unsettling visions, to take possession of me ... This does not apply to intercourse with hereditary and religious Protestants, but to our Heresiarchs, to the preachers of infidel science, and our infidel literati and {478} philosophers. This leads me on to recur in thought to the fierce protests and shuddering aversion with which St. John, St. Polycarp, and Origen are recorded to have met such as Marcion and his fellows—and, though it may be impossible to take their conduct as a pattern to copy literally, yet I think we should avoid familiar intercourse with infidel poets, essayists, historians, men of science, as much as ever we can lawfully. I am speaking of course of such instruments of evil as really propagate evil.

'As to your very distressing intelligence, which has led to the above, I should hope and pray, hoping with great hope, and praying with great anxiety, that like a bodily complaint it will at length run its course, though the course may be long.

'It yet pains my hand to write.'


'June 15, 1882.
'I do really think it an epidemic, and wonderfully catching. It does not spread by the reason, but by the imagination. The imagination presents a possible, plausible view of things which haunts and at length overcomes the mind. We begin by asking "How can we be sure that it is not so?" and this thought hides from the mind the real rational grounds on which our faith is founded. Then our faith goes, and how in the world is it ever to be regained, except by a wonderful grant of God's grace. May God keep us all from this terrible deceit of the latter days. What is coming upon us? I look with keen compassion on the next generation and with, I may say, awe.'

While, during the years from 1880 to 1884, Newman cherished the hope of going in person to Rome, he resumed the tasks which the Cardinalate had interrupted. He completed the two 'Athanasius' volumes, and from the papers of Mr. William Palmer, brother of the late Lord Selborne, he compiled a volume called 'Notes of a Visit to the Russian Church in 1840-41.' He also projected a Latin version of selections from his own writings with a view to bringing some of his views more easily before his fellow-Catholics in other countries and the authorities in Rome. 'He looked forward with great brightness to the prosecution of this plan,' writes Father Neville. 'Not only would it have been easy to him, but also congenial, inasmuch as he was distrustful of foreign {479} translations giving correct expression to his ideas. He had gone as far in this intention as to make some beginnings as specimens of his plan, when unforeseen causes hindered him, and meanwhile it became too late.'

Death continued to come in these years to relations and intimate friends. The Cardinal knew well that his own time might arrive any day. His mind dwelt constantly (Father Neville used to tell me) on the awful change in prospect, and on all it meant in the light of Christian faith. And in some sense merely human affections paled in that light which he was ever striving to see more clearly. When his sister, Mrs. John Mozley, died on Christmas Day, 1879, he wrote to her children that he had said Mass for her soul. The letter appeared to them to be marked by a certain absence of expressions of affection, and her son sent him a letter in which, while expressing his confidence in the love of the brother for the sister, he recorded the impression made upon the family. The Cardinal wrote thus in reply:

'The Oratory: Feb. 26, 1880.
'My very dear John,—Thank you for your affectionate letter, which I am glad to have, though how to answer it I scarcely know, more than if it were written in a language I could not read. From so different a standpoint do we view things.

'Looking beyond this life, my first prayer, aim, and hope is that I may see God. The thought of being blest with the sight of earthly friends pales before that thought. I believe that I shall never die; this awful prospect would crush me, were it not that I trusted and prayed that it would be an eternity in God's Presence. How is eternity a boon, unless He goes with it?

'And for others dear to me, my one prayer is that they may see God.

'It is the thought of God, His Presence, His strength, which makes up, which repairs all bereavements.

'"Give what Thou wilt, without Thee we are poor,
And with Thee rich, take what Thou wilt away."

'I prayed it might be so, when I lost so many friends thirty-five years ago: what else could I look to?

'If then, as you rightly remind me, I said Mass for your dear Mother, it was to entreat the Lover of souls that, in His {480} own way and in His own time, He would remove all the distance which lay between the Sovereign Good and her, His creature. That is the first prayer, sine qua non, introductory to all prayers, and the most absorbing. What can I say more to you?
Yours affectionately,

In the following year Newman lost his dear and faithful friend, Mother Imelda Poole, Provincial of the Dominican Sisters. Shortly after her death he paid a visit to the Convent at Stone that he might say Mass for her in her own home. One of the Sisters has thus described the occasion:

'In the November of 1881 Cardinal Newman had the extraordinary kindness to pay us a visit to console us after the death of our own beloved Mother Imelda, and say Mass for her here. After his breakfast, he came to the Community Room, and spoke to us in the most beautiful and touching way, of the joy we ought to have in the midst of our bereavement. He said that in spite of great care to forget nothing he would require, he had forgotten his ring, and when vesting for Mass had asked Dr. Northcote whether there was such a thing in the house. Then he heard that on the 2nd of June 1868 Dr. Ullathorne had given the ring with which he had been consecrated Bishop to Mother Imelda as a memorial of her appointment as Provincial. "And this ring," he said, "I am wearing now on the occasion of my visit to her children." The consecration of the Bishop of Birmingham was the first occasion on which Mother Margaret and Dr. Newman met: the ring will now have a fourfold association.

'After dinner the Cardinal asked to be taken to the Choir that he might pray by Mother Margaret's and Mother Imelda's graves. He knelt by them for some time in silent prayer, evidently deeply moved. There was a most wonderful hush and silence all the time: no sound indoors or out, but a profound stillness. It was a dull grey morning: but as we still knelt there one clear bright ray of sunshine suddenly darted through the casement and fell directly on the grave of our dearest Mother Imelda. The effect of that silence and that sudden ray of light was something impossible to describe.

'When he came away he said to Mother F. Raphael, "I would not have missed this for the world."'

Cardinal Newman's feeling as to the true way of looking at death is apparent in the very touching intercourse, two {481} years later, with his old Oriel friend Mark Pattison. They had met but once since 1845, and now the Cardinal heard in December 1883 that his friend was gravely ill, and not likely to live long. The incident is recorded by Father Neville, and I give it in his words [Note 3]:

'A mutual friend had told him that what would be Mr. Pattison's last illness had evidently set in, and that as to religious belief he was in a most desolate state; and, moreover, that no one would be likely to have good effect upon him, unless it were the Cardinal himself. The Cardinal was rather seriously ill in bed with bronchitis when this sad news came, but, at once, he determined to do what he felt would be best—to go himself to the sick man. The doctors gave their forebodings of what would be the result to himself if he went, but he would not be deterred. "Is the little life left me," he said, "to be weighed against the chance of good in a case such as this? Let the doctors say what they will, I shall go!" He set to work in his own quiet way. He wrote at once to Mr. Pattison:

'The Oratory, Birmingham: Dec. 27, 1883.
'My very dear Pattison,—I grieve to hear that you are very unwell. How is it that I, who am so old, am carried on in years beyond my juniors?

'This makes me look back in my thoughts forty years, when you, with Dalgairns and so many others now gone, were entering into life.

'For the sake of those dear old days, I cannot help writing to you. Is there any way in which I can serve you? At least I can give you my prayers, such as they are.
'Yours affectionately,

The reply came at once:

'Lincoln College, Oxford: Dec. 28, 1883.
'When your letter, my dear master, was brought to my bedside this morning and I saw your well-known handwriting, my eyes filled so with tears that I could not at first see to read what you had said.

'When I found in what affectionate terms you addressed me, I felt guilty, for I thought, would he do so, if he knew how far I have travelled on the path which leads quite away from those ideas which I once—about 1845-1846—shared with him? {482}

'Or is your toleration so large, that though you knew me to be in grievous error, you could still embrace me as a son?

'If I have not dared to approach you in any way of recent years, it has been only from the fear that you might be regarding me as coming to you under false colours.

'The veneration and affection which I felt for you at the time you left us, are in no way diminished, and however remote my intellectual standpoint may now be from that which I may presume to be your own, I can still truly say that I have learnt more from you than from any one else with whom I have ever been in contact.

'Let me subscribe myself for the last time
'Your affectionate son and pupil,

Even at such a moment the Cardinal evidently felt it his duty not to allow his large-hearted sympathy to be interpreted as an abstract doctrine of latitudinarianism. But he made up his mind to see his friend as soon as he was physically able to do so.

'January 2, 1884.
'My dear Pattison,—On consideration I find it a duty to answer your question to me about toleration.

'I am then obliged to say that what Catholics hold upon it, I hold with them.

'That God, who knows the heart, may bless you now and ever is the fervent prayer of your most affectionate friend.

'January 4, 1884.
'My dear Pattison,—I am now well enough after a cold, which has kept me to my room or my bed for a month, to ask you whether you are strong enough to see me, did I call on you.

'If you tell me yes, or at least do not say no, I am strongly moved to come to you next Monday, between 11.58 and 2.48.

'I hope this abrupt letter will not try you.
'Yours affectionately,

The sick man hesitated at the sudden proposal of a visit which could not but cause deep emotion and perhaps great pain. Nevertheless the Cardinal went and took his chance. {483}

'January 8, 1884.
'My dear Pattison,—As you only said "no" to my coming to see you on Monday, but implied I might come to you some other day, I will make a call tomorrow, Wednesday.

'You need not see me if it is too much for you—but my coming will not be sudden now, as it would have been then.
Yours affectionately,

'To Oxford then the Cardinal went,' continues Father Neville. 'He had not had any extraordinary expectations when on his way, for he knew that the distance unbelief had travelled was immense, and that its cancerous wound was too deep, and had been too long lasting, and too long trifled with, to be cured quickly; but when leave-taking outside the house door in the college quadrangle, the appearance of both was singularly striking and pleasing to see. Perhaps the like had never occurred before—a parting such as that—two so far from ordinary men, each at the brink of his grave. They had passed some hours together alone; each knew that neither the other nor himself could live long; neither could say which was the likely one to be first called away.

'The result of the visit will no doubt be asked for, but it will be in vain; for the Cardinal was not the sort of person to say much on what was so grave, so anxious, so private as this, the result of which must be in the hands of God. Never the less, what he did say was expressive of satisfaction and of hope. The journey, far from exhausting him, apparently quite set him up.

'Mr. Pattison died in the spring.'

During these years Newman's thoughts seem to have often turned back to early days. He wrote about the old home at Ham, and he corresponded with some of his relations from whom he had been long separated. On Easter Eve in 1881 he dwells on his early recollections of his mother in a letter to his cousin, Mrs. Deane.

On January 5, 1882, in a letter to his old family friend, Sister Maria Pia, he recalls the loss of his dear sister Mary:

'This is the anniversary of my dear Mary's death in 1828,—an age ago; but she is as fresh in my memory and as dear to my heart as if it were yesterday; and often I {484} cannot mention her name without tears coming into my eyes.'

Very gentle and tender is a letter written in the same year to his cousin and contemporary, Miss Eliza Fourdrinier:

'My dear Eliza,—Your letter has made me very sad, especially at the thought of your solitariness, as being the only one left of your family. Thank you for writing to me. It recalls so many past days and pleasant meetings of which you and I are now almost the sole living witnesses. For many years I have had it in my mind to attempt to find you out, but I am so little from home, and with so many engagements when I am in London, and felt so uncertain of your abode, that I have never succeeded, and now I am too old to think of it.

'I recollect well the last time I saw you, I think [with] Annie, and your dear Mother, who seemed to me to be looking older than when I had last seen her. If I am right, this was July 30th, 1844. She died in 1850. I believe I know the days of death of all of you.

'May God guard and protect you, and be with you now and in the future.

'If I can find a photograph of me, since you speak of portraits, I will send you one.
'Yours affectionately,

Before the idea of visiting Rome had been finally abandoned, one or two English Catholics of influence had, with the concurrence of some of the Bishops, re-opened the discussion of the proposal that Catholics should be allowed to finish their education at Oxford. This was one of the very matters which Newman had intended himself to discuss with the Holy Father. Unable to leave England himself, he gladly authorised those who were proposing to make the journey to place his own views on the subject before Pope Leo. In the event he put his opinions in writing. But before quoting his words on the subject it will be interesting to cite a very touching letter in which he responded to an invitation from Lord Braye, who was about to go to Rome himself, to come and discuss the whole subject by word of mouth. The invitation was given by one who when writing it referred sadly to the difficulty he had found in {485} getting such urgent needs attended to—the effort expended, the unsatisfactory result. The Cardinal's health did not allow of his accepting the invitation: but his heart went out in sympathy for his correspondent's complaint. He wrote as follows:

'Birmingham: Oct. 29, 1882.
'My dear Lord Braye,—I thank you for your most touching letter which I think I quite understand and in which I deeply sympathise. First, however, let me say a word about myself ... I am thankful to say that I am at present quite free from any complaint, as far as I know, but I am over eighty, and it is with difficulty that I walk, eat, read, write or talk. My breath is short and my brain works slow, and, like other old men, I am so much the creature of hours, rooms, and of routine generally, that to go from home is almost like tearing off my skin, and I suffer from it afterwards. On the other hand, except in failure of memory, and continual little mistakes in the use of words, and confusion in the use of names, I am not conscious that my mind is weaker than it was.

'Now this is sadly egotistical; but I want you to understand why it is that I do not accept your most kind invitations, any more than I have Lord Denbigh's. I decline both with real pain; and thank you both. But I have real reasons, which friends sometimes will not believe, for they come and see me and say: "How well you are looking!"

'Now what can I say in answer to your letter? First, that your case is mine. It is for years beyond numbering—in one view of the matter for these fifty years—that I have been crying out: "I have laboured in vain; I have spent my strength without cause, and in vain; wherefore my judgment is with the Lord and my work with my God." Now at the end of my days, when the next world is close upon me, I am recognised at last at Rome. Don't suppose I am dreaming of complaint; just the contrary. The Prophet's words, which expressed my keen pain, brought, because they were his words, my consolation. It is the rule of God's Providence that we should succeed by failure; and my moral is, as addressed to you: "Doubt not that He will use you—be brave—have faith in His love for you,—His everlasting love—and love Him from the certainty that He loves you."

'I cannot write more today, and since it is easier thus {486} to write, than to answer your direct questions, I think it better to write to you at once than to keep silence. May the best blessings from above come down upon you—and they will. I am, my dear Lord Braye,
'Yours (may I say?) affectionately

Bishop Hedley, Lord Braye, and Mr. Hartwell Grissell obtained an audience of the Holy Father early in the year 1883. During the interview the Pope made several inquiries relative to the English Universities, and wished to know if Catholics frequented them. Lord Braye, in pressing for the removal of the prohibition, laid before the Pontiff a translation in Italian of a letter he had received from Cardinal Newman, in which he had urged that a great opportunity, and a great necessity, for Catholic influence at Oxford was afforded by the existing state of the University.

The letter, dated November 2, 1882, is as follows:

'The cardinal question for the moment is the Oxford question. Dear Pusey is gone. Canon Liddon has mysteriously given up his Professorship. The undergraduates and Junior Fellows are sheep without a shepherd. They are sceptics or inquirers, quite open for religious influences. It is a moment for the Catholic Mission in Oxford to seize an opportunity which never may come again. The Jesuits have Oxford men and able men among them. I doubt not that they are doing (as it is) great good there; but I suppose they dread the dislike and suspicion which any forward act of theirs would rouse. But is it not heart piercing that such an opportunity should be lost? The Liberals are sweeping along in triumph, without any Catholic or religious influence to stem them now that Pusey and Liddon are gone.

'This is what I feel at the moment, but, alas, it is only one out of various manifestations of what may be called Nihilism in the Catholic Body, and in its rulers. They forbid, but they do not direct or create. I should fill many sheets of paper if I continued my exposure of this fact, so I pass on to my second thought.

'The Holy Father must be put up to this fact, and must be made to understand the state of things with us.

'And I think he ought to do this;—he should send here some man of the world, impartial enough to take in two sides of a subject,—not a politician, or one who would be {487} thought to have anything to do with politics. Such a person should visit (not a "visitorial" visit) all parts of England, and he should be able to talk English. He should be in England a whole summer.

'Next, how is the Pope to be persuaded to this? by some Englishman in position; one or two so much the better. They should talk French or Italian, and remain in Rome some months. This would be the first step.'

It remains to add that Leo XIII. listened with great interest to the letter, and said that he would place Newman's views before Cardinal Manning. This letter doubtless prepared the Holy Father's mind for the representations made ten years later, which led to the withdrawal by the Holy See of the law which forbade Catholics to frequent the national Universities [Note 4].

Cardinal Newman was in these years especially kind and encouraging to those younger men who hoped to continue the work of Catholic and Christian apologetic after he was gone. The writings of Mr. W. S. Lilly had already for some time engaged his close attention. He took a great interest in the Catholic Truth Society, which was being organised by Mr. James Britten. He used his influence to ensure fair play all round in controversial writing; and, while strongly deprecating unfair special pleading on the Catholic side, went out of his way to protest against Dr. Littledale's 'Plain Reasons against Joining the Church of Rome,' which he regarded as an untruthful book [Note 5]. {488}

Father Ignatius Ryder's book on 'Catholic Controversy' (in reply to Dr. Littledale) received the Cardinal's especial approval. I had my own share in such encouragement, and the circumstances which led to it have a certain interest in connection with the Cardinal's life as they brought about a kind of posthumous reconciliation with my father. My father died in July 1882, and though the Cardinal wrote to the family and said that he had offered Mass for his soul, the letter was not such as to make us feel that my father's opposition to the Oxford scheme and his general attitude in later years towards the leader who had been all in all to him at Oxford was forgiven. In the same year I published in the Nineteenth Century a dialogue called the 'Wish to Believe,' and it was partly the interest in it expressed by the Cardinal to a common friend which made me expand it into a book. The Cardinal read it in its enlarged form.

On Christmas Day I received the following letter from him with 'A happy Christmas to you' written across the first page:

'Dec. 20th, 1884.
'Dear Wilfrid Ward,—I thus familiarly address you on the plea that I was familiar with your Father before you were born; also because when an old man feels, as I do after reading your book, great pleasure in the work of another, he may speak of its author and to its author, with a freedom not warranted by personal intimacy. But my fingers move slow, and by this slowness so puzzle my brain that I lose the thread of what I want to say.

'I do really think your Essay a very successful one, and I have more to say of it than I have room or leisure to say it in.

'First you are dramatic, which is a quality of great excellence in a dialogue. It would never do for your arguments to profess to be irrefragable, and your opponent simply to be convinced by them. Also, it is the only way in which you can secure a fair and complete hearing for him, and his side of the question debated.

'Next, you are outspoken and bold. You are not afraid of enunciating what so many will consider a paradox. You have the advantage, (and this enables you to be bold) of knowing that you have no chance of hazarding any statement which a rigid Catholic critic could accuse as censurable. This is what makes controversy to a Catholic so difficult. {489}

'As to the matter and main argument of your Essay, it seems to me you mean to say that the same considerations which make you wish to believe are among the reasons which, when you actually do inquire, lead you prudently to believe, thus serving a double purpose. Do you bring this out anywhere? On the contrary, are you not shy of calling those considerations reasons? Why?

'You seem to me to insist, with an earnestness for which I doubt not you have some good reason, on the difference between believing and realizing (which is pretty much, I suppose, what in the "Grammar of Assent" I have called "Notional" and "Real" assent) and to be unwilling freely to grant from the first that there must be more grounds in reason to a religious mind, whereas in fact a religious mind must always master much which is unseen to the non-religious; (not that there is any real difference of view between us)—thus you allow of two men with the same evidence and equal reasoning powers being prima facie likely to come to the same conclusion, whereas I should say to Darlington [Note 6] "Stop there—I can't allow that a religious man has no more evidence, necessarily, than a non-religious." I wonder whether I make myself intelligible. It is only the mode of your stating and arguing on this point which I do not comfortably follow. And you may have reasons I do not know.
'I am very tired. Yours affectly,

Marginal note. 'You have expressed just what I want p. 192. "A man who looks," &c.'

To his criticism I replied that while—as he noted in his remark written after the letter was finished—I had actually said what he wanted, the form of my argument called primarily for the delineation of those qualities in the religious mind which made the same facts in some instances more significant to it than they were to the non-religious. That those same qualities also made the mind see additional evidence I had admitted. But both results had to be stated.

I was asked at this time by the English Catholic bishops to give some lectures on modern unbelief at the great College of Ushaw, near Durham, in which the future priests for the north of England are educated. It was in January 1885, {490} while paying a visit to Bishop Vaughan at Salford, that I arranged to do this, and, encouraged by Cardinal Newman's letter of the previous month, I wrote to ask if I might call on him on my homeward way through Birmingham, and talk over the general plan of the lectures with him before delivering them. He responded most kindly, and on January 31 I arrived. Much of our conversation was of interest. But the most interesting thing to me was that when we talked of my father, while he remained quite unmoved when I told him that my father's love for him had never changed, he was very greatly moved on learning that my father had wanted me to read philosophy and theology at the Birmingham Oratory in order to be under his influence. This touched the mainspring of the long estrangement. Want of trust had struck deeper than mere opposition, and an unmistakable sign that very much of the old confidence in the value of his guidance had remained, did far more to obliterate past resentment than the knowledge of any merely affectionate feeling on my father's side.

I subjoin a selection from the record of our talks together made by me at the time:

'I arrived at Birmingham on the afternoon of Friday Jany 30th, and having first left my portmanteau at the "Plough and Harrow" went to the Oratory. I asked for Father Norris, as I thought he could tell me best what was the most likely hour for the Cardinal to see me, but I had not been waiting three minutes in the guest room when the Cardinal himself appeared. He walked without a stick, but feebly and with effort I thought. He first asked "Where is your luggage? Of course you must stay with us some days." I said it was at the Hotel and he wanted to send for it, but I said it was unpacked already, and thanking him very much added that the "Plough and Harrow" was so very near that being there was almost like being in the Oratory. He then said "What are your plans? What are your movements? Can you stay at least over next Tuesday. Tomorrow is a busy day with many and the next day is Sunday, and they would be disappointed not to make your acquaintance. Father Somebody (I forget who) is not coming back till Monday and he would be so sorry to have missed you." All this was evidently meant to show that the invitation was bona fide, but I had to say that I was obliged to be in London {491} on Saturday evening. He then arranged that I should stay for dinner. "We will have a good talk tomorrow morning," he said. "Though, thank God, I am wonderfully well, I am not at all strong, and I have to be careful as to when and how long together I talk." He then asked me about the lectures I was proposing to give at Ushaw on Modern Infidelity, about which I had already written to him. I said that my great difficulty was that I felt, from all that I had seen of young men of 18 and 19 in Catholic Schools, that the first step in making them understand the danger at all or take any intelligent interest in the subject, must involve such an exposition both of the reality of unbelief as an existing fact and of its plausibility from a certain point of view, as at first to shake the faith of my hearers possibly, or at least to take away from it, in some cases, its security and repose. He replied that he was very glad I saw this danger, and that being alive to it was the best security that I should be on my guard in the matter. "I have just been corresponding with Dr. Cavanagh," he said, "on this very subject. He wrote to ask my advice as to putting infidel difficulties before young Catholics, and I put before him the very thing you are now saying. I think no one could tread safely on such delicate ground as the foundations of faith with young men of the age of 18 or 22, who was not on his guard as to the danger of unsettling their minds too much and so doing more harm than good." "Still," I said, "you think such lectures desirable?" "Not only desirable," he replied, "but indispensable. I am only pleased, and I confess rather surprised, to learn that Ushaw is alive to the importance of this work. I had thought it sleepy and deficient in intellectual vigour. Young men must be prepared with answers to the intellectual difficulties they will meet with in the world, or in many cases where the strength of the agnostic position is first felt by them in the absence of a very special grace their faith will go suddenly and completely."

'He then said that to him it had always seemed that the whole question between belief and unbelief turned upon the first principles assumed, and the great difficulty is that you must assume something; and yet how are you to prove that our assumptions are right and the infidel's wrong? "In trying to prove you must have assumptions, thus it is vain to attempt to prove your assumptions. If a man says to me conscience does not to me carry any intimation of a Holy God, Christianity does not appeal to me as satisfying my highest nature; many of its details seem to be contrary to {492} the instincts of my better nature, e.g., eternal punishment and original sin; an eternal destiny seems to me out of proportion to human nature; we are 'over gude for banning and over bad for blessing'—if I say a man comes to me with these first principles I can't answer him, and I certainly can't prove to him Christianity or Theism are true; I can only say I think differently and that I believe him to be wrong." I asked him if he did not believe that a man was responsible for his first principles and that wrong first principles were, to a great extent, the outcome of a wrong habit, morally blameworthy in the long run, though perhaps hic et nunc invincible? "I quite agree with you," he replied, "and that is what you must urge on your young men. But of course you would have a difficulty in convincing an infidel that he was to blame for first principles which seem to him only common sense. I remember being with a dear friend of mine shortly before he died and urging on him the testimony our own consciousness bears to the divinity of Christ's message, and he only replied that he found no such testimony in his consciousness, nor did he in any sense feel a yearning for immortality, which was supposed by some to be a proof that we are to look for it; he rather felt that his time was over and that he wished to go to rest 'edisti satis lusisti satis atque bibisti, tempus abire tibi.'" The Cardinal then continued to talk on in this hypothetically sceptical vein until dinner time. "I could talk to you for half an hour," he said, "on the common sense of worldliness and the folly of other worldliness. This life is secure and before us. The Christian ideal of life is disproportionate to our nature as we see it. It is based on unreal enthusiasm. Let us make sure of what is before us. Let us perfect our nature in all its aspects and not give the abnormal and unnatural preponderance to the ethical aims which Christianity demands. We speak of our nature as testifying to Christianity. But is this true? Is it not only a mood which so testifies? Does not the calm sober study of mankind and of human nature as a whole lead us to wish for a mens sana in corpore sano, a nature healthy and well developed in its artistic, its intellectual, its scientific, its social capacities, as well as in its moral? Is not the ideal Christian life a very risky venture, based perhaps on a conclusion due to prejudice and fanaticism? This is at least too possible a hypothesis to make it wise to venture all in the supposition that Christianity is true and give up the certain pleasures of this life for what is at best so uncertain." He went on in this way for some time, {493} and soon I was beginning to press him for advice as to the way in which I should deal with any young man who came to me and talked in a similar strain, when the bell rang for dinner.

'"We have talked longer than I expected," he said, "but I have much more to say if you will come here at 11 tomorrow morning."

'His memory seemed then hazy and he asked if I knew my room, having forgotten that I was not staying in the house. After dinner the fathers sat round in a semicircle in the recreation room. I talked to Father Ryder and a Scotch Father whose name I forget, the Cardinal sitting silent, but occasionally asking what I said if I referred to matters which interested him. He could not hear clearly, apparently, at the distance I was from him. After about twenty minutes in the recreation room, he got up and committed me to the charge of Father Ryder, saying that he hoped to see me at 11 next day. His manner struck me as indicating that he was tired. He smiled little and his face had that critical and rather unhappy look which one sees in some of his photographs.

'I arrived at the Oratory punctually at 11 o'clock on Saturday morning, and the Cardinal appeared in a very few minutes. I was at once struck by the change in his manner, by an increase of animation and a new brightness in the eye and sweetness of expression. He began at once: "I have been thinking a great deal about you and your lectures, and as my memory is not good now, I will at once mention some of the points which have occurred to me as possibly useful for you. First let us go back to the question of first principles. Of course there can from the nature of the case be no direct proof that one set of first principles is sound, another unsound. But there may be indirect proofs. You may show your young man that if there is a certain earnest and philosophical frame of mind which leads to truth in various subject matters, it is probable that under normal circumstances such a frame of mind will also lead to the adoption of sound first principles. So far as the sceptical habit of mind goes with want of depth and earnestness, you have a strong argument against the probability of sceptical first principles." He then added after a pause, "I am only suggesting a line of thought for you, you must develop it and illustrate it." I was going to speak, but he said: "Let me now go to another point I have thought of for you lest I forget it. My memory is getting so bad. Take now the other side of the question. {494} Take the first principles assumed by the unbelievers—the undeviating uniformity of nature, the unknowableness of all but phenomena, the inherent impossibility of knowing about God, the derivation of conscience from association of ideas. These are all, or nearly all, pure assumptions, and I should be inclined to say that if (which God forbid) our belief in God Himself were a pure assumption void of any proof, we should be acting not one whit less unreasonably in holding to our religion than these men in the unbelief they adhere to, based on pure assumptions, entirely unproved." After a few other points we got on the question of miracles, in connection with Huxley's denial of their possibility as being (if they occurred) breaches of nature's uniformity. This he said was far more unreasonable than Matthew Arnold's well-known saying "The great objection to miracles is that they don't occur." "Now," he said, "I want to ask your opinion of this argument which has occurred to me. I take this paper-knife, I push the inkstand with it. Here is distinctly, through the action of my free will an interference with the laws of nature. If these laws were left to themselves, the knife would remain still and the inkstand unmoved. Take a stronger case, I fire a gunpowder train. See what a tremendous effect I produce in changing the ordinary course of nature. Now, surely it is little to grant that if there be a God, He can do what I can do; and yet, so far as we know, a miracle amounts to no more than this. Is that a good argument?" I said that I thought I had much better listen and learn than try to pass criticisms on his arguments. "No," he insisted, "I want to know. What I feared was that if it has not already been thought of, there must be some flaw in it. Have you seen it anywhere?" I said that Mansel in his Bampton lectures gives substantially the same argument, speaking of the chemist's power of modifying the normal action of natural bodies, and Mill in his religious essays, from the opposite standpoint, to some extent, admits its validity. "That relieves me," he said, "I feared that if none had thought of it, it was not very probable it could be sound." I then said that what I thought would be urged on the other side was this:—When you move the knife and the inkpot, according to the modern phenomenist school, your action is only a part of Nature's uniformity, and not an exception to it. The act of your will is due to physical conditions of the brain; those conditions are determined by physical antecedents—health, climate, the objects surrounding and acting on you, &c., &c.; thus the change which you determine is a part {495} of the constant cycle of cause and effect in the phenomena world, and no exception to it. Of course, if free will is admitted, then it is an exception, but they do not admit it. The action of God on the other hand is supposed to be due to no physical antecedents, and thus is actually an interference. Of course their theory is a great assumption, but your action in moving the paper knife can fit in with their assumption and God's cannot. It seemed to me that he did not get hold of this point, tho' it may be that I failed to grasp his answer. He seemed a trifle irritated, and said: "I only contend that what man can do God can do." We then got on rather lighter subjects, and I alluded to the sceptic's definition of faith as "a quality of mind by which we are enabled to believe those things which we know to be untrue." He liked it and said "I wish you would make a book of such sayings. I remember arguing with an Evangelical friend once, and I gave him a text to answer; he hesitated and said: 'That is a very unevangelical part of Scripture'!" [I have forgotten the text.] He soon went back to the lectures. "I would be very particular," he said, "in pressing on the attention of the young men, the nature of the proof they are to expect on religious subjects. They must not expect too much. Butler somewhere compares the imperfection of the religious argument to the imperfection of a ruined castle. In many cases the shape of the castle is quite as clearly determined by the ruin which remains as it would be were the castle whole. And so with the proofs of natural and revealed religion. There is enough capable of expression to indicate the shape and character of the proof, though it is in detail very imperfect." After saying one or two more things, he said: "This is all I have to say to you about your lectures, and I shall pray heartily for their success. And now I want to talk to you a little about your father; I wish you could let me know, for it would be news to me, the real secret of our estrangement latterly. He seemed determined to differ from me. I knew too well how much he had the advantage of me in theological reading—he had begun earlier and had given more time to it—to wish to differ from him. I followed him in all I could. But he seemed determined to make the most of our points of difference. I endorsed one of his letters: 'See how this man seeketh to find a quarrel against me.' Can you tell me more of it?" I did not like to go into many particulars, but I said: "Well, as you ask me—does not the history of the Home & Foreign Review {496} suggest something to your mind?" "But surely," he said, "your father never thought I agreed with Acton and Simpson?" "Not entirely," I said, "but he thought they were a great danger to the Church, and that they gained support from your countenance." "But I never really countenanced them," he said. "Still I could fancy that your father may have thought some of their views the outcome and result of my views; and that I ought explicitly to have disclaimed all solidarity with them. I own I was angry with him for not seeming to see the importance of avoiding the danger of alienating such able men from the Church. And perhaps I erred on the opposite side. I say it partly in praise, but perhaps partly in blame of myself, that I had a great tenderness for those learned men and excellent scholars, and wished to do all I could to prevent our losing the great advantage which might accrue to the Catholic cause from their services which we should lose if they were simply treated as rebels. But from first to last my opinions were with your father on the questions they raised, tho' I was angry with his tone. Then again, what did he mean by saying to Allies (who repeated it to me) directly the 'Apologia' came out: 'There I told you so'?—'so' meaning that I was unsound in my opinions." I said that I thought things ran so high in those days that there was occasionally a want of perspective in my father's way of looking at things—tho' of course it was not for me to speak of the actual points at issue. He seemed at times to exaggerate the importance of things important in the abstract, and not to see that practically people were not logical enough to make the things in question so important in them. For instance, where certain decisions of the Holy See were practically accepted, it was possible that his occasionally laying such stress as he did on their actual infallibility, which was at least a matter disputed, might practically give the Pope's words less rather than more weight, as raising a dispute and arousing party feeling.

'I then said that his affection for the Cardinal had never diminished. "In one sense I knew that," he said, smiling. "In fact I think his theory was that I was all the more dangerous because I was so attractive—that I was a sort of syren of whose fascination all should beware." But by degrees I convinced him that my father's reverence for him, as well as his affection, had never diminished. I told him that my father had wanted me to go to Edgbaston to be under his influence, as he thought I could judge for myself in points of theological difference between them, and that his {497} personal influence would be invaluable. This touched and surprised the Cardinal extremely. He seemed at first almost incredulous. "It pleases and gratifies me much to hear that," he said. I told him also—which pleased him—that my father said to me on his death bed: "If ever I recover, one lesson I hope I have learnt in all the pain I have suffered, is that of being gentler and more tolerant. There is an inevitable and natural difference between one mind and another for which I have never made enough allowance." After a little further conversation the Cardinal said: "It has been a real pleasure to me to have this talk with you about your father, and I hope you will not forget me and will pray for me." Then he gave me as a parting present the last edition of "The Grammar of Assent" with the added note about eternal punishment [Note 7]. I sent a letter afterwards thanking him for his kindness, and he wrote in reply: "It pleases me very much to find that you take so kindly the real affection I have for you which has come to me as if naturally from the love I had for your father. You can give me in return your prayers, which I need much."

In the following years I paid several visits to the Cardinal, and had opportunities of learning his views on the questions which so painfully interested him. His mind was perfectly clear, but I gained more by way of confirmation or correction of the inferences from his own writings which I put before him, than from lengthened discourse on his own part, for which he had not sufficient energy. Readers familiar with the last chapter of the 'Apologia,' the 'Letter to the Duke of Norfolk,' and the preface to the 'Via Media,' will find little in my recollections for which these works will not have prepared them. Yet, as they make some points more explicit, they are perhaps worth setting down [Note 8].

His special anxiety was for two classes of men—first {498} the inquiring minds among his own fellow-countrymen who shrank from the movement of religious thought towards agnosticism. He felt that the Catholic Church could give them a support which they could find nowhere else. The visible Church, with its unbroken tradition, appealed alike to the imagination and the reason as bearing witness to religious truth against the unbelieving world. Yet if those very difficulties against the Christian faith which gave power to the agnostic movement were not appreciated by Catholic theologians, inquiring minds who had been affected by that movement could find no home within the Church. In spite of its immense prima facie claims as the immemorial guardian of Christian dogma, as the ark rising above the flood of human speculation, its doors would be closed to such men. It would appear to them to demand beliefs which were impossible.

The other class consisted of persons of the same kind who were already within the Church—men whose studies made them familiar with the main currents of modern thought and the trend of scientific and historical research, and who found traditional theological expositions on certain matters—expositions handed down from pre-scientific times—inadequate to the needs of the hour. There was a real danger lest such men might cease to be Catholics if the theological schools did not become more closely alive to problems which were exercising the minds of so many.

Two things seemed to him immediately desirable: first, a great development of specialised research among Catholic students; and secondly, fair and candid discussion between the representatives of the special sciences and the theologians. He wished the theologians of the age to be themselves thinkers, or even if possible men of science; for the real trend of scientific research, and its demands, apart from cases where absolute demonstration was possible, could only adequately be appreciated by men with a scientific training. Only men so trained could do justice to the absolute necessity of certain concessions on the part of theology. He dreaded the decay of theology, which must come if theologians ceased to be genuine thinkers, as they had been in the Patristic and Medieval Church, and if they became merely, as it were, lawyers well versed in precedent, who recorded what the {499} schools had or had not regarded as obligatory, forgetting that the data of many problems had now changed and the weight of evidence accordingly shifted. It was active thought which he desiderated among them—not a change of theological principles, but their more intelligent application. And he regarded specialists as the only trustworthy witnesses as to where modification was really necessary in the existing teaching. Yet he found that in many quarters theology was mainly a matter of memory, with little accompaniment of candid thought. He deprecated such a fashion, among other reasons, because it alienated the acutest minds altogether from theology—men of the stamp of some of the principal writers in the old Home and Foreign Review. Some thinkers who might have been considerable theologians under a more tolerant and enlightened régime would revolt from a system of red-tape. They would become free-lances instead of useful soldiers. They would break loose from the restraint of ancient tradition and the caution attaching to the scientific method, and indulge in speculative theories prompted by the thought of the day, but far more at variance with the traditions of the schools than the real necessities of the case demanded. A thoroughly able theology, on the whole conservative, yet taking account of what was generally acknowledged among the representatives of science, would be a great power to hold such speculation in check. And it would be a most valuable weapon in the hands of ecclesiastical authority. Men of goodwill would be ready to defer to it, especially if it were enforced by authority, even when it was somewhat more conservative than their own personal views. But a theology which took no account of much that the scientific experts thought to be highly probable, or even certain, must cease to be respected by those who were alive to the situation. And many would react against it, claiming complete freedom of thought. If authority enforced with penalties the acceptance of a very limited theological outlook, he greatly feared, among some of the ablest specialists and thinkers, either avowed separation from the Church or some insincerity in their professions of allegiance.

At the same time, while deeply anxious for the free and fair discussion that was required in order to form a {500} body of theological thought, adequate to the needs of the later nineteenth century as that of St. Thomas was to those of the thirteenth, the Cardinal was most tender and scrupulous as to scandalising weaker brethren. Some theological treatises might have to be as new in form as were those of St. Thomas Aquinas in his own time; but minds must be gradually prepared for them. Startling language was a crime in his eyes. What he deprecated was not consideration for the less reflective and more simple minds, which are heedless of modern problems, but the seeming identification of the theology and learning of the Church with the limited horizon of such minds—as though the thoughts of Catholics were to be practically determined by those who knew and saw less, in opposition to those who knew and saw more. In general he held the true policy for the training of a nineteenth-century theologian to be in the first place a full study of the ancient masters, with a view to forming the Christian mind on a basis largely uniform in its spirit, yet taking cognisance of varieties of mind and intellect in the past. A mind so formed in early youth would, in assimilating the results of the special studies of our own time, not be likely to drift from its ancient moorings or to fall into excesses in speculation. He hoped that the greater tolerance of the new Pope as contrasted with Pius IX. might afford an opportunity for the developments which were so indispensably necessary, and this hope cheered his declining years. He was always in sentiment on the conservative side in theology, feeling the great religious truths handed down by Christian tradition to be by far the most positively important. Yet there were concessions to modern knowledge which were simply necessary, however little the result contributed to positive religion. This necessity was quite clear to the expert few; and he dreaded the action of zealous men who did not see it, or regarded those who did see it as disloyal to the Church. He welcomed those decisions of authority which laid stress in general terms on the duty of adhering to traditionary Christian thought, but he also welcomed the comparative absence in the early utterances of Leo XIII. of specific theological pronouncements on subjects on which the data of progressive sciences {501} were relevant, and at the same time were not yet ascertained with sufficient precision to ensure adequacy or even perfect accuracy of statement. He never forgot, amid all his exhortations on behalf of obedience to authority, that theologians did not allow infallibility even to the reasonings on which infallible definitions were based; while many authoritative decisions laid no claim at all to infallibility. Their adequacy depended on the conscientious use, by those in power, of the scientific means supplied by Providence for elucidating the grave problems before them. He regarded as a sign of the decay of theology the language used by some zealous but loose writers in respect of authoritative decisions,—language which seemed to imply that the ecclesiastical authorities were directly inspired, and that therefore careful and accurate theological reasoning was needless on their part in framing such decisions. Whether they were wise or not, they had indeed to be deferred to; but this did not make it less urgently necessary to do all that could be done to secure that a wise course should be taken in framing them. And as a Cardinal—one of the Holy Father's official advisers—this matter now came within the range of his own personal duties.

His general feeling as to the necessity of basing Christian thought on that of the great masters in theology, is shown in the draft of a letter written to Leo XIII. himself in the early years of his pontificate—whether it was sent I cannot say—welcoming his Encyclical on the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas on the ground that at a time of new theories it was all-important to remember the great thinkers of old.


'I hope it will not seem to your Holiness an intrusion upon your time if I address to you a few lines to thank you for the very seasonable and important encyclical which you bestowed upon us. All good Catholics must feel it a first necessity that the intellectual exercises, without which the Church cannot fulfil her supernatural mission duly, should be founded upon broad as well as true principles, that the mental creations of her theologians, and of her controversialists and pastors should be grafted on the Catholic tradition of philosophy, and should not start from a novel and simply original {502} tradition, but should be substantially one with the teaching of St. Athanasius, St. Augustine, St. Anselm, and St. Thomas, as those great doctors in turn are one with each other.

'At a time when there is so much cultivation of mind, so much intellectual excitement, so many new views, true and false, and so much temptation to overstep the old truth, we need just what your Holiness has supplied us with in your recent pastoral, and I hope my own personal gratitude for your wise and seasonable act may be taken by your Holiness as my apology, if I seem to outstep the limits of modesty and propriety in addressing this letter to your Holiness.

'Begging the Apostolical Benediction,' &c.

It is interesting to note that it was this Encyclical which led the present Cardinal Mercier to establish in Louvain University a school in close harmony with Cardinal Newman's views—the Institut de St. Thomas—which aimed at that combination of theology with the science of the day which St. Thomas himself achieved under the very different conditions of the thirteenth century.

By the year 1884 the prospect of going in person to Rome had practically passed from the Cardinal's mind. He felt that he must do what he could at home to promote the interests he most cared for. One point on which, as we have seen, he felt that the teaching in the Catholic schools, at that time generally received, needed some reconsideration, was the Inspiration of Scripture. The bearing of recent criticism on this question had to be weighed. Another urgent matter was the treatment of the intellectual grounds for religious belief in such a way as to command the attention of a generation in which agnosticism was an increasing tendency. He wrote in the Nineteenth Century in 1883 on the Inspiration of Scripture, as being a burning question of the hour. And on the second question circumstances called on him to speak in 1885.

On the 'Inspiration' question he wrote very cautiously. He did enough to indicate the direction in which reconsideration was desirable and possible. He pointed out that, from the very fact that at the Councils of Trent and the Vatican 'faith and morals' were more than once specified as the {503} sphere in which Holy Scripture teaches the truth, there was evidently some sense in which the Church regarded Inspiration as applying to matters of faith and morals which did not equally apply to matters of fact. Yet he did not for this reason exclude the facts of Scripture as a whole from the guarantee of Inspiration, for those facts were the story of Divine Providence in its dealings with the world and contained the matter for Christian Faith. The main facts narrated in Holy Writ which bear on Faith were guaranteed by Inspiration. But the guarantee was not such as to cover all facts narrated [Note 9]. {504}

Newman's want of complete familiarity with the usual phraseology in Catholic text-books made it possible for theologians to attack his expressions with some effect. And his article is for this reason not likely ever to find acceptance in the schools. Yet it did much to clear the issues in the eyes of thoughtful men. And his position conceded less to modern criticism than the view now adopted in many ecclesiastical seminaries. But in place of admitting occasional 'error' in matters of fact or obiter dicta (as Newman called them), the recognised technical phraseology denies all 'error' to Scripture 'rightly interpreted.' Under the head of interpretation certain historical and scientific statements are treated as quotations, explicit or implicit, from secular historians of the time for the truth of which the sacred writer does not vouch. 'Error' is not owned to in the technical sense, but statements often characterised in popular language as 'errors' are admitted to exist.' [Note 10] {505}

A more important essay was written by Newman a little later on in reply to Principal Fairbairn, the Congregationalist minister. Principal Fairbairn, writing in the Contemporary Review in May 1885, attacked Newman's language concerning the human reason in the 'Apologia' and 'Grammar of Assent' as sceptical [Note 11]. Dr. Fairbairn fell into the usual error of supposing that, despairing of reason, Newman had thrown himself for refuge into the arms of an infallible Church.

Dr. Fairbairn, like some of Newman's Catholic critics on the inspiration question, derived some advantage from Newman's disdain for the trammels of technical phraseology [Note 12]. And it is, I think, very remarkable that when nearly eighty-five years old Newman stated his position on important points with a new precision. The attack stimulated his thinking powers, and he wrote with point and vigour.

Newman's object, in the passages censured by Dr. Fairbairn as sceptical, had, as we have already seen, been absolute fidelity to fact. What was the use of giving an account of professedly irrefragable reasoning on behalf of Theism and Christian Faith and of infallible accuracy in the working of the human reason itself in its dealings with religious truth, when patent facts gave such an account the lie? The human reason did as a fact, where it was most actively exercised on fundamental problems, run into infidelity. He had expressly denied that he regarded such a use of the reason as lawful. But it was a fact to be faced. And he had in the 'Apologia' treated the Church not as a {506} refuge from scepticism, hedged off from the untrustworthy reason, but as a standing witness to spiritual truth, whose influence in practice purified the reason and restrained it from excesses really irrational.

He had more than once, in tracing the sources of the issue of reason in belief or unbelief, ascribed that issue to the different first principles from which believers and unbelievers respectively started. Challenged now to defend his position from the charge of scepticism, he made it clear that he regarded the adoption of irreligious principles as due not to the intrinsic faults of the reasoning faculty, not to its being in its own nature sceptical, but to the pressure on individual minds of the generally received maxims of the evil world in which we live.

'The World,' he wrote, 'is that vast community impregnated by religious error which mocks and rivals the Church by claiming to be its own witness, and to be infallible. Such is the World, the False Prophet (as I called it fifty years ago), and Reasoning is its voice. I had in my mind such Apostolic sayings as "Love not the World, neither the things of the world;" and "A friend of the world is the enemy of God"; but I was very loth, as indeed I am also now on the present occasion, to preach. Instead then of saying "the World's Reason," I said "Reason actually and historically," "Reason in fact and concretely in fallen man," "Reason in the educated intellect of England, France, and Germany," Reason in "every Government and every civilization through the world which is under the influence of the European mind," Reason in the "wild living intellect of man," which needs (to have) "its stiff neck bent," that ultra "freedom of thought which is in itself one of the greatest of our natural gifts," "that deep, plausible scepticism" which is "the development of human reason as practically exercised by the natural man." ...

'The World is a collection of individual men, and any one of them may hold and take on himself to profess unchristian doctrine, and do his best to propagate it; but few have the power for such a work, or the opportunity. It is by their union into one body, by the intercourse of man with man and the sympathy thence arising, that error spreads and becomes an authority. Its separate units which make up the body rely upon each other, and upon the whole, for the truth {507} of their assertions; and thus assumptions and false reasonings are received without question as certain truths, on the credit of alternate appeals and mutual cheers and imprimaturs.'

The Church, as the society which constantly aims at stemming the tide of human corruption, is also the purifier of the human reason from corrupting influences, and not a refuge from it on the ground that it is intrinsically sceptical. The maxims of the irreligious world lead men to the gradual denial of all revealed truth; the Christian maxims preserved by the Church keep it unalloyed. His article was entitled 'The Development of Religious Error.'

Newman's article appeared in the Contemporary Review of October 1885, and in December Dr. Fairbairn again rejoined, taxing Newman more explicitly than before with a sceptical view of the reasoning faculty, which Newman appeared to his critic to treat as being at the mercy of arbitrary assumptions [Note 13]. Newman wrote a further reply, in which he made it clear that he had not used the word 'Reason' in Hamilton's sense as the 'locus principiorum,' or faculty of intuition. Just the contrary. It was with him the dialectical faculty. But he no longer spoke of true first principles as merely 'assumptions,' but as, in many cases, intuitions of the [nous] [Note 14]. The world corrupted the action of the reason by {508} instilling false assumptions at variance with the informations of our higher faculties. This reply he proposed to publish in the Contemporary Review for March. He then hesitated. Old though he was, he had not lost the statesman's habit of forecasting the probable effect on the various classes of his readers, of what he thought of publishing. He took advice on the subject of publishing the article, as he had done before writing the 'Apologia,' though the present controversy was in so far smaller an arena and before a very limited audience. And two of the men who had loyally helped him in 1864 did so again now—Lord Blachford and Mr. R. H. Hutton. Would further publication in reply to a young professor's strictures be for one of the Cardinal's age and position undignified? At all events would not a fresh article in the pages of the Review be undignified? Yet he had to think of Catholic readers, who looked for an answer from him to Dr. Fairbairn's charge of scepticism. That charge had also been made against portions of the 'Apologia' by Catholic writers of the scholastic type. Was it not therefore quite essential for him to reply to it? How would it do to leave it to his executors to publish if they desired a reprint of his October article, with notes appended in reply to Fairbairn's renewed assault of December?

On the other hand, Dr. William Barry, already a Catholic theological professor of eminence, who had previously criticised some of Newman's writing, had now written enthusiastically in his defence in the Contemporary Review itself. Would that perhaps preclude the necessity of his defending himself in the Contemporary Review for the sake of Catholic readers? Perhaps he ought still to speak for their sake, himself, and publish forthwith the notes appended to his original article. These questions are all put in the following letters to Lord Blachford, written in the month in which he completed his eighty-fifth year: {509}

'The Oratory, Birmingham: February 4th, 1886.
'My dear Blachford,—I begin with hoping that you will let me dictate a letter which I call Private. I think you can advise me.

'In the May and December numbers of the Contemporary Dr. Fairbairn has two severe articles to the effect that I became a Catholic as a refuge from scepticism. In October I published an answer to the May Article in the same Review, and my question is shall I also answer his second D(ecember) Article.

'I have written an answer and it is ready for the press with the purpose of appearing in the Contemporary next month (March).

'At the last moment I soliloquise as follows,—"You are acting unworthily of your age and your station. You have made your protest in October; that is enough. If you write again you will be entering into controversy. You yourself know better than any man else that your submission to Rome was not made at all as a remedy against a personal, nay, or against a controversial scepticism. It is only a matter of time for this to come out clear to all men."

'I feel this deeply, it would require a very brilliant knock down answer to Dr. F. to justify my giving up my place "as an emeritus miles" and going down into the arena with a younger man. The only shade of reason for my publishing it is that I wished to say in print that in past years I had spoken too strongly once or twice against the argument from final causes.

'I would send you the Article (which I have printed for my own purpose); it makes about seven pages of the Contemporary, if you wish to see it. There is nothing in it of doctrine. Only every day is valuable if it is to come out in March.
Yours affectionately,

'The Oratory, Birmingham: February 6, 1886.
'My dear Blachford,—Your prompt answer has just come. I don't forget your eyes or that you may have to trouble Lady Blachford.

'Principal Fairbairn is a great man among the Congregationalists and is said to be the prospective head of their new College at Oxford. At the beginning of my first (October) article I said the reason of my answering him was for the sake of my friends, who would wish to know how {510} I viewed his criticisms. Catholics are very sensitive about giving scandal, and what I wrote was not a refutation of him, but an explanation in addition to what I published years ago in the "Apologia." His line of argument was that I did not know myself, but that he, as a by-stander, knew me better. This assumption I did not notice, but employed myself in filling up the lacunæ as I called them of what I had already written. Hence I entitled the paper "The Development of Religious Error" in illustration of the latter part, the 6th, of the "Apologia." I aimed at showing as an instance that to relinquish the doctrine of future punishment was to unravel the web of Revelation.

'This involved my notion of the word Reason and gave rise in his second (December) Article to his arguing that my definition of Reason was utterly sceptical as disconnecting Reason with Truth. To refute this charge about my sense of Reason is the main subject of my second Article which I am now sending to you.

'I should add that in a Postscript to my first Article I made fun of Dr. Fairbairn saying that my view of Reason was "impious."

'I am afraid I do not retire from what I said about final causes so much as I led you to think.

'I have omitted to say that if I did not insert the Article in slips which I send you I should leave it for my Executors to do what they will with it. This is an additional reason for feeling indifferent about its being published now. I say this to show what reason I have to be indifferent whether it appears in the Contemporary or not.
'Yours affectionately,

Lord Blachford's judgment, on reading the proposed article, was distinctly against Newman's replying in the Contemporary. Newman wrote on February 9 entirely concurring:

'Many thanks for your pains and promptness. I go by your judgment absolutely, and I agree with it. Also I fully feel this, viz. that Dr. Fairbairn's Article is simply puzzle-headed, that it does not require answering.

'The only point I feel is the chance of scandals, i.e. putting myself out of line with Catholic thought. A very clever and learned theologian has just been defending me {511} with great eulogy in the Contemporary against Dr. Fairbairn, acknowledging at the same time that I sometimes say startling things. It is not very long since he wrote an unfavourable critique upon something I said, and from his reputation I think he will do me a great deal of good.

'His writing a panegyric on me in the Contemporary removes any necessity of my answering Dr. Fairbairn in that publication, but the question of pleasing Catholics remains.

' … My question is whether your judgment and my judgment against an article will lie against Notes embodying [the article] as appendages to the pamphlet which was to be and is to be issued.'

This last suggestion was in the event acted on. The pamphlet was, however, not actually published, but printed for private circulation.

Meanwhile the loyal thoughtfulness of Mr. R. H. Hutton prompted him to reply to Dr. Fairbairn in the pages of the Contemporary, and his reply coming as a supplement to that already published by Dr. Barry made any further words on Newman's own part doubly unnecessary.

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1. Of this reception the Cardinal thus writes to a friend who had received no intimation that it was to take place:
'I did not choose who should come to Norfolk House—nor I believe, did the Duke. I think those came mainly who asked to come. But it necessarily involved great confusion. There was nothing to show who wished to come, or who were in London—and how many days and hours were necessary for open house. I only know that the Duke slaved, nay, the Duchess, and the Ladies Howard, so as to make me quite ashamed and very grateful. Four hundred people came one day.'
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2. It was sent in 1886, but had been written, I believe, a few years earlier.
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3. I have added a few of my own, but only as connecting-links to Father Neville's notes.
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4. See the preface to Murphy's History of The Catholic Church in England (Burns & Oates, 1892), in which the question is discussed and the above interview mentioned.
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5. He protested against the book being circulated by a respectable society like the Christian Knowledge Society, with the result that it was struck off their list. 'I am more than pleased,' he writes to Dean Church on December 21, 1881, 'with the result of my drawing attention to the Christian Knowledge Society's shameful circulation of Dr. L.'s book. I say "shameful" because such a Society should not sanction a controversial work till it has gone through a careful revision. Fifty years ago, when Blanco White's work was on the list, no complaint, as I think, could lie against the Society, because he was a witness of what he said, and, if he coloured facts, it was not intentionally; but Dr. L.'s book shocks me. However, for this very reason, because it thus affects me, I am sure that it will also, in the same way, more or less, affect others—and I have quite sufficient proofs that it has ... I wished to protest against unfair controversy, and thereby to draw attention to it. Even if half of Dr. L.'s book was true, that was no excuse for the other half being untrue.'
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6. One of the speakers in the dialogue.
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7. On the first page he wrote: 'With the affectionate regards of John H. Card. Newman,' adding my name and the date.
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8. These notes are not, like the preceding ones, a contemporary record. I have written them freely, and here and there filled in lacunæ from the Cardinal's own writings. He approved an article which I published in 1890 in the Nineteenth Century, under the influence of my intercourse with him, called 'New Wine in Old Bottles,' and he expressed a desire that I should, after his death, deal with the papers he left relating to the philosophy of religion. I mention these facts as my justification for setting down my impressions of his meaning, which here and there go beyond his actual words.
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9. The most significant passage in the Essay runs as follows:

'And now comes the important question, in what respect are the Canonical books inspired? It cannot be in every respect, unless we are bound de fide to believe that "terra in aeternum stat," and that heaven is above us, and that there are no antipodes. And it seems unworthy of Divine Greatness, that the Almighty should, in His revelation of Himself to us, undertake mere secular duties, and assume the office of a narrator, as such, or an historian, or geographer, except so far as the secular matters bear directly upon the revealed truth. The Councils of Trent and the Vatican fulfil this anticipation; they tell us distinctly the object and the promise of Scripture inspiration. They specify "faith and moral conduct" as the drift of that teaching which has the guarantee of inspiration. What we need, and what is given us, is not how to educate ourselves for this life; we have abundant natural gifts for human society, and for the advantages which it secures; but our great want is how to demean ourselves in thought and deed towards our Maker, and how to gain reliable information on this urgent necessity.

'Accordingly, four times does the Tridentine Council insist upon "faith and morality" as the scope of inspired teaching. It declares that the "Gospel" is "the Fount of all saving truth and all instruction in morals," that in the written books and in the unwritten traditions, the Holy Spirit dictating, this truth and instruction are contained. Then it speaks of the books and traditions, "relating whether to faith or to morals," and afterwards of "the confirmation of dogmas and establishment of morals." Lastly, it warns the Christian people, "in matters of faith and morals," against distorting Scripture into a sense of their own.

'In like manner the Vatican Council pronounces that Supernatural Revelation consists "in rebus divinis," and is contained "in libris scriptis et sine scripto traditionibus"; and it also speaks of "petulantia ingenia" advancing wrong interpretations of Scripture "in rebus fidei et morum ad aedificationein doctrinae Christianae pertinentium."

'But while the Councils, as has been shown, lay down so emphatically the inspiration of Scripture in respect to "faith and morals," it is remarkable that they do not say a word directly as to its inspiration in matters of fact. Yet are we therefore to conclude that the record of facts in Scripture does not come under the guarantee of its inspiration? We are not so to conclude, and for this plain reason:—the sacred narrative, carried on through so many ages, what is it but the very matter for our faith, and rule of our obedience? what but that  narrative itself is the supernatural teaching, in order to which inspiration is given? What is the whole history, as it is traced out in Scripture from Genesis to Esdras, and thence on to the end of the Acts of the Apostles, what is it but a manifestation of Divine Providence, on the one hand interpretative (on a large scale and with analogical applications) of universal history, and on the other preparatory (typical and predictive) of the Evangelical Dispensation? Its pages breathe of providence and grace, of our Lord, and of His work and teaching, from beginning to end. It views facts in those relations in which neither ancients, such as the Greek and Latin classical historians, nor moderns, such as Niebuhr, Grote, Ewald, or Michelet, can view them. In this point of view it has God for its Author, even though the finger of God traced no words but the Decalogue. Such is the claim of Bible history in its substantial fulness to be accepted de fide as true. In this point of view, Scripture is inspired, not only in faith and morals but in all its parts which bear on faith, including matters of fact.'
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10. The Cardinal wrote as follows to Baron von Hügel in connection with his Essay:

'It pleased me to think that my article in the XIXth Century had been acceptable to you. Of course it is an anxious subject. It is easy to begin a controversy and difficult to end it. And often one does not wish to say what logically one is obliged to say. If, indeed, I knew exactly where to draw the line in such questions, I should not have had the anxiety which I cannot even now get rid of ... It has been a relief to my mind to find what I have written approved of by those whose judgment I respect. I am surprised at some of the statements in Scripture which you consider to need reconciliation, but, I suppose, everyone has his own difficulties. And this fact, that the private judgment of one man comes into collision with the judgment of another, leads one to be suspicious of one's private views altogether.'

To Father Hewit, the American Paulist, he writes: 

'I have been made very anxious on the subject of Inspiration. On a parallel subject there is a remarkable Article in the Month. It is apropos of Father Curci. Both arise out of the question of the relation of Science to Dogma. And that is the question of the day. The Holy See acts always with great deliberation. If it is not moved to make a decision on certain questions, perhaps by its very silence it may decide that certain questions are to be kept open.'
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11. 'He has a deep distrust of the intellect,' writes Dr. Fairbairn; 'he dares not trust his own, for he does not know where it might lead him, and he will not trust any other man's.' Of the Grammar of Assent, Dr. Fairbairn writes, 'The book is pervaded by the intensest philosophical scepticism.'—Contemporary Review, May 1885, p. 667.
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12. This was partly a matter of principle. Newman held that the thinkers were constantly the victims of phraseology both in philosophy and in theology, and that technical language, so valuable in the interests of clearness, was ever being perverted. It could not, like algebraic symbols, be left to work automatically, but must be constantly tested by comparison with actual thought.
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13. 'In the province of religion,' Newman had written in his original reply to Dr. Fairbairn, 'if [that faculty] be under the happy guidance of the moral sense, and with teachings which are not only assumptions in form but certainties in fact, it will arrive at indisputable truth, and then the house is at peace; but if it be in the hands of enemies, who are under the delusion that their arbitrary assumptions are self-evident axioms, the reasoning will start from false premisses, and the mind will be in a state of melancholy disorder. But in no case need the reasoning faculty itself be to blame or responsible, except when identified with the assumptions of which it is the instrument. I repeat, it is but an instrument; as such I have viewed it, and no one but Dr. Fairbairn would say as he does—that the bad employment of a faculty was a "division," a "contradiction," and "a radical antagonism of nature," and "the death of the natural proof" of a God. The eyes, and the hands, and the tongue, are instruments in their very nature. We may speak of a wanton eye, and a murderous hand, and a blaspheming tongue, without denying that they can be used for good purposes as well as for bad.' Dr. Fairbairn's comment is that 'reason to him [Newman] had so little in it of the truth that it was as ready to become the instrument of the false prophet as of the true.'—Contemporary Review, December 1885, p. 850.
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14. 'Great faculty as reasoning certainly is,' Newman wrote in his further reply, 'it is from its very nature in all subjects dependent upon other faculties. It receives from them the antecedent with which its action starts; and when this antecedent is true, there is no longer in religious matters room for any accusation against it of scepticism. In such matters the independent faculty which is mainly necessary for its healthy working and the ultimate warrant of the reasoning act, I have hitherto spoken of as the moral sense; but, as I have already said, it has a wider subject-matter than religion, and a larger name than moral sense, as including intuitions, and this is what Aristotle calls [nous].'
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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