Chapter 10. Newman as Roman Catholic

{190} FROM the moment when Newman became a Roman Catholic, the freest and happiest, though not perhaps the most fascinating, epoch of his life may be said to have commenced. I do not know that he ever again displayed quite the same intensity of restrained and subdued passion as found expression in many of his Oxford sermons. But in irony, in humour, in eloquence, in imaginative force, the writings of the later and, as we may call it, the emancipated portion of his career far surpass the writings of his theological apprenticeship. As my object has been to sketch the growth of his convictions with much more care than their outcome, I will compress greatly my account of this second half of Newman's life, which comprehends, however, the most effective book he ever wrote, and certainly the most remarkable of his controversial writings. For four months after his conversion he continued to reside generally at Littlemore, visiting Oscott at Cardinal Wiseman's invitation in November 1845, only to be confirmed, and not leaving Littlemore and the University of Oxford fully till February 1846. It was a great wrench to him to separate himself from the University to which he had always been warmly attached, {191} and where he had pleased himself by thinking that he should live and die. And it was all the greater wrench that his course was at this time so gravely misunderstood and so widely misrepresented amongst his old friends and former colleagues. Indeed it was twenty years after his conversion before he got the opportunity of persuading the world that he had acted only on conviction, and on conviction very slowly formed, very anxiously reviewed, and indeed for a considerable time deliberately suspended in order that he might adequately test its force. For many years after his conversion "the Protestant tradition," as he called it in his lectures on "Catholicism in England," treated his conversion as a sort of conspiracy deliberately devised for the subversion of the truth. In the first book which Newman published after he became a Roman Catholic, Loss and Gain, the story of a conversion to the Church of Rome, he describes the effect produced by the rumours circulated against his young hero's Protestantism on the Vice-principal and Principal of his College. He is refused permission to reside in lodgings for the two terms before he takes his degree on the ground of his suspected Tractarianism; and on remarking to the Principal, Dr. Bluett, that he cannot see what harm he could do by residing in Oxford lodgings till Easter, Dr. Bluett cries out in astonishment, "What, remain here, sir, with all the young men about?" And on Charles Reding's answering that he does not see why he should be unfit company for them, "Dr. Bluett's jaw dropped, and his eyes assumed a hollow aspect. 'You will corrupt their minds, sir,' he said; 'you will corrupt their minds.' Then he added in a sepulchral tone, which came from the very depth of his inside, 'You will introduce them {192} to some subtle Jesuit, to some subtle Jesuit, Mr. Reding.'" This was very much the view taken for a long time of Dr. Newman's own proceedings by those who professed the "Protestantism of the Protestant Religion." It was part of a dark and deliberate plot against English Protestantism which had been long hatching, and would take long to expose. Newman went to Rome in October 1846, and returned to England on Christmas Eve, 1847. He soon determined to join the community of St. Philip Neri, the genial saint of the sixteenth century, who was called the Apostle of Rome during the earliest years of the Reformation. St. Philip was a saint of the world. It was a saying of his, "Oh, God, seeing that Thou art so infinitely lovable, why hast Thou given us but one heart to love Thee with, and this so little and so narrow?" What the ideal was which Newman set before himself on becoming an Oratorian of St. Philip's we can judge best from the character of St. Philip, which he afterwards quoted in the conclusion of his Dublin lectures on "the idea of a University," from Bacci, the biographer of St. Philip Neri. "He was all things to all men. He suited himself to noble and ignoble, young and old, subjects and prelates, learned and ignorant, and received those who were strangers to him with singular benignity, and embraced them with as much love and charity as if he had been a long while expecting them. When he was called upon to be merry he was so; if there was a demand upon his sympathy he was equally ready. He gave the same welcome to all: caressing the poor equally with the rich, and wearying himself to assist all to the utmost limits of his power. In consequence of his being so accessible and willing to receive {193} all comers, many went to him every day, and some continued for the space of thirty, nay forty years to visit him very often both morning and evening, so that his room went by the agreeable nickname of the home of Christian mirth:" In his own Verses on Various Occasions [Note 1] Newman has given a similar character of "St. Philip in his school," drawn in words of his own—

"This is the saint of gentleness and kindness,
Cheerful in penance, and in precept winning,
Patiently healing of their pride and blindness,
Souls that are sinning.

This is the saint who, when the world allures us,
Cries her false wares, and opes her magic coffers,
Points to a better city, and secures us
With richer offers."

It was evidently the naturalness, the geniality, the innocent mirth, and the social charm of St. Philip Neri that made Newman so anxious to found an English branch of the same order. His one idea, no doubt, both in founding the order and in organizing it, was to get a special hold on educated minds in religious perplexity, but though when the Brompton Oratory was founded as a branch from the Oratory at Birmingham, the Brompton Oratorians made it more of their special work to attack the slums of that part of London, Newman in his work at Birmingham never in the least neglected the poor. Indeed when in 1849 cholera broke out in a severe form at Bilston, he and the late Father Ambrose St. John undertook the work of visiting the sick and dying in the most dangerous of the infected districts, and discharged that difficult duty with the utmost zeal. Still he never forgot that his special experience at Oxford indicated that he was more likely to affect {194} deeply the cultivated than the ignorant, and everything he published from the time of his conversion to the present day has been almost exclusively addressed to minds of the same calibre and culture as those with which he was familiar at Oxford.

Of his experience as a Catholic, Loss and Gain, published in 1848, was the first fruit. It is hardly to be called a story, and Newman stated, when he gave it to the public that it was "not founded upon fact." The hero of it, who is converted from the English to the Roman Catholic Church in the course of it, was not meant for any living person, nor were any of the other characters sketches from life. But the book has been a great favourite with me, almost ever since its first publication, partly for the admirable fidelity with which it sketches young men's thoughts and difficulties, partly for its happy irony, partly for its perfect representation of the academical life and tone at Oxford. Charles Reding, who is the hero of it, is delineated as a religious-minded young man, who is eager for some credible and definite assurance of what he ought to believe and what he ought not. He is sure that there must be some final authority as to what has been revealed, but he is utterly perplexed by the conflict of views on the subject in his own communion. "Wouldn't you be glad," says Reding to a college friend, "if St. Paul could come to life? I've often said to myself, 'Oh that I could ask St. Paul this or that!'" "But the Catholic Church isn't St. Paul quite, I guess," said Sheffield. "Certainly not; but supposing you did think it had the inspiration of an Apostle, as the Roman Catholics do, what a comfort it would be to know beyond all doubt what to believe about God, and how to worship and please Him. I mean you said, 'I {195} can't believe this or that;' now you ought to have said, 'I can't believe the Pope has power to decide this or that.' If he had, you ought to believe it, whatever it is, and not to say, 'I can't believe.'" Here we see the reflection of Newman's view of revelation as a coherent system far above man's intellectual apprehensions, which he is to believe as a matter of duty rather than for its fascinating or subduing power over his mind. When to this predisposition, which was certainly Newman's own, we add Reding's craving for penance and ascetic practices generally as at least a sort of satisfaction for the deep sense of detestation with which he regarded sin in himself, we need not feel at all surprised that even though Reding is very far indeed from a duplicate of Newman, he becomes gradually more and more repelled from the sober Anglican communion, and drawn towards that which does lay down absolutely the dogmas which it expects its children to accept, and does supply them with penances and ascetic discipline in plenty. In the course of the story there are many happy sketches of Oxford society, such as, for example, the sketch of the evangelical pietism which Mr. Freeborn pours forth at Bateman's breakfast, or the sketch of the Rev. Dr. Brownside's prim and pompous Broad Church University sermon, which said "one word in favour of Nestorius, two for Abelard, three for Luther, that great spirit who saw that churches, creeds, rites, forms, were nought in religion, and that the inward spirit of faith, as he himself expressed it, was all in all." Again, there is one very impressive passage not taken from Oxford life, in which Newman makes the young Oxford convert who precedes Reding in passing over to the Roman Catholic Church insist on the vast difference between the {196} Protestant and the Roman Catholic conception of worship, the former consisting in the pouring forth of the human desire for Divine help, the latter in the Mass, which is the "evocation" rather than the "invocation" of the Eternal, while the worshippers all watch for a great event, indeed for a great advent, waiting, like the paralytics beside the pool of Bethesda, for "the moving of the water." Very striking and beautiful too in its tenderness, and knowledge of human nature, is Newman's delineation of the manner in which Reding's mother takes leave of him when he announces that he is going to join the Roman Catholic Church. She holds out her hand coldly to him at first, reproaches him with leaving his early friends, reproaches herself for having made too much of him, and intimates that he is leaving his own communion only because he likes leaving it. When Charles replies, that in the Apostles' time men were expected to give up all for Christ, she retorts that this means that they of the English Church are heathens, and she thanks him in a frigid manner for such a comparison. Then she begins to refer to his "dear father," her dead husband, and breaks down, and he throws himself on his knees and lays his head in her lap. The feelings of the mother altogether extinguish the hurt pride of the woman, and the scene ends with her stroking his hair as she used to do when a child, and letting her tears stream over his face. Except in Callista, Newman has written nothing in the form of fiction more touching than this passage. The close of the book, where all the religious impostors crowd into Charles's lodging, one after another, as candidates for his adhesion, when it is rumoured that he is dissatisfied with the Church of England, and is {197} leaving it for another communion, is a shade too farcical. It may perhaps represent some portion of Newman's personal experience, but then Newman was a distinguished man before he left the Anglican communion, and his movements would be watched by all sorts of religious speculators. Charles Reding could not possibly have been known to all these vigilant touters for religious adherents. He was a young Oxonian, and nothing more.

The next indication we have of the movements of Newman's mind after he joined the Roman Catholic communion, was the volume of Sermons addressed to Mixed Congregations, first published in 1849, and dedicated to the Right Rev. Nicholas Wiseman, not as yet at that time made a cardinal. These sermons have a definite tone and genius of their own; they have more in them of the enthusiasm of a convert than any other of Newman's publications, and altogether contain the most eloquent and elaborate specimens of his eloquence as a preacher, and of his sense, if I may so call it, of the religious advantages of his position as a spokesman of the great Church of Rome. They represent more adequately Dr. Newman as he was when he first felt himself "unmuzzled" (to use the phrase wired by Mr. Gladstone after the University of Oxford had rejected him, and he was no longer bound by the special etiquettes of a University representative), than any other of his writings; and though they have not to me quite the delicate charm of the reserve, and I might almost say the shy passion, of his Oxford sermons, they represent the full-blown blossom of his genius, while the former show it only in bud.

There, as in almost all his subsequent works, he gave {198} full rein to his wonderful power of irony, and even the passages of tender eloquence, exquisite as they are, seem to me inferior in force to the passages of scornful irony in which he analyzes the worldly view of worldly things. Take, for instance, the second sermon, that on "Neglect of Divine Calls and Warnings," and compare the passage, powerful and fearful as it is, in which he delineates the agony of a soul which finds itself lost, with the passage in which he delineates what the world is meantime saying of the person "now no more," who is undergoing the first pangs of this dreadful and endless suffering. "Impossible!" he supposes the lost one to exclaim on hearing the Judge's sentence; "I a lost soul! I separated from hope and from peace for ever! It is not I of whom the Judge so spake! There is a mistake somewhere; Christ, Saviour, hold Thy hand—one minute to explain it! My name is Demas; I am but Demas, not Judas, or Nicholas, or Alexander, or Philetus, or Diotrephes. What! Eternal pain for me! Impossible! it shall not be." And so he goes. on till the reader drops the book in horror and sickness of heart.

Now take the suggestion of what the world may be saying of him who is thus helplessly wrestling against unendurable anguish, and refusing to believe in its reality. "The man's name, perhaps, is solemnly chanted forth, and his memory decently cherished among his friends on earth. His readiness in speech, his fertility in thought, his sagacity or his wisdom, are not forgotten. Men talk of him from time to time; they appeal to his authority; they quote his words; perhaps they even raise a monument to his name, or write his history. 'So comprehensive a mind! such a power of {199} throwing light on a perplexed subject, and bringing ideas or facts into harmony!' 'Such a speech it was that he made on such and such an occasion; I happened to be present, and never shall forget it'; or, 'It was the saying of a very sensible man'; or, 'A great personage whom some of us knew'; or, 'It was a rule with a very worthy and excellent friend of mine, now no more'; or, 'Never was his equal in society, so just in his remarks, so versatile, so unobtrusive'; or, 'I was fortunate to see him once when I was a boy'; or, 'So great a benefactor to his country and to his kind'; or, 'His discoveries so great'; or, 'His philosophy so profound.' O vanity, vanity of vanities, all is vanity! What profiteth it, what profiteth it, his soul is in hell." Or take the passage in the sixth sermon, on "God's Will the end of Life," in which Dr. Newman paints the vulgar social ambitions of a citizen's life. "You think it the sign of a gentleman to set yourselves above religion; to criticize the religious and professors of religion; to look at Catholic and Methodist with impartial contempt; to gain a smattering of knowledge on a number of subjects; to dip into a number of frivolous publications, if they are popular; to have read the latest novel; to have heard the singer, and seen the actor of the day; to be up to the news; to know the names and, if so be, the persons of public men; to be able to bow to them; to walk up and down the street with your heads on high, and to stare at whatever meets you, and to say and do worse things, of which these are but the symbol. And this is what you conceive you have come upon earth for! The Creator made you, it seems, O my children, for this work and office, to be a bad imitation of polished ungodliness, to be a piece of tawdry and {200} faded finery, or a scent which has lost its freshness and does but offend the sense." [Note 2]

The extraordinary wealth of detail with which Newman conceives and realizes the various sins and miseries of the human lot has, perhaps, never been illustrated in all his writings with so much force as in the wonderful sixteenth sermon on "The Mental Sufferings of our Lord in His Passion"—a sermon before which even the richness and wealth of Jeremy Taylor's imagination looks poor in the comparison. "It is the long history of a world, and God alone can bear the load of it. Hopes blighted, vows broken, lights quenched, warnings scorned, opportunities lost; the innocent betrayed, the young hardened, the penitent relapsing, the just overcome, the aged failing; the sophistry of misbelief, the wilfulness of passion, the obduracy of pride, the tyranny of habit, the canker of remorse, the wasting fever of care, the anguish of shame, the pining of disappointment, the sickness of despair; such cruel, such pitiable spectacles, such heartrending, revolting, detestable, maddening scenes; nay, the haggard faces, the convulsed lips, the flushed cheek, the dark brow of the willing victims of rebellion, they are all before Him now, they are upon Him and in Him. They are with Him instead of that ineffable peace which has inhabited His soul since the moment of His conception. They are upon Him; they are all but His own; He cries to His Father as if He were the criminal, not the victim; His agony takes the form of guilt and compunction. He is doing penance, He is making confession, He is exercising contrition with a reality and a virtue infinitely {201} greater than that of all saints and penitents together; for He is the One Victim for us all, the sole Satisfaction, the real Penitent, all but the real sinner." [Note 3]

There you see the Catholic system taking full hold of Newman, and inspiring him with a sense of its authority and grandeur. Certainly no one could ever have gathered from the Gospels or Epistles that all this infinitude of anguish, quite alien to the special agony of the situation, and gathered out of all lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and from all forms and phases of human transgression, piled itself up in the spirit of our Lord, and pressed upon Him, during His Passion, with the closeness of almost personal remorse. Yet so the Fathers of the Church had analyzed the mystery of the Passion, and so Newman unquestioningly accepted it. Whatever he has thought that he "ought" to believe, he has always found the means, not only to believe, but to interpret to himself with a unique vivacity and intensity of conception.

Never again did Newman give the rein so fully to what we may call the pious impressions, by the aid of which the Catholic Fathers have interpreted and illustrated the theology of the Church, as he did in this volume. In the sermons, for example, exquisite, even if too elaborate, as compositions, on The Glories of Mary for the sake of her Son, he almost rivalled the passion of Italian and French devotion to the mother of our Lord, and anticipated the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, some years before it had been defined. I know no passage in Newman which so {202} thoroughly bewilders the Protestant imagination, in its unwillingness to accept vague tradition of the most distant and uncertain origin, as evidence for historic fact, as that in which he deals with the death of the mother of Christ. "Though she died as well as others, she died not as others die; for through the merits of her Son, by whom she was what she was, by the grace of Christ which in her had anticipated sin, which had filled her with light, which had purified her flesh from all defilement, she had been saved from disease arid malady, and all that weakens and decays the bodily frame." Then he goes on to say:—"She died, but her death was a mere fact, not an effect; and when it was over, it ceased to be. She died that she might live; she died as a matter of form or (as I may call it) a ceremony, in order to fullil what is called the debt of nature—not primarily for herself, or because of sin, but to submit herself to her condition, to glorify God, to do what her Son did; not, however, as her Son and Saviour, with any suffering for any special end; not with a martyr's death, for her martyrdom had been in living; not as an atonement, for man could not make it,—and One had made it, and made it for all,—but in order to finish her course and to receive her crown. And therefore she died in private. It became Him who died for the world to die in the world's sight; it became the great Sacrifice to be lifted up on high as a light that could not be hid. But she, the lily of Eden, who had always dwelt out of the sight of man, fittingly did she die in the garden's shade, and amid the sweet flowers in which she had lived. Her departure made no noise in the world. The Church went about her common duties—preaching, converting, suffering; there {203} were persecutions, there was fleeing from place to place, there were martyrs, there were triumphs; at length the rumour spread through Christendom that Mary was no longer upon earth. Pilgrims went to and fro; they sought for her relics, but they found them not. Did she die at Ephesus? or did she die at Jerusalem? Accounts varied, but her tomb could not be pointed out, or if it was found, it was open; and instead of her pure and fragrant body, there was a growth of lilies from the earth which she had touched. So, inquirers went home marvelling, and waiting for further light. And then the tradition came wafted westward on the aromatic breeze, how that when the time of her dissolution was at hand, and her soul was to pass in triumph before the judgment-seat of her Son, the Apostles were suddenly gathered together in one place, even in the Holy City, to bear part in the joyful ceremonial; how that they buried her with fitting rites; how that the third day when they came to the tomb, they found it empty, and angelic choirs with their glad voices were heard singing day and night the glories of their risen Queen. But however we feel towards the detail of this history (nor is there anything in it which will be unwelcome and difficult to piety), so much cannot be doubted, from the consent of the whole Catholic world and the revelations made to holy souls, that, as is befitting, she is, soul and body, with her Son and God in heaven, and that we are enabled to celebrate, not only her death, but her Assumption." [Note 4]

I gather from this, that Newman thinks the story of the apostolic gathering to bury the Virgin Mary a {204} pious opinion "not unwelcome or difficult to piety" (though I should have supposed that a very great deal which it is not unwelcome to pious people to believe, is yet very difficult for them to believe on what amounts to hardly any evidence at all), but that he regards the Assumption of her body to heaven as a fact sufficiently attested by "the consent of the whole Catholic world, and the revelations made to holy souls." How does "the consent of the whole Catholic world" to a tradition of which we cannot in the least trace the origin, hidden as it is in the obscure depths of the first century, justify us in accepting as historic fact that of which there is absolutely not a morsel of historic evidence? Does the consent of the whole heroic age of Greece guarantee the historic truth of the labours of Hercules? or the consent of the whole mediæval age of Europe prove the historic truth of the existence of fairies? And have we any reason to suppose that the assent of the Church of one century to belief in a fact which could only have had any legitimate attestation in another century, is a good ground for accepting that fact? The "revelations given to holy souls" might of course be evidence if there were proof of the perfect truthfulness and sobriety of these individual seers, and independent evidence of their supernatural discernment of other facts, which at the time at which they were discerned were beyond the range of their senses, but afterwards verified. But what is to ordinary minds marvellous in this passage is the apparent acquiescence of so great a thinker as Newman in the doctrine that "the mind of the Church" is not only empowered to develop doctrine, but to attest minor historic facts of which it has had no evidence apparently, {205} and this on no better ground than that such facts would not be unwelcome to it if the evidence were forthcoming. Surely the readiness, and even eagerness, with which it assimilates a tradition of which no one can find the smallest trace in the only age in which, if a genuine tradition at all, it must have originated, is a ground for distrust rather than for trust. How can Newman say that a good Catholic "ought" to believe a fact of this kind,—not even a "dogmatic fact," not even a fact intimately bound up with a cardinal doctrine of the Church,—on the strength merely of the consent of the Church in a devotional but uncritical age, to celebrate a festival of the Assumption? One might as well say that an Oxonian of University College "ought" to believe that King Alfred founded that college, because such a belief is grateful to the minds of University College men, though the best historians regard it as quite baseless. To me this is just the most suspicious of all the aspects of Roman Catholicism, that the Church shows such avidity in accepting as facts, devotional dreams of apparently very late and ambiguous origin. Some French Roman Catholics use a devotion to St. Mary Magdalene which contains entreaties for her intercession addressed in the following terms,—"Vous qui avez passé de long jours dans une solitude affreuse vivant miraculeusement—vous qui sept fois par jour, étiez portée par les anges au sommet du ciel," &c. Now I do not suppose for a moment that these devotions have the authority of the Church, in the sense in which the teaching that the body of the mother of our Lord was raised on the third day and ascended to heaven has that authority. But I do say that utterly unauthentic statements of this kind are welcomed {206} generally in Catholic devotion, and that, though they may contain harmless as well as baseless assertions considered in themselves, it is not a perfectly harmless state of mind to be eager to feed the imagination on dreams of which there is no evidence at all, beyond the readiness of popular assemblies to adopt as serious truth the statements made in picturesque legends of which the origin is entirely lost. I can understand, and to a certain extent I believe, that inspiration not only guides and overrules our ideal of the spiritual life, but moulds the attitude of the Church to whom it is revealed, and guards the development of its mind in bringing out the meaning of doctrine to questioning believers. But the contention that the Church may bear authoritative witness for the first time in a late age to facts of which no early trace remains, to facts not only not admitting of the smallest comparison in the amount of evidence producible for them with the facts of the Gospel, but, on the contrary, having upon them the most marked characteristics of popular legends, seems to me one of the most startling to which Newman ever gave cordial assent. We might almost as well regard the old village plays on St. George and the Dragon as satisfactory evidence of that mythical contest. Is it not true that the Roman Catholic disposition to treat opinions as "pious" for which there is nothing approaching to evidence, lends sanction to the doctrine that "the wish to believe" in the reality of a certain event is a good reason for actually believing in it? This is the side of Newman's mind with which the greater number of his fellow countrymen feel the greatest possible difficulty in sympathizing.

The next landmark in Newman's history as a Roman {207} Catholic was his delivery and publication in 1850 of the Lectures on Anglican Difficulties, delivered in the Oratory in King William Street, Strand, where Toole's Theatre now stands, at all or almost all of which I was present as a young man. In matter and style alike these lectures were marked by all the signs of his singular literary genius. They were simpler and less ornate than the Sermons addressed to Mixed Congregations, and more exquisite in form as well as more complete in substance than the Essay on Development, which was written under the heavy pressure of the dreaded and anticipated rupture between himself and the Church of his baptism. I think the Lectures on Anglican Difficulties was the first book of Newman's generally read amongst Protestants, in which the measure of his literary power could be adequately taken. In the Oxford sermons there had been of course more room for the expression of religious feeling of a higher type, and frequently there had been more evidence of depth and grasp of mind; but here was a great subject with which Newman was perfectly intimate, giving the fullest scope to his powers of orderly and beautiful exposition, and opening a far greater range to his singular genius for gentle and delicate irony than anything which he had previously written. It is a book, however, which adds but little to our insight into his mind, though it adds much to our estimate of his powers, and I must pass it by with only brief notice. I shall never forget the impression which his voice and manner, which opened upon me for the first time in these lectures, made on me. Never did a voice seem better adapted to persuade without irritating. Singularly sweet, perfectly free from any dictatorial {208} note, and yet rich in all the cadences proper to the expression of pathos, of wonder, and of ridicule, there was still nothing in it that any one could properly describe as insinuating, for its simplicity, and frankness, and freedom from the half-smothered notes which express indirect purpose, was as remarkable as its sweetness, its freshness, and its gentle distinctness. As he described the growth of his disillusionment with the Church of England, and compared it to the transformation which takes place in fairy tales when the magic castle vanishes, the spell is broken, "and nothing is seen but the wild heath, the barren rock, and the forlorn sheep-walk," no one could have doubted that he was describing with perfect truth the change that had taken place in his own mind. "So it is with us," he said, "as regards the Church of England, when we look in amazement on that we thought so unearthly, and find so commonplace or worthless. Then we perceive that aforetime we have not been guided by reason, but biased by education, and swayed by affection. We see in the English Church, I will not merely say, no descent from the first ages, and no relationship to the Church in other lands, but we see no body politic of any kind; we see nothing more or less than an establishment, a department of government, or a function or operation of the State—without a substance,—a mere collection of officials, depending on and living in the supreme civil power. Its unity and personality are gone, and with them its power of exciting feelings of any kind. It is easier to love or hate an abstraction than so tangible a frame-work or machinery." [Note 5] {209}

This is, of course, an exaggerated view. It is not true that the State can do what it pleases with the English Church, can modify its theology or change its liturgy at will; but it is still less true that the Church can do as she will without the consent of the State. The English Church is an amalgam of two alien organizations, not the organized form of a religious society. "Elizabeth," said Newman, "boasted that she 'tuned its pulpits'; Charles forbade discussions on predestination; George on the Holy Trinity; Victoria allows differences on Holy Baptism." The dialogue which Newman constructed in his fourth lecture between the Tractarian and the State, to illustrate this view, was one of the most effective pieces of irony ever heard. I may briefly condense it. "Why should any man in Britain," asks a Tract, "fear or hesitate boldly to assert the authority of the Bishops and pastors of the Church on grounds strictly evangelical and spiritual?" "Reverend Sir," answered the Primate to a protest against a Bishop elect accused of heresy, "it is not within the bounds of any authority possessed by me to give you an opportunity of proving your objections; finding therefore nothing in which I could act in compliance with your remonstrance, I proceeded, in the execution of my office, to obey her Majesty's mandate for Dr. Hampden's consecration in the usual form." "Are we contented," asks another Tract, "to be accounted the mere creation of the State, as schoolmasters and teachers may be, as soldiers or magistrates, or other public officers? Did the State make us? Can it unmake us? Can it send out missionaries? Can it arrange dioceses?" "William the Fourth," answers the first magistrate of the State, "by the grace {210} of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, to all to whom these presents shall come, greeting; we having great confidence in the learning, morals, and probity of our well-beloved and venerable William Grant Broughton, do name and appoint him to be Bishop and ordinary pastor of the See of Australia." "Confirmation is an ordinance," says the Tract, "in which the Bishop witnesses Christ ... The Bishop is His figure and likeness when he lays his hands on the heads of children. Then Christ comes to them to confirm in them the grace of baptism." "And we do hereby give and grant to the said Bishop of Australia," proceeds his Majesty, "and his successors, Bishops of Australia, full power and authority to confirm those that are baptized and come to years of discretion." "Moreover," says the Tract, "the Bishop rules the Church here below, as Christ rules it above ... He is Christ's instrument." "And we do by these presents give and grant to the said Bishop and his successors, Bishops of Australia, full power and authority to admit into the holy orders of deacon and priest respectively any person whom he shall deem duly qualified." "The Bishop speaks in me," says the Tract, "as Christ wrought in him, and as God sent Christ. Thus the whole plan of salvation hangs together—Christ the true mediator; His servant the Bishop, His earthly likeness; mankind the subjects of His teaching; God the author of salvation. And the Queen answers, 'We do hereby signify to the most reverend Father in God, William, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, our nomination of the said Augustus, requiring, and by the faith and love whereby he is bound unto us, commanding the said most reverend Father in God to ordain {211} and consecrate the said Augustus.' And the consecrated prelate echoes from across the ocean against the Catholic pastor of the country, 'Augustus, by the grace of God and the favour of Queen Victoria, Bishop.'" [Note 6]

Indeed this whole lecture delivers one of the most powerful attacks ever opened on the Anglican theory of the Church as independent of the State. Not less powerful was Newman's delineation, in the fifth lecture, of the collapse of the Anglican theory of the Church when applied to practice. The Anglicans, he said, "had reared a goodly house, but their foundations were falling in. The soil and the masonry both were bad. The Fathers would protect 'Romanists' as well as extinguish Dissenters. The Anglican divines would misquote the Fathers and shrink from the very doctors to whom they appealed. The Bishops of the seventeenth century were shy of the Bishops of the fourth, and the Bishops of the nineteenth were shy of the Bishops of the seventeenth. The Ecclesiastical Courts upheld the sixteenth century against the seventeenth, and, unconscious of the flagrant irregularities of Protestant clergymen, chastised the mild misdemeanours of Anglo-Catholic. Soon the living rulers of the Establishment began to move. There are those who, reversing the Roman maxim, are wont to shrink from the contumacious, and to be valiant towards the submissive; and the authorities in question gladly availed themselves of the power conferred on them by the movement against the movement itself. They fearlessly handselled their Apostolical weapons against the Apostolical party. One after another, in long succession, {212} they took up their song and their parable against it. It was a solemn war-dance which they executed round victims, who, by their very principles, were bound hand and foot, and could only eye, with disgust and perplexity, this most unaccountable movement on the part of these 'holy Fathers, the representatives of the Apostles and the Angels of the Churches.' It was the beginning of the end." [Note 7]

The lectures were much more powerful in attack than in defence. Those of which it was the object to show that the Anglican Church was essentially Erastian, and was not one which could ever satisfy the ideal of the Tractarians, were simply demonstrative; the lectures of which it was the intention to remove the objections felt towards the Roman Catholic communion were partly defective, partly inadequate. They did not deal at all with what seems to me the greatest of all objections to the Roman Catholic Church, the indifference she shows to reasonable criticisms, even in her most solemn acts, such as the sanction given to utterly unhistorical facts in the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and the sanction given to the doctrine of the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures in the decrees of the Council of Trent and (subsequently) of the Council of the Vatican. On the other hand, the eighth and ninth lectures on the "Political state of Catholic countries no prejudice to the sanctity of the Church," and time "Religious character of Catholic countries no prejudice to the sanctity of the Church," raise, I think, at least as many difficulties as they remove. And in effect they almost concede that comparative want of self-reliance {213} and self-control in matters both political and religious which certainly characterizes Catholic countries, as distinguished from those Catholic communities which exist in the heart of Protestant countries, and which are surrounded on all sides by religious opponents. Newman's apology for the political and religious state of Ireland as given in 1850 seems even less effective, indeed much less effective, when read in 1890 than it seemed then. Almost all that Ireland has gained since 1850, she has gained by the resolute ignoring of Catholic principles; and all that she has lost, she has lost by the resolute ignoring of Catholic principles. And though the gain may be considerable politically, I fear the moral loss far outweighs the political gain.

The Lectures on Catholicism in England, delivered and published in the year of the first great Exhibition, 1851, need not detain me for more than a few lines. They represent very effectively the force of the "Protestant tradition" as it was in 1851, though what was truly enough said then, now enormously exaggerates the force of that tradition, the difference being largely due to Newman's personal influence, exerted partly through the publication of these lectures, though in a far greater degree through the publication of his religious autobiography thirteen years later. The Lectures on Catholicism in England depicted very powerfully the nonsensical and fanatical side of Protestantism, though they did not do justice to the grounds of offence found by sober and accurate-minded men in the teaching of the Roman Catholic Communion. There are passages in these lectures which pass the limits of irony, and approach the region of something like controversial farce, yet farce of no common order of power. Where, for {214} example, could we find a more exquisitely humorous and yet a truer description than Newman gives of the mode in which the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in this country had been received by English Protestants in the preceding year? "Heresy, and scepticism, and infidelity, and fanaticism may challenge" the Established Church, he said, "in vain; but fling upon the gale the faintest whisper of Catholicism, and it recognizes by instinct the presence of its connatural foe. Forthwith, as during the last year, the atmosphere is tremulous with agitation, and discharges its vibrations far and wide. A movement is in birth which has no natural crisis or resolution. Spontaneously the bells of the steeples begin to sound. Not by an act of volition, but by a sort of mechanical impulse, bishop and dean, archdeacon and canon, rector and curate, one after another, each on his high tower, off they set, swinging and booming, tolling and chiming, with nervous intenseness, and thickening emotion, and deafening volume, the old ding-dong which has scared town and country this weary time; tolling and chiming away, jingling and clamouring, and ringing the changes on their poor half-dozen notes, all about 'the Popish aggression,' 'insolent and insidious,' 'insidious and insolent,' 'insolent and atrocious,' 'atrocious and insolent,' 'atrocious, insolent, and ungrateful,' 'ungrateful, insolent, and atrocious,' 'foul and offensive,' 'pestilent and horrid,' 'subtle and unholy,' 'audacious and revolting,' 'contemptible and shameless,' 'malignant,' 'frightful,' 'mad,' 'meretricious,' bobs (I think the ringers call them), bobs, and bobs royal, and triple bob-majors and grandsires—to the extent of their compass, and the full ring of their metal, in honour of Queen Bess, and to {215} the confusion of the Pope and the princes of the Church." [Note 8]

Probably the most important of the immediate results of this course of lectures was the action for libel brought by Dr. Achilli against Newman, for the picture painted of him in the fifth lecture on "The Popular Inconsistency of the Protestant View." Dr. Achilli, who professed to be a convert from Romanism, was accused by the Papal Government of a grossly irregular life, and Newman used the offences of which that Government believed him to be guilty as illustrations of the sources from which the Protestant tradition derives its knowledge of the Catholic faith. The charges were flatly denied by Dr. Achilli, who declared that his real sin in the eyes of the Papal Government was his heterodoxy, and though Newman brought a large number of witnesses to support his statements, the British jury, directed by the late Lord Campbell, was not disposed to be satisfied with evidence which ran counter to the Protestant tradition of the day. The general impression even of non-Catholic culture at the time was not favourable to the impartiality of Lord Campbell's charge, but it fell in with the temper of the middle classes of that day, and gave the jury a good excuse for their verdict, that the main accusations had not been justified to their satisfaction. The costs amounted to £12,000, and were paid by a Catholic subscription from all parts of the world; even the soberer view among Protestants was not for the most part in harmony with the verdict or with the attitude of the judge. Nevertheless, another period of eleven years elapsed before an attack {216} of a different character, proceeding from the pen of a very different assailant, gave Dr. Newman the opportunity of achieving the greatest triumph of his life, so far as regards his influence over men of theological tendencies quite different from his own.

In 1852 Newman was sent to Dublin, to inaugurate there the Roman Catholic University teaching, which has been struggling into existence—more or less feebly—ever since. The lectures, or "Discourses" rather, on The Idea of a University, which he delivered and published on this occasion, are full of graceful and instructive thought; and indeed gave an impulse to the comprehension of true University culture, which had, I believe, a very great effect in stimulating the reforms which soon afterwards took place in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, though they have not often been traced home to this origin. The reason why the influence of these remarkable "Discourses" (they were too much of academical "Discourses," to my mind, and therefore did not do full justice to that exquisite ease of manner which is usually the greatest literary charm of Dr. Newman's writings) on the movements which so soon afterwards took place at Oxford and Cambridge was missed, was that their chief design—namely, to bring out the importance of Theology as the uniting bond of all the sciences—was directly in antagonism to the reforming movement in the English Universities, where theological considerations—and those of a dry and formal kind—had long been more mixed up with the motives determining the choice of teachers in other branches of study, than they ought to have been. But what is forgotten is, that these discourses enforced with the utmost power the true purpose of liberal education, {217} that it is a pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge, and not for the value of any of the fruits or applications of knowledge, however important. Newman earnestly repudiated the notion that the acquisition of knowledge is merely subsidiary even to religion. On the contrary, his general position throughout these discourses is, that Theology is essential to true University study, because it is a branch of true knowledge, and indeed the most real and the most important of all the branches of true knowledge, since it harmonizes and connects all the other studies and sciences, and gives them their due subordination in relation to the purposes of life.

At that time Newman had a difficult task to achieve in persuading the Roman Catholic prelates of Ireland that University teaching, in the sense in which Newman understood and advocated it, was of the greatest possible importance to all true Catholics who had to deal with the greater intellectual forces of the world, besides that, in fact, such culture gives them for the first time true possession of their own minds. The Catholic prelates knew how much there is in liberal education, of a tendency to subvert faith, and this they justly feared. They did not know how much there is in the world, without liberal education, that has the same tendency in a still higher degree; they had not grasped the fact that the uneducated mind is utterly unable to understand the true proportions of things, and magnifies immensely the significance of the first difficulties or paradoxes with which, in the study of religion, it is brought face to face. To prelates in such a state of mind as this there must have been food for very useful and perhaps rather painful reflection in such considerations as these which {218} the Rector of their infant University pressed upon them with his wonted vivacity and energy. "Even if we could, still we should be shrinking from our plain duty, gentlemen, did we leave out literature from education. For why do we educate except to prepare for the world? Why do we cultivate the intellect of the many beyond the first elements of knowledge, except for this world? Will it be much matter in the world to come whether our bodily health, or whether our intellectual strength, was more or less, except of course as this world is in all its circumstances a trial for the next? If then a University is a direct preparation for this world, let it be what it professes. It is not a convent; it is not a seminary; it is a place to fit men of the world for the world. We cannot possibly keep them from plunging into the world, with all its ways and principles and maxims, when their time comes; but we can prepare them against what is inevitable; and it is not the way to learn to swim in troubled waters never to have gone into them. Proscribe, I do not merely say particular authors, particular works, particular passages, but Secular Literature as such; cut out from your class-books all broad manifestations of the natural man; and these manifestations are waiting for your pupil's benefit at the very doors of your lecture-room in living and breathing substance. They will meet him there in all the charm of novelty, and all the fascination of genius or of amiableness. Today a pupil, tomorrow a member of the great world; today confined to the lives of the Saints, tomorrow thrown upon Babel—thrown on Babel without the honest indulgence of wit and humour and imagination having ever been permitted to him, without any fastidiousness of taste {219} wrought into him, without any rule given him for discriminating 'the precious from the vile,' beauty from sin, the truth from the sophistry of nature, what is innocent from what is poison. You have refused him the masters of human thought, who would in some sense have educated him, because of their incidental corruption; you have shut up from him those whose thoughts strike home, to our hearts, whose words are proverbs, whose names are indigenous to all the world, who are the standard of the mother tongue, and the pride and boast of their countrymen, Homer, Ariosto, Cervantes, Shakespeare, because the old Adam smelt rank in them; and for what have you reserved him? You have given him a 'liberty unto' the multitudinous blasphemy of his day; you have made him free of its newspapers, its reviews, its magazines, its novels, its controversial pamphlets, of its Parliamentary debates, its law proceedings, its platform speeches, its songs, its drama, its theatre, of its enveloping, stifling atmosphere of death. You have succeeded but in this—in making the world his University." [Note 9]

I have often wished that we could have had as frank an account of the impression made upon Newman by his continuous residence in Dublin for several years, and his intercourse with the Irish prelates, as we have of that little tour of Carlyle in Ireland, which took place about the time of Newman's first residence there. Of course we never shall have any such record, for Newman was too prudent as well, I imagine, as too modest to write down cursory impressions of the value of which he himself would have been no doubt extremely skeptical. {220} But if we could have such a record, it might, I think, considerably outweigh the value of Carlyle's brilliant but inconsiderate and rather violent characterizations of the Irish people and Irish scenes.

It was while he was still in Ireland that Newman finished the little work which seems to me the most perfect and singular in spiritual beauty, excepting perhaps the Dream of Gerontius, that he has written, Callista. "It is an attempt," he said in his preface, "to imagine and express the feelings and mutual relations of Christians and heathens at the period to which it belongs [Note 10], and it has been undertaken as the nearest approach which the author could make to a more important work suggested to him from a high ecclesiastical quarter." Callista was begun, he tells us, in the early spring of 1848, probably soon after Loss and Gain was finished; but after sketching the character and fortunes of Juba, the half-African youth (whose father, a Roman soldier, is a languid Christian, while his mother is a heathen sorceress), in whom Newman made a powerful attempt to realize the significance of demoniacal possession as it was conceived and held in the early centuries of the Christian era, he stopped, as he says, "from sheer inability to devise personages or incidents." "He suddenly resumed the thread of his story shortly after St. Mary Magdalene's day," in 1855, and when it was finished it was published anonymously. The secret of the authorship, however, oozed out, and an edition was soon published with Newman's name. It has never attained the popularity which it seems to me to deserve, partly perhaps because the framework of the story involves a certain amount of {221} antiquarian disquisition, which fatigues ordinary readers—like the idol-seller's discourse to his nephew on the different kinds of Roman marriage—and partly because the sentiment of the book is of too exalted a kind to make its way to the heart of a hasty reader in search of exciting incident. Yet it is not wanting in very striking and even sensational incidents. The invasion of the locusts is described with all the imaginative power of a great genius; the sudden madness which seizes upon Juba when his mother curses and bewitches him, is painted with extraordinary force; and it would be hard to delineate a popular riot involving persecution and martyrdom with more strength and pathos.

After all, however, the great triumph of the book is the delineation of the fair Greek, herself a sculptor of idols, who has so passionate a love of Greek idealism, and so deep a sense that there is some vision of truth beyond the Greek idealism for which her heart yearns in vain. The strange and apparently almost capricious resentment with which she meets Agellius's offer of marriage, because it lowers him in her eyes by making it evident that his Christian faith was but an unreal affair, and quite consistent with the ordinary devotion to the passions and affections of time and sense of which she had seen so much, is painted with the full force of Newman's genius. I know nothing in all fiction more delicate, more spiritual, more fascinating than the story of Callista's conversion and death. The reproaches she heaps on Agellius for not clearly discriminating between his love for her and his wish for her conversion,—which she calls "speaking one word for his Master and two for himself,"—and the deep disappointment with which she discovers, or fancies she {222} discovers, that Agellius is after all a good deal more taken up with her and her beauty than with the faith which she had hoped to have found the one great reality of his existence, seem to me in many respects better expressions of the true passion and significance of Newman's own unique and single-hearted life, than anything else which be has written. "'If, as you imply,' she says, 'my wants and aspirations are the same as yours, what have you done towards satisfying them? What have you done for that Master towards whom you now propose to lead me? No,' she continued, starting up, 'you have watched those wants and aspirations for yourself, not for Him; you have taken interest in them, you have cherished them, as if you were the author, you the object of them. You profess to believe in One true God, and to reject every other; and now you are implying that the Hand, the Shadow of that God is on my mind and heart. Who is this God? where? how? in what? Oh, Agellius, you have stood in the way of Him, ready to speak of yourself, using Him as a means to an end.' 'O, Callista,' said Agellius in an agitated voice, when he could speak, 'do my ears hear aright? do you really wish to be taught who the true God is?' 'No; mistake me not,' she cried passionately, 'I have no such wish. I could not be of your religion. Ye gods, how have I been deceived! I thought every Christian was like Chione. I thought there could not be a cold Christian. Chione spoke as if a Christian's first thoughts were good-will to others, as if his state were of such blessedness that his dearest heart's wish was to bring others into it. Here is a man who, so far from feeling himself blest, thinks I can bless him; comes to me, me, Callista, a herb of the {223} field, a poor weed exposed to every wind of heaven and shrivelling before the fierce sun—to me he comes to repose his heart upon. But as for any blessedness he has to show me, why, since he does not feel any himself, no wonder he has none to give away. I thought a Christian was superior to time and place, but all is hollow. Alas! alas! I am young in life to feel the force of that saying with which sages go out of it, "Vanity and hollowness!" Agellius, when I first heard you were a Christian, how my heart beat! I thought of her who was gone; and at first I thought I saw her in you, as if there had been some magical sympathy between you and her; and I hoped that from you I might have learned more of that strange strength which my nature needs, and which she told me she possessed. Your words, your manner, your looks were altogether different from others who came near me. But so it was; you came and you went, and came again; I thought it reserve, I thought it timidity, I thought it the caution of a persecuted sect; but oh! my disappointment when first I saw in you indications that you were thinking of me only as others think, and felt towards me as others may feel; that you were aiming at me, not at your God; that you had much to tell of yourself, but nothing of Him! Time was I might have been led to worship you, Agellius; you have hindered it by worshipping me.'" [Note 11]

And when she is in prison on suspicion of being a Christian, and has refused, she hardly knows why, to burn incense to the Emperor, and a Greek philosopher has been persuaded to come to her cell to convince {224} her of the unreasonableness of her proceeding, the same fine passion bursts forth again with still more definiteness and significance. "After a time Callista said, 'Polemo, do you believe in one God?' 'Certainly,' he answered, 'I believe in one eternal, self-existing something.' 'Well,' she said, 'I feel that God within my heart, I feel myself in His presence. He says to me, "Do this, don't do that." You may tell me that this dictate is a mere law of my nature, as to joy or to grieve. I cannot understand this. No, it is the echo of a person speaking to me. Nothing shall persuade me that it does not ultimately proceed from a person external to me. It carries with it its proof of its Divine origin. My nature feels towards it as towards a person. When I obey it, I feel a satisfaction; when I disobey, a soreness, just as I feel in pleasing or offending some revered friend. So you see, Polemo, I believe in what is more than a mere "something." I believe in what is more real to me than sun, moon, stars, and the fair earth, and the voice of friends. You will say, Who is He? Has He ever told you anything about Himself? Alas! no! the more's the pity! But I will not give up what I have because I have not more. An echo implies a voice, a voice a speaker. That speaker I love and I fear.' Here she was exhausted, and overcome too, poor Callista, with her own emotions. 'O that I could find Him,' she exclaimed passionately. 'On the right hand and on the left I grope, but touch him not. Why dost Thou fight against me, why dost Thou scare and perplex me, O, First and only Fair? I have Thee not and I need Thee.' She added, 'I am no Christian, you see, or I should have found Him; or at least I should say I had found Him.' 'It is hopeless,' {225} said Polemo to Aristo, in much disgust, and with some hauteur of manner; 'she is too far gone. You should not have brought her to this place.'" [Note 12] That is, I think, something more than a delineation of "the mutual relation of Christians and heathens" in the third century. It is a delineation of that pure flame of passion in Newman's own heart and life which made him "rest in the thought of two, and two only, supreme and luminously self-evident beings—myself and my Creator."

To me Callista has always seemed the most completely characteristic of Newman's books. Many of them express with greater power his intellectual delicacy of insight, and his moral intensity, but none, unless it be The Dream of Gerontius, expresses as this does the depth of his spiritual passion, the singular wholeness, unity, and steady concentration of purpose connecting all his thoughts, words, and deeds. And yet it is not, and I think will never be, the most popular of his books. That fate was reserved for his reply to Mr. Kingsley's attack on him on account of the sanction he had lent, or which Mr. Kingsley supposed him to have lent, to the doctrine that "truth is no virtue." I have often wondered that Kingsley had never been sensible of the fascination of Newman's deep religious nature, an intensity of which there was certainly no slight measure in himself. He too, like Newman, was a genuine poet, though a poet of a very different type. Again, he too, like Newman, had felt the deepest interest in "the mutual relations of Christians and heathens" in the early centuries of Christianity, and had attempted, as Newman did, to delineate it in his story of Hypatia. {226}

But there was something headlong about Kingsley, as there is something essentially reserved and reticent about Newman, and there, I fancy, was the secret of the repulsion between them. Kingsley's ideal always tended somewhat towards surrender to the glory of action and passion, towards embodiment in life, towards glow, and emphasis, and self-expansion. He had an odd theory, too, that a hearty English squire who does his duty, not only to the land, but to the tenants and the labourers on his estate, is the nearest thing to a saint which the world can produce, and it is not easy to imagine any ideal more different from Newman's. As far as I can judge, Kingsley and Newman have both been supremely truthful men, and Newman, I should say, though far the subtler and less easily understood of the two, not by any means less truthful than his rather random assailant.

In Macmillan's Magazine for January 1864, which (as usual with January magazines) was published before Christmas 1863, Mr. Kingsley, in a review of Froude's History of England, had written, "Truth for its own sake had never been a virtue with the Roman clergy. Father Newman informs us that it need not be, and on the whole ought not to be; that cunning is the weapon which Heaven has given to the saints wherewith to withstand the brute male force of the wicked world which marries and is given in marriage. Whether his notion be doctrinally correct or not, it is at least historically so." The reference, as Mr. Kingsley afterwards stated, was to Newman's sermon on "Wisdom and Innocence," sermon 20 in the Oxford volume on Subjects of the Day, which was preached on February 19th, 1843, of which the text would certainly have {227} been, as I remarked at the time of the discussion about Kingsley's dictum, far more paradoxically open to that imputation than any interpretation of it given by Dr. Newman—"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

Newman of course noticed that amongst the lower races of animals to which our Lord alluded in this precept, "the weak" are compensated for their weakness by fleetness, or by the difficulty of discriminating them from the localities to which they resort, or by "some natural cunning." "Brute force is countervailed by flight, brute passion by prudence and artifice." But this was said exclusively of the instincts of the weaker animals. Of men he expressly said that all sinful means of defence are forbidden to the weak, and many are forbidden which would not have been sinful had they not been forbidden. He admitted that Christians had been tempted "to the abuse instead of the use of Christian wisdom, to be wise without being harmless," and this he condemned. On the other hand, Christians in times of persecution are perfectly right in observing prudence and reticence. "Other men make a great clamour and lamentation over their idols; there is no mistaking that they have lost them, and that they have no hope. But Christians resign themselves. They are silent; silence itself is suspicious—even silence is mystery. Why do they not speak out? Why do they not show a natural, an honest indignation? The submitting to calumny is a proof that it is too true. They would set themselves right if they could." [Note 13] {228}

Mr. Kingsley, who of all things loved the frank expression of indignation, was scandalized at this apology for self-restraint under misrepresentation,—though our Lord commanded it,—and he treated it as an avowal of Newman's adhesion to the doctrine that truth is no virtue. Of course it was nothing of the kind, and when challenged to produce his proof that Newman had ever said anything of the kind, he made no attempt to support his accusation. He only said that he was very glad to know that Newman had not meant what he seemed to mean, and that he withdrew the imputations. To this Dr. Newman replied by publishing the correspondence, with the following extremely witty summary of its drift.

"Mr. Kingsley begins then by exclaiming, 'Oh, the chicanery, the wholesale fraud, the vile hypocrisy, the conscience-killing tyranny of Rome! We have not far to seek for an evidence of it! There's Father Newman to wit: one living specimen is worth a hundred dead ones. He a Priest, writing of Priests, tells us that lying is never any harm.' I interpose, 'You are taking a most extraordinary liberty with my name. If I have said this, tell me when and where.' Mr. Kingsley replies, 'You said it, Reverend Sir, in a sermon which you preached when a Protestant as vicar of St. Mary's, and published in 1844, and I could read you a very salutary lecture on the effects which that Sermon had at the time on my own opinion of you.' I make answer, 'Oh ... Not, it seems, as a priest speaking of priests; but let us have the passage.' Mr. Kingsley relaxes:—'Do you know I like your tone. From your tone, I rejoice, greatly rejoice, to be able to believe that you did not mean what you said.' I rejoin, 'Mean it! {229} I maintain I never said it, whether as a Protestant or as a Catholic.' Mr. Kingsley replies, 'I waive that point.' I object:—'Is it possible? What? Waive the main question? I either said it or I didn't. You have made a monstrous charge against me—direct, distinct, public; you are bound to prove it as directly, as distinctly, as publicly; or to own you can't!' 'Well,' says Mr. Kingsley, 'if you are quite sure you did not say it, I'll take your word for it, I really will.' My word! I am dumb. Somehow I thought that it was my word that happened to be on trial. The word of a Professor of lying that he does not lie! But Mr. Kingsley reassures me. 'We are both gentlemen,' he says; 'I have done as much as one English gentleman can expect from another.' I begin to see: he thought me a gentleman at the very time that he said I taught lying on system. After all it is not I but it is Mr. Kingsley who did not mean what he said. Habemus confitentem reum. So we have confessedly come round to this, preaching without practising; the common theme of satirists from Juvenal to Walter Scott. 'I left Baby Charles, and Steenie laying his duty before him,' says King James of the reprobate Dalgarno; 'O Geordie, jingling Geordie, it was grand to hear Baby Charles laying down the guilt of dissimulation, and Steenie lecturing on the turpitude of incontinence.'"

This summary naturally nettled Mr. Kingsley, and he replied in a pamphlet called What then does Dr. Newman mean? raking up all the evidence he could find that Newman justified, what he has certainly often justified, the guarded and careful mode of doing what Mr. Kingsley might certainly have done in a careless, headlong, and impetuous manner, and closing his {230} pamphlet with very bitter remarks on Newman's want of straightforwardness, which virtually amounted to an indictment against the honesty of his whole career. This was the attack to which Newman's Apologia pro vitâ suâ was the reply—a book which, I venture to say, has done more to break down the English distrust of Roman Catholics, and to bring about a hearty good fellowship between them and the members of other Churches, than all the rest of the religious literature of our time put together.

I have already made very large use of this singularly frank and straightforward story of the growth of Newman's convictions, on which indeed every student of his life must be dependent for his knowledge of their development. And I do not know that the book requires any further notice here, except in relation to that charge against him of sympathy with indirectness and tortuousness of mind out of which it sprang. As for tortuousness of mind, the charge would now be admitted by all fair judges, to whatever communion they might happen to belong, to be utterly mistaken, as deplorably mistaken as it is well possible for a charge to be. In an appendix to the Apologia, Dr. Newman comments on one of Mr. Kingsley's sentences, in which he said, "Dr. Newman takes a seeming pleasure in detailing instances of dishonesty on the part of Catholics," to which Newman replies, "Any one who knows me well will testify that my 'seeming pleasure,' as he calls it, at such things, is just the impatient sensitiveness which relieves itself by a definite delineation of what is so hateful to it."

The number of those persons who "know Dr. Newman well" must have been vastly increased by the {231} publication of the Apologia, or the History of my Religious Opinions, as it was called in the later editions; and every one of them, I suppose, would heartily concur in this observation of the autobiographer. He is the last man in the world to feel the smallest sympathy with untruthfulness or dishonesty, indeed not to feel the utmost repulsion towards it. A man so genuine in character, so ingenuous in judging himself, has hardly ever made himself known to the world. But though Mr. Kingsley never made a greater mistake than when he discerned any tortuousness of mind in Dr. Newman, his excuse was that Newman's conception of the right mode of getting at truth in religious matters, was undoubtedly what almost all Protestants, and assuredly all Protestants of Mr. Kingsley's rather impatient temperament, would have called eminently complex and indirect. As we have seen, Newman has never found any simple or easily-applied test of truth. He thinks it much easier to believe anything he "ought" to believe, than to find out what truth is without reference to any command or injunction to which he feels it his duty to submit.

His first practical conception of what he "ought" to believe was anything inculcated by Scripture; his next was anything inculcated by the catena of Anglican divines, in whom he supposed that he had found the living voice of the Anglican Church. His last and present test of what he ought to believe, is what the voice of the Roman Catholic Church imposes on him; and it is obvious enough that none of these tests, unless it be the last, is very distinct in outline, nor any of them one that admits of off-hand practical application. Newman has never had a supreme confidence in {232} "common-sense," or "instinct," or "intuition," or any other short-out to religious truth. To him religious truth has been a highly complex problem from the first, not one to be easily solved, but one that, take what test of it he will, requires the greatest care in statement and the utmost precaution in the method of its application. Of his mind, if of any, it has been true, as I said early in this little book, that—

"The intellectual power through words and things,
Went sounding on a dim and perilous way."

He has always been disposed to regard the material world as a mere hieroglyphic expression of deeper spiritual meanings. Even in dealing with Scripture, he has from a very early period inclined to mingle the mystical with the more obvious interpretation of the text. And even in accepting the guidance of a Church, he has ever been on his guard against any hasty and inadequate collation of its authoritative definitions. Hence he has vexed all impatient and eager minds, who cut their way to what they deem truth by rough and ready processes, and has laid himself open to the imputation of indirectness. There is a striking instance of this in the celebrated passage in the Apologia in which he contrasts the intimate, irresistible, indissoluble connection between belief in self and belief in God, with the mystery of the world as it actually presents itself to us in all its godlessness. "The tokens," he writes, "so faint and broken, of a superintending design, the blind evolution of what turn out to be great powers or truths, the progress of things as if from unreasoning elements, not towards final causes, the greatness and littleness of man, his far-reaching aims, his short duration, the curtain {233} hung over his futurity, the disappointments of life, the defeat of good, the success of evil, physical pain, mental anguish, the prevalence and intensity of sin, the pervading idolatries, the corruptions, the dreary, hopeless irreligion, that condition of the whole race so fearfully yet exactly described in the Apostle's words, 'having no hope, and without God in the world,'—all this is a vision to dizzy and appal; and inflicts upon the mind the sense of a profound mystery, which is absolutely beyond human solution." [Note 14] It was obvious that a mind which could grasp with such power the paradox of human life in its relation to Divine revelation, could not by any means have presented itself to a vivid and passionate imagination like Mr. Kingsley's as one which he would have called natural and straightforward; and yet its naturalness is naturalness of a very high order, and its straightforwardness as straightforward as any nature so wide and sensitive to all sorts of delicate attractions and repulsions could possibly be. The simplicity of minds such as Newman's, profound as it is, will seem anything but simplicity, will seem complexity, to other men, while the anxious forecast of it will seem artificial.

"So dark a forethought rolled about his brain,
As on a dull day in an Ocean cave,
The blind wave feeling round his long sea-hall
In silence."
[Note 15]

And yet this "dark forethought" is in Newman's case completely overruled and subdued by faith and love.

I feel no doubt that the preparation of the Apologia, and the attempt to bring out the course of his own {234} thought in the long series of changes which at length made him a Roman Catholic, set Newman thinking afresh on the general principles of belief, and led to his attempt to give some general account of those principles in the book published in 1870, which he modestly termed A Grammar of Assent. I don't think the title was a very happy one. Whatever the book is, it is not a Grammar of any kind. Instead of dealing with the rationale of language, and the distinctive character of the different parts of speech, its chief endeavour is to show how much there is in the different kinds of assent yielded by the mind to propositions, which cannot be reflected in language at all, and to justify in general the feeling of certitude, even while expressly admitting and contending that that feeling of certitude is often wrongly entertained, and misleading to those who so entertain it.

This is not the place either to analyze or criticize an elaborate and in some respects a technical essay of this kind, but I refer to it for the sake of the light it throws upon the processes of Newman's own mind. I take it that the general drift of the book is to impress on those who read it, that unless the constitution of the human mind may be assumed to be on the whole truthful and trustworthy, all attempts to mend it are simply childish. "If I may not assume," he says, "that I exist, and in a particular way, that is, with a particular mental constitution, I have nothing to speculate about, and had better let speculation alone. Such as I am, it is my all; this is my essential standpoint, and must be taken for granted; otherwise thought is but an idle amusement not worth the trouble. There is no medium between using my faculties, as I have them, {235} and flinging myself upon the external world according to the random impulse of the moment, as spray upon the surface of the waves, and simply forgetting that I am." [Note 16]

As regards belief, Newman shows that man is a believing animal, that he gives credit very easily, and often of course with very unfortunate results, to what he is told; but that none the less this credulousness, guarded as it usually is in its earlier stages by the surroundings of domestic life, is one of the greatest and most inestimable of the preparations and disciplines for life. "Of the two," he writes, "I would rather have to maintain that we ought to begin by believing everything that is offered to our acceptance, than that it is our duty to doubt of everything. This indeed seems the true way of learning. In that case we soon discover and discard what is contradictory; and error having always some portion of truth in it, and the truth having a reality which error has not, we may expect that when there is an honest purpose and fair talents, we shall somehow make our way forward, the error falling off from the mind, and the truth developing and occupying it." [Note 17] Now as Newman finds that, as a matter of fact, men are very often certain, and are often rightly certain, in spite of the fact that they have not unfrequently been wrongly certain, he concludes that certitude is a reasonable attitude for human nature, and that though sceptics may try to undermine the feeling of certitude, they will not succeed. We may do something in guarding the mind against precipitate and false certitude, but we shall not root out the confidence that {236} on a great number of subjects certitude can and ought to be attained.

"Suppose," he says, "I am walking out in the moonlight, and see dimly the outlines of some figure among the trees;—it is a man. I draw nearer—it is still a man; nearer still, and all hesitation is at an end—I am certain it is a man. But he neither moves nor speaks when I address him; and then I ask myself what can be his purpose in hiding among the trees at such an hour? I come quite close to him and put out my arm. Then, I find for certain that what I took for a man is but a singular shadow formed by the falling of the moonlight on the interstices of some branches or their foliage. Am I not to indulge my second certitude because I was wrong in my first? Does not any objection which lies against my second, from the failure of my first, fade away before the evidence on which my second is founded?" [Note 18] Whence Newman concludes, that though we are often certain when we ought not to be, there is plenty of room for true certitude in human life, and that there is room for it even in the case of arguments which, so far as you can make out, appear to afford nothing but a great cumulation of probabilities, from which, speaking mathematically, it would be impossible to attain mathematical certainty.

For instance, to a man who has never been in India, it is but an accumulation of testimonies, which may all be unveracious testimonies, that such a place as Calcutta exists. Yet we are all quite certain that it does exist, and justly certain of it. Hence, according to Newman, there is a margin of conviction over and above any {237} inferential proof we can give for it in logical form, in most of our legitimate certitudes. And the latter part of his book is occupied in illustrating what he calls the "illative sense," in other words, the power of inferring truth from converging lines of evidence, none of which separately would justify certitude, but all of which, taken together, do justify it, in connection with Christian belief. Newman illustrates the action of what he calls "the illative sense" from the mathematical theory of limits. We know, he says, that the greater the number of the sides of a polygon inscribed in a circle, and the smaller each individual side, the nearer it approaches to the circle itself. Yet as we can never actually deal with a polygon of an infinite number of infinitesimal sides, we have no experience of the truth that such a polygon coincides with the circle. Yet mathematicians do not hesitate to accept as demonstrably true, that what steadily approximates to truth as the limit is approached, is actually true, though we cannot verify its truth, when the limit is actually reached. So it is, in Newman's opinion, with the inference to be drawn from a number of convergent lines of reasoning. Apparently they only accumulate probabilities, and no mere accumulation of probabilities can amount to certainty; yet if a number of different evidences approach the same conclusion from quite different sides of human nature, there is something in the mind which insists on supplementing the formal deficiency in this accumulation of probabilities, and on concluding, so as to inspire certitude, where from the logical point of view there would seem only to be room for a strong presumption. Assent, according to Newman, is an act of the living mind that often passes beyond the formal grounds on which, so far {238} as analysis goes, we can alone consciously justify it. It often concludes peremptorily and even effectually on grounds which, so far as we can draw out explicitly the reasons for our conclusion, would furnish us only with a halting and inadequate argument, just as the living hand and foot will achieve a difficult feat in climbing, of which it would have been impossible beforehand to give the rationale.

It will be seen by what I have said, that Newman's course of thought since he had first joined the Roman Catholic Church had, after a short interval of something like passionate ardour, marked chiefly by the Sermons addressed to Mixed Congregations and Callista, reverted to its older temper, the temper which discouraged anything like impulsive action, and which placed large faith in time and the gradual effect produced by the implicit action of honest and anxious reflection on an observant and vigilant mind. The Grammar of Assent, which is a long plea for cautious and deliberate though courageous reasoning on all the various converging lines of consideration which bear on the Christian revelation, was published in 1870, amidst the excitements of the Vatican Council. It was only natural that Newman, whose heart was more or less identified with his Anglican friends, and with those who had followed in the wake of his Anglican friends, should have been profoundly anxious lest anything done in that Council should retard the movement towards Rome, and drive back men with whose general tendencies of thought he was in sympathy, towards Protestantism or a state of helpless vacillation. I have no doubt that his own mind had long accepted something like the doctrine which was defined at that Council as to the centre of the {239} Church's infallibility; but he did not think that the time was ripe for so great a step forwards in the way of transforming implicit into explicit doctrine, and he knew that in many cases it would repel hesitating Anglicans, and throw them back on what he called "Religious Liberalism," in other words, the doubt whether there was any final guidance to be had in theology at all. He was therefore amongst the most earnest of those who were called the "inopportunists," and great was his indignation at the action of Mr. Ward and the Dublin Review in urging on the Ultramontanes, and indeed in presenting the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope, in a form far more extravagant than that which it ultimately took.

A private letter to his Bishop, in which he called these English Vaticanists "an aggressive, insolent faction," was by some breach of faith allowed to creep into print, and for a time the quarrel between the Vaticanists and the Inopportunists in England was extremely hot. Dr. Newman held that Rome should speak only when some great heresy or other evil impended, and should speak to inspire hope and confidence in the faithful. "But now," he wrote to Bishop Ullathorne, "we have the greatest meeting which ever has been seen, and that at Rome, infusing into us, by the accredited organs of Rome and of its partisans (such as the Civilta, the Armonia, the Univers, and the Tablet), little else than fear and dismay. When we are all at rest and have no doubts, and—at least practically, not to say doctrinally—hold the Holy Father to be infallible, suddenly there is thunder in the clear sky, and we are told to prepare for something, we know not what, to try our faith, we know not how. No impending danger is to be averted, but a great {240} difficulty is to be created. Is this the proper work of an Œcumenical Council? As to myself personally, please God, I do not expect any trial at all; but I cannot help suffering with the many souls who are suffering, and I look with anxiety at the prospect of having to defend decisions which may not be difficult to my own private judgment, but may be most difficult to maintain logically in the face of historical facts. What have we done to be treated as the faithful never were treated before? When has a definition de fide been a luxury of devotion, and not a stern, painful necessity? Why should an aggressive, insolent faction be allowed 'to make the heart of the just sad whom the Lord hath not made sorrowful'? Why cannot we be let alone, when we have pursued peace and thought no evil?"

Dr. Newman went on to expatiate on "the blight which is falling on the multitude of Anglican ritualists," who were diffusing Church principles far and wide among Protestants, and concluded by saying, "If it is God's will that the Pope's infallibility is defined, then is it God's will to throw back the times and moments of that triumph which He has destined for His Kingdom, and I shall feel I have but to bow my head to His adorable, inscrutable Providence." Oddly enough, considering that he protested thus passionately against the opportuneness of the decree, it was Dr. Newman who was fixed upon a few years later by the general desire of the English Catholics to answer Mr. Gladstone's criticisms on Vaticanism, in that "Letter to the Duke of Norfolk" in which he insisted that there was plenty of freedom left to Catholics, after the Vatican decree, and that that decree in no serious way imperilled the loyalty of English Catholics to the sovereign and laws {241} of England. But the controversy concerning the Vatican decree throws little light on the history of Dr. Newman's own thought, and I shall leave it with the remark that I do not quite understand his question, "Where has a definition de fide been a luxury of devotion and not a stern, painful necessity?" Surely the decree on the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary was precisely "a luxury of devotion," and not "a stern, painful necessity." Was any great and dangerous heresy repressed by that decree?

The time came, however, when Newman's "minimizing" view of the Vatican definition was once more in the ascendant at Rome. Pius IX. died in 1878, and was succeeded by Leo XIII., who is at least as much a statesman as a theologian. It soon became evident that his policy would be to reconcile the European States with the Vatican, except where they were deliberately bent upon a policy of aggression and persecution, and of course his attention was at once turned to the more eminent men in the different Catholic communities who, while faithful to the Church, had yet regarded his predecessor's policy as premature and unfavourable for the spread of the Roman Catholic faith. Early in 1879 it was known that he wished especially to do honour to his pontificate by numbering Newman among the Cardinals, and Newman, who fully understood that by declining that distinction he should hurt the feelings of all the moderates who had supported him nine years previously, when he was "in disgrace with fortune" and Ultramontanes' eyes, signified his assent. On the sixteenth of April he left Birmingham for Rome, arriving there on the twenty-fourth, and on the twelfth of May, 1879, he received the Cardinal's hat. In his {242} manner of expressing his thanks for the honour conferred on him, the new Cardinal reminded all those who read his speech of the naturalness, simplicity, and grace of his old Oxford days. "In a long course of years," he said, "I have made many mistakes. I have nothing of that high perfection which belongs to the writings of the Saints,—namely, that error could not be found in them; but what I trust I may claim throughout all I have written is this—an honest intention, an absence of private ends, a temper of obedience, a willingness to be corrected, a dread of error, a desire to serve the Holy Church, and, through Divine mercy, a fair share of success." He went on to claim that ever since he began to take a part in ecclesiastical life at all, he had opposed what he called "Liberalism in Religion," which he defined as "the doctrine that there is no positive truth in religion, but that one creed is as good as another." It is of course perfectly true that from the very beginning of his career Newman has been a steady advocate of what is called dogmatic Christianity, that is, Christianity which is not a formless and gelatinous mass of vague sentiment, but which springs from a deeply-planted seed of revealed doctrine, and has been, in his opinion, developed organically and providentially from that original germ. But is "Liberalism in Religion" a happy description of the anti-dogmatic attitude of mind? I should have thought not. Liberalism is probably oftener used to signify the disposition to make concessions to popular demands than in any other sense, and it is by no means clear that the popular mind does demand the relaxation of dogmatic restraints on the Babel-like confusion of religious opinions. In one sense Newman has been a steady foe of dogmatic {243} tyranny; virtually he received his Cardinal's hat because he had contended so boldly against any attempt to invade freedom of conscience in the Church. His doctrine has always been that private conscientiousness is the first step towards orthodoxy, and that any attempt to interfere with true liberty of conscience, or even to spur and hurry on its natural pace by external pressure, is in the highest degree dangerous to the cause of true belief. If Newman had never been a Liberal in the sense of making a strong fight for those whose slow conscientious advance was threatened by the despotism of impatient and jealous authority, I do not suppose he would ever have been a Cardinal. In 1870 we witnessed the spectacle of "Blind Authority beating with his staff the child that might have led him." In 1879 Authority, with his eyes couched, raised him who had thus been singled out for the display of ecclesiastical displeasure, to the position of one of the Princes of the Church.

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1. Page 306.
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2. Discourses Addressed to Mixed Congregations, 3rd edition, pp. 132, 133.
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3. Discourses Addressed to Mixed Congregations, 3rd edition, pp. 394, 395.
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4. Discourses Addressed to Mixed Congregations, 3rd edition, pp. 437-439.
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5. Lectures on Anglican Difficulties, p. 7, 2nd edition.
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6. Lectures on Anglican Difficulties, pp. 89-91, 2nd edition.
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7. Lectures on Anglican Difficulties, pp. 125-26, lecture v.
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8. Lectures on Catholicism in England, 1st edition, lecture ii., pp. 73, 74.
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9. Discourse IX, § 8.
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10. The middle of the third century.
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11. Chapter xi.
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12. Callista, chap. xxvii.
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13. Sermons on Subjects of the Day, p. 302. Rivingtons, 1869.
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14. Apologia, pp. 377-8.
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15. Idylls of the King, p. 384 of Macmillan's one volume edition.
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16. An Essay towards a Grammar of Assent, p. 340. Burns, Oates, & Co., 1870.
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17. Ibid. p. 371-2.
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18. An Essay towards a Grammar of Assent, pp. 223-4.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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