[Letters and Correspondence—1843]


Littlemore: January 23, 1843.
Some of my University sermons will be very hard, but I have now for twelve years been working out a theory, and whether it is true or not it has this recommendation, that it is consistent; and this is the only encouragement I have to publish, considering its unpopularity and my own ignorance of metaphysical writers. I have kept to the same views and arguments for twelve years, and am obliged to watch myself lest in new [the later] sermons I stumble upon what I have already said; therefore I think I may safely publish. They are not theological or ecclesiastical, though they bear immediately upon the most intimate and practical religious questions.


Littlemore: in Fest. Conv. S. Pauli, 1843.
In return for your announcement of some change of purpose, I must tell you of one of my own in a matter where I told you I was going to be very quiet.

My conscience goaded me some two months since to an act which comes into effect, I believe, in the 'Conservative Journal' next Saturday—viz. to eat a few dirty words of mine. I had intended it for a time of peace, the beginning of December, but against my will and power the operation has been delayed, and now unluckily falls upon the state of irritation and suspicion in good Anglicans which Bernard Smith's step has occasioned. I had committed myself when all was quiet. The meeting of Parliament will, I hope, divert attention. {364}

P.S.—I am publishing my 'University Sermons.' You got a headache from one; it will be an act of gratitude to send you all. Shall I do so?

In a letter written later Mr. Newman says:

Since you have had a specimen of the book, I may add, in opposition to you, that it will be the best, not the most perfect, book I have done. I mean there is more to develop in it, though it is imperfect. My 'University Sermons' are the least theological book I have published.


February 20, 1843.
 … Are you pretty quiet in Oxford now? We see the 'Oxford Herald' now and then. The last contained Golightly's last letter, which seems a very choice production. He really is boiling over. I have not seen what has gone before, but one can infer.

We hear that that letter which appeared in the 'Conservative Journal,' which bears every mark of belonging to you except your name, is making a great hubbub in the world. It seems rather a mysterious document; pray what is the history of its appearance? ... Have you seen the amusing articles in the 'Record' lately? There is one imputing the Tractarians' dislike to pews to their desire of first shortening, and in the end discontinuing, sermons altogether, abolishing pews being a means of discouraging the higher classes (the especial supporters of sermons) from attending church ...

Now, good-bye, dear John. I wish you sometimes gave yourself a rest, but do not try yourself too far.


Littlemore: February 21, 1843.
I had been thinking of you before the arrival of your most kind letter, which is now almost a usual part of the day. How fearful or even awful the number of years has become since we knew each other! It seems to make time such a mystery, as if it could not be a reality, since it seems nothing though so much has passed in it. {365}


Littlemore: February 21, 1843.
I was in Oxford for a fortnight lately, and only returned here on Saturday, and it will be a comfort to you to know that, as far as I have means of learning, there is no excitement or agitation in the place at all. Golightly is writing for friends in the country; in Oxford he either cuts people or is cut by them. As to your question about the letter [containing the Retractation?], I believe it is making very little talk here [Oxford], nor do I see anything in the papers. If there is a secret fermentation, such as you describe, I suppose it will at some time show itself, but I don't see what it promises to do by any manifestation. It is hard, indeed, if everyone may condemn me and I may not condemn myself. As to the mode being ill-judged, strange, &c., what mode would be good? What time would be right? In all these matters one has not oneself the choice of time, mode, organ, and the like; the actual choice is a choice between difficulties.

The President of Magdalen, it seems, is to ask me, for the fifth time, to be an examiner for the Johnson Theological Exhibition.

My 'University Sermons' made their appearance on Saturday. The last which I preached, on the 'Purification,' lasted an hour and a half! People went about saying there was a good deal of mischief in it, and that it must be answered; but I am under no apprehensions. And so, you see, I am altogether very tranquil.

Here is a letter all about myself, only excusable because it is my birthday.


Littlemore: March 7, 1843.
Your letters are always kind and welcome, and I received your last with a mixture of feelings. I prize most highly the good opinion of friends, perhaps too highly, but an evil conscience always is haunting me that they place more confidence in me than I deserve. This, I know full well, is the case with many, and consequently I am ever feeling it to be a duty which presses on me to do all I can to make them sit looser of me than their kindness naturally allows them. Also people from without, friends even some of them, who my conscience {366} tells me may be thinking me like those not over-respectable persons who 'palter with us in a double sense, and are understood to promise, what nevertheless their words do not convey. I assure you, nothing has haunted me more continually for years than the idea that undergraduates are trusting me more than they should, and I have done many things by way of preventing it. I should not wonder if the feeling ended in separating me from St. Mary's, about which I have thought many times.

And yet, of course, I could not but be much pleased with your sending me the messenger who brought your note, who seems just what you describe him—an amiable, modest man. I believe, too, he has considerable academical attainments, though I am not much in the way to hear about them.

I have just heard to my surprise that my 'University Sermons,' which have been published little more than a fortnight, have come to a second edition. This is unaccountable; every volume of my sermons hitherto has been a year in running through the first. As many of these are on very abstruse subjects, I cannot think that they have been bought for their contents.

Our Library here is growing so much that I do not know how we shall manage for room. All our beds have been full for months, and I think we must cut our sets of rooms into two to admit more inmates. We have found no inconvenience from the winter, though certainly, on the whole, it has been a very mild one.


Littlemore: March 8, 1843.
Religious truth is reached, not by reasoning, but by an inward perception. Anyone can reason; only disciplined, educated, formed minds can perceive. Nothing, then, is more important to you than habits of self-command, as you say yourself. You are overflowing with feeling and impulse; all these must be restrained, ruled, brought under, converted into principles and habits or elements of character. Consider that you have this great work to do, to change yourself; and you cannot doubt that, whatever be the imperfections of the English Church, and whatever the advantages of the Roman, there are gifts and aids in the former abundantly enough to carry you through this necessary work. {367}

 … I would without scruple offer to be of such use to Mr. L. as one of your letters seemed to suggest, except that I am very sceptical about my being really of use to him. The truth is that I have a great dislike of controverting or the like with people I do not know. I do not think it answers. Very seldom have I been persuaded into the attempt, and never, I think, with success. I have hitherto succeeded in keeping people in our Church whose turn of mind, aspirations, &c., I know, but I have failed whenever I have been asked to write to strangers. As to Mr. L.'s thinking I evade the particular question he asked, it is hardly one which, as I consider, he could ask of me. I do not see that the Tridentine Decrees and our Articles are in certain points reconcilable; if I had a clear view in favour of the Decrees, as a belief in the ecumenicity of the Tridentine Council would involve, I could not sign the Articles. The very fact that I am under subscription to the Articles, implies that I cannot affirm the Council to be ecumenical.


March 25, 1843.
I have been daily wishing to write to you, but had made up my mind I would finish your 'University Sermons' before I did so. Now I find one edition has run out before John [her husband] and I have got through our methodical reading ... You know all are new to me after 'Saul'; I could not have believed unless I saw that I had not heard you preach from the University pulpit since that occasion. I do not know any volume I have ever read that was so attractive and satisfying to the mind except Butler's 'Analogy.' It makes deep things so very simple. I was particularly pleased with the second sermon, as laying down principles so clearly. It seems to account for things one has wondered at all one's life, and to reconcile one's instinctive feelings against certain worldly views and motives as supplying a good reason for the repugnance one felt towards them. I tell you this because I think you sometimes like to know the impression your works make on readers, though perhaps I am not a fair person to take, as I am so much better acquainted with your mind than many people. Yet it seems curious to me that I have read this second sermon before and did not see as much in it as I do now. Of course I am a good deal different from what it was {368} when it was written. I suppose most people see more in things than they did ten years ago. I have mentioned one sermon only, though there is a great deal to remark on in each. Each seems to have a little world of its own ... We are pleased at your tribute to music; but what do you mean by fourteen notes? Do you mean the twelve semitones, as some suggest? I am indignant at the idea, and think you knew what you were saying. Please tell me when you write.


Littlemore: March 27, 1843.
I assure you what you say about my 'University Sermons' is very acceptable and cheering, as I am not in the way of knowing at all what is thought of them. Their rapid sale took me quite by surprise, but did not prove the impression they made. I certainly thought it, though incomplete and imperfect, yet my best volume, but there did not appear any clear reason that others should think the same. By-the-bye, do you mean the second sermon? I have been looking at it and cannot see what you allude to.

I had already been both amused and provoked to find my gross blunder about the 'fourteen.' But do not, pray, suppose I doubled the notes for semitones, though it looks very like it. The truth is, I had a most stupid idea in my head there were fifteen semitones, and I took off one for the octave. On reading it over when published I saw the absurdity. I have a great dislike to publishing hot bread, and this is one proof of the inconvenience. The greater part of the sermons, at least, cannot plead haste for their imperfection ...

In answer to a question the letter goes on:

As for —— [one long dead], it is difficult to speak without saying more than I wish. I impute nothing unkind or insincere, or otherwise faulty to him. It is his misfortune by the course of accident to know what very few people indeed know, and he naturally shapes his course from his anticipation of the future. If the future does not confirm his anticipation, he will seem timid and ungenerous; but if it does, he will seem more sharpsighted and wary than he deserves to be accounted. I believe I wrote under the sad feeling (for the passage had hurt me a good deal) that I was losing friends. {369}


April 3, 1843.
Of course you have heard before this of dear Wood's alarming state, which is a great grief to me, as to you. How wonderful the ways of Providence are! One is carried back to the memory of this time four years [to that time when Bowden was all but given over, and Wood was at once well and the correspondent who informed us of Bowden's state.—J. H. N.]. I just now heard from him, and he gives himself quite over. He speaks of his extreme state of weakness … He seems to hope that it may be God's will that his trial should be short. [He died April 22.] What a real trouble this is!

I was going to write to you about a plan I have of editing in numbers 'Saints of the British Isles.' Is there any one which you would like to take? Some are appropriated, but I hardly know which are in your way since you are a Continentalist. St. Boniface struck me. Anselm and Lanfranc are in Church's hands, who has a sort of right to them.

I mean the work to be historical and devotional, but not controversial. Doctrinal questions need not enter. As to miracles, I think they may be treated as matters of faith—credible according to their evidence.


Littlemore: April 30, 1843.
I have lost a great friend in Wood ... God makes me new friends when I lose old; to be sure they are younger, but there are compensations even then. My dear Jemima, my life is done before it seems well begun.


May 24, 1843.
Do you know that the Vice-Chancellor has taken to a sermon of Pusey's, preached last Sunday week at Christ Church, and that six doctors are about to sit upon it? ... I am not without anxiety as to its effect upon him personally. I could fancy it making him retire into himself and breaking his spirit ... But this may be foolish croaking.

A present from a quasi stranger [Mr. Rhodes] has just been made to me for our chapel, of two red granite columns; {370} they are only five feet high, but, if Egyptian, will cut up into many thin shafts. Perhaps these may be enough to form part of a stone pulpit [and another anonymous 200l. for the same purpose]. We think of reseating the chapel this summer. A finger organ has been given us [by an undergraduate]. We shall do everything we can at once, for, for what we know, our time at Littlemore may be short. I do not see how I can go on holding the living in the face of the episcopal Charges of the two last years—but I shall not decide the point myself.


Littlemore: May 29, 1843.
T. Morris of Christ Church has been taken to for his (first) sermon at Christ Church on Ascension Day for the Dean. I enclose what will throw light on the state of the case. We think it a very bad move of the Heads, and the V.-C. is getting frightened and told Morris he was against it. Also he is veering round about Pusey, and he told M. he meant to be impartial and receive charges on the other side.

S. is cast off by the 'Quarterly,' and appears holding out signals of distress and flags of truce to us.

George Denison has been very urgent with us here to get up a protest against the unecclesiastical clauses of the Factory Bill, a subject on which he is full of fury. I told him nothing would be done ...

Pusey is much better, though hardly off his sofa. No news about his sermon beyond what I have said above.


Saturday, June 3, 1843.
They have suspended Pusey from preaching for two years. He is making a protest, which will be in the Common-Rooms today. His sermon will be published in a day or two.

To a lady residing at a distance from Oxford, Mr. Newman writes on the subject of Dr. Pusey's suspension:

Oriel College: June 4, 1843.
I daresay by this time you have heard pretty nearly the rights of Dr. Pusey's matter. This day three weeks he preached a Catholic, not over strong, sermon in the Cathedral, and for it he has been suspended from preaching for two years. {371}

Every one here thought it from the first a very impolitical step on the part of the Heads of Houses, for if there is a Puseyite  who is revered it is Dr. Pusey, by all parties. And their mode of proceeding—appointing a board known to be hostile to him, and not giving their reasons, or marking particular passages—has increased the annoyance even of moderate men.

It is difficult to predict the ultimate effects. If his cause is taken up extensively it will damage the Heads. If not, it will tend to alienate still more from the Church persons of whose attachment to it there is already cause to be suspicious. It is one of those events which tend to bring matters to a crisis, without carrying with them any intimation on which side it will be decided.


Littlemore: July 25, 1843.
 … The papers tell us that Lord Ashley [afterwards Lord Shaftesbury] has had a meeting in London in some public place to consult upon the expediency of Petitioning the Duke of Wellington to put down Puseyism in Oxford ...


July 27, 1843.
I am so sorry to hear you are out of spirits. I really think, while there is one Bishop like your Bishop, there is every reason for hope. Indeed, if there were not, yet how soon everything might be changed! The principles you fight for must reach the higher clergy in time. I daresay I understand the matter quite superficially, but it seems to me that there is a great difference between our time and that of the non-jurors. Then Catholic doctrines were on the decline, and Liberal doctrines rising into fashion ... Now surely the Catholic movement will prevail if we are not utterly unworthy. People are beginning to be moved by the meek, unresentful spirit of those whose zeal and ardour in the cause have all along been undisputed. Indeed, dear John, I cannot but believe many in our day will live to see things very different. Perhaps I am sanguine without reason, because I have nothing to bear; but then remember, perhaps you may be dejected with insufficient reason, because you have to bear the brunt of {372} the battle. You are indeed in a wonderful position; may you be able to bear up in it, as one of the true champions of our Church, not tired by all the opposition and calumny which have assailed you on all sides.

Now, I do so wish, John, you would pay us a visit. I will practise hard to get up some Beethoven.

Jacob Abbott's visit was quite romantic. I should like to hear his side. His explanation reminds me of your saying, that No. 90 was written for one set of people and read by another.

The following particulars relating to Jacob Abbott's call on Mr. Newman, here alluded to, are taken from 'Essays Critical and Historical.' [Note 1]

'The author of the "Corner Stone" met my strictures with a Christian forbearance, and a generosity which I can never forget. He went out of his way, when in England in 1843, to find me out at Littlemore, and to give me the assurance, both by that act and by word of mouth, that he did not take offence at what many a man would have thought justified serious displeasure. I think he felt, what really was the case, that I had no unkind feelings towards him, but spoke of his work simply in illustration of a widely spread sentiment in religious circles, then as now, which seemed to me dangerous to Gospel faith.'

I have no other record of the incident than the following two paragraphs in a well-known newspaper of the day:

From the 'English Churchman.'

A few Sundays ago a stranger who had been observed joining very attentively both in the morning and afternoon services at Littlemore, begged permission in the evening to introduce himself to Mr. Newman. It proved to be none other than the well-known author of the 'Corner Stone' and the 'Young Christian,' and the object of his call was to express his deep and sincere obligations to Mr. Newman for the severe strictures which had been made upon his work some time since in the 'Tracts for the Times.' He confessed that they had the greatest effect upon his mind, and that he should write very differently now. Mr. Newman asked if there were {373} anything that he should wish altered in a subsequent edition of the Tract, but Mr. Abbott admitted the entire fairness of the review, and wished nothing to be withdrawn or altered.

To the Editor of the 'English Churchman.'

Littlemore: October 6.
Sir,—I am very sorry to observe a paragraph in your paper of yesterday on the subject of the call with which I was favoured in this place, some time since, by Mr. Abbott. It has been evidently sent to you with a friendly feeling towards myself to which I am not at all insensible, but it is kinder to me than it is respectful towards Mr. Abbott. What I saw of him impressed me with such feelings in his favour, that it would grieve me indeed did he think from anything that has got abroad that he had reason to charge me (in my report of our conversation) with rudeness or want of consideration towards himself. I will add, what I stated to him, that if in my remarks in the 'Tracts for the Times,' upon one of his publications, I was betrayed into any expressions which might be considered personal, instead of confining myself to the work itself which I was criticising, I am sorry for them and wish them unsaid. I saw him but for half an hour in his rapid passage across the country; but wherever he is, and whether I shall see him again or no, he has my good wishes and my kind remembrances. I am, &c.,


Friday, August 25, 1843.
I have just received a letter from Lockhart, one of my inmates, who has been away for three weeks, saying that he is on the point of joining the Church of Rome, and is in retreat under Dr. Gentili of Loughborough ... You may fancy how sick it makes me.


Littlemore: August 28, 1843.
Perhaps you know already from your proximity to Loughborough that Lockhart, who has been living here with me for a year past, has, at Dr. Gentili's at that place, conformed to the Church of Rome. {374}

It has taken us all by surprise ... When he came here I took a promise of him that he would remain quiet for three years, otherwise I could not receive him.

This occurrence will very likely fix the time of my resigning St. Mary's, for he has been teaching in our school till he went away.

 … These are reasons enough to make me give up St. Mary's, but, were there no other, this feeling would be sufficient, that I am not so zealous a defender of the established and existing system of religion as I ought to be for such a post.

Years before, Mr. Newman, in his article on 'Religious Parties,' had written, 'You cannot make others think as you will, even those who are nearest and dearest to you.' [Note 2] Experience had taught him this truth; but he had to feel it with heavier force as time went on. His correspondence with his sisters pressed this growing divergence upon him, however tenderly expressed.


August 30, 1843.
Your letter has, as you may imagine, concerned me greatly. I do hope you may not have quite settled on the step of giving up St. Mary's just at this critical time. I know you have long had your thoughts turned to this point, and I have by degrees learned to reconcile myself to the prospect, but I cannot think you are aware of the effect of everything you do upon people in general, to decide upon this step just at this moment. Of course I allude to Mr. Lockhart's change just now, with which your step would naturally be associated by friends and enemies in a manner you would not wish. There are so many anxious minds waiting and watching your every motion, who would misunderstand your proceeding and consider it a beginning of a formal disengaging of yourself from your own Church, whose perplexities would be sadly increased. I trust you will think not only of yourself, but of others, before you decide on it ...

You must not think me very presuming. I am so very {375} anxious you should always be as right in everything as you have been hitherto … I have written a great deal with very little in it, and I hardly can hope you will find anything of weight in it, for I know you do not make up your mind on slight grounds. If the matter is settled in your mind, and must be so, I trust the sense of having done what you thought right will be your reward and my great consolation; for what would become of me if I could not think of you, as I always have thought with joy and gratitude, that I am your sister? Yes, dear John, I feel it cannot be otherwise; whichever way you decide it will be a noble and true part, and not taken up from any impulse, or caprice, or pique, but on true and right principles that will carry a blessing with them.

Poor Aunt is a good deal distressed at what you are doing. I mentioned it, as it was better to do so now than to take her by surprise.

Mr. Newman seems so have answered his sister at once. We gather this from the following letter, written the day but one after that just given:


September 1, 1843.
I am very sorry indeed if my letter increased the pain you must feel. I know well that must be very great. In return, I must say your today's letter has greatly lessened mine. You have such a clear view on the subject that I cannot for a moment wish you to do otherwise than you have decided. It must be right for you to act when you feel so strongly. I should be the last person to urge you to a contrary course; and, further, your confidence (and that of others on whom you depend also) makes me think you must be right in your judgment. So I shall be reconciled to what must still be a very sad event to me ...

The following letter, from a lady—the name unknown to the Editor—must have been forwarded to Mr. Newman by Mrs. J. Mozley: {376}


August 30, 1843.
I have been thinking that among all the opinions and feelings your brother is called upon to sympathise with, perhaps he hears least and knows least of those who are, perhaps, the most numerous class of all, people living at a distance from him, and scattered over the country with no means of communication with him as with one another, yet who all have been used to look up to him as a guide. These people have a claim upon him: he has witnessed to the world, and they have received his witness; he has taught and they have striven to be obedient pupils. He has formed their minds, not accidentally: he has sought to do so, and he has succeeded. He has undertaken the charge and cannot now shake them off. His words have been spoken in vain to many, but not to them. He has been the means under Providence of making them what they are. Each might have gone his separate way but for him. To them his voluntary resignation of ministerial duties will be a severe blow. If he was silenced, the blame would rest with others; but, giving them up of his own free will, they will have a sense of abandonment and desertion. There is something sad enough and discouraging enough in being shunned and eyed with distrust by neighbours, friends, and clergy, but while we have had some one to confide in, to receive instruction from, this has been borne easily. A sound from Littlemore and St. Mary's seems to reach us even here, and has given comfort on many a dreary day; but when that voice ceases, even the words it has already spoken will lose some of their power; we shall have sad thoughts as we read them. Such was our guide, but he has left us to seek our own path; our champion has deserted us—our watchman, whose cry used to cheer us, is heard no more.

In spite of the sorrow and the fear that such a step may excite, I know it may be right to do it—and if your brother does so, I shall try to think it is; but it seems right that he should know all the consequences. We shall not leave the Church as others may. We have no longings for Rome; but it is a strong step to make our home feel cheerless, and this will tend to do it—at least for a time. But it is a large subject and you will say it far better than I. I have said this {377} as a sort of relief to my feelings; you will judge whether this view of the subject is worth noticing.


August 31, 1843.
I am sorry to put you to such pain. Your letter and ——'s to you, would have brought me to many tears unless I had so hard a heart. You must take what I do in faith at least; if not, I fear I cannot find a better way of consoling you.

I wonder my late letters have not prepared you for this. Have you realised that three years since I wished to do it; and that I have said so in print, and that then only a friend prevented me?

It has been determined on since Lent. All through Lent I and another kept it in mind; and then, for safety, I said I would not act till October, though we both came to one view. October is coming!

No time is 'the' time. You may have thought as you read, 'three years ago it would not have mattered.' Will three years hence be easier? The question is, Ought it to be done?

I mention a great secret, because I do not wish others to share in the responsibility; but I will say this, that I have always said, 'I cannot go wrong when A [Keble] and B [Rogers] agree that I should do a thing.' These two men agree in this. I have not persuaded them.

I wrote to one of them the other day, whether I should assign some reasons. He answered to this effect: 'No one who knows the history of No. 90 can be surprised at it. Anyone but you would have taken the step before.'

My dearest Jemima, my circumstances are not of my making. One's duty is to act under circumstances. Is it a light thing to give up Littlemore? Am I not providing dreariness for myself? If others, whom I am pierced to think about, because I cannot help them, suffer, shall not I suffer in my own way?

Everything that one does honestly, sincerely, with prayer, with advice, must turn to good. In what am I not likely to be as good a judge as another? In the consequences? True, but is not this what I have been ever protesting against? the going by expedience, not by principle? My sweetest Jemima, {378} of whom I am quite unworthy, rather pray that I may be directed aright, rather pray that something may occur to hinder me if I am wrong, than take the matter into your own hands.


Littlemore: September 1, 1843.
I have just got your note. I am ready still to keep St. Mary's if you think best. Will you turn it in your mind, however? 1. That a noise will be made at my resigning whenever I resign. It seems to me a dream to wait for a quiet time. Will not resignation become more difficult every quarter of a year? 2. That Lockhart's affair gives a reason for my resigning, as being a very great scandal. So great is it that, though I do not feel myself responsible, I do not know how I can hold up my head again while I have St. Mary's. 3. If it did for a moment alarm people, as if something were to come of my resigning which they did not know, yet a very little time would undeceive them.

Should you think it advisable for me to retain St. Mary's awhile, would you object to my trying to get someone to take my duty at Oxford entirely, i.e. Sermons and all?

As to Lockhart, he was all but going over a year and a half ago, before I knew him. His friends got me to take him by way of steadying him, and I made him promise, as a condition of his coming, that he would put aside all thought of change for three years. He has gone on very well, expressed himself several times as greatly rejoiced that he had made the promise (though I saw in him no change of opinion), and set himself anxiously to improve the weak points in his character.


[Confidential.] Littlemore: September 1, 1843.
My dear James,—Thank you for your most kind letter. I thought you would know already the prospect of my leaving St. Mary's without my speaking to you of a subject which was but in prospect, and which (as you may think) makes me very sick. I have been thinking of it these three, I may say four, years, nor do I act without advice.

Really it is no personal feeling or annoyance under which I do it. I hope I am right in speaking openly to you, which {379} I have not done but to a very few, but now I will tell you the real cause—which others besides those to whom I have said it may guess—but which (as far as I recollect) I have only told to Rogers, H. Wilberforce, R. Wilberforce, and Keble ... Tom may suspect it and Copeland, so may Church and Marriott. Indeed, I cannot name the limit of surmisers.

The truth then is, I am not a good son enough of the Church of England to feel I can in conscience hold preferment under her. I love the Church of Rome too well.

Now please burn this, there's a good fellow, for you sometimes let letters lie on your mantelpiece.

This matter of Lockhart's (who seems regularly to have been fascinated by Dr Gentili against his will) may have the effect of delaying my measure, but I shall be guided by others.

In the 'Chronological Notes' for September 1843 are these entries:
September 17.—Preached in the afternoon at St. Mary's.
September 18.—Had no sleep last night; went to town with Goldsmid to Doctors' Commons; resigned St. Mary's before a Notary; Mr. Rollery [?] came back; George Denison in the train; walked to and fro as far as Abingdon.
September 19.—My resignation given in by Copeland to the Archdeacon.
September 24.—Preached [at St. Mary's].
September 25.—Littlemore commemoration; Pusey administered sacrament; H. W. came; I preached No. 604, my last sermon [Note 3].


September 22; 1843.
[As to ——.] You cannot estimate what so many (alas!) feel at present, the strange effect produced on the mind when {380} the conviction flashes, or rather pours, in upon it that Rome is the true Church. Of course it is a most revolutionary, and therefore a most exciting, tumultuous conviction. For this reason persons should not act under it, for it is impossible in such a state of emotion that they can tell whether their conviction is well founded or not. They cannot judge calmly ...

It pains me very deeply to pain you, but you see how I am forced to it. You will not say, I think, that I am less affectionate to you from the bottom of my heart and loving than I ever have been.

In his sister's answer are these words, 'I see what we all need is patience with the course of events, and with each other.'


September 29, 1843.
As you may suppose I have nothing to write to you about, pleasant. I could tell you some very painful things; but it is best not to anticipate troubles, which after all can but happen, and for what one knows may be averted. You are always so kind, that sometimes, when I part from you, I am nearly moved to tears, as it would be a relief to be so, at your kindness and at my hardness. I think no one ever had such kind friends as I have, far beyond my deserts.

We collected altogether 61l. at the offertory on Monday [anniversary of Dedication], and had I had my wits about me, I might have added a 5l. which had been given me for such a purpose.

Eden [new Vicar of St. Mary's] seems desirous of taking Copeland as curate; but this is entre nous.

What shall I add? I daresay when I have closed this I shall recollect something I ought to have said.

Believe me, my very dear Bowden, my old and true friend,
ever yours affectionately.              J. H. N.


September 29, 1843.
I do so despair of the Church of England, and am so evidently cast off by her, and, on the other hand, I am so drawn to the Church of Rome, that I think it safer, as a matter of honesty, not to keep my living. {381}

This is a very different thing from having any intention of joining the Church of Rome. However, to avow generally as much as I have said would be wrong for ten thousand reasons. People cannot understand a man being in a state of doubt, of misgiving, of being unequal to responsibilities, &c.; but they will conclude that he has clear views either one way or the other. All I know is, that I could not without hypocrisy profess myself any longer a teacher and a champion for our Church.

Very few persons know this—hardly one person, only one (I think) in Oxford, viz. James Mozley. I think it would be most cruel, most unkind, most unsettling to tell them.

My dear Harriett, you must learn patience, so must we all, and resignation to the will of God.


October 8, 1843.
Your letters are indeed sad for me to read. I feel I am very unfit to judge of what you say. As Harriett requests you to be candid, you cannot say less than you have.

Knowing all I do of you and your present opinions, I cannot call in question anything you have done, or your manner of doing it. I may deeply lament, but I cannot find fault; I cannot accuse you of being impatient, precipitate, or insincere. Far from me ever be the thought of this last. I cannot say you have not acted wisely under the circumstances, and I am sure you have acted kindly and considerately. But for many years I have anxiously watched the course, and endeavoured to ascertain particulars concerning converts to Romanism, and I must say I have never heard of anyone like yourself. All other conversions I have known anything of, men and women, seem more the fruit of excitement and restlessness than of straightforward honest conviction ...

 … We are indeed in a dark cloud. That small body in the Church that seemed to be at unity is rent asunder. Still I feel hope that we shall not be utterly forsaken. Amid all our troubles we have as yet our greatest privileges spared to us.


Littlemore: October 31, 1843.
 … Our Provost stuck out strongly against giving Eden testimonials for Institution at St. Mary's; with no one to {382} second him. Finding, as it would appear, that he would only be creating a precedent of Institution without testimonials, he has given in. Eden would not let him impose on him an abjuration of No.90 as a test, as he claimed to do.

Have you seen Gladstone's article in the Colonial Quarterly? It is very kind; but like a statesman he takes a non-practical view of the matter, and gives no solution of the difficulties that cause our present distress. When persons have got into their minds that a union with Rome is necessary for their being Catholics, it is vain to tell them that they have no chance of making the English Nation submit itself to Rome. They have no plans, but view the matter as a personal one.

On my return last night I found your welcome letter. [I was then at Derby from Monday to Saturday.]

Under the pressure of his own misgivings and earnest desires to check impatient thought and action in others, glimpses come before us that this was a time when 'Everyone that was in distress and everyone that was discontented gathered themselves unto him.' Some of these letters of counsel seem to throw a light on Mr. Newman's habit of religious thought. In answer to the same lady [Note 4] whose difficulties have already been quoted, and who had sought his counsel, he writes:

Littlemore: November 3, 1843.
I am not quite satisfied at the way you speak of your own powers. It is dangerous to say 'I have great powers' though it be true, and one knows it to be true. It becomes a temptation to dwell on the fact. I think it a duty for a person to turn away from the thought as a suggestion from an evil principle, and to note it down as such; nay even to mention it in confession as an approach to sin. In consequence of saying this, you are led on to another declaration which seems to me rash—'I must have an infallible guide.' I do not quite like the tone of this. {383}

As to my not speaking out, if so, you have not taken the way to make me. When a person wishes the advice and guidance of a director, he asks definite questions, he does not give a narrative at length, from which the other is to pick out by a constant unflagging acuteness the point on which he wishes or ought to have advice. It was not putting yourself in the relation of a patient to a physician.

 … My mind is full of various matters, many of them so painful that I have sometimes been tempted to smile at the ingenuity with which you have invented for yourself troubles. I confess I have not had time to pursue the progress of an active mind like yours from day to day, when I have so many thoughts pressing on my own, and when each successive letter from you perhaps changed or reversed the state of things in which you found yourself shortly before.

I quite understand the inconveniences of your present situation. But you must recollect all places have their temptations—nay, even the cloisters. Our very work here is to overcome ourselves and to be sensible of our hourly infirmities; to feel them keenly is but the necessary step towards overcoming them. Never expect to be without such while life lasts; if these were overcome, you would discover others, and that both because your eyes would see your real state of imperfection more clearly than now, and also because they are in a great measure a temptation of the Enemy, and he has temptations for all states, all occasions. He can turn whatever we do, whatever we do not do, into a temptation, as a skilful rhetorician turns anything into an argument. It is plain I am not saying this to make you acquiesce in the evils you speak of; if such be the condition of this life, to resist them is also its duty, and to resist them with success.

Nothing is more painful than that sense of unreality which you describe. I believe one especial remedy for it is to give a certain time of the day to meditation, though the cure is, of course, very uncertain. However, you should not attempt it without a good deal of consideration and a fair prospect of going on steadily with it. What I mean is the giving half an hour every morning to the steady contemplation of some one sacred subject ... You should begin by strongly impressing on your mind that you are in Christ's Presence ... Of course, there is the greatest care necessary to do all this with extreme reverence, not as an experiment or a kind of prescription or charm ... {384}


Oriel: November 23, 1843.
Will you dine here in the Common-Room at half-past 5 on Monday? I have nothing to tempt you, but I want to see your face: it is so long since we met.

You cannot tell how much I have been anxious about you, as to what you heard not so long ago. After your Father and Mother and my own Aunt, you have been uppermost in my thoughts. I fear your so-called indisposition is really mental disgust—nothing bodily. Gladly, my dear James, would I say anything to relieve you, but I can only say I wish to do so, if there is any good in that; nothing more.

For myself, I have so long divested myself of hopes for the future, if I ever had them, that I seem to have nothing to grieve for, except the grief of others.

The answer to this note does not appear, but its tone may be gathered from the following reply to it:


November 24, 1843.
Your note made my heart ache—it is the simple truth, so I may say it. I don't know whether it will comfort you, yet I hope it may (as omne ignotum pro magnifico), to tell you that my present feelings are not new, nor have they come upon me gradually, nor from disgust and despair, nor have they been indulged.

Last summer four years (1839) it came strongly upon me, from reading first the Monophysite controversy, and then turning to the Donatist, that we were external to the Catholic Church. I have never got over this. I did not, however, yield to it at all, but wrote an article in the 'British Critic' on the Catholicity of the English Church, which had the effect of quieting me for two years. Since this time two years the feeling has revived and gradually strengthened. I have all along gone against it and think I ought to do so still. I am now publishing sermons, which speak more confidently about our position than I inwardly feel, but I think it right and do not care for seeming inconsistent.

I trust you may quite rely on my not admitting despair or disgust, or giving way to feelings which I wish otherwise, {385} though, from the experience of the last four years, I do not think they are likely to be otherwise.

A lady of recognised ability, the friend of a correspondent of Mr. Newman's, had earnestly wished to enter into controversy with him. In his answer to this request Mr. Newman writes:—

She may—of course she has full right to—differ from me in opinion, and she remains (I fully grant) just where she was. She has not changed. I have read what she has not read, and have changed. I read first (as I was bound to do) with other people's eyes, and since I have read with my own, not being able to help it; but still I do not force my views upon her, I have not obtruded them in any way. I have felt nothing but pain; but she is resolved to get into argument with me, and I am resolved (so be it) not to argue with her. I wish to have an argument with no one; by which I mean anything between person and person. And it is very bad tact in her, for it is just the way to drive one in one's feelings further from her opinions. She is doing just what our rulers are doing on a large scale—trying to show us that we are in a false position, that we are not in our place ...


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1. See Essays Critical and Historical, vol. i. p. 100.
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2. British Critic, April 1839, p. 426.
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3. Professor Shairp eloquently recalls his feelings at hearing no longer Mr. Newman's voice in St. Mary's. 'On these things, looking over an interval of five-and-twenty years, how vividly comes back the remembrance of the aching blank, the awful pause which fell on Oxford when that voice had ceased, and we knew that we should hear it no more. It was as when, to one kneeling by night, in the silence of some vast Cathedral, the great bell tolling solemnly overhead has suddenly gone still ... Since then many voices of powerful teachers may have been heard, but none that ever penetrated the soul like his.'—Shairp's Studies in Poetry and Philosophy, p. 255.
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4. This lady's enthusiastic temperament and her dependent circumstances equally excited Mr. Newman's sympathies. His regard for her lasted till the end of her restless life—one of his latest notes comparing her to one saint in the calendar 'who never could settle.' In 1844 she conformed to Rome. Some interesting letters of his to her, of a later date, have recently fallen into the Editor's hands.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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