[Letters and Correspondence—1838]


Oriel College: January 17, 1838.
To me, I am sorry to say, this Christmas has been very little of a leisure time. I have been quite overwhelmed with business, though, I am thankful to say, not overpowered, for I am particularly well, whatever comes.

Anxious I have been, and am, about several things. Froude's volumes will open upon me a flood of criticisms, and from all quarters. It is just a case when no two persons have the same judgment about particulars, and I am fully conscious that even those who know one will say, 'What could he mean by putting this in? What is the use of that? How silly this! How trifling that! What is it to the world if so and so? How injudicious? He is cutting his own throat.' But on the whole I trust it will present, as far as it goes, a picture of a mind; and that being gained as the scope, the details may be left to take their chance.

Then about my own work [on Justification] I am a good deal fussed. It is the first voyage I have yet made proprio marte, with sun, stars, compass, and a sounding line, but with very insufficient charts. It is a terra incognita in our Church, and I am so afraid, not of saying things wrong so much as queer and crotchety, and of misunderstanding other writers. For really the Lutherans, &c., as divines, are so shallow and inconsequent, that I can hardly believe my own impressions about them. {223}

We have three volumes of the 'Library of the Fathers' in the press. This again is a very anxious business.

Maitland has taken the 'British Critic,' with a promise of our assistance; when I know more you shall hear more. Nothing could be better unless he were under Rose's eyes, for he is going to live in town; but we must be quite decided, and if he will not put in our strong articles we must retire.

Your offering towards the young monks [Note 1] was just like yourself, and I cannot pay it a better compliment. I will be most welcome. As you may suppose, we have nothing settled, but are feeling our way. We should begin next term; but since, however secret one may wish to keep it, things get out, we do not yet wish to commit young men to anything which may hurt their chance of success at any college, in standing for a fellowship. After Easter will be a better time so far as this, that there may be some eligible men among those who stood for our fellowships unsuccessfully. I trust the plan will answer when begun, but do not know how to start, and fear wasting money through clumsiness. During the next term with Manuel Johnson's help I hope to concoct something.


January 29, 1838.
The glass in my inner room has stood at 10°—that is, 22° below freezing-point. I have never had it so cold for a continuance, or at all, since I have been in the rooms.

I am quite sick at the thoughts of having the 'British Critic,' but there was no one else, and I did not like so important a work to get into hands I could not trust. I do not begin with it till the July number.

My book on Justification has taken incredible time. I am quite worn out with correcting. I do really think that every correction I make is for the better, and that I am not wasting time in an over-fastidious way, or even making it worse than it was; but I can only say this—openings for correction are inexhaustible.

I write, I write again: I write a third time in the course of six months. Then I take the third: I literally fill the paper with corrections, so that another person could not read it. I {224} then write it out fair for the printer. I put it by; I take it up; I begin to correct again: it will not do. Alterations multiply, pages are re-written, little lines sneak in and crawl about. The whole page is disfigured; I write again; I cannot count how many times this process is repeated.

To his sister Harriett, writing March 28, he gives the motive for all this care. 'The great difficulty was to avoid being difficult, which on the subject of Justification is not a slight one. It is so entangled and mystified by irrelevant and refined questions.'


February 4.
I may well address you as an ancient shepherd does a more fortunate one, 'Tityre, tu patulæ.' Do you really think I have time to meditate verses to Amaryllis? That is, you are a country swain and have the choicest gifts which Hursley can give, but I assure you that for me, to go to the point, I have not written a letter, except on business, I do not know when. Do come here some time, and we will have some quiet talk together ... My hand is too tired to write letters, unless I am forced—literally, my hand is in a continual ache.


February 28, 1838.
Pusey bids me say that he is going to affix to his pamphlet the list of passages against Popery which have already been stitched into the 'British Magazine.' If, then, you think of giving your own extracts, he would be very much pleased to receive them, and that at once.

The previous letter, January 17, speaks of Mr. Maitland having taken the 'British Critic,' but his official relation to the Archbishop made a difficulty, and he resigned. It practically passed into Mr. Newman's hands, as he had with him the most important contributors, and in July 1838 he became formally the Editor [Note 2]. {225}


March 19, 1838.
I like your subject [for the 'British Critic']. We will have the British Association by all means in July ... I hope in the July number we shall have a paper of Keble's, on 'Walter Scott'; of Harrison's, on Professor Lee's 'Job'; of Copeland's, on 'Bishop Ken'; and I hope from Mr. Todd of Dublin. Pusey is writing a most elaborate article on the Church Commission, which (as far as I have seen it) is a most overpowering and melancholy exposure of it by a mere statement of facts. I wish it were not quite so long, but it is a very large subject, and I certainly find everything most concisely put, as far as I have read.

In reviewing the British Association, do not forget the first Report. There is a splendid oration there in praise of Priestley, with choice bits about his theological opinions.

I have not seen Williams's 'Cathedral,' but I fear it will be obscure. However, everyone has his line. To be sure, what a mass of Catholic literature is now being poured upon the public! Have you seen Palmer's book? [on the Church]. It is quite overcoming—his reading—and makes one feel quite ashamed. It will do a great deal of good, for just at this moment we need ballast. Then again, Froude's in an opposite direction, as if marking out the broad limits of Anglicanism and the differences of opinion which are allowable in it. Then Woodgate's Sermons [Bamptons], which began yesterday with a bold, uncompromising statement of the Doctrine of Tradition, and of the difference between the Catholic and Rationalistic spirit, which comes from a certain pamphlet. I hope to do something with my forthcoming Lectures [on Justification], and there are to come Keble's Papers on Mysticism (read at the Theological) in the next (5th) volume, viz. No. 89 of the Tracts. (By-the-bye, have you seen Williams's most valuable Tract 80?) (on Reserve). Then your 'Hildebrand'; then Froude's 'Becket,' &c., which is now ready; and besides all this, the 'British Critic.' But one must not exult too much. What I fear is the now rising generation at Oxford, Arnold's youths. Much depends on how they turn out. {226}


March 29, 1838.
You must not be vexed to have a somewhat excited letter from Edward Churton on the subject of dear Hurrell's 'Remains.' I doubt not, too, you really will not be so. All persons whose hearts have been with Cranmer and Jewel are naturally pained, and one must honour them for it. It is the general opinion here that the Journal [the Thoughts] ought to have been published, and is full of instruction.

Yesterday morning I had the following pleasant announcement from William Froude. 'My father is much pleased with Hurrell's book. He had been rather alarmed by some comments made upon it in a letter from Sir John Coleridge, but the book itself has quite reassured him. The preface says exactly what one wished to have said.'

The following letter is on the death of a Littlemore parishioner well known to his sister:


April 6, 1838.
Poor Mrs. Quarterman is dead. She went on month after month in the sad, uncomfortable, distressed way you recollect, always behindhand in her rent, &c. At length I spoke to Pusey, and he, without my meaning it, put her on his list of regular almswomen. This was a most exceeding great relief to her, and she was full of happiness and thanks; this was about a month since. Shortly after, a place in the St. Clement's Almshouses fell vacant, and the Master of University put her in. They say good fortune never comes single, but it was too much for her—she seems to have died of joy.


Oriel College, Easter Day: April 15.
I duly received this morning your most munificent gift. I trust I shall be a faithful steward of so large a sum. The day before yesterday I received a promise of 50l., and other promises have been made. We only want to start well, which I hope we shall do.

I have had very pleasant and kind letters from Mr. Hornby {227} and Mr. Faber on the subject of my lectures, which I sent to both.

I wish some of you in London would set up a series of light works, such as you speak of. Had not the 'British Critic' come in the way, I had proposed to do so.


Oriel College: Easter Tuesday, 1838.
Today a pleasant thing happened to me. Two parishioners, who were to be married, begged to be allowed to receive the Holy Communion at the time of their marriage. It was quite their own thought. I have had a second anonymous present of plate for St. Mary's altar. The parishioners received it in vestry in silence, and then began disputing about the expense of repairing a pinnacle of the church [Note 3]. I have had an organ given to Littlemore from an unknown hand. Nothing like raising up Treasure Houses. Money flows in by a natural law, the law of faith and its reward. Ask much and you gain much.


May 22, 1838.
 … You know Faussett has been firing away at us in gallant style.

I fear I shall be hard pressed for articles for the 'British Critic.'

The following comment is attached to this letter:

[N.B.—Just at this time, June 1838, was the zenith of the Tract movement. It was at this Commemoration my answer to Faussett came out. The next letter is the beginning of a change of fortune.—J. H. N.] {228}

The 'next letter' here indicated is one addressed to Mr. Bowden, August 17, 1838, beginning, 'I delayed writing in order to give you an account of our Bishop's Charge.'


Oriel College: August 2, 1838.
 … It seems to me best you should get the 'Becket' off your hands at once, and I should like you when you leave Cholderton to come here and superintend the printing at once. And you shall hear again from me.

You see Lord Morpeth has been upon me in the House, as editor of the 'Remains.' Gladstone has defended me, Sir R. Inglis the University; O'Connell has patronised the Tracts. The Bishop of Oxford is delivering a Charge in our favour, Archdeacon Browne, of Ely, against us. The Bishop of Exeter has been making a remarkable speech in the House, saying that though their Lordships, &c., passed a certain Bill, he would not obey it, and they might eject him first. The Archbishop very much excited on the other side. I heartily wish Tom may make a book of his sermon. Encourage him to it—I will when I write. Mr. Le Bas has been paying me a visit—he went today. Marriott is negotiating with a view to going to Chichester. Faussett's and my pamphlets have come to a second edition. I have sold at the same time 750 to his 500. Who would have thought persons would buy an answer without a question? He is very angry in the Preface to his second edition—talks of my flippant suggestions, &c. I have answered his Preface in a few notes. Rogers reports an amusing saying of a lady whom he knows about my letter. 'Now Dr. Faussett will be quite pleased and convinced by this, and obliged to Mr. Newman if he is a nice kind of man.'

As to your preaching distinctly, the art consists in not dropping your words, which is very difficult. I have not attained to it from want of strength. You must not glibly run over bits of sentences, but enunciate and enucleate every word. The want of this is what the Provost found fault with [Note 4]. {229}

Vaughan Thomas is very angry with Faussett.

I have not time to read this over.

Mr. Newman had tender consideration for his friends under circumstances to make them feel solitary. His letters throughout show a strong sense of what solitude is, whether as a trial or an experience. He was eminently social, and could sympathise with a young member of his own following, spending a month or more by himself at his brother's country living.

In a week's time he writes again:

Oriel: August 10, 1838.
My dear James,—I hope you are not over-solitary at Cholderton. I have little to say, but I write lest you should be, to provoke an answer. A letter just now came to me from Pusey. I grieve to say Mrs. P. is not so well, and has been confined to her bed a day or so; but do not say this, for people exaggerate things when they hear them.

I have looked into Tyler; don't tell, but it is Tylerissimus. If you could combine it with Sir F. Palgrave [Note 5] I should be glad. You would have much to say in its praise, 'research, &c.' and one or two good bits might be taken. Let me know how Sir F. P. gets on. In what you write do not be too essayish: i.e. do not begin, 'Of all the virtues which adorn the human breast'—be somewhat conversational, and take a jump into your subject. But on the other hand avoid abruptness, or pertness. Be easy and take the mean—and now you have full directions how to write.

A ragged paper came to me this morning, with great portions cut out—parts, however, remained, else it could not have come. I will extract for your edification a sentence or two. 'The Debate was rendered remarkable for bringing before the notice of the country, through Lord Morpeth, a sect of damnable and detestable heretics of late sprung up in Oxford; a sect which evidently affects Popery, and merits the heartiest condemnation of all true Christians. We have paid a good deal of attention to these gentry, and by the grace of God we shall show them up, and demonstrate that they are a people to be abhorred of all faithful men. We do not hesitate to say that they are criminally heterodox,' &c. {230} That they are what? Do you know that Lord Morpeth went out of his way to mention my name? The paper in question is the 'Dublin Record.'

Bliss, in the 'Oxford Herald,' has called us all, Froude inclusive, 'amiable and fanciful men.' The Bishop delivers his Charge next Tuesday. 'Frazer's Magazine,' I am told, has opened on us. We must expect a volley from the whole Conservative press. I can fancy the Old Duke sending down to ask the Heads of Houses whether we cannot be silenced.

Rivington declines printing any more of the 'Remains,' saying that they do not sell well enough. Keble advises the publication at once, and I am writing to Mr. Froude on the subject; so you must prepare to come up here for the rest of the vacation and superintend the business [arranging the 'Becket' papers].

I have sent my Sermons on Antichrist to the press as a Tract, to commence Vol. 5 with. I have finished my lectures in Adam de Brome's Chapel, and am looking out Sermons for my new volume. Jacobson's volumes are come out. I am most happily quite solus; you cannot think what a relief it is.


August 14, 1838.
I am just come away from hearing the Bishop's Charge, and certainly I am disappointed in the part in which he spoke of us.

He said he must allude to a remarkable development, both in matters of discipline and of doctrine, in one part of his Diocese; that he had had many anonymous letters, charging us with Romanism; that he had made inquiries; that, as far as discipline went, he found nothing to find fault with—one addition of a clerical vestment there had been, but that had been discontinued (alluding to Seager); but this he would say, that, in the choice of alternatives, he had rather go back to what is obsolete, in order to enforce the Rubric, than break it in order to follow the motley fashions now prevailing. Next, as to doctrine, he had found many most excellent things in the 'Tracts for the Times' (this was the only book he referred to), and most opportune and serviceable; but for some words and expressions he was sorry, as likely to lead others into error; he feared more for the disciples than for the masters, and he conjured those who were concerned in them to beware lest, &c. {231}

Now does it not seem rather hard that he should publicly attack things in the Tracts without speaking to me about them privately? Again, what good does it do to fling an indefinite suspicion over them, when in the main they are orthodox? Then again, it seems hard that those who work, and who while working necessarily commit mistakes, instead of being thanked for that work, which others do not do, are blamed. It is very comfortable to do nothing and to criticise.

[Second letter on same day.]

August 14, 1838.
You will perhaps think me fidgety not to wait for your answer to my letter of today, but as despatch will be requisite if I adopt the following plan, I write at once by coach.

It seems to me that my course is to send the Archdeacon [Clarke] a short note to the following effect: that I was glad to find the Bishop approved of some things in the Tracts; that I am sorry to hear for the first time that he thinks some parts of them of unsafe tendency; that I do not ask what parts he means, because in his Charge he pointedly declined anything like controversy, to which such a question might lead; that he gave his opinion as a judgment, and that as such I take it; that, under such circumstances, it would be very inconsistent in me to continue the publication of these volumes with this general suspicion thrown upon them by my Bishop. Accordingly I now write to say that, if he would specify any Tract which he wished drawn from publication, nay, if he said all of them, I would do so forthwith; that I should not like to suppress parts of Tracts, which might be unfair to the writer. However, that I must except Nos. 67 and following, and No. 82 (they are Pusey's), over which I have no control, and a few others, which were not my property, but which should not any more appear among the Tracts, and as belonging to them.

By doing this I think I set myself right with him. I really cannot go on publishing with this censure upon the Tracts. And, if he ordered some to be suppressed, the example and precedent I am sure would be worth ten times the value of the Tracts suppressed.

Unless you think this quixotic, I am disposed very much to do it.

P.S.—Since writing this, the idea so grows on me of the absolute impossibility of going on (consistently) with the {232} Tracts, with the Bishop saying that parts are dangerous, that if I do not write as above to him, I certainly must cease them.

The following letter to Mr. Bowden is that transcribed by Mr. Newman, with the notice that it marked the date of a 'change of fortune':


Oriel: August 17, 1838.
I delayed writing in order to give you an account of our Bishop's Charge, which an ear-witness told me was favourable by name to the 'Tracts for the Times.' He has been here, but, alas it is the other way.

This is too strong a way of putting it, but my impression of it is this: it has acted towards our objects and at the same time has given us a slap; which, by-the-bye, is what I have always predicted would be our fate. What he said was very slight indeed, but a Bishop's lightest word, ex cathedra, is heavy. The whole effect, too, was cold towards us, in this way: that he had had anonymous letters saying we were going into Romanism, that he had made inquiries of our way of conducting the service, &c. and found nothing. Thus it was negation: there was no praise. Then, as to the Tracts, he said that we were sincere, and that certain objects recommended in them, such as keeping Fast and Festival, were highly desirable; but that there were expressions in them which might be injurious to particular minds, and he conjured us not to go too far, &c.

Now here, as far as the Cause goes, is abundant gain. He spoke strongly in favour of observing the Rubric, of recurring to Antiquity, of Saints'-days; and by implication he allowed of turning to the East, the [prothesis], &c.: but what has he done to us? Why we stand thus. How many times in a century is a book, and that principally the writing of a person in a Bishop's diocese, noticed in a Bishop's Charge? it is not usual. Next it is said by him to contain exceptional expressions. Is it possible that any work in the world, of four thick volumes, should not? Certainly not. The truth, then, of the remark is not enough to account for what a Bishop says, unless it is important to say it. Nothing but important truths will enter into a Bishop's Charge; and since he has not said what {233} the exceptional things are, he has thrown a general suspicion ever all the volumes.

Under these circumstances I felt that it was impossible for me to continue the Tracts, and wrote to Keble on the subject. He, without knowing my opinion, quite took the same view, stating it very strongly: and I feel, whatever difference of opinion there may be about it, I cannot do otherwise. It would be against my feelings. Pusey is at Weymouth, and knows nothing yet of what has happened; nor does anyone else; so do not talk of it to anyone. Accordingly I have written to the Archdeacon, not as archdeacon, but as a friend, to say that I propose to stop the Tracts and withdraw the existing ones from circulation; that this is very unpleasant to me; that the only way I can see to hinder it is, if I could learn privately from the Bishop any particular Tract he disapproves, which I would at once suppress ... Well, my dear Bowden, has not this come suddenly and taken away your breath? It nearly has mine. But I do not think I can be wrong, and I think good may come of it. It will be a considerable loss of money, I fear; and the fifth volume is nearly ready for publication, but I think the precedent will be very good; and it will make people see we are sincere and not ambitious.

 … It is an exceedingly strong and bold Charge; and if I suffered, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the rest of the commission did not suffer less.

The Rector of Exeter [Jones] is dead, and we are very anxious about his successor. The election is September 1. I fear I shall in consequence, anyhow, lose Sewell's article. I have not yet a single article for the 'British Critic,' nor yet had any time to write one. I am sure I ought not to be sorry if the Bishop lessens my work.

Shuttleworth has published a little book against tradition; very superficial, retailing old objections, but specious and perhaps mischievous.

C. Marriott is going to Chichester. Le Bas has been paying me a visit; he has just lost a daughter.


August 22, 1838.
I did not write to Pusey for many reasons. He had enough to think about [Mrs. Pusey's illness]. I might seem in a measure particeps criminis, and unfit to mediate, though I suppose {234} his Tracts are not in fault. And he was at a distance; so I wrote to the Archdeacon [Clarke], stating pretty much what passed between you and me. I said that I had recourse to him, though in an official capacity, when I would rather have chosen another, because there was no other; that I neither wrote to him formally myself, nor wanted a formal answer; that the Bishop, by saying there were ambiguous and unsafe expressions in the Tracts (by-the-bye, the Charge itself is very good and strong, and speaks out more than any Bishop has done, perhaps, except the Bishop of Exeter), had thrown a suspicion over the whole, and that I seemed, under the circumstances, to have no course but to remove them out of his way; that a Bishop's word was not a light one, and could not be; that it was rare; that it struck me I might be saved a very disagreeable measure if he would kindly get from the Bishop—not as archdeacon, but as a friend—not the expressions, because I gathered from his Charge he did not wish to get into discussion, but the Tracts which contained them, on which I would withdraw such Tracts without a word, and the rest would be saved. I ended by thanking the Bishop for the kindness he had so often shown me, and by hinting my pain that the first notice I should have of any part of my writings being under his disapprobation should be on so public and solemn an occasion. I was not pleased with my letter, but it was the best I could write, and the Bishop seems to have taken it as I meant, which is enough.

The Archdeacon answered me that he had not seen the Charge before he heard it, that the Bishop had not consulted him, and he thought I had better think nothing of himself, and address the Bishop (this made me suppose that Spry is at the bottom of the Charge, which the Bishop's letter somewhat confirms).

I then wrote to the Bishop (who had received from the Archdeacon my letter to him), merely asking whether I should call or write to him.

I received his answer yesterday morning. He begins by saying that he had been pained ever since he received my letter, not with me, because I had perfectly satisfied him in my own demeanour, &c., but at the idea of having pained me: that I must have misunderstood him; and he entreated me to wait at least till the Charge was printed; that to withdraw the Tracts, at least at once, would be unfair to him, as making him seem to say more than he meant; that he had been forced {235} to give judgment on account of anonymous letters and of other Bishops having spoken; that he had in his Charge approved very much of what we had done, censured nothing, only warned; that he considered that the opposite party had rather cause to complain he had gone so far; that my impression was not the general one; that he assured me that persons who thought the Tracts were doing good, and had a great respect for me, yet lamented expressions, &c., in them, and that he would call on me when he next came into Oxford, and hoped to meet me on the same terms as ever; and that he wished to know my impression of what he had said. Nothing could be kinder or more sympathetic than his letter.

It seems to me plain from it that he thought a great deal in the Tracts very good, but would not commit himself in any way to them. Accordingly (as far as I remember) there is not a word of praise bestowed on them, but, on the other hand, to balance his own adoption of what they recommended, a slight discredit cast about them; that he has not read them; that he goes by what he hears said, has seen extravagant persons, &c., and (not thinking of our feelings at all, any more than if we were the very paper Tracts themselves) he propitiates the popular cry against us with a vague disapprobation, just as men revile Popery in order to say strong Catholic things. Of course this is entre nous, and I have expressed myself much more strongly than would be right, were I not putting you in possession of my thoughts with reference to forming a judgment. Also, I am not sure if he was not rather annoyed with me when he delivered his Charge, whether on account of the 'Remains' or for other reason. I think he has not considered that a Bishop's word is an act, that I am under his jurisdiction, that he cannot criticise, but commands only.

I answered him last night that I would certainly wait till his Charge came out, that I had ever studied to please him in word and deed, and that no two persons agree on minor matters, in expediency, in opinion, or in expressions; that his ordinary silence as regards his clergy had been interpreted by me to mean that in such matters, whichever way his own judgment lay, he allowed such differences, but that I had ever felt that he could withdraw his permission, and that, when he spoke, his word was my rule; and that, as to the Tracts, they were a large work, and but a human production, and doubtless full of imperfections. I knew this anyhow, but his formal {236} noticing the faults made them important, and for this reason, and to obey him, and lest the world and my opponents should find me in the false position of being in opposition to him, and in order that the doctrine of the Tracts might not be inconsistent with my conduct respecting them, I had felt that to withdraw them in whole or in part was my only course and I entreated him to believe that I should find real pleasure in submitting myself to his expressed judgment.

Then I told him what my impression was of what he had said. He would get this letter this morning.

[N.B.—I believe that, after the Bishop's death, my autograph letters were in the hands of his widow.—J. H. N. July 9, 1885.]

Now Q. 1. Am I driving him into committing himself to name certain expressions, &c.? You see I have distinctly waived all wish to know them. Q. 2. In my first letter I professed a wish to go by what he really wished, if I privately learnt what Tracts he disapproved. Now suppose he tells me in speech or conversation, 'Go on with the Tracts,' and yet prints the Charge as he read it (I think he will), with a critique on them, what am I to do? Am I to appear undutiful when I am not? I have no view, but I will do what you advise. I wish to be prepared with a view.


St. Bartholomew, 1838.
I wish I could think of something good for [kat' oikonomian]. I doubt whether in a new Father I shall not introduce the word 'economically.' I consider it to mean a representation or scene, only a true one. For example, the traveller and ewe lamb are represented in word, and are not real. But the Apostles asked Christ about the end of the world. They were answered by our Lord's bringing together facts as Nathan did words. It is a true fable [Note 6].

Harrison is appointed Archbishop's Chaplain in the place of Ogilvie. Palmer of Worcester is going to be married. Dr. Kidd tells me Richards is to be Head of Exeter, if he will consent. Thus I have given you these ecclesiastical promotions.

I am grieved to hear a very bad account of Greswell. It is very doubtful if he can return to Oxford. If so, I suppose tutors must be sought among the juniors. {237}


August 28, 1838.
The Bishop, you will be glad to know, is very much pleased with my letter, and wishes that nothing should appear in his Charge which may give any pain. This comes indirectly through Acland and must not be mentioned, so everything is as well as it can be. This is a great comfort, since your brother speaks of it in a way I do not like, and both Pusey and Bowden are annoyed. Thanks for your letter, both as advice and encouragement. Your quotation from Virgil brought tears into my eyes. No one has encouraged me but you. Pusey was so cast down when he heard it, that he himself needed comfort. I have no cough, thank you; it is always voluntary, proceeding not from my lungs but from weakness in my muscles of utterance.


September 4, 1838.
 … As to the Bishop and me, I have little to tell you; I have written two letters and he one. I have promised not to do anything till the Charge is printed. I have heard indirectly what is very good news, but of course secret, that he is much pleased with my letters, and that he is desirous to make any alterations in his Charge which may relieve me. I am quite certain that in my position I could do nothing else. To suffer my Bishop to breathe a word against me would be to put myself in a false position. Depend upon it our strength (as of every thing or person, political, religious, philosophical) is consistency. If we show we are not afraid of carrying out our principles in whatever direction, humanly speaking, nothing can hurt us, and it seems the most likely way to obtain a blessing. I do not think it would have been volunteering a persecution. Observe I do not think I am out of the wood yet; for I do not see how the Bishop can materially alter his Charge or how I can bear any blow whatever. However, I am sanguine it will end well. At the same time I am bound to say that Pusey in the main seemed to agree with you, as did Thomas Keble.

 … Two of our Translations of the Fathers will greet you on your return to the South. I think they will do us harm {238} at first. We shall see choice bits of bigotry, fancifulness, superstition, &c., strung together in the 'Record,' &c.


September 21, 1838.
The Bishop's Charge is to appear soon. I met him in the street the other day, and thanked him for his kindness. 'No,' he said; 'do not thank me: wait till you see.' These are ominous words; but, from what he has written to Pusey, I cannot think that he means to put me in an awkward situation.

The Archbishop [Whately] of Dublin is here, and is just what he was in manner, &c. At first I was afraid to call, knowing how annoyed he had been; but I got him sounded, and found he was pretty tame, and called in consequence. He is so good-hearted a man that it passed off well. I set him upon Political Economy and the Irish Poor Law, listened for half an hour and came away.

So far as the following letters to Mr. Keble are contributions to the history of the Movement they are in place here, and as illustrating the character of their writer under the extreme tension of the moment, are not less so. The reader will find a comment on the confidence of his tone from the pen of 'J. H. N.' as he transcribes his letters after an interval of forty-seven years.


November 6, 1838.
On Saturday morning I had a letter from Prevost protesting in strong terms against the 'Breviary' being published. I wished to send it to Wood and Williams, but felt that some explanation was necessary for sending them so needlessly abrupt a letter. Wood sends me back the answer I enclose, which you will see implies (what I had told him) that, though I did not feel that Prevost's opposition was an insurmountable objection, I could translate no more hymns without your leave. Your letter has saved me the awkwardness of writing to you on the subject. What I proposed to Wood was to correct the 'Breviary' by some standard. I confess I much dislike correcting {239} it by my private judgment, or by the vague opinions of the day, or by what people will think. I mentioned to him the Thirty-nine Articles, entitling it 'The Breviary Reformed according to the Thirty-nine Articles,' but the Thirty-nine Articles will not cut out the legends. Then I thought of the preface to the Prayer Book. What would you say to both together? After all, is there any one of our standards which would keep out such as 'May St. Mary and all saints intercede for us to the Lord,' &c.? Are we bound to cut out what is of unknown antiquity and not forbidden by our Church? I do not think it will do to attempt to correct it by history. None of the parties concerned are strong enough in facts to do so.

The sooner I have your answer the better. They go printing on, but this at present will involve very little cancelling.


November 21, 1838.
 … And now as to my subject. I will first give an unpleasant sketch of things, being sorry so to trouble you.

Some months since J. F. Christie wrote me word that your brother was one of the persons included in my remark in my letter to Faussett, as holding at once the Apostolical Succession, and that the Pope was Antichrist ... I had already modified the passage in the second edition somewhat, from a hint that Williams had given me, and on receipt of this letter (Christie's) I wrote to your brother to express my sorrow for what was quite unintentional, and to say that in truth I still did not think that he held the Pope to be the Antichrist. He answered that he did not wish to argue the matter, that he heartily wished I would go out of Oxford somewhere or other for a time and forget Faussett, &c., and that he was sorry to hear I was proposing hastily to give up the Tracts. The tone of this letter, of which I forgot the rest, hurt me a good deal, the more as being quite unexpected. However, I said nothing, except conveying a message through you to the effect that I could not construe parts of it.

I then sent to ask him if I might make a collection for the poor of Bisley on our anniversary at Littlemore, which in consequence of his assent I did, and sent it to him.

About the same time he sent me his Tract, as I certainly I thought for publication. Accordingly I had it printed and {240} sent him the proof. He in answer professed himself perplexed at my having acted so hastily.

About the same time Pusey wrote to Jeffries to know if he would take part in the scheme of a college of priests for a large town. Jeffries, scarcely giving a direct answer to the question asked him, went into a long argument against the idea itself to Pusey, his senior, who had not asked his advice, proposing instead a mode which he preferred, and suggesting how I could give advice to Christie in furtherance of it.

Then lately came Prevost's letter about the 'Breviary,' which, in telling me for the first time of his objection to the plan, said that he, Jeffries, and your brother were much distressed at it, spoke of those who 'used' to sympathise with us, offered to pay expenses if they were stopped at once, and begged an immediate answer.

Now I write this for two purposes. First, I put myself entirely into your hands. I will do whatever you suggest. I really do hope I have no wish but that of peace with all parties, and of satisfying you. If you tell me to make any submission to anyone, I will do it. Indeed, I am determined, if I can, that no charge should lie against me beyond that of being myself—that is, of having certain opinions and a certain way of expressing them.

And next about the opinions and their expression: there too I give myself up to your judgment. If you will tell me what not to do, I will not do it. I wish parties would seriously ask themselves what they desire of me. Is it to stop writing? I will stop anything you advise. Is it to show what I write to others before publishing? It is my rule already. Pusey saw my letter to Faussett. Williams and others heard and recommended the publishing of my lectures. Is it to stop my weekly parties, or anything else? I will gladly do so.

Now this being understood, may I not fairly ask for some little confidence in me as to what, under these voluntary restrictions, I do? People really should put themselves into my place, and consider how the appearance of suspicion, jealousy, and discontent is likely to affect one who is most conscious that everything he does is imperfect, and therefore soon begins so to suspect everything he does as to have no heart and little power to do anything at all. Anyone can fancy the effect which the presence of ill-disposed spectators would have on some artist or operator engaged in a delicate experiment. Is such conduct kind towards me? is it feeling? {241} If I ought to stop I am ready to stop, but do not in the same breath chide me (for instance) for thinking of stopping the Tracts, and then be severe on the Tracts which are actually published. If I am to proceed I must be taken for what I am—not agreeing perhaps altogether with those who criticise me; but still (I suppose) on the whole subserving rather than not what they consider right ends. This I feel, that if I am met with loud remonstrances before gentle hints are tried, and if suspicions go before proofs, I shall very soon be silenced whether persons wish it or no. To the 'Library of the Fathers' I am pledged, to the 'British Critic' only to the end of this year, and to nothing else besides the 'Remains.' If such a result takes place, if persons force me by their criticisms into that state of disgust which the steady contemplation of his own doings is sure to create in any serious man, they will have done a work which may cause them some sorrow, perhaps some self-reproach.

[This was the last occasion on which I could prefer a claim for confidence. The very next autumn (1839) my misgivings began, which led me in 1840 to write a very different letter to Keble.—J. H. N. July 10, 1885.]


November 1838.
 … I feel your kindness in sending me the extract from your brother's letter. If I say that my view about Prevost's letter is substantially what it was, I say so only for the sake of honesty. Anything I can do to smooth matters I will gladly. I only hope that Prevost has got over the annoyance of my letter (for which I am truly sorry), as I have, I trust, got over the annoyance of his.

As to the Decemvirate of Revision, I have no objection to it; but the question will arise, who are they to be? Will your brother allow more than one or two out of all our friends? and again, how is time to be found for it? It is difficult to get one reviser. Are all the articles in the 'British Critic' to have a second reviser after myself? I repeat I have no objection, except what seems to me its impracticability. It is virtually enjoining silence, which if it is to be done had better be done openly.

These three letters to Mr. Keble, so keenly sensitive in their tone, have been lately read by Mr. Newman's pupil and {242} friend (F. R), to whom so many of the letters brought before the reader are addressed—letters showing a remarkable warmth of trust and affection. It has been permitted to the Editor to give a place here to the recollections which these letters to Keble, and the occasion which caused them, awoke. The tender humour with which this conflict between a strong will and a warm heart is recorded gives such naturalness to the situation that the Editor was tempted to ask leave of the writer to give his words a place in these pages.


March 5, 1886.
 … Curiously enough I see by an old diary, under date December 12, an account of—I am at a loss for a substantive—not quarrel, not exactly difference, but a kind of stern alienation for a fortnight, ending in tender reconciliation, which was due to this difference between himself as supporter of (S.) Wood, (R.) Williams and Oakeley, who were pressing the publication of the 'Breviary' on one side, and T. Keble and Prevost on the other. I seem to have objected to some actual or intended letter to Keble, and I certainly in my mind, and probably in the tone of my conversation, sided on the whole with the Prevost side rather than the Wood and Williams side. This made me a disagreeable confidant to him, and this again he took as very unkind, and showed it in a certain flinty way which he had at command on great emergencies. But then, you occasionally saw what this flintiness cost him. And when you came to frank explanation, there came from the rock a gush of overpowering tenderness.

In giving permission for the publication of the above letter, Lord Blachford writes to the Editor:

December 9, 1888.
You are welcome to print what you wish—I mean, so much as regards the 'flintiness' and 'tenderness'—from my letter to you. I wish I had added that the pain of keeping up this severe outside was at times to him visibly overpowering, but I hardly know how to add it. I would suggest the addition of a few words to show (if that is your feeling, as it is mine) that the passage is inserted to show what lay within the hardness with which he is sometimes reproached. {243}

At the end of 1838 Mr. Bowden was about to publish his 'Life of Hildebrand,' and sent his introduction to Mr. Newman for his opinion. The letter in reply, after some literary criticisms, continues:


Oriel: November 21, 1838.
 … As to your statements about corruptions, &c., really I do not like to give my opinion, and wish you to follow your own judgment. It seems to me, if I must speak, that saint-worship as it practically prevailed in the middle ages is a very great corruption; but how far the formal acts of the Church involve such worship, and what are its limits, I cannot say; and I am so bothered and attacked on all sides by friends and foes, that I had much rather say nothing, and had I my own wish I certainly should say nothing and write nothing more. I mean, I distrust my judgment, and am getting afraid to speak. It is just like walking on treacherous ice: one cannot say a thing but one offends someone or other—I don't mean foe, for that one could bear, but friend. You cannot conceive what unpleasant tendencies to split are developing themselves on all sides, and how one suffers because one wishes to keep well with all, or at least because one cannot go wholly with this man or that.

P.S.—Should not Dr. Adams know, if he does not, that the present Bishop [Law] of Bath and Wells in his funeral sermon for the Princess Charlotte prayed for her soul?


November 28, 1838.
Thanks for your kind letter. I will but observe on it—
(1) That your brother knows the country clergy, and makes their feelings his standard. I do not deny, though I have no means of knowing, that it is as he says, but I do not write for them. Of course, as is natural, I write for those I do see: namely, the generation lay or clerical rising into active life, particularly at Oxford. That I am useful to them by the very things that may be injudicious in view of the clergy, I am certain, whatever ultimately comes of it. I do not consider that for them I am going too fast. The character of a place of this kind must be considered before men can fairly undertake {244} to judge about what is best or not best. One cannot stop still. Shrewd minds anticipate conclusions, anticipate objections, oblige one to say yes or no, to defend oneself, to anticipate the objection. What your brother calls unsettling is not my work, but of others here, who must be met and treated lest they do harm. It is better surely to refute objections than to let others be the prey of them. In fact, in a place of this kind if one is to speak (which is another matter) one must be prepared to pursue questions and to admit or deny inferences.

(2) Then comes the question, ought one to speak, though one may be making way here, if it is at the expense of the country clergy? And this is the point on which I spoke before, and perhaps not clearly enough. I have no call; I am not in station; is it not natural that the question should rise in my mind, 'What business is it of yours: and are you doing it in the best way?' When a man like your brother does object, he has my own latent witness on his side, and he goes just the way, whether he wishes it or not, to reduce me to silence.

(3) But though silent, it would never enter into my head that I need or ought to be doing nothing. It is still a great question with me whether I should be doing better by reading and preparing for future writing on the Fathers than by offhand works; and with this view by giving up the Tracts, the 'British Critic,' and St. Mary's. At the same time, did I do so, many things would occur which one should wish otherwise, and which would pain me, and I should be blamed by those who now, without knowing it, are certainly going the way to bring it about.

The tone towards the country clergy, not intentional, but due to the line of argument, seems to have jarred upon Mr. Keble, as is to be gathered from the following acknowledgment of Mr. Keble's answer to the above letter.


December 5, 1838.
As to my last note, I had not the most distant thought of speaking disrespectfully of the country clergy. Indeed, my saying that my own secret feelings were on your brother's side showed it. I assure you these feelings are so strong that {245} it was with great scruple and much uneasiness that I published the Tract in question (the last), and I may say the same of what I said to Faussett about Antichrist. To read and otherwise employ myself with the Fathers, without venturing anything of my own, is what would give me most peace of conscience. What I do is done under the stimulus of external things which I witness; and therefore, if, on the other hand, I see externally anyone like your brother throwing cold water, both the stimulus is gone, and I have an excuse for what I like better than tracts and pamphlets.

I do not think I have the fidget you speak of (as far as I can make out) for seeing things clearly, and not getting others to see them too; but when others protest (I do not mean Low Church, but men like your brother), I feel a sort of bad conscience and disgust with what I have done, and this I tried to say in my first letter. And yet, if I am to speak, I cannot speak otherwise than I do. I can be silent, but I cannot speak as Harrison, &c. My constant feeling when I write is that I do not realise things, but am merely drawing out intellectual conclusions, which I need not say is very uncomfortable. [Vide a passage in my account of my Sicilian illness.] [Note 7]


December 23, 1838.
I am quite ready that all Tracts should undergo the revision of two persons whom your brother chooses, though I do not understand whom you mean. Isaac Williams of course is one; is Prevost the other?

Nothing you said from London annoyed me in the least. You have a way of saying things which does not annoy.


Oriel: In festo SS. Innoc., 1838.
Faber has returned from Cambridge with doleful accounts, as he gives them, though I have not confidence in his representation. However, I doubt not he has done good by going. He says that two parties are formed, Hookites, which in fact includes us, and a sort of Latitudinarians, who consider they maintain 'Oxford views'; and they quote the Preface to the {246} 'Remains' to show that they are not members of the 'Establishment,' that is, the local Church (which they say is heretical, &c.), but the 'Catholic Church,' an idea or shadow. Merivale has been preaching, and is to publish four sermons which seem to make subjective religion all in all—indeed, they seem Maurician, the said Maurice being at present the great doctor at Cambridge. What a set they are! They cannot make religion a reality; nothing more than a literature. Heath (I think) holds by my 'Romanism' and 'Justification,' not by my Sermons; which means, I suppose, not by Catholic views about Church and Sacraments. An external bond is what they want, and what they shrink from. Are they not like Greeks, and we like Romans? 'Graiis ingenium,' &c. 'Tu, Romane, memento ... parcere subjectis et debellare superbos.' [Note 8]

It is well, perhaps, after having just given the letters to Mr. Keble on certain objections raised by the country party, to extract from the 'Apologia' Mr. Newman's lasting impression of his position in 1839.

In the spring of 1839 my position in the Anglican Church was at its height. I had supreme confidence in my controversial status, and I had a great and still growing success in recommending it to others. I had in the foregoing autumn been somewhat sore at the Bishop's Charge, but I have a letter which shows that all annoyance had passed from my mind. In January, if I recollect aright, in order to meet the popular clamour against myself and others, and to satisfy the Bishop, I had collected into one all the strong things which they, and especially I, had said against the Church of Rome, in order to their insertion among the Advertisements appended to our publications. Conscious as I was that my opinions in religion were not gained, as the world said, from Roman sources, but were, on the contrary, the birth of my own mind and of the circumstances in which I had been placed, I had a scorn of the imputations which were heaped upon me. It was true that I held a large bold system of religion, very unlike the {247} Protestantism of the day; but it was the concentration and adjustment of the statements of great Anglican authorities, and I had as much right to hold it as the Evangelical, and more right than the Liberal party could show, for asserting their own respective doctrines [Note 9].


Top | Contents | Biographies | Home


1. Referring to a projected 'Hall,' a temporary residence in Oxford for young men, after taking their degree.
Return to text

2. In Dr. Mozley's letters at this date there is the following mention of the British Critic:—
'February 6, 1838.—I was with Newman on Sunday evening talking over the British Critic. He is sanguine about contributors. Newman only took it after others refusing.'
Return to text

3. It should be explained that the parish of St. Mary's at the time of this letter (probably does still) consisted almost entirely of shops, the dwelling part of the houses being let in lodgings to University men. The parish was once densely populous, but in 1749 the executors of Dr. Radcliffe, having cleared the whole area on which the poor population lived, built the Radcliffe and made it over to the University, since which time there have been no poor in the parish except so far as they have been represented by the servants of well-to-do houses. It was said that many of the shopkeepers were Dissenters, which may account for their cold reception of a rich gift.
Return to text

4. These rules for clearness and management of voice seem to explain the peculiarity described by Professor Shairp of Mr. Newman's delivery.

'The delivery had a peculiarity which it took a new hearer some time to get over. Each separate sentence, or at least each short paragraph, was spoken rapidly, but with great clearness of intonation; and then at its close there was a pause, then another rapidly but clearly spoken sentence, followed by another pause.'
Return to text

5. An article J. B. M. was engaged upon—his first—for the British Critic.
Return to text

6. e.g., Hos. i. 2. Ezek. iv. 5, xxiv.
Return to text

7. See Vol. i. p. 366.
Return to text

8. 'Graiis ingenium, Graiis dedit ore rotundo
Musa loqui.'
Horat. De A. P., 323.

'Tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento:
Hæ tibi erunt artes; pacisque imponere morem,
Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos.'
Virg. Æn. vi. 852.
Return to text

9. Apologia, p. 93.
Return to text

Top | Contents | Biographies | Home

Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
Copyright © 2004 by The National Institute for Newman Studies. All rights reserved.