Chapter 1. Introductory

{1} IT is due to the readers of this work that the biographer, in view of the anticipations which may have been formed as to what the Life of Cardinal Newman ought to contain, should indicate at starting the nature of the material placed at his disposal, and the treatment to which it has been found naturally to lend itself. The chief material for the biography consists in Newman's journals and diaries and in the immense mass of letters collected and arranged by his literary executor, the late Father Neville. It includes likewise groups of his letters arranged and annotated by the writer himself. There are notes of some value written by Father Neville recording the Cardinal's sayings and habits; and the late Father Ignatius Dudley Ryder placed at the disposal of the biographer a very interesting record based largely on his own conversations with Newman.

The general trend of the biography of a man of action is determined by the public events in which he has taken part; but the life of one whose fame rests mainly on his writings leaves wider room for conjecture as to its scope, and in some cases for hesitation on the part of its writer as to the lines on which it should be planned. The expectations {2} formed by different readers are likely to be determined by what the subject of the biography mainly represents in the eyes of each. And in Newman's case different readers are for this reason likely to have very different anticipations.

John Henry Newman is indeed himself a remarkable instance of one of his own most characteristic contentions, that the same object may be seen by different onlookers under aspects so various and partial as to make their views, from their inadequacy, appear occasionally even contradictory. A very able German Catholic critic recently said to the present writer, 'Newman is the originator of the theory of development in dogma—he is that or he is nothing.' This critic took the famous Essay on its theoretical and philosophical side. But while to some Newman is thus before all things a religious philosopher—and he has often been compared with Pascal—there are others, like Lord Morley, who appear to see in him little more than a great master of English prose who is hardly to be reckoned a thinker at all [Note 1]. By yet others he has been placed in the category of the great ecclesiastical writers in history, the eloquence and force in some of his later sermons suggesting a comparison with Bossuet [Note 2], his personal charm and delicate balance of mind recalling Fénelon. English Catholics think of him primarily as the great defender of their religion against Mr. Kingsley, Dr. Pusey, and Mr. Gladstone; as the man who has annihilated by his brilliant irony both High Church Anglicanism and the bombast of Exeter Hall in the lectures of 1849 and 1851. Yet the champion who entered the lists on behalf of the Roman claims in 1849 is still hailed by many as the founder of modern Anglicanism. There are, on the other hand, thousands for whom Newman's writings belong, to use Dean Stanley's phrase—'not to provincial dogma, but to the literature of all time.' He is for them the author of the Oxford Sermons, with their matchless insight into human nature; the religious poet who wrote the 'Dream of Gerontius' and 'Lead, {3} kindly Light'; while the 'Apologia' belongs in their eyes to the literature of self-revelation, not to apologetic. To others, again, he is the theologian who has an almost unequalled knowledge of the first three centuries of Church history. Such was Döllinger's estimate of him [Note 3]. And by some he was for long chiefly thought of as the greatest exponent of the views of the minority at the Vatican Council.

There is enough, then, in Newman's writing to suggest a wide range of interest for his biography and varied possibilities as to its main direction. And it will be asked if the letters lend themselves naturally to a work which should be in the main the Life of a writer and thinker, including, as do the Lives of Kant and Hegel, a record of the genesis of his thought and its incidence on opinion.

The answer must be that the correspondence points to a biography which is rather an addition to his writings than an illustration of them. There are, indeed, to be found in Father Neville's collection instances of brilliant and masterly controversial letters, and letters bearing on his theological and historical writings. But, on the whole, the story of his life which is found in the correspondence carries the readers of Newman into a new country rather than illustrates one that they knew already. Some of the features above contemplated must necessarily be altogether absent from the biography. Of the Newman specially dear to Anglicans—the leader of the Oxford Movement—most of the letters have already been published by Miss Mozley; and it is at the Cardinal's own desire that his present biographer has not added to the record given in those letters and in the 'Apologia.' Only one chapter of the present work deals with the period preceding 1845.

The comparisons which have been drawn between Newman and Pascal, Fénelon, and Bossuet have no doubt, some value and literary interest, and are incidentally illustrated in the Cardinal's letters and journals. For example, his dealings with the so-called 'Liberal Catholics,' so fully set forth in his correspondence with Lord Acton and Mr. Simpson, present a close resemblance to the attitude of Fénelon in the Quietist controversy. We have the {4} same opposition to extremes on either side, the same hostility on the part of the dominant theological party, the same loyal submission to Rome, the same jealous vindication of personal orthodoxy. But the net result of Newman's letters is to enforce not similarities, but differences—to show that Newman's mind and character presented marked and peculiar characteristics of their own. The interest of the letters and journals is not to be found in the comparisons they suggest with other great Churchmen or in the light they cast on his published writings, but rather in the drama of his life and the picture of a very individual mind and character. They give a sequel of extraordinary interest to the narrative portion of the 'Apologia.' To this all that bears on his theology or on his literary work is subordinate. The story more than once threatens to prove a tragedy, but ends, as it begins, in peace and happiness.

This drama, exhibited at length in the present work by his own words, must here be briefly indicated lest its outline be lost or blurred for the reader as he threads his way through an intricate correspondence. Newman's life-story must, moreover, be looked at as a whole, and from the beginning, that its interest may be fully realised. We must have before us the child whose imagination ran on unknown influences and magical talismans, who thought life might be a dream and the material world unreal; the youth who was at sixteen profoundly conscious of an inward conversion and believed himself 'elected to eternal glory,' and who henceforth rested in the thought of himself and his Creator as the only two luminously self-evident beings [Note 4]. Then after the brilliant apprenticeship at Oxford and the few years in which the 'Oxford Plato,' [Note 5] the friend of Blanco White and of Whately, showed some tendency towards intellectualism, we see him from 1828 onwards undergoing a profound religious reaction, which grew into the conviction that he had a definite mission in life [Note 6].

And what was that mission? It was one of relentless war against the 'Liberalism' in thought that was breaking up ancient institutions in Church and State, and would not cease from its work until it had destroyed religion. In {5} England its aims were comparatively moderate and its tendencies disguised, but we are now witnessing its inevitable results in Continental Europe. Newman foresaw them in 1828. He saw fresh symptoms of an un-Christian movement in the revolution of 1830 in France, and on one occasion refused even to look at the tricolor that was hoisted on the mast of a French ship [Note 7]. It was not his way to spread a panic or to indulge in alarmist talk of the incoming flood of infidelity. But this was in reality, as we know from a letter written in old age, the anticipation which early haunted him. We learn from this letter that for fifty years he had looked forward to the gradual rising of such a flood until 'only the tops of the mountains will be seen like islands in the waste of waters.' [Note 8] To rescue his own countrymen from this danger, or to show them an ark of safety, appeared to be a mission specially suited to one keenly alive to the plausibility of scepticism, yet profoundly convinced that modern science and research were compatible with Christianity [Note 9], and that in Christianity alone could be found the meaning of life and the happiness of mankind. The work was to be done not by talking of unbelief before the world at large saw it coming, not by alarming the simple souls who were to be the soldiers of the truth; but by strengthening the English Church as the home of dogmatic religion; by imparting intellectual depth to its traditional theology and spiritual life to its institutions; by strengthening and renewing the almost broken links which bound the Church of England to the Church Catholic of the great ages—the Church of Augustine and Athanasius. And this was the object of the Oxford Movement of 1833.

In five short years the dream of his mission became a reality; it had been accepted in Oxford and beyond it, and had amazed him by its results. Followers literally crowded to his standard, and one who desired only to work for a cause found himself against his own will the leader of a great movement. {6}

In 1838 he exercised a kingship in Oxford extending far beyond the ranks of a party—an influence so extraordinary that the tradition of it is now no longer realised and only half believed. For it makes a claim for one man which seems hyperbolical and improbable; but in fact the improbable had occurred. Whether Oxford was right or wrong, it recognised in the personality which dominated it, in the sermons at St. Mary's, and the Tracts, a Christian thinker of unique genius and insight. Let the present writer add to the testimonies of those who speak in the text of this work the words of yet another [Note 10], who owned that he was bearing witness to a marvel. 'Was there ever in history anything like Newman's power over us at Oxford?' were words familiar to the writer from early boyhood. And Newman's influence was for all England as well, for the Movement promised to spread.

'Let Newman mould the Church and Gladstone
stamp the State.'

Such was the dream of England's future which haunted young Oxford [Note 11].

This early victorious achievement and leadership and the hopes it inspired threw on Newman's later history both a light and a shadow which were never to be removed.

To develop the great Movement in the Church of England by reasserting its Catholic elements was a task which the traditions of Oxford, his own affection for the Anglican Liturgy, and his keen sympathy with the English divines of the seventeenth century combined to make a labour of love. This congenial and resplendent armoury had to be set aside in a few years. The Church of England itself had been, he came to hold, unfaithful to that very Catholic tradition which he was rescuing and rebuilding as an ark of safety from the flood of Liberalism and Rationalism. The early Fathers still remained to stir his imagination, and they shone out as guiding stars, but they were more distant than England and Oxford. They were a vision for his guidance, but they had not the special warmth belonging to the home of his youth. And from that home he was now to be torn for ever.

We have all read in the 'Apologia' of the agony of the {7} death-struggle. The mission, the reality of which had been so strongly borne in on him, was to be carried on not among the friends of his youth, but in a strange country. Thither he went, taking with him as the link between his old life and his new his henceforth inseparable friend Ambrose St. John, whom the people of Rome in 1847 called his guardian angel. We witness his heartache as he parts from Littlemore, and kisses the leaves of the Oxford trees. The sadness is intense; but God's ways are marvellous. And the sense of God's presence is with him still. The Divine Hand had been visible in the work of the Movement, and its author had been wonderfully led onwards. The writing on the wall in 1839—the thought, 'Rome will be found right after all'—had been followed by other signs pointing in the same direction. Rome had long been the object of his fiercest invective. Yet now it was along the road to Rome that God bade him travel. The journey of 1845 was then desolate, but still wonderful, still speaking of Divine guidance and a Divine plan. Personal suffering, and perhaps personal failure, seemed to be marked out as the conditions of success for his mission. The ways of the strange country were hard to learn. The tasks he was set proved trying. But we see him beginning his new life with a profound sense that he had come to the promised land. The 'blessed vision of peace' [Note 12] stood out before him as he recognised in the Roman Communion the Church of Athanasius, and that vision shed a light on his path. As he had been brought to his great work for Oxford by circumstances, and with hardly any personal effort, so, he doubted not, it would be again.

And the years from 1845 to 1852 brought nothing to dim such anticipations. The Catholic Church was, he believed, now, as in the early ages, to triumph by the suffering of its apostles; and the insults of the No-popery rioters in 1850, and again his trial for the pretended libel against Dr. Achilli in 1852, were looked upon as so much suffering in the good cause. There was much weariness, much distress, much anxiety; yet God's hand was still visible.

Then came a time of trial, long-drawn-out, when the hand of God seemed withdrawn, and not only was his life beset {8} with trouble, but the labour of many years proved to be apparently without result, even without meaning. He was asked to undertake the formation of a Catholic University in Ireland. Is this at last, he seems to ask, destined to be the great work of his life? Is this to be the field for his mission in his new home? There were facts which made such a supposition not inconceivable. The immense success of Louvain University in Catholic Belgium—a private enterprise at first, and unrecognised by the State—was by this time an accomplished fact. And a University for the English-speaking races in a land where the Catholic population exceeded that of Belgium was not on the face of it a Utopian conception. The Holy Father had given special approval to the Irish scheme. It was set on foot as part of the deliberate policy of the Holy See of establishing Catholic centres of learning, and opposing 'mixed' education at the State Universities. Again, the scheme gave him a direct call to deal with what he more and more regarded as his own especial work—the formation of educated Christian minds capable of resisting the increasing tide of infidel thought. This would be the renewal of his work at Oxford, but with the world-wide Church to back him, and the Rock of Peter to support him. On the other hand, the task was immensely arduous, and his keen and observant mind was gradually made alive to many adverse omens—to signs of general indifference to the scheme in Ireland, to symptoms that it could never do the great work for English Catholics which he had at first pictured, but would be a purely Irish College, disapproved, moreover, as impracticable by the best representatives of the interests of education among the Irish themselves. Here were the factors in a trial which eventually broke his spirit. There was an inevitable hesitation, and then faith was invoked by him against sight, and in the end sight won a tragic victory. At first he seems to rebuke his own want of trust. Peter had spoken, and if necessary would even work a marvel. History told him—he said it in burning words—that to follow the lead of Rome was to prosper. But the cold, unpromising, uninspiring facts gradually chilled him by their dull pressure. He was now at an age when—as he himself kept saying—nature no longer supplied the energy {9} and enthusiasm necessary for the initiation of difficult tasks. His antecedents gave him no habit of such initiation, for at Oxford he inherited an already formed system and existing traditions, and himself contributed only the living force of genius in his sermons and lectures. He was working amid a race which was strange to him. The Irish Primate, seemingly suspicious of his plans, hindered rather than helped him. Other bishops stood his friends; but the circumstances of the country made the scheme impracticable. He made a sustained effort which involved an unnatural strain. He held fast by the presumption that in attempting a work with such high sanction he was obeying a call from God; and he kept assuring himself that if only he had faith enough all would prosper. With his intense realisation of advancing life he watched, powerless to stop them, the years of still vigorous life passing for ever. He became aware of the utter failure to which at first he would not own. He keeps writing to his friends of satisfaction and success—until suddenly he breaks down. He compares the founders of the University to Frankenstein. They were 'scared at their own monster.' He resigns his office. But the long strain has been too much. Buoyancy is gone for ever. He finds himself an old man. He writes to W. G. Ward that he looks now for paralysis or some sudden end to his days. There is no faltering in his loyalty to Rome. But in this, as in other feelings, buoyancy has left him. The thought that almost a miracle might come if he followed Peter's lead is sadly allowed to have been in this case a dream and not a vision. The authorities at Rome had not realised the conditions which prevailed in Ireland. They had relied on local information which proved to be inaccurate. It was a simple and not surprising fact. It impugned no dogma of his faith. But it meant that the years had passed, not in justifying for him an almost prophetic vision in the face of chilling criticism, but in finding by experience that the critics had been right and his work vain.

Not, then, by founding a great University was he destined to help the Catholic and Christian cause. All he could now hope for was to add something to his writings on behalf of religion during the few years that remained to him of life. {10} This thought is but a faint flicker of the old flame. He has no heart now to speak of a great mission. But even this view of God's will for him received little external encouragement. The English Bishops, it is true, now asked him to edit a translation of the Scriptures into the vernacular, and he planned and began an essay on the philosophy of the sacred narrative—an antidote to such naturalistic treatment of Holy Writ as Renan's 'Histoire d'Israël'—as its Introduction. But the whole scheme was abandoned owing apparently to the apathy of Cardinal Wiseman. Then he tried to guide the thought of the intellectual Catholics who under the editorship of the late Lord Acton were conducting the Rambler Review, but met again with powerful opposition. He became its editor, but he was asked to resign after his first number, and delated to Rome for heresy after his second.

This was in 1859: and 1860 saw the development of that zealous but intolerant movement of Catholics in defence of the Holy See which the Invasion of the Papal States brought about, when all balanced thought, especially in relation to the Temporal Power of the Pope, was liable to be accused of dangerous Liberalism; when in France Dupanloup, Montalembert, and Lacordaire were denounced by M. Veuillot and his friends as unsound Catholics; when, to use Newman's own words, 'a man who was not extravagant was thought treacherous.' And Newman found himself suspected and 'under a cloud.' Yet in all he had done, in all he had written, he had prayed earnestly for guidance that he might know God's will. Where now was his mission? Where was his work for the great cause? He submitted in silence and resignation. His spiritual life indeed found now, as ever, its 'perfect peace and contentment' in the Catholic religion. But otherwise it was a time of darkness and gloom; and there came to him some of the special bitterness that falls to the lot of a discrowned king or a forsaken prophet. He thought himself an old man. His health was bad, and he made ready for death. His books had already ceased to sell, and now he ceased to write. His very name was hardly known to the rising generation. Had he died directly after his sixty-third birthday—at an age which would have fallen not very far short of the allotted days of man on earth—his career would have lived in {11} history as ending in the saddest of failures. His unparalleled eminence in 1837 would have been contrasted by historians with his utter insignificance in 1863. His biography would have been a tragedy.

Then in 1864 came Charles Kingsley's memorable attack, and Newman saw in it an opportunity for a vindication of his whole career before the English public from the accusation of insincerity, and of defending the Catholic cause on the lines which he felt so necessary for the times. The brilliant strategical sallies in pamphlet form by which he at once secured universal attention, and then the graver chapters which are now known as the 'Apologia pro Vita Sua,' won the heart of England. Middle-aged men long separated from him, but who had once sat at his feet at Oxford, now came forward to tell a world that had forgotten him all that the name 'Newman' had once meant. An article of seven columns in the Times on his first public appearance after the campaign of the 'Apologia,' bore decisive testimony to a wonderful recovery.

Thenceforth John Henry Newman was a great figure in the eyes of his countrymen. English Catholics were grateful to him and proud of having for their champion one of whom the country itself had become suddenly proud as a great writer and a spiritual genius. He had a large following within the Catholic Church, who hung on his words as his Oxford disciples had done thirty years earlier. Opposition in influential quarters continued. But his supporters among the Bishops stood their ground, and the battle was on far more equal terms than heretofore.

Still, a reaction in his favour which inspired him with great hopes for the future did not entirely justify those hopes. He continued to concentrate his attention on the educational needs of earnest and thoughtful minds whose faith would be tried in coming years. The Catholic University had failed. The only available University training for English Catholics was at Oxford and Cambridge. In 1864, and again in 1866, he planned an Oratory for Oxford, hoping to influence the intellectual life of the place, so largely affected at that time by the philosophy of John Stuart Mill, and to be a spiritual and intellectual guide {12} to the Catholic undergraduates. But Manning and W. G. Ward were enforcing in England in an uncompromising form the opposition to 'mixed' education to which Rome was largely committed on the Continent. Newman's scheme was out of harmony with their views. Manning was already, when it was first mooted, all-powerful with Cardinal Wiseman, and a year later he was Archbishop. Rome, therefore, naturally endorsed his policy, and Newman's project was defeated. This was his last hope of active work as a Catholic. The dramatic story of its initial encouragement, of the happy dreams to which it at first led, and of its final defeat, is told in the present biography.

Newman then set himself to write his great work on the question that had haunted him through life—the reasonableness of religious belief—his 'Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent.' And at the same time came the beginning of the controversies which preceded the Vatican Council. The men who had opposed and defeated him on the Oxford scheme were among the chief agitators for the definition of Papal Infallibility. Newman had ever held that doctrine much as Fénelon had held it. But it was now put forward in the newspapers, by M. Louis Veulliot and others, in an untheological and exaggerated form, and Newman dreaded a definition which might be regarded by the world as giving countenance to excesses he deplored. He stigmatised these writers and their followers, in a well-known letter, as 'an insolent and aggressive faction.' In so far as the passing of the definition increased the influence of this 'faction' it was to Newman a blow; although its actual text expressed the dogma as he had always himself held it. His distress was sensibly alleviated, however, very soon afterwards by the action of Bishop Fessler, the Secretary-General to the Council, and others, in protesting against exaggerated and untheological interpretations of the definition. Newman expressed his own views on the subject in the published letter of 1875 to the Duke of Norfolk. This letter was received by Catholics with enthusiastic, almost universal, acclamation. Its reception was indeed a moment of triumph for Newman; and then Ambrose St. John, his beloved and inseparable friend, in the midst of their joy was {13} suddenly taken from him. Life was now indeed over, and his career as a Catholic had been in one respect at least—he could not deny it—a supreme disappointment. The desire of his heart had been that he should speak with the whole weight of the great historic Church and of the Holy See unmistakably at his back. His words would thus have ten-fold force. The Catholic Church alone could, as he felt and said even at his darkest moments, withstand the social and intellectual movement on behalf of unbelief. But to speak with her authority was just what appeared to be denied him. His critics still whispered that he was not to be trusted.

In point of fact, the failure of his successive endeavours was not entirely an accident. He was, as he said, out of joint with the times. He had formed a definite idea of the work at which he should aim as a Catholic in view of the special dangers of the hour; and the powerful movement on behalf of uniformity and centralisation which marked the period from 1850 to 1870 made its accomplishment almost impossible. He was keenly in sympathy with the general aims of such men as Montalembert, Lacordaire, and Frederic Ozanam, who regarded it as the great need of the times that the Catholic Faith should be explained in such a way as to appeal to the educated classes among their contemporaries. And his own immediate concern was to make it persuasive to his own countrymen. For this purpose in his opinion a provisional freedom in the discussion of new problems and a certain translation of traditionary expressions into more familiar language were required. On the other hand, what Archbishop Sibour of Paris has called the 'New Ultramontane' [Note 13] party which was represented in England by Dr. Manning, in Ireland by Dr. Cullen, was little alive, during the dramatic struggle of that time, to such needs. And this party rapidly gained great influence. Its representatives were suspicious of such liberality of view as Newman's or Montalembert's, dreading lest it might prove the thin end of the wedge which would admit unbelief into the Church. Again, the New Ultramontanes advocated a movement of centralisation which appeared to Newman to dispense with {14} the customary practical checks on absolutism which the Church had provided. While taking the highest view of the Papal prerogatives, he seems, like Archbishop Sibour himself, to have questioned the expediency of constantly exerting to the full powers needful for an emergency. On both these matters the tide set in against him. In his last publication before receiving the Cardinal's hat we read the following sad and significant words: 'It is so ordered on high that in our day Holy Church should present just that aspect to my countrymen which is most consonant with their ingrained prejudices against her, most unpromising for their conversion; and what can one writer do to counteract this misfortune?' [Note 14]

With his keen sense of the action of Providence on his life—of the 'kindly light' to which he looked to lead him on—the great event of 1879, which suddenly and completely removed the long-standing feeling of impotence, appeared to him almost like a visible miracle. He was named a Prince of the Church. Nothing but this signal favour from Rome could have lifted the cloud; and one who was wholly indifferent to external dignities saw the hand of Providence, and gave the thanks that were due. The time of wonders had returned. The long patience of many years was seen to have been the condition of accomplishing his true mission, and it was now to bear its fruit. A Cardinal could speak in the name of Rome. His writings had now the aureole they had hitherto lacked. They had the direct approval of the Vicar of Christ. His life had far exceeded the threescore and ten years allotted to man. He had written the last words of his private journal, thanking God for His goodness, and resigning himself to his one cross—the coldness of ecclesiastical authority. It was a cross hard to bear, both from his deep loyalty to Rome and from its greatly diminishing his power for good. When the cloud was suddenly removed, it was almost as though the heavens had opened and proclaimed the reward of long-suffering endurance.

His sunny and happy old age gives a completeness to the drama which real life seldom affords. Even on this earth 'the night was gone' for him. In the happy letters of these years he seems to repeat the lines of his own hymn, {15}

'And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since and lost awhile.'

His life as a Catholic was thus marked by the alternation of light and gloom—the 'blessed vision of peace' which he saw in the Church of Athanasius inspiring endeavours that were again and again thwarted by members of the very Church he strove to serve. And the letters reveal something analogous in the temperament of the man. Here, too, the source of light is under another aspect a source of gloom. His own nature enhanced the effect of untoward circumstance. The delicate perceptions which charmed so many were a part of the artist's temperament, sensitive to praise and blame, craving for sympathy. That is a temperament not helpful in the struggle with the world which practical enterprises entail. Its combination with unswerving obedience to the highest and hardest commands of conscience made him for his followers a prophet as well as an intensely sympathetic friend. But such a combination made his struggle with the world yet harder. Conscience bade him reject without hesitation that indulgence of mood and impulse which makes life tolerable to the artistic temperament. And he was ever ready to see in the less congenial path the way of duty.

Then, again, his extraordinary power of psychological analysis, his insight into the workings of the human mind in individuals and in bodies of men, was a source of great influence in his correspondence with those who sought his advice, as it had been in his sermons at Oxford. But it was a source also of difficulty in a life of action, and this in two ways. Firstly, the habit of minute psychological introspection is apt to beget something of Hamlet's temperament. And in Newman's case this was allied with a quality, noted by his Oratorian friend and colleague Father Ryder in the valuable notes on the Cardinal which he left for my use, namely, 'his passivity—making no attempt to fashion the course of his life, but waiting on Providence.' At critical moments, when friends expect him to strike and to protest, he says instead, 'Fiat voluntas tua.' The incident of the Irish bishopric, the suspension of the translation of the Scriptures, the resignation of the editorship of the Rambler, the abandonment of the Oxford scheme, are all instances of this. {16}

But, secondly, Newman saw too much for a man of action. Difficulties were too vividly present to his mind in all his undertakings. This marked characteristic of his thought held good likewise of his actions. His belief in God, in another life, in the Church, was unwavering. Yet when Huxley said that he could compile a primer of infidelity from Newman's writings, those who knew them best saw at once the grounds for such a misreading. The sceptic's mind was vividly present to Newman's imagination. History witnessed in his eyes to 'the all-corroding, all-dissolving scepticism of the intellect in religious enquiries.' [Note 15] He saw to the full the plausibility of the case which might be made out against the truths he most deeply believed. Of all points of faith he felt, as he has told us, that the being of God was most encompassed with difficulty [Note 16]. He believed in the divinity of the Catholic Church. Yet he saw so clearly the human element in it that he sometimes alarmed even those who agreed with him by the closeness with which his mind could approach the line which separated the human from the Divine. His deepest convictions were compatible with a keen sense of all that told against them. Mr. Hutton notes a parallel quality in his literary style—its presentation of currents opposed to its steady, onward, main drift.

And his keen realisation of the difficulties attaching to all views on religion had its counterpart in his practical life. In any task which he believed that God called on him to undertake he had a similar keen vision of the difficulties in his path, as he gradually pictured to himself with almost unerring insight the future course of events as they would affect him, the questions he would have to solve, the opposition he would encounter. Such insight has its helpful quality, but it may reach the point where it leads to hesitation or impairs the buoyancy and hopefulness which make for successful action. And I think that it did often reach that point, especially in Newman's later years. We find letters which to a simple and literal reader would appear contradictory. As early as the years succeeding his 'Lectures on the Prophetical Office,' we find him full of the difficulties of a theory of which he had a few years {17} before been sanguine [Note 17]. There are letters of his from Rome in 1847 on the alternative schemes for his future—whether he should be an Oratorian, a Dominican, a Redemptorist, or the like—which are almost tiresomely fussy from their realisation of objections to any plan and their balancing of alternative considerations. One could quote letters on the Irish University scheme, each of which, taken alone, would seem to point in quite opposite directions—the work seems in one letter just that which he would have chosen; in another quite hopeless. When he undertakes the editorship of the Rambler, and again when he resigns it, we have letters in which he groans over the irksomeness of the task and longs to be quit of it; and yet other letters which seem to say that it is the very work marked out for him by Providence. It is the same with the translation of the Scriptures. When the Oxford scheme of 1866 appears to be certain and fixed, he writes of the prospect to W. J. Copeland with the profoundest melancholy. Yet when it is put an end to by Propaganda the blow is a crushing one. In one so subtle, complex, intensely sensitive, these opposite feelings have all an intelligible place. A mind and imagination singularly alive to every aspect and every detail of each plan, a singularly sensitive temperament, naturally views a prospect with mixed feelings. One aspect makes him sad, another makes him happy. But to the world at large such combinations are often perplexing. Some readers will experience the surprise which came to Cardinal Barnabo when he was told in 1867 by the ambassadors, whom he understood to be pleading for Newman's mission to Oxford, that he had {18} never wanted to go to Oxford at all. 'Then we are all agreed,' said the Cardinal. This complexity, I think, often led to his being misunderstood, and damaged his effectiveness in action.

Then, again, the deep sincerity, practicalness and unconventionality of his thought and his close perception of the workings of the minds which he strove to help made him a most persuasive guide. But these qualities also brought a drawback in his life as a Catholic. The rigid schoolmen, in England and in Rome, were very slow to comprehend his drift, and ready to find fault with him. For it often happened that he did not reason along the lines with which they were familiar. His distinctions in argument, as Father Ryder points out, 'instead of being clean cut and mutually exclusive, are for the most part based upon the predominance of this or that element, because the treatment aims at dealing with the living subject without reducing it to a caput mortuum of abstraction.' This is, of course, the antithesis to the logical distinctions of the schoolmen.

'The truth was,' writes Father Ryder, 'it was exceedingly difficult for men trained in the formal logic of the schools to understand one whose propositions lent themselves so awkwardly to the discipline of mood and figure. When Father Newman was still an Anglican, one who always remained his steadfast friend, Father Perrone [in reviewing at the same time Mr. Palmer's "Treatise on the Church" and Newman's "Prophetical Office"], thus gave vent to his vexation at an antagonist who would not play the game—"optime Palmer, Newman miscet et confundit omnia." Then again what seemed to them antilogies troubled them. Father Newman was reserved and outspoken, Ultramontane and Liberal, uncompromising and minimistic. He was a formidable engine of war on their side, but they were distinctly aware that they did not thoroughly understand the machinery, and so they came to think, some of them, that it might perhaps one day go off of itself or in the wrong direction.'

The quality of complexity and subtlety of mind in one whose purpose was ever so simple in its concentration on following God's will kept him aloof from all parties. This {19} is a very noteworthy feature to which his correspondence bears testimony. Yet party combinations are generally deemed necessary for effective action. Even as a Tractarian he had opposed over-elaborate organisation, and advocated informal individual effort. It is a question whether he could have been even then strictly a party man had it not come to pass that he found himself the leader of a party—had not the party become Newmanite rather than he a Puseyite. As a Catholic, his isolation from parties was almost complete. Deeply as he sympathised on many points with Montalembert and Lacordaire [Note 18], he was in no sense a Liberal Catholic. Much as he agreed with Dupanloup's action at the time of the Vatican Council, he had none of Dupanloup's Gallican tendency. Strongly as he felt with Acton and Simpson in their dissatisfaction with certain features in current Catholic Apologetic [Note 19], he emphatically dissociated himself from the Rambler and the Home and Foreign Review. On the other hand, convinced Ultramontane as he was, he was out of harmony with the most typical Ultramontanes of the time—with those who could be called party men. Manning and Louis Veuillot were both intellectually uncongenial to him. So, too, was Father Faber. He wrote to W. G. Ward again and again that he agreed with him in principles. But when it came to practice he seemed to Ward to be taking the side of Simpson and Acton, and to be directly hostile to himself. With Döllinger's recognition of the facts of history he was in full sympathy, yet he wholly dissented from his application of those facts to the duty of a Catholic in 1870 [Note 20]. It will be said at least he was an 'inopportunist' in 1870—but no. Though he did all he could to avert the definition, though he regretted the definition, he did not pronounce it inopportune. Of its opportuneness God was the judge [Note 21]. Even if it was a misfortune, misfortune may be the providential means of bringing about good results.

Very few men combine, as he did, profound enthusiasm with the keenly critical temperament. How many men could have written as he did with inspired rhetoric of the practical {20} wisdom of the Papacy displayed in history, and yet have been so strongly opposed to what he believed to be the wishes of Pius IX. in 1870? The rough-and-ready critic notes the contrasts with exasperation. But the careful reader will see that in each case the appeal is to the facts of history. History taught him that in matters of policy Popes were generally right, occasionally wrong.

This excessive isolation in his views, like the keen sense of the difficulties in his path, did not tell for the success of his endeavours; for men who thought he agreed with them would find him at critical moments unexpectedly in an attitude of opposition to them. The late Lord Acton was greatly angered by such incidents. In a lesser degree it was the same with others. The charge against him in a famous correspondence, which we have all read [Note 22], is that he is 'difficult to understand.' Others besides Manning said this. 'J. H. N. is a queer man. Who can understand him?' wrote T. W. Allies—for many years a friend and close follower—at the time of the Oxford scheme of 1864. Allies' correspondent sent the letter on to Newman himself, and the present writer found it among his papers.

Finally, we see in his letters the intensely affectionate and sensitive nature which won him such devoted friendships and brought at the same time so much suffering. We find him telling Mr. Hutton that nothing could be said about him in praise or in blame which did not 'tear off his morbidly sensitive skin.' And there was something in the depth of his affections distinct from the temperament of the artist of which I have already spoken. My picture would not be true or living if I omitted from the correspondence as published the indications of this feature and its consequences. I am aware that the unsympathetic reader may find matter for criticism in some manifestations of Newman's sensitiveness, and in a certain self-centredness which so often goes with genius, and which had in Newman's case been fostered by his almost unique leadership at Oxford. But I do not think that anyone who appreciates the overmastering love of holiness, the absolute devotion to duty, as well as the intellectual force and wisdom evident in the letters as {21} a whole, will feel any disposition so to belittle the great Cardinal when he reaches the end of this book. In reading Newman's correspondence, as when we watch a man in great pain, we hear, perhaps, at moments cries which are not musical, we witness movements not wholly dignified. But the feeling when all is read can hardly fail to be (the present writer speaks at least for himself) one of deep love and reverence. If the biographer has not conveyed his sense of proportion in this respect the fault is wholly his own. But, on the other hand, he did not feel that he would be justified in suppressing the signs of those defects which make the individuality stand out, and publishing a merely conventional biography, printing a 'court portrait.' There are men of genius in respect of whom the world has a right to know the facts as they are, and whose great gifts and qualities enable them to bear an entirely truthful representation. Such was Johnson. Such was Carlyle. One cannot bear the thought of these great men being shorn of their real individuality. John Henry Newman is such another. And his very holiness and devotion to duty are brought into relief by the trials which his own nature enhanced. His brightness of temperament made him keenly alive to the joys of life. It made him at times the most charming of companions. There probably would be few symptoms of undue sensitiveness or of angry and resentful feeling to record had he led a life according to human inclination. But at the call of duty he attempted tasks which were intensely trying. He had strength to put his hand into the fire and keep it there. He had not strength never to cry out with pain, or always to preserve an attitude of studied grace.

Albany Christie walked with him from Oxford to Littlemore when the great separation of 1845 was approaching. Newman never spoke a word all the way, and Christie's hand when they arrived was wet with Newman's tears. When he made his confession in Littlemore chapel his exhaustion was such that he could not walk without help. When he went to Rome to set right the differences with his brethren of London which tried him so deeply, he walked barefoot from the halting stage of the diligence all the way to St. Peter's Basilica. When Ambrose St. John died {22} Newman threw himself on the bed by the corpse and spent the night there [Note 23]. A nature marked by the depth of feeling of which such symptoms are the index has a load to bear which is not given to others. Deep natures are not the most equable. The selfish and shallow man may be at times a pleasanter companion. The men who feel as deeply as John Henry Newman felt win from friends and disciples an enthusiastic personal love which others cannot win. 'Cor ad cor loquitur.' They give and they receive a love for which others look in vain. But deep feeling is not all of one kind. There will be bitter as well as sweet. Where there is intense love and gratitude, there will be at times deep anger, deep resentment.

The complex genius, then, which fascinated and dominated his followers had in it some qualities less helpful in the life of action than the rough fibre of simpler natures. This adds to the interest of the drama, and its pathos; but the reader will not find in it the determining cause of successive failures. This is to be sought rather in the action of his countrymen who opposed him, and in the circumstances of the time which gave them their opportunity.

There is one further feature in the correspondence which calls for special notice. Newman's lifelong preoccupation with the prospect of an unprecedented movement towards unbelief in religion led him from an early date to give close attention to the question,—How can the reasonableness of religious belief be brought home to all the men of goodwill? The Oxford University Sermons (on 'The Theory of Religious Belief'), which began as early as 1826, have this for their main object. The 'Grammar of Assent' pursued it further. His own friendship with Blanco White, with Mark Pattison, with William Froude, the brother of Hurrell, brought closely home to him the fact that there were honest inquirers to whom the mode in which Christianity was presented to them had made its acceptance impossible. In early years he felt the deficiency to lie largely in the fact that the apologetic current in the Anglican Church did not take adequate account of the actual state of inquiring minds or of their special difficulties. And he regarded the result not only {23} as a matter deeply serious in its bearing on the happiness and welfare of men who were dear to him, but as of overwhelming concern for the faith of the rising generation. He gradually came to see in the Catholic Church the one hope for withstanding a movement towards unbelief which threatened to be little less than a devastating flood. There are traces of this thought even before he joined her communion. The special power of Catholicism in this direction, as he came gradually to believe, was twofold. First, the Church was, as he expressed it, 'the concrete representative of things invisible.' She upheld dogmatic truth with all the authority of immemorial tradition. Her insistence on the whole of revelation, and jealous refusal to mutilate it, was a part of this aspect of her strength. And she was, moreover, a living power specially adapted to resist the excesses of Rationalism—the errors to which the human reason is liable if left to itself. But there was also another side which appealed to him in her history—the side set forth in several of his Essays, and notably in the Dublin Lecture on 'Christianity and Scientific Investigation.' This was the freedom of debate with which the medićval schools met the intellectual problems of their day. 'Truth is wrought out,' he wrote, 'by many minds working freely together. As far as I can make out this has ever been the rule of the Church till now.' [Note 24] Two causes are referred to in his letters which made him feel that the Catholic schools did not adequately fulfil in the middle of the nineteenth century the functions which were so necessary in this connection. In the first place, the old theological schools had been destroyed at the French Revolution. In the second place, the militant movement of centralisation which De Maistre and Lamennais had inaugurated in the nineteenth century, and which had been developed in an acute form by later writers like M. Louis Veuillot, while it contained very noble elements and while it proved a most powerful instrument of united action among Catholics, was incidentally unfavourable to intellectual interests. It discouraged the provisional toleration of freedom of opinion and of free debate among experts. And the warfare between the Holy See and Continental liberalism strengthened both obstacles. The schools were not likely to {24} be re-established at such a time, and a state of war calls for discipline rather than the encouragement of personal liberty.

The urgency of the danger arising from a very inadequate apologetic in the recognised text-books was, he saw, not fully appreciated by Cardinal Barnabo, the Prefect of Propaganda. The Cardinal had, perhaps, comparatively little experience of the class of minds which were specially affected by it. And the claim for liberty meant too often disaffection and impatience of all authority. It was therefore suspect in the eyes of practical rulers. It was not readily understood by them as having the object and spirit it has in Newman's own letters—as being a plea for the really essential condition of making Catholic apologetic adequate to meeting an infidel movement. But in Germany and in Belgium, as in England, where the need was most urgent, its importance was felt in many quarters as it was by Newman himself. The infidel movement was not merely a moral revolt against Christianity. It had a very prominent intellectual side. There were problems raised by modern philosophers and critics which needed to be met frankly and by free discussion in their bearing on theology. Only thus could a really satisfactory understanding between the theologians and the men of science be achieved. And in its absence the weight of the scientific movement would go to the side of unbelief. Newman seems to have regarded it as his special work to urge the necessity of such a development of thought and learning as should meet this need of the hour. And this led him to express very strong criticisms on those who strove, as he expressed it, to 'narrow the terms of communion,' and unduly to curtail the liberty of thought open to Catholics. Yet these men were among the most zealous champions of the Holy See. Newman always excepted the Holy See itself from the sphere of his criticism, but not all its advisers, some of whom belonged to the party represented in England by Manning and Ward. The extent of that party's influence and the blindness of some of its members to the dangers, which were, to his eyes, so appalling, aroused in him very deep feeling. These men initiated the opposition to his moderate view on the Temporal Power and to his scheme for an Oratory at Oxford, while they clamoured for a definition of Papal {25} Infallibility far less carefully limited than that which the Council eventually passed in 1870.

I have not felt at liberty to treat this portion of his correspondence perfunctorily for three reasons. Firstly, it represents a feeling which was clearly among the deepest he had during some thirty years of his life, and an account of him which touched only lightly on it would be inadequate to the point of untruthfulness. Secondly, his views are so widely known, and have been expressed to so many in writing, that it is quite certain that any such omission on my part, even were it lawful, would result in some letters which I might omit in these pages being forthwith printed elsewhere. And the public would probably think (though quite falsely) that the correspondence contained criticisms of a more serious character which the biographer had also omitted. But thirdly, and this is most important, such criticisms when read in their context, and in the light thrown on them by other contemporaneous letters which exhibit his enthusiastic loyalty to the Holy See, and his profound satisfaction with the Catholic religion, take their true proportion and colour. They are the expressions of a very acute and critical mind in regard of one special need in the Catholic schools, which he felt, from his own close study of the trend of contemporary thought and of the lessons of history, to be far more serious than was generally recognised. Those who had kept their religious belief by putting aside intellectual difficulties as temptations could not fully appreciate the needs of the increasing mass of thoughtful minds in daily contact with a world to which these difficulties were vivid realities. The former class was, as he put it, malitia parvuli. But the educated men of the day had to be sensibus perfecti, and required a deeper and more comprehensive philosophy. To argue as though suppression of dangerous views could meet such cases was to propose shutting the stable-door after the horse had escaped. Such suppression might be demanded on occasion. It was especially necessary in the interests of simple and uneducated minds which could be kept from the knowledge of difficulties which would scare them, but it could not adequately meet the case of the earnest inquirers to whom the problems of {26} religious thought were already familiar. And he used strong words as to the short-sightedness of those who acted on the view that nothing more was needed. But his words had no such one-sided significance as they might have had in minds less complex and of less wide reach. His sense of shortcomings and imperfections which were permitted by God within the Church, no more impaired his loyalty or conviction of her divinity, than his keen sense of the difficulties, suggested by the evil in the world, against belief in the Providence of God, diminished his certainty of that great truth. Sentences from his letters may, no doubt, be wrested from their context by partisan critics, and thus given a false significance. But, as read in these pages side by side with the rest of his correspondence, they will be seen to be the expression of feelings prompted solely by devotion to the interests of the Church and of religion. Though individual letters represent his sentiments at a given moment, which did not always coincide with his mature judgment, their spirit is in this respect unvarying. Only a comparatively small selection from a vast correspondence can of course here be published [Note 25]. But the views he expressed on the critical questions of the day are given with perfect frankness. My endeavour throughout is so carefully to preserve the true proportion between the various elements of his character and opinions that further letters, while they may add much knowledge of detail, will find their natural place in the picture presented by the present work as a whole.

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1. See Lord Morley's Miscellanies (Fourth Series) (Macmillan), p. 161.
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2. Dean Church has truly said that Newman's Oxford Sermons are not the sermons of an orator. It is chiefly the Sermons to Mixed Congregations, preached at the Oratory, that give material for the comparison. The contrast between the style of the two periods of his preaching has been admirably drawn out by the late Mr. Hutton in his 'Cardinal Newman' (Methuen).
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3. See p. 444.
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4. Apologia, p. 4.
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5. Vide infra, p. 38.
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6. Apologia, p. 34.
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7. Apologia, p. 33.
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8. Vide infra, Vol. II. p. 416.
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9. I need not remind the reader that he ascribed their actual irreligious tendency not to the genuine scientific method, but to the naturalistic assumptions of eminent scientists.
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10. William George Ward.
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11. See Archbishop Alexander's poem, Oxford in 1845.
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12. Essay on Development, p. 445.
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13. Vide infra, Vol. II. pp. 209-10.
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14. Via Media, vol. i. p. xxxvii.
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15. Apologia, p. 243.
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16. Ibid. p. 239.
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17. He writes thus to Henry Wilberforce in January 1846: 'In the year 1834 or '35 my belief in this theory was so strong, that I recollect feeling an anxiety about the Abbé Jager, with whom I was controverting, lest my arguments were unsettling him and making him miserable. Those arguments were not mine, but the evolution of Laud's theory, Stillingfleet's &c., which seemed to me clear, complete, and unanswerable. I do not think I had that unhesitating belief in it in 1836-7 when I published my Prophetical Office, or rather I should say that zeal for it—for I believed it fully or at least was not conscious I did not. It is difficult to say whether or not a flagging zeal involves an incipient doubt. The feelings under which I wrote the volume will be seen in the commencement of the last Lecture. I thought the theory true, but that all theories were doubtful and difficult, and all reasoning a weariness to the flesh. As time went on and I read the Fathers more attentively, I found the Via Media less and less satisfactory.'
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18. Vide infra, p. 472.
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19. Vide infra, p. 553.
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20. Difficulties of Anglicans, ii. 311.
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21. Ibid. p. 193.
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22. See Purcell's Life of Manning, ii. 327.
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23. [Meriol Trevor, in Newman's Journey (p. 242), says the following: Newman's first biographer, Wilfrid Ward (son of W. G. Ward), without giving the source of his information, wrote, "Newman threw himself on the bed by the corpse and spent the night there." There is nothing in Neville's notes or Newman's to suggest it.—NR]
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24. Vide infra, Vol. II. p. 49.
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25. [Newman's complete Letters and Diaries have been published in 31 volumes.—NR]
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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