Chapter 15. Liberal Catholicism

{458} CAMPAIGNS on behalf of far-reaching ideas may be fought out in unimpressive surroundings, yet they may be all-important from their object. Such campaigns may be, as it were, rehearsals, practice manœuvres for a similar struggle more vital and more public in time to come. They may be exhibitions on a small scale of the action of human nature in given circumstances and with given antecedents, and may serve as a guide and a warning when the more serious contest comes. Thus the first battle of Newman's campaign on behalf of that mental training for Christians which modern conditions demand was fought in the short-lived attempt at a Catholic University—the battle-ground the little college in Stephen's Green; the protagonists on either side himself and Dr. Cullen. The second had for its occasion the later history of Mr. Capes's Review the Rambler; for its battle-field the pages of that Review and of its successor, the Home and Foreign; while the protagonists in a triangular duel were himself, Sir John Acton (with Richard Simpson as an able lieutenant) and W. G. Ward [Note 1]. The ability of these periodicals and these writers none will question; but they were Catholic Reviews in a country where such periodicals could have but a very limited publicity.

That the education of the Catholic mind was vital to the effective defence of Christianity itself, he had urged on his colleagues in the Catholic University, and he had endeavoured as Rector to lay down intellectual principles on which this necessary work might be done by a future generation. Now circumstances brought him in contact with those {459} who were trying to do something towards its execution in the present. In his eyes, then, the campaign which I have now to describe was on behalf of an object of world-wide importance, although its immediate field was apparently so insignificant, and although in the eyes of many, who were not alive to the signs of the times, the controversies it involved were simply a wanton disturbance of the peace. This shortsighted view was not, however, shared by those whose names are most prominent in its course. Sir John Acton, W. G. Ward, Richard Simpson, Döllinger, and others saw fully the importance of the matters debated and their bearing on the future influence of the Church.

It so happened that just this task, which Newman had seen to be so necessary, had also been exercising the Catholic savants in Germany, and notably in Munich, for some years. The greatest name among the Munich Professors was that of Döllinger, and his most distinguished pupil was the young Englishman, Sir John Acton, who (as we have seen) had now returned from Munich to England. Sir John Acton was the scion of an old Catholic Shropshire family: a cousin of such country squires as the Throckmortons and Langdales; a nephew of Cardinal Acton. But from his mother, a Dalberg, he had inherited intellectual tastes and a mental temperament poles apart from those of his English kinsmen. Endowed with an extraordinary memory, he was already, at the age of twenty-two, an authority on European history. His early enthusiasm was enlisted in the cause of learning within the Catholic Church. By birth he had connections in different countries. By taste and habit he was cosmopolitan. He was a friend or acquaintance of many who in France and Germany were already beginning to be known by the title, later on to become an invidious one, of 'Liberal Catholics.'

'Liberal Catholicism' already took different colours in different persons and places. In Lacordaire and Montalembert it showed itself in a love of political freedom and a devotion to the principles of '89. Among Acton's German friends it took the form of an intense faith in scientific freedom, and a somewhat revolutionary campaign on behalf of the reformation of Catholic theology in the light of fashionable {460} hypotheses in history as well as in physics. The movement was an influential one, and in order to appreciate its connection with the work of Acton and Newman alike, we must first say something of its origin.

The story has been told more than once; but we must recall its chief outstanding facts. De Maistre's celebrated work 'Du Pape' gave, in 1819, the signal for a great Ultramontane revival which formed a contributory stream to the Christian reaction from eighteenth century infidelity, first heralded in 1802 by Chateaubriand's 'Génie du Christianisme.' De Maistre advocated the union of Catholics under the Pope as the best means of securing liberty and new power for religion. Gallicanism, like Erastianism in the Church of England, meant servitude to the State. Ultramontanism meant freedom from its oppressive rule. Thus the cry of 'liberty' for Catholics was raised under the Ultramontane banner. And in its early stages the Liberal and the Ultramontane movement were identical. Vicomte de Bonald had already provided a philosophical basis for De Maistre's more practical programme. He had appealed to the consent of mankind in holding to traditionary religion, as a witness against the scepticism to which individualism had led in the eighteenth century. Félicité de Lamennais, at first like De Maistre a Royalist, fused together these two streams—the practical and the philosophical—in his 'Essai sur l'indifférence.' His work was Ultramontane and traditionalist. So great was the influence he rapidly won that Lacordaire does not hesitate to say that he 'found himself invested with the power of Bossuet.' [Note 2] Lamennais visited Leo XII. in Rome and was believed by Cardinal Wiseman and others to have been made a Cardinal in petto. The Pontiff died, however, before conferring the Hat on him.

But 'ce grand esprit immodéré,' as Sainte-Beuve calls Lamennais, took offence in 1826 with the action of Charles X. in causing him to be prosecuted for some strong published statements as to the power of the Papacy over kings. The prosecution was instituted in deference to public opinion, and the penalty was only a nominal fine. But Lamennais deeply resented the king's action, and threw in his lot with the revolution {461} of 1830. His 'Des progrès de la Révolution et de la guerre contre l'église' marked the change. 'Quand les Catholiques aussi crieront "liberté,"' he wrote, 'bien des choses changeront.' He became a declared democrat. The cry of 'liberty for Catholics' passed now into a formal avowal of Liberal principles, still, however, under the banner of Ultramontanism. Lamennais founded the Avenir as an organ for his views, and in its pages he developed a theory of Ultramontane Liberalism. He was supported in its conduct by his two famous disciples—the Comte de Montalembert and Père Lacordaire. The new Review advocated freedom of speech and of conscience, while still staunchly supporting the Papal supremacy.

The story of its condemnation by Rome in the Encyclical Mirari vos has often been told. Gregory XVI. declined to endorse far-reaching and novel principles, though their advocates were foes of Gallicanism. But the two tendencies, Ultramontane and Liberal, still remained united against Gallicanism, which was gradually extinguished in France. 'Jansenism and Gallicanism,' writes Dr. Alzog of the fifties, 'which at one time had divided the French clergy into hostile camps, now nearly, if not quite, disappeared.' [Note 3]

The new movement of Ultramontane apologetic continued to be a great power for many years. It was a powerful vindication of Christianity and was associated with many famous names. After the generation, represented by the Schlegels and Stolberg in Germany and by De Maistre and Chateaubriand in France, had passed away, Montalembert, Frederick Ozanam, Nicolas, Lacordaire, Père de Ravignan, and many another took their places in France, while Germany could show such famous names as Möhler and Döllinger. If speculative theories of Liberalism were in abeyance since the censure of Lamennais, the movement still practically claimed liberty for Catholics, in the hope of winning back the heart of Christendom if freedom were allowed them to plead their own cause by speech and writing, and to organise without hindrance. This claim could only be made in a mixed political society by asking for a like liberty for all religions. The new apologetic which restored the {462} influence of the Church took a wider range than the scholastic apologetic. Cardinal Wiseman noted with pride in his Roman lectures of 1836 how many and various were the intellectual roads which had converged towards the Catholic Church in the great savants who joined her in the first half of the century. It would be at all events bold to suggest that arguments which had actually convinced so many were invalid or even unorthodox, and that arguments whose great triumphs had been won in the Middle Ages were the only sound and orthodox ones. And in point of fact, the new apologetic in such men as Montalembert, Lacordaire, and Nicolas was generally approved. A movement of varied life, a zeal for reform on principles not fully defined, was visible in the forties among the most active-minded Catholics in many countries.

Gregory XVI., who had censured Lamennais, was the friend of Austria and the inveterate foe of the revolution. Rome was constantly harassed by the machinations of the Carbonari. Pope Gregory was suspicious of anything which savoured of Liberalism. But when Pius IX. succeeded, he was hailed as a reforming and 'Liberal' Pope. His amnestie générale at once decreed the release of political prisoners. His sympathy was anticipated for the 'Liberal' Catholics of the time. We have already spoken of his sanguine attempt at political reform in the Papal States, his abolition of the immemorial ecclesiastical government and appointment of a lay Prime Minister, Count de Rossi; of the overwhelming predominance soon manifest in Rome of the anti-clerical Left, reinforced by the dangerous revolutionists who swarmed forth from the prisons; of the murder of De Rossi and the flight of the Pope to Gaeta.

When Pius was reinstated in 1849 by the European Powers, his genial spirit had received a severe shock. The conditions were changed which made men at first anticipate that he would show special sympathy for Liberal Catholics. His hostility to the whole movement which he designated 'hodiernus liberalismus'—a movement which he seemed destined at first to guide and Christianise, but from which he had ultimately suffered so much—became thenceforth uncompromising. He now dreaded above all things the {463} spread among Catholics of 'Liberal principles,' which became naturally associated in his mind with the events of 1848. Indeed Continental 'Liberalism' was in point of fact already evincing that anti-Christian trend which in our own day, in France and Italy alike, has been so unmistakable. Catholics who claimed to be Liberals were often placed in a very false position. Lacordaire, who was at this time returned to the French Parliament as a Liberal, soon found himself in bad company, and resigned his seat.

The reaction in Pio Nono introduced directly and indirectly a most serious division among Catholics. Some persevered in the hopeful and conciliating temper originally shown by the Pope; others sympathised in the uncompromising attitude which had succeeded it. The words 'Liberal' and 'Ultramontane,' so long representing two aspects of one movement in the Church, soon became the watchwords of parties strongly antagonistic. Among an influential section of Catholics the hatred of the modern world towards Catholicism brought on an attitude of absolute opposition to all which they regarded as characteristic of the modern spirit. What was the use (they asked) of trying to persuade or influence irreconcilable enemies? 'Nous ne convertirons pas,' wrote one of them (M. Gaume), 'ni Mazzini, ni Garibaldi, ni leurs acolytes, libres penseurs; ... nous n'éteindrons dans leur cœur la haine du Catholicisme.' [Note 4] There was something of the same hopelessness as to compromise in the non possumus of Pius himself. M. Louis Veuillot of the Univers, and the many who felt with him, declared war on the modern world, on its political ideals and its intellectual tendencies alike. In Rome the indifference to philosophy and zeal for facts which Newman had noted when writing from the Eternal City in 1847, now gave place to a vigorous revival of scholasticism which was encouraged by the Pontiff. This bore fruit as time went on in works of great value—for example, Father Kleutgen's magnum opus, 'La Philosophie Scholastique,' and still later the writings of the present Cardinal Mercier. But the revival, in the hands of its narrower exponents, took a form which was not too friendly to the modern scientific spirit. {464}

On the other hand, in spite of the obvious discouragement presented by the Anti-Christian tendency of contemporary 'Liberalism,' any narrowness of outlook or sympathy was deplored by many able Catholics, by Lacordaire, Montalembert, Ozanam, and their friends. Although Lacordaire dissociated himself from the Radical Left in the Chamber, he continued his attempt to picture Catholicism to the modern world as the friend of all truth, of new science as of ancient dogma, and as capable of assimilating all really fruitful knowledge. He and his friends held such a view to be the truth which must ultimately prevail. And they held the opposite view to be both uncharitable and unpersuasive. Speaking of the aggressive Ultramontanism of Louis Veuillot, Frederick Ozanam writes: 'This school of writers professes to place at its head Comte de Maistre, whose opinions it exaggerates and denaturalises. It goes about looking for the boldest paradoxes, the most disputable propositions, provided they irritate the modern spirit … It does not propose to bring back unbelievers [to Christianity], but to stir up the passions of believers.'

The same writer describes the ideal of the more Liberal school of Catholics as being on the contrary 'to seek in the human heart all the sacred cords which can reunite it to Christianity, to re-awaken in it the love of truth, justice, and beauty, and then to manifest in revealed faith the ideal of these three things to which every soul aspires.' Louis Veuillot, on his side, held that the sympathy with the modern world which this programme involved led Ozanam, Lacordaire, and their friends 'to make war on their natural friends the Catholics, and hold out their hands to the enemies of the Church—academics, philosophers, eclectics.' [Note 5]

Such was the division of temper between the two parties. And each had its organ—the Correspondant representing the views of Montalembert, the Univers being edited by Louis Veuillot.

But in Germany there was a deeper intellectual difference than in France; and this difference determined the line taken by Sir John Acton and certain other English writers. Döllinger, the leader of the Munich school, had all along been very decidedly Ultramontane. He and his colleague {465} and friend Möhler, author of the 'Symbolik,' had taken an active share in the movement of Catholic apologetic of which I have spoken. They were students and thinkers, and stood apart from the more practical agitation of political and ecclesiastical parties which had so largely affected Montalembert, Lacordaire, and Veuillot, as well as Pius IX. himself. The share they took in the historical researches of the day, which were being pursued by Ranke and others in a spirit by no means hostile towards the Church, gradually raised a problem which has since become very urgent among Christians. It was the very problem considered by Newman in his Dublin lectures—how far did any opinions generally received among Catholic divines, and first adopted before systematic and scientific history was properly understood, need revision in view of the trend of modem research? What conditions were necessary in order to enable Catholics to face such research with absolute frankness and to hold their own, winning consideration and respect, in the learned world, not indeed from anti-Christian zealots, but from genuine men of science? Almost at the same time as the school of the Univers became definitely separated from the school represented by the Correspondant in the early fifties, a similar separation took place among the Germans. The school of Mayence under Bishop Ketteler was the more Roman school and opposed what it held to be the excesses of the school of Munich, of which Döllinger was the leader. The latter school stringently criticised the scholastics. Professor Froschammer did so on the terrain of philosophy, Döllinger on that of history and theology. The school of Mayence was more friendly to them. Here again, as in France, influential Reviews represented the divergent schools of thought. The Mayence school was represented by the Katholik, that of Munich by the Quarterly Review of Tübingen. The Jesuits, too, had their Review, the Stimmen aus Maria Laach, which agreed with the school of Mayence. From this atmosphere of keen contest among Catholic Reviews Sir John Acton came to England. The questions involved were specially urgent for the Catholic savants in Germany, where intellectual rivalry between the Confessions ran high, for their Protestant competitors in the sciences {466} would be likely to claim a great superiority if scholastic conclusions were drawn so tight as to tie the limbs of the Catholic thinkers and scholars, and prevent their free competition with their neighbours on the neutral terrain of scientific evidence. The Munich school urged the necessity of scientific freedom and of the reconsideration of such theological opinions as science appeared to disprove. The school of Mayence was more inclined to suspect the hypotheses of science and to walk in the traditional paths [Note 6].

This question, which, in the days of which we are speaking, appeared vague and rather 'in the air' to the general {467} reader of periodical literature, has long ago established its extremely urgent and definite character in connection especially with the light thrown by history on the early constitution of the Church. For medieval theologians had at times not unnaturally treated as existing from the first what history subsequently showed to have been developed later on. This urgency was early recognised by specialists like Döllinger and Newman himself. Acton arrived in England full of the subject. He desired to conduct an English Review which should play the part of that of Tübingen—the Atlantis, the Dublin, the Rambler, it mattered not which. Such a Review was, like the German Catholic Reviews, to influence non-Catholic thought as well as Catholic. And he wanted the countenance of one great English Catholic thinker and historical student, John Henry Newman. Moreover, in addition to his sympathy with the aims of the Munich school, he had even at this early time the sanguine passion for 'liberty' as an ideal which made him in later years design as his magnum opus a 'History of Freedom.' Acton had also an absolute faith in the scientific character and impartial temper displayed by the existing representatives of modern historical research. The days of partisanship and special pleading were, he considered, over. If Ranke could be fair to the Catholics, the Catholics, too, should be fair to the facts of history which told against them, and eschew any arrière pensée to controversial effectiveness. Hence he was inclined to make very boldly the challenge which most Catholic students make with great reserve, that theologians should revise their statements in the light {468} of the conclusions of the scientific world. For he held that world to represent accurately the true state of scientific evidence. How the situation and the prospect for the future presented itself to Acton's mind we may see by reading his own words in an article written very shortly afterwards.

He first describes the great apologists who, from Chateaubriand and De Maistre onwards, did so great a work in restoring religious belief. He then speaks of the scientific Catholic thinkers and scholars of his own time.

' ... The services of these [earlier] writers have been very great,' he writes. 'They restored the balance which was leaning terribly against religion, both in politics and letters. They created a Catholic opinion and a great Catholic literature, and they conquered for the Church a very powerful influence in European thought. The word "ultramontane" was revived to designate this school, and that restricted term was made to embrace men as different as de Maistre and de Bonald, Lamennais and Montalembert, Balmez and Donoso Cortes, Stolberg and Schlegel, Phillips and Taparelli.

'Learning has (now) passed on beyond the range of these men's visions. Their greatest strength was in the weakness of their adversaries, and their own faults were eclipsed by the monstrous errors against which they fought. But scientific methods have now been so perfected and have come to be applied in so cautious and so fair a spirit that the apologists of the last generation have collapsed before them. Investigations have become so impersonal, so colourless, so free from the prepossessions which distort truth, from pre-determined aims and foregone conclusions, that their results can only be met by investigations in which the same methods are yet more completely and conscientiously applied. The sounder scholar is invincible by the brilliant rhetorician; and the eloquence and ingenuity of de Maistre and Schlegel would be of no avail against researches pursued with perfect mastery of science and singleness of purpose. The apologist's armour would be vulnerable at the point where his religion and his science were forced into artificial union. Again, as science widens and deepens, it escapes from the grasp of dilettantism. The training of a skilled labourer has become indispensable for the scholar, and science yields its results to none but those who have mastered its methods.

'Herein consists the distinction between the apologists we have described and that school of writers and thinkers {469} which is now growing up in foreign countries, and on the triumph of which the position of the Church in modern society depends. While she was surrounded with men whose learning was sold to the service of untruth, her defenders naturally adopted the artifices of the advocate, and wrote as if they were pleading for a human cause. It was their concern only to promote those precise kinds and portions of knowledge which would confound an adversary or support her claim. But learning ceased to be hostile to Christianity when it ceased to become an instrument of controversy—when facts came to be acknowledged no longer because they were useful, but simply because they were true. Religion had no occasion to rectify the results of learning when irreligion had ceased to pervert them, and the old weapons of controversy became repulsive as soon as they had ceased to be useful.' [Note 7]

In 1858 (the year this narrative has now reached) the scientific movement among Catholics in Germany was steadily growing in influence. It was attempting, among other things, a somewhat similar work to that done in the Church of England a little later by such men as Lightfoot, Hort, and Westcott—specialist research in the history of the early centuries, absolutely frank, yet undertaken with Christian rather than anti-Christian sympathies.

The chapters which now follow have as their background this effort, marked by great enthusiasm, though, no doubt, one-sided in its outlook, to gain for the Catholic Church in Germany an influence on thought and learning comparable to that which German Catholics actually gained later on in politics. And they terminate with the dramatic episode of the Munich Congress of 1863 summoned by Döllinger in order to promote and organise this endeavour. The Congress brought down the censure of the Holy See on the excesses of Döllinger and Acton, and in doing so inflicted a severe blow on the whole movement.

A word more is needed concerning one of the dramatis personæ in the campaign in England itself.

Among those Catholics whose interests were intellectual, and whose zeal for reform in education and increased depth in religious philosophy was keen, the man who pulled hardest {470} against Acton was W. G. Ward. His attitude towards the two tendencies of Catholic thought just described was nevertheless not wholly opposed to that of the more liberal thinkers.

We have seen how Louis Veuillot and his friends held the Church as a besieged city against the modern world; how they entrenched themselves behind scholastic bulwarks and looked askance at the complex modern movement, which was at once anti-Christian, political, and scientific; seeing in Mazzini only an enemy of the Pope, in Darwin only an enemy to dogma; respecting the modern 'liberties' and longing for the days to return when the Church had excluded the very breath of error and doubt. Lacordaire and Montalembert, on the other hand, deplored the tyranny of ecclesiastics in the past as largely responsible for the existing troubles of the Church. Intent on actually affecting the minds of the existing generation, mindful of the immense impression which Lacordaire himself had made on the mixed crowd of his countrymen in 1836 at Notre Dame, they sought to supplement the old scholastic arguments by others more persuasive to nineteenth century thinkers; and they had a friendly eye on the Munich school in Germany.

Mr. W. G. Ward, from his sceptical intellectual temperament and his keen imaginative realisation of the standpoint of J. S. Mill, shared in the views of the more Liberal school so far as fundamental Christian apologetic was concerned. He was dissatisfied with the arguments given in the ordinary scholastic manuals as proofs both of Theism and of Christianity. He considered that they required both developing and supplementing to meet the needs of the nineteenth century. On the other hand, he had small sympathy with the Munich School. When once the fundamental apologetic was secure, he, like Veuillot, advocated the entrenchment of Catholics in their own city; though what he especially insisted on in this connection was not the scholastic philosophy, but the practice of the ascetic life, the influence of Catholic devotion, and the atmosphere of Catholicism, secured and confirmed by an absolute obedience to all intimations from the Holy See. The theological volumes of the schoolmen indeed were his delight, but the chief value he set on them was as ministering to practical religion. In philosophy {471} he was not rigidly scholastic. His war was primarily against the spirit of exclusive 'intellectualism' which he thought he saw in the Munich school.

Such writers as Acton and Richard Simpson, to whom the large non-Catholic work of science was so important, who were such enthusiastic lovers of its methods, who desired to be members of it on equal terms with others, constantly struck a note which jarred on Ward. His pamphlet read before the English Catholic Academia on 'The Relation of Intellect to Man's True Perfection' was directed against that form of 'religious Liberalism' and 'intellectualism' which he held to be their leading characteristic. They disregarded, he considered, the stern and exclusive ethical principles of Christianity and the logical consequences of its principles. The secularist temper involved maxims which endangered the success even of contributions to apologetic intrinsically valuable. For Ward believed severe self-discipline and moral training to be necessary for an adequate appreciation of the very reasons for religious belief. The intellectual dissipation of the modern secularist civilisation undermined the effect of the deepest arguments on such a subject. The ethical principles of Christianity were as necessary for even the best arguments on behalf of its truth to prove convincing as air is needful for the most healthy lungs to breathe. These principles were so little congenial to human nature that he thought they should be constantly and prominently insisted on. They were, on the contrary, he held, often sacrificed by the writers in question for the 'mongrel morality' of modern civilisation. On the other hand, from the constitution of his mind, Ward was not fully alive to the urgency of the historical problems which so greatly exercised Acton and Simpson.

Of Newman's own via media between Ward and Acton I will not attempt to give any brief analysis; it will be better that his own words should speak for themselves. Widely as he dissented from Ward on particular points, it was, as he often said, in practice and in the application of principles that the difference lay, not in theological principles themselves. In the 'Apologia' he has expressed his 'enthusiastic concurrence' with the attitude of such 'Liberal' Catholics {472} as Lacordaire and Montalembert, whom he held to be 'before their time' (p. 285). With regard to the 'liberalism' of Acton and his friends his concurrence was far more limited. But he sympathised with their avowed programme of approaching religious problems with a mind keenly alive to the thought and science of the day.

The campaign of the English Liberal Catholics, which eventually caused a great stir, was partly, as I have already hinted, a reaction in England itself from another movement among the converts.

Father Faber and his friends of the Brompton Oratory having no longer the restraining hand of their first Father Superior to guide them, had been pressing onward the devotional and uncritical treatment of the history of the saints on lines somewhat similar to those followed by such writers as M. Gaume in France. Church history was dealt with by some English Catholics much as Abbé Darras treated it for the edification of the French Seminarists. A school of deeply religious men was urging, as an adequate solution of all difficulties, absolute obedience to ecclesiastical authority in matters intellectual as well as in matters of discipline. Views which were approved as orthodox or were current in Rome were supposed or tacitly assumed by them to be as a necessary consequence adequate to the intellectual needs of the time. With this view, Newman and even W. G. Ward could concur as little as the Rambler writers. Newman's historical sense effectually prevented such an attitude. He probably recalled the great change of fashion he had witnessed in Rome itself in these matters, from 1847, when philosophy was no longer the vogue, when St. Thomas and Aristotle were little read, when the study of facts was all in all, to the existing fashion of a revived Scholasticism. More than one intellectual fashion might be orthodox. More than one might prevail at different times in Rome itself. In 1847 he had pleaded for some philosophy, as against its entire absence. Now that the scholastic revival had begun, the danger, both at Rome and elsewhere, appeared to be of a different kind. Philosophical and theological tenets and arguments were imposed by Professors as though they were certain, with insufficient accompanying recognition of facts {473} which did not square with them. Moreover, in philosophy itself, what was theologically orthodox was in some quarters insisted on as therefore necessarily intellectually convincing. On the evils consequent on this habit in the ecclesiastical seminaries W. G. Ward often spoke with characteristic vehemence from his personal experience at St. Edmund's. 'The whole philosophical fabric which occupies our colleges,' he wrote to Newman in 1860, 'is rotten from the floor to the roof. Nay; no one who has not been mixed up practically in a seminary would imagine to how great an extent it intellectually debauches the students' minds.' Again, even on the wider needs of theology arising from modern historical and biblical problems, to which, as I have said, he was far less alive, Ward writes: 'What new difficulties are opened at every step! I suppose the Church will have to develop quite a supplemental corpus of theology in reference to such questions as those touched in "Essays and Reviews."'

To Newman the new aspects of the philosophical and critical argument for Christianity which needed developing were, of course, no surprise. He had expressly anticipated them nine years earlier. When dealing in his lectures at King William Street with the Anglican controversy he had declined to treat this larger question on the ground that it was a transition time.

The old defences could still be used, but very shortly the controversy would, he foresaw, have fallen into so new a position that arguments which had been constructed before such a development would be useless. When that time came he would attempt to deal with them and revise them.

'The first duty of Catholics,' he then wrote, 'is to house those in who are near their doors; it will be time afterwards when this has been done to ascertain how things lie on the extended field of philosophy and religion, and into what new position the controversy has fallen; as yet the old arguments suffice. To attempt a formal dissertation on the Notes of the Church at this moment, would be running the risk of constructing what none would need today, and none could use tomorrow.' The morrow had now arrived, and he meant to do his best. {474}

English writers like Capes and Simpson, who reacted against the doctrinal extremes of Father Faber, made common cause with those who, like Acton, drew their inspiration from Germany. And both alike appealed to Newman for aid and guidance. Newman had already mapped out in the Atlantis a practical first step in the desired direction. Once you make minds educated and really familiar with the trend of science, they will not (he held) maintain an untenable or narrow apologetic. It is when science is kept at a distance, and its conclusions are not realised, that such conclusions are opposed in the name of orthodoxy. The necessity of change is in such circumstances not evident, and the views in possession presumptively stand. But now, before this preparation of mind had been achieved among English Catholics, current problems were, as we have seen in the last chapter, ventilated in Mr. Capes's Review, the Rambler, with a good deal of impatience and exaggeration, with some indiscriminateness of expression, some superficiality of treatment, and in a way—perhaps even with a disposition—to shock both the ecclesiastical authorities and the average reader. These characteristics were precisely the opposite to those desired by Newman, who wished to effect the necessary modifications and additions without friction, almost without observation. The somewhat reckless and startling articles in the Rambler made him very anxious as to their effect in upsetting the faith of good and simple minds, and also, as we shall see later on, in defeating really needed developments in theology. For such exaggerations would provoke a reaction.

Mr. Capes had in 1858 ceased to be editor of the Rambler. But his sub-editor, Mr. Richard Simpson, succeeded him, and that Review was in the end chosen by Sir John Acton as the field for his own labours on the lines of Döllinger's campaign at Munich. Acton succeeded in gaining the co-operation of Newman. He had too the sympathy of the Bollandists, Father de Buck being another contributor. Döllinger wrote for the Review and so did Montalembert. The Rambler in this fresh start took boldly the general line described by Acton in the words cited above as that of the great German savants of the Munich school. Its writers entered the lists as knights-errant on behalf of reality and {475} candour of thought, of research abreast of the times. 'Modern Society,' they wrote in their prospectus, 'has developed no security for freedom, no instrument of progress, no means of arriving at truth which we look at with indifference or suspicion.'

Scandals and anomalies in the history of the Church must be (they held) frankly recognised. Bad philosophical arguments must not be bolstered up and declared to be good because they were given in approved text-books, or even because they had passed muster in the pages of great mediæval doctors or saints. And, moreover, they declined on many grounds to admit the universal desirableness of an attitude of passive and almost indiscriminate obedience to ecclesiastical authority which they regarded as proper to a seminary. Writing in this spirit, these able reviewers, who were young and one-sided and enthusiastic, irritated the Bishops and startled the English Catholics. They fell distinctly short of the customary tone of respect for authority and for the saints themselves. They treated lightly certain sacred traditions which, though possibly in some cases unfounded, yet had at the lowest their place in the devotional life of Catholics, and deserved reverent handling. So also a method of philosophical writing which presented doubts as felt realities, while it questioned the adequacy of the familiar scholastic solutions, was doubly a source of general unsettlement.

The pursuits and mental habits of the English country gentry and clergy, who were among the readers of the Rambler, were perhaps not such as would lead them to be fully alive to the danger to intellectual honesty and, in the long run, to the faith of the educated classes, of the deficiencies which such men as Mr. Simpson and Sir John Acton deprecated. Such readers were the descendants of the persecuted Catholics long excluded from the Universities and from public life, or High-Church convert clergymen, few of whom were sensitive to intellectual interests. They objected to having doubts suggested to them to which they had hitherto been strangers. They did not realise that, to the mind of the age, the causes of doubt were already present, and needed to be frankly recognised and counteracted. Also their piety and religious instincts were {476} startled at the manner adopted by the Rambler. And among such readers were some of Newman's own colleagues of the Birmingham Oratory. At Birmingham, as at Littlemore, Newman had surrounded himself with those who deeply sympathised with the main object of his life. But few, if any, of them were in close contact with the thought of the day which pressed so closely on men like Acton, Simpson, and Döllinger. In his daily companions, then, he had an object-lesson in the disturbing effect of raising difficulties hitherto unfelt, with the object of answering them. The Oratorians served him almost as a thermometer, to register the effect of such writings on the cordatus Catholicus in England, whose life-work and interests lay in directions other than the speculative or intellectual. And this effect was an important factor in determining Newman's course in the trying controversies that ensued. Diplomacy was called for as well as knowledge and intellectual capacity; and the campaign assumed the character of a chapter in ecclesiastical politics.

Newman saw the absolute necessity of some moderating influence if the Rambler writers were to bring home to their co-religionists what was true in their view of the situation. Minds must be prepared by a gradual explanation of what was in form novel, in order that they might see its real consistency with recognised theological principles. 'Novelty is often error,' he wrote years later, 'for those who are unprepared for it, from the refraction with which it enters into their conceptions.' Catholic readers must be won by common-sense, and not repelled by paradox and exaggeration.

His full view of the situation came out by degrees as he wrote to each correspondent, entering into the particular point of view which each represented. Moreover, it modified as time went on. His successive feelings towards the work of Acton and Simpson were summed up in a letter to myself by his intimate friend, the late Lord Emly, as 'interest and disappointment.' Their programme he approved. With their way of carrying it out he was, as we shall see, far from satisfied.

This correspondence was carefully collected and annotated by him with a view to its publication at any time {477} when his attitude on these great problems should be discussed. I shall make somewhat extensive extracts from it in the sequel. It may appear at first sight to be mainly concerned with editorial difficulties; but this is not so. Though its occasion was the conduct of a Review, it deals in fact with problems of supreme importance. Moreover, no group of his letters illustrates more fully his strength and his width, his sensitive sympathy with many points of view, and his tenacious adherence to the difficult path traced out by personal sincerity and loyalty to authority combined. He had to enter into the special circumstances of many minds. For he had to deal with the Bishops, representing the interests of rule and of peace; with Döllinger, Acton, and Simpson, who were familiar with lines of contemporary thought and research which made some innovation a necessity; with W. G. Ward, whose views were largely determined by his own special difficulties and mental characteristics; with the English Catholic body at large, whom new problems only scared. All these he had to consider. And he had to trace a path on which all alike could walk.

For these reasons the correspondence must be quoted at considerable length in giving, as I now proceed to do, the detailed story of the events above referred to.

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1. Newman, however, did not actually write in the Home and Foreign Review. His discussions on its articles were carried on in private correspondence.
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2. Considérations sur le système de M. de Lamennais, p. 36.
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3. Church History, iii. 712.
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4. L'Eau bénite du dix-neuvième siècle, by Abbé Gaume.
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5. Boissard's Life of Foisset, p. 159.
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6. The theological difference between the two schools—somewhat parallel to the difference which later on separated Dr. Liddon from Mr. Gore in the Church of England—was excellently and succinctly stated years afterwards by the late Monsignor d'Hulst in his address to the Catholic Scientific Congress held at Paris in 1888:

'Si la foi est immobile, la science ne l'est pas. C'est la gloire de la parole divine d'être toujours semblable à elle-même. C'est l'honneur de la pensée humaine de n'être jamais contente d'elle-même et de réculer sans cesse les bornes toujours étroites de ses connaissances. Mais entre deux termes contigus, dont l'un est en repos, l'autre en mouvement, il est inévitable que les points de contact se déplacent. Si le déplacement se faisait toujours au nom d'une certitude absolue, l'accord serait facile entre croyants; car autant ils sont convaincus qu'une proposition révélée n'a rien à craindre des constatations scientifiques, autant ils sont prêts à affirmer qu'une proposition démontrée n'encourra jamais le démenti autorisé des juges de la croyance. Ces deux axiomes représentent les deux faces d'une même vérité enseignée en termes exprès par le Concile du Vatican et par toute une série d'actes pontificaux, et qu'on peut résumer en cette formule: le dogme catholique ne saurait être pris en defaut par les faits. Mais lec problème est moins simple que cela dans la pratique. La science, en effet, arrive rarement d'un bond à la certitude. Elle procède par l'hypothèse, s'essaie aux vérifications expérimentales et s'achemine à travers des probabilités grandissantes vers le terme désiré de l'évidence discursive. Mais non. Il y a des tâtonnements et de fausses manœuvres; il y a des chevauchées hors de la route; magni passus, sed extra viam; il y a des hypothèses qui jouissent longtemps d'une certaine faveur et que denouvelles recherches obligent d'abandonner. Tant que dure leur crédit provisoire, bon nombre d'esprits trop prompts à conclure les confondent avec les dires absolus de la science, et pendant ce temps-là on se demande comment les mettre d'accord avec l'enseignement chrétien.

'Les uns disent: "Le désaccord est manifeste, c'est l'hypothèse qui a tort." Les autres répondent: "L'hypothèse est bien appuyée, c'est vous qui interprétez mal la croyance. Ce que vous prenez pour l'enseignement catholique n'est qu'un façon d'entendre cet enseignement, façon bien naturelle tant qu'on n'avait pas de raisons d'en chercher une autre, mais qu'il faut abandonner à la demande de l'expérience." Sans doute, si l'autorité suprême intervient pour fixer le sens indécis du dogme, le dissentiment fait place à l'unanimité. Mais il est rare que cette autorité se mêle ainsi aux virements de bord de la science. Gardienne prudente de la parole sacrée, protectrice bienveillante de l'activité humaine, elle attend d'ordinaire, se contentant de surveiller le mouvement et de condamner les excès de part et d'autre. Pendant ce temps-là, deux tendances se manifestent parmi les catholiques: celle des hardis, qui sont parfois téméraires; celles des mides, qui sont parfois arriérés. Et là encore la situation se complique et les reproches se croisent. Les hardis prétendent que ce sont eux qui sont prudents, parce qu'ils réservent l'avenir et épargnent aux théologiens la nécessité de s'infliger plus tard à eux-mêmes un désaveu. Les timides répondent que ce sont eux qui méritent la louange décernée aux braves, parce qu'ils témoignent moins d'appréhensions devant les attaques de la science, plus de confiance dans la victoire finale de la conception traditionnelle. Encore une fois, Messieurs, ces divergences sont inévitables, et vouloir les prévenir serait interdire aux croyants de penser ... '
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7. Home and Foreign Review, i. p. 513.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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