Chapter 19. Sad Days (1859-1864)

{568} THE years reviewed in the last three chapters—1859 to 1864—may be called the low-water mark of Newman's life-story. His letters and diaries show that they were years of great sadness and despondency. His vivid and excessive realisation of advancing age made him regard his career as practically over—yet almost every work he had undertaken so far, as a Catholic, had proved a failure. Whether or no qualities in his own temperament of which he was unconscious were in part responsible for those failures, his own view of the case was one which induced intense sadness and perhaps occasionally a touch of bitterness.

After all the strain and stress of the Achilli trial, he had lost two precious years—when life was already in its decline—before Dr. Cullen would allow him to start the Catholic University. Then the University had not realised any of his desires. He had not succeeded in making it a centre for the education of English Catholics. It had not even attracted the representative Irish Catholics. He had not been given a free hand in its management, and the promised bishopric, which would have given him comparative independence, and power to work in his own way, had been withdrawn.

Then had come the translation of the Scriptures. Infinite toil and much money had been wasted. It had fallen through (it seemed to him) owing to the simple inattention of Cardinal Wiseman. And such indifference was a greater trial than hostility. That the hierarchy should so readily allow the scheme to fall to the ground showed how little value they had really set on it! The task had been assigned to him with a 'flourish of trumpets' and with the most {569} flattering recognition of his eminence and of the importance of such an enterprise in his hands. Then it had simply dropped out of the Cardinal's mind, and the other Bishops had allowed it to drop. In both these cases he seems to have felt that his name had been advertised before the world,—in one case as a political weapon against the Queen's Colleges, in the other as a testimony that the English Catholic body could hold its own in scholarship,—yet that the advertisement did not correspond to any real feeling as to the value of the work assigned to him. Education, knowledge, candid and discriminating thought on the problems of the day,—these great and necessary weapons for the influence of the Church on the world were, he thought, little valued by those whose influence was just then in the ascendant. The heart of religion indeed was sound—it was not a time of bad Popes like John XXII. or Alexander VI., or of secret infidelity as was the thirteenth century, or of a clergy whose lives were immoral or unholy. This he gratefully remarked even in his darkest days. But the things demanded of him by the 'dominant party' (as he called it) were in his eyes unimportant, the things neglected of vital moment. He felt that he was expected to effect showy conversions among the titled and learned, to preach sermons which should be talked of by the newspapers. There was little sense of the value of those solid acquirements which contribute to the true and lasting power of Catholicism. Catholics were proud of his name, but few at that time understood his aims. With sad and rather bitter irony he wrote in his private journal that he was treated as 'some wild incomprehensible beast, a spectacle for Dr. Wiseman to exhibit to strangers, as himself being the hunter who captured it.' Alike in his work for the University and in the Prolegomena to his edition of the Scriptures, he felt that he had the opportunity of contributing to the great enterprise he had at heart for fitting English Catholics to realise the strength of the Church and to use that strength. Both works were a natural occasion for promoting a philosophy or apologetic persuasive to his contemporaries and undertaken in the name of the Church Catholic, exhibiting those great arguments which had won him by their majesty and strength. This {570} was a great necessity for the age in which the Church alone could ultimately prove an effective champion of Christianity in face of advancing free-thought. This task was, moreover, the indispensable preliminary (humanly speaking) to a really large wave of stable conversions among educated men. But it was a time when a great struggle absorbed the Church authorities, which left them little leisure to give attention to intellectual problems. As I read the symptoms of Newman's disappointment on the one hand, and on the other his eloquent tributes at the very same time to the Catholic Church as the one satisfying representative of religion, I see two sides to the same picture. 'What can possibly bear the shock that is coming upon religion generally but the Catholic Church,' he writes to Mr. A. J. Hanmer in July 1862, 'and how many on the other hand will be found to be homines bonĉ voluntatis, willing to place their souls under her protection?' Again, he writes to Mr. Albert Smith on January 8, 1864: 'I have been in the fullest peace and enjoyment ever since I became a Catholic and have found a power of truth and divine strength in [our] ordinances which exists I believe nowhere else.' It was his experience of the helpfulness of the Catholic religion, his sense of the unique mission of the Catholic Church and the cogency of its appeal, which made his disappointment so keen when Catholics failed to present that appeal effectively; while he did not feel that he was allowed the freedom necessary to do his own part in this great work. In Ireland he had indeed in his published lectures accomplished something in the desired direction, but really in spite rather than by favour of his superiors. The Prolegomena had simply to be abandoned. Then, when with the same object he had undertaken the editorship of the Rambler, even his best friend among the Bishops, Dr. Ullathorne, had been so little alive to the value of the work as at once to ask him to resign. Immediately afterwards, his own article was delated to Rome, and he was reminded that he was in the hands of a power which might crush him. Dr. Ullathorne's action was comparatively slight, but it told of an irresistible force behind it. 'It was like the pat of a lion's paw,' he wrote to a friend. He knew that original thought, if not clearly seen to be essential {571} for the welfare of religion, is readily suspected of heterodoxy. The cry of dangerous intellectualism, of heretical leanings, had been successfully raised against the Rambler. He feared the cry would now pass on to his own writings and rob him of all authority. Ward at St. Edmund's and Faber at the Oratory were urging the 'one thing needful,' the saintliness and unworldliness of the early Christians. Who felt with them more keenly on this point than Newman himself? Who had more keenly opposed intellectualism and false Liberalism now for thirty years? But Newman could not forget that the writings of Tatian, of Justin, of Irenĉus and their successors had been an absolute necessity as a complement to the saintly lives of the early Christian confessors themselves, in order to preserve the hold of the Church on the educated classes, when Christianity was making its way, not only to the simple and illiterate, but to the learned and thoughtful. Rationalism could only be purged of its excesses by a wise exercise of the reason. And now a similar work to that of the early apologists and Fathers was equally essential. Perhaps it was even more essential, for the prevailing inadequate treatment of theology and philosophy claiming in the name of orthodoxy to satisfy the intellect, presented some dangers which did not exist prior to all theological science. Again, modern research was bringing with it lines of thought, supported by weighty evidence, which called for the fullest and frankest treatment. Yet even so tentative an effort at historical frankness as his own article in the Rambler, on 'Consulting the Faithful,' was suspected. How could Catholics in such circumstances take a place among the scientific historians of the day and plead the cause of the Church with success? He recognised the principal cause of this state of things in the anti-Christian Liberalism of the day, which drove so many of his co-religionists to be suspicious of all freedom of thought. Yet the fact, however explicable, remained both disastrous to the influence of the Church from one point of view, and an insuperable obstacle to his attempting the work for which his gifts especially fitted him. In reply to a friend who in 1864 spoke of setting on foot an historical Review, he wrote: 'nothing would be better than a historical Review, but who {572} would bear it? Unless one doctored all one's facts one would be thought a bad Catholic. The truth is, there is a keen conflict going on just now between two parties, one in the Church and one out of it. And at such seasons extreme views alone are in favour and a man who is not extravagant is thought treacherous. I sometimes think of King Lear's daughters and consider that they after all may be found the truest who are in speech more measured.' He had lamented, in writing to Mr. Capes ten years earlier, the destruction of the theological schools which had resulted from the modern persecution of the Church. In his letters he wistfully looks back at the free debates of the mediĉval schools, which had kept Catholic thought so fully alive to the problems of the day. The strict discipline of the time in which he lived, the military rule of Propaganda, might be valuable for the promotion of esprit de corps, for organisation and united action; it might be a wholesome spiritual discipline, just because it was so trying; but it made impossible that task of educating Catholics in breadth of mind which he felt to be specially his own, and of attracting the deep thinkers at a moment of religious and intellectual unrest, by the presence of such comprehensive thought and learning in the Catholic body as would satisfy the needs of the hour. His mission seemed at an end. Each enterprise in which he had thought that he saw God's hand guiding him had led to nothing.

This is the view of the situation presented in most of his writings at this time. Yet he had another thought—that the work in question was full of difficulty; that while Catholic principles were (he held) the only ones on which it could be accomplished with success, still he might well shrink from the presumption of volunteering in so hard an enterprise without a clear indication that he was called to it; whereas external signs now seemed to point the other way. Occasionally then he went back to the thought contained in his Memorandum on the Munich Brief, that it may be best, amid the bewildering and ever-changing outlook of advancing science, for a time to leave the intellectual questions of the day alone altogether and stand in the old paths [Note 1]. One of the prayers he wrote and {573} recited in these years was against a false originality. But on this supposition equally, scope was denied him for the work he had most at heart. Whether the policy of the authorities was wise or unwise, its effect on his own usefulness was the same.

Old age was imminent and failure seemed to dog his steps. His works had for some years had little sale, nor did they recover their position until the 'Apologia' made him once again a popular English writer. Doubt had been thrown on his whole-hearted loyalty in the matter of the Temporal Power, the burning question of the hour. Silenced, and in many quarters mistrusted, he ceased to write. He devoted himself to his school and taught the boys to recite. Those in power had put him 'on the shelf,' he said. At moments as he watched the play of contemporary events he was critical, or his sense of humour was touched. 'They put me on the shelf,' he said, 'but they can't prevent me from peeping out from it.' On the whole, however, his feeling was one of sadness and failure. He was reduced to inactivity. He accepted the fact as God's Will, but it tried him sorely.

'All through my life,' he wrote to Henry Wilberforce in July 1859, 'I have been plucked. My first book—the Arians—was plucked by Rose and Lyall. My Church of the Fathers, instead of being part of the Magazine, appeared among the Correspondence. Qualis ab incepto; but I assure you it has made me feel that my occupation was gone when the Bishop put his extinguisher on the Rambler. I never meant to have kept it for long—but it is one thing to set a thing off, another to be made throw it away.

'I have thought I should take to re-editing my Lectures on Justification, my Essay on Miracles, and my Translation of St. Athanasius, which I have always intended to do. But at present I shall lie fallow—I have always wished to do so—proposed this year for it and most unwillingly I took to the Rambler, and now you see I have a sort of providential sanction of my original intention.

'It is some time since I have wished to set my house in order. To look over all my papers, burn, arrange, and the like. To have done this will be an amazing comfort to me, for at present everything is in confusion, and I feel like a {574} person who has been long out in the dust and rain, and whose hat, coat and shoes show it.'

And while the bulk of English Catholics living apart from the world of thought failed to appreciate his work and see its urgency, while political circumstances made it little valued in Rome, the Protestant world was becoming more and more alive to the necessity of strong defences against the increasing tendency among educated minds to religious negation. Newman's University Sermons, written as an antidote to this tendency, of which he had foreseen the growth, were being understood and used by those outside the Church. Thus he was to some extent perforce thrown on them for intellectual sympathy. His thoughts went back wistfully to old friends and to the great work he had done at Oxford.

The period of gloom of which I am speaking began with his enforced resignation of the editorship of the Rambler in 1859 and lasted till Kingsley's attack on him in 1864. It was undoubtedly aggravated by a touch of morbidness brought on by ill-health. His state of mind in those years is recorded in a journal which he began to keep at this time—one of the literary treasures he has left—written as in the sight of God, with an utter simplicity and sincerity. And letters to many intimate friends—which betray a mixture of extreme candour with a certain incidental reserve—supplement what is therein set down.

The first entry was written shortly after his failure as editor of the Rambler:

'December 15th 1859.—"Nemo mittens manum suam ad aratrum, et respiciens retro, aptus est regno Dei." I am writing on my knees and in God's sight. May He be gracious unto me! As years go on, I have less sensible devotion and inward life. I wonder whether it is, or rather whether it is not, so with all men, viewed as apart from the grace of God. The greater part of our devotion in youth, our faith, hope, cheerfulness, perseverance, is natural—or, if not natural, it is from a [euphuia] which does not resist grace, and requires very little grace to illuminate. The same grace goes much further in youth as encountering less opposition—that is, in the virtues which I have mentioned. The Greek poet, himself an old man, speaks (in the Chorus of the" Œd. Col.") {575} of the unamiable state of the aged. Old men are in soul as stiff, as lean, as bloodless as their bodies, except so far as grace penetrates and softens them. And it requires a flooding of grace to do this. I more and more wonder at old saints. St. Aloysius or St. Francis Xavier or St. Carlo, are nothing to St. Philip. O! Philip, gain me some little portion of thy fervour. I live more and more in the past, and in hopes that the past may revive in the future. My God, when shall I learn that I have so parted with the world, that, though I may wish to make friends with it, it will not make friends with me?

'When I was young, I thought that with all my heart I gave up the world for Thee. As far as will, purpose, intention go, I think I did. I mean, I deliberately put the world aside. I prayed earnestly that I might not rise to any ecclesiastical dignity. When I was going up for my B.A. examination, I prayed fervently and again and again that I might not gain honors, if they would do me spiritual harm. When I was older and in Anglican orders, I prayed absolutely and without condition against rising in the church. I put the wish generally into verse about 30 years ago. "Deny me wealth; far, far remove the lure of power or name; Hope thrives in straits, in weakness, Love, and Faith in this world's shame." Nor was this poetry only, but my habitual purpose. I think so, O Lord, but Thou knowest. I knew what I was saying, and how it is Thy way to grant, to fulfil such petitions, and to take men at their word. What could I desire better than that Thou shouldest so take me? Yet I am not at all sure that grace had much to do with my wish. I know perfectly well, and thankfully confess to Thee, O my God, that Thy wonderful grace turned me right round when I was more like a devil than a wicked boy, at the age of fifteen, and gave me what by Thy continual aids I never lost. Thou didst change my heart, and in part my whole mental complexion at that time, and I never should have had the thought of such prayers, as those which I have been speaking of above, but for that great work of Thine in my boyhood. Still those prayers were immediately prompted, as I think, in great measure by natural rashness, generosity, cheerfulness, sanguine temperament, and unselfishness, though not, I trust, without Thy grace. I trust they were good and pleasing to Thee,—but I much doubt if I, my present self, just as I am, were set down in those past years, 1820 or 1822 or 1829, if they could be brought back, whether I now should make those good prayers and bold resolves, unless, that is, I {576} had some vast and extraordinary grant of grace from Thy Heavenly treasure-house. And that, I repeat, because I think, as death comes on, his cold breath is felt on soul as on body, and that, viewed naturally, my soul is half dead now, whereas then it was in the freshness and fervour of youth. And this may be the ground of the grave warning of the inspired writer, "Memento Creatoris tui in diebus juventutis tuae, antequam veniat tempus afflictionis ... antequam tenebrescat sol," &c. And I say the same of my state of mind at a later date, in the year 1834 and following years, when I spoke so much of self-denial, mortification, fasting, &c., down to 1845 when I became a Catholic. It is a time past and gone,—it relates to a work done and over. "Quis mihi tribuat, ut sim juxt amenses pristinos, secundum dies, quibus Deus custodiebat me? Quando splendebat lucerna ejus super caput meum, et ad lumen ejus ambulabam in tenebris? Sicut fui in diebus adolescentiae meae, quando secreto Deus erat in tabernaculo meo?"

'But O, my dear Lord, Thou canst make it otherwise. Time and place are not hindrances to Thee. Thou canst give me grace according to my day. "Sicut dies juventutis tuae," (Thou hast said to me in that chapter which has been so dear to me from my youth,) "ita et senectus tua." Thy hand is not straightened that it cannot save. "Domine, opus tuum in medio annorum vivifica illud; in medio annorum nostrorum facies." It is plain that what I feel, Thy servants have from the earliest times felt before me; Job, Moses, and Habacuc felt as I feel thousands of years ago, and I am able to plead with Thee in their never-dying words.

'O my God, not as a matter of sentiment, not as a matter of literary exhibition, do I put this down. O rid me of this frightful cowardice, for this is at the bottom of all my ills. When I was young, I was bold, because I was ignorant—now I have lost my boldness, because I have advanced in experience. I am able to count the cost, better than I did, of being brave for Thy sake, and therefore I shrink from sacrifices. Here is a second reason, over and above the deadness of my soul, why I have so little faith or love in me.'

The next entry is dated January 8, 1860:

'When I last wrote, I had something to say, but I lost my thread, and got on a different line of thought, far away from what I had intended,—and now I will recover it, if I can. Circumstances have brought a special temptation upon me of late. I have now been exerting myself, labouring, {577} toiling, ever since I was a Catholic, not I trust ultimately for any person on earth, but for God above, but still with a great desire to please those who put me to labour. After the supreme judgment of God, I have desired, though in a different order, their praise. But not only have I not got it, but I have been treated, in various ways, only with slight and unkindness. Because I have not pushed myself forward, because I have not dreamed of saying: "See what I am doing and have done"—because I have not retailed gossip, flattered great people, and sided with this or that party, I am nobody. I have no friend at Rome, I have laboured in England, to be misrepresented, backbitten and scorned. I have laboured in Ireland, with a door ever shut in my face. I seem to have had many failures, and what I did well was not understood. I do not think I am saying this in any bitterness.

'"Not understood"—this is the point. I have seen great wants which had to be supplied among Catholics—especially as regards education,—and of course those who laboured under those wants, did not know their state,—and did not see or understand the want at all—or what was the supply of the want—and felt no thankfulness at all, and no consideration towards a person who was doing something towards the supply, but rather thought him restless, or crotchetty, or in some way or other what he should not be. This has naturally made me shrink into myself, or rather it has made me think of turning more to God, if it has not actually turned me. It has made me feel that in the Blessed Sacrament is my great consolation, and that, while I have Him Who lives in the Church, the separate members of the Church, my Superiors, though they may claim my obedience, have no claim on my admiration, and offer nothing for my inward trust. I have expressed this feeling, or rather implied it, in one of my Dublin Sermons, preached in 1856. (Occasional Sermons, pp. 64, 65, p. 57 edition 4).

'So far well—or not ill—but it so happens that, contemporaneously with this neglect on the part of those for whom I laboured, there has been a drawing towards me on the part of Protestants. Those very books and labours of mine, which Catholics did not understand, Protestants did. Moreover, by a coincidence, things I had written years ago, as a Protestant, and the worth or force of which were not understood by Protestants then, are bearing fruit among Protestants now. Hence some sympathy is showing itself towards me on the part of certain persons, who have deliberately beat me down {578} and buried me for the last ten years. And accordingly I have been attracted by that sympathy to desire more of that sympathy, feeling lonely, and fretting under, not so much the coldness towards me, (though that in part) as the ignorance, narrowness of mind, and self-conceit of those, whose faith and virtue and goodness, nevertheless, I at the same time recognised. And thus I certainly am under the temptation of looking out for, if not courting, Protestant praise.

'And now I am coming to the meaning of the text with which I began on Dec. 15th. "No man putting his hand to the plough, &c." I am tempted to look back. Not so, O Lord, with Thy grace, not so! What I had meant to say then, to ask of Thee then, I ask of Thee now. What a shame that I should fear to ask it. I have asked it often in time past, I think, long before I was a Catholic. Yes, I have referred to it above, as in the words above thirty years ago. "Deny me wealth," &c. It has been my lifelong prayer, and Thou hast granted it, that I should be set aside in this world. Now then let me make it over again. O Lord, bless what I write and prosper it,—let it do much good, let it have much success; but let no praise come to me on that account in my lifetime. Let me go on living, let me die, as I have hitherto lived. Long before I knew St. Philip, I wished "nesciri." Let the more and more learn from Thy grace "sperni," and "spernere me sperni."

'Yet one or two things tease me, and O Lord, help me,—and Philip help me. (1) Let not the contempt which comes on me, injure the future of my Oratory—about which I am anxious, though I ought to put it, and do put it simply into Thy Hands, O Lord. (2) And again, O teach me, (for it is a subject which tries me very much just now, which I have prayed about, and have said Masses about), teach me how to employ myself most profitably, most to Thy glory, in such years as remain to me; for my apparent ill-success discourages me much. O my God, I seem to have wasted these years that I have been a Catholic. What I wrote as a Protestant has had far greater power, force, meaning, success, than my Catholic works, and this troubles me a great deal.'

Newman's friends wondered at his silence. The Rambler articles had seemed little enough, but they were eagerly looked for. And in 1861 they ceased to appear. James Laird Patterson wrote to Father William Neville to ask the cause of Newman's silence. There is deep pathos underlying the humour of Newman's reply: {579}

'March 27th, 1862.
'My dear William,—You may send the following "Heads of a Discourse" to Patterson. Yours ever affectly

'For Patterson.

'Seven reasons for not writing more books.

'I do not write
'(1) because in matters of controversy I am a miles emeritus, rude donatus.

'(2) because no one serves on Parliamentary Committees after he is sixty.

'(3) because Rigaud's steam engine which was hard to start was hard to stop.

'(4) because Hannibal's elephants never could learn the goose-step.

'(5) because Garibaldi's chaplains in ordinary never do write.

'(6) because books that do not sell do not pay.

'(7) because just now I am teaching little boys nonsense verses.


'"Nos indamnatos, homines Romanos, miserunt in carcerem; et nunc occulte nos ejiciunt? Non ita; sed veniant, et ipsi nos ejiciant."'

Rumours of Newman's despondency could not but get about in general society. They were taken as meaning that he was thinking of returning to the Anglican Church. And this idea was confirmed by the tittle-tattle respecting Newman's supposed sympathy with the invaders of the Papal States, which was taken as a symptom of general dissatisfaction on his part with the Church of his adoption. Frederick Rogers was given to understand by an old friend of Newman's that he felt as though his life had come to an end in 1845 [Note 2]. Reports gradually magnified in the telling, and in July 1862 it was openly stated in the Stamford Morning Advertiser—the paragraph being also reproduced in the Globe newspaper—that he had left the 'Brompton Oratory' and was going to return to the Church of England. It was perhaps fortunate that at this moment of sadness a public challenge should thus be made which brought into relief the {580} limitations in his own sense of disappointment. However much he chafed, feeling that he was useless when he longed to do a great work, such a feeling did not even tend to diminish his abiding joy and satisfaction in the Catholic religion. It related not to the Catholic religion as such, but to circumstances of time and place. His indignant denial addressed to the Globe placed this side of the picture for ever and unmistakably on record:

'Sir,—A friend has sent me word of a paragraph about me which appeared in your paper of yesterday, to the effect that "I have left, or am about to leave, my Oratory, of which I have, for several years, been the head, as a preliminary, in the expectation of my private friends, to my return to the Church of England." I consider that you have transferred this statement into your columns from those of a contemporary in order to give me the opportunity of denying it, if I am able to do so. Accordingly I lose not an hour in addressing these lines to you, which I shall be obliged by your giving at once to the public.

'The paragraph is utterly unfounded in every portion of it.

'1. For the last thirteen years I have been head of the Birmingham Oratory. I am head still; and I have no reason to suppose I shall cease to be head, unless advancing years should incapacitate me for the duties of my station.

'2. On the other hand, from the time I founded the London Oratory now at Brompton, twelve years ago, I have had no jurisdiction over it whatever; and so far from being its head, it so happens that I have not been within its walls for the last seven years.

'3. I have not had one moment's wavering of trust in the Catholic Church ever since I was received into her fold. I hold, and ever have held, that her Sovereign Pontiff is the centre of unity and the Vicar of Christ; and I have ever had, and have still, an unclouded faith in her creed in all its articles; a supreme satisfaction in her worship, discipline, and teaching; and an eager longing, and a hope against hope, that the many dear friends whom I have left in Protestantism may be partakers of my happiness.

'4. This being my state of mind, to add, as I hereby go on to do, that I have no intention, and never had any intention, of leaving the Catholic Church and becoming a Protestant again, would be superfluous, except that Protestants are {581} always on the look-out for some loophole or evasion in a Catholic's statement of fact. Therefore, in order to give them full satisfaction, if I can, I do hereby profess "ex animo" with an absolute internal assent and consent, that Protestantism is the dreariest of possible religions; that the thought of the Anglican service makes me shiver, and the thought of the Thirty-nine Articles makes me shudder. Return to the Church of England! No! "The net is broken and we are delivered." I should be a consummate fool (to use a mild term) if in my old age I left "the land flowing with milk and honey" for the city of confusion and the house of bondage. I am, Sir,
Your obedient servant,

Of this communication to the Globe, and of the view which led him to adopt the tone which marks it, we find an explanation in the following characteristic letter to Mr. Ornsby, dated July 23. Speaking of the rumours which led to the Globe paragraph, he writes:

'Catholics seem to me to have begun them, by their silly and mischievous mis-statements about me. It was said, I had preached in favour of Garibaldi, had subscribed to the Garibaldi fund, &c. Then Protestants, who have always shown a great readiness to take up the vaguest whisper of such an insinuation, boldly proclaimed that I was coming back to them. You do not know to what an extent this went, especially during the last two years. It is more than two years since a convert wrote to me to say that he was unsettled, and, as his defence, suggested that I was unsettled too. In spite of various strong written denials on my part, as far back as 1859, the report became invested with most plausibly minute details, and assumed a very positive tone. People were kept back from the Church by the distinct assurance I was becoming a Protestant. One Protestant clergyman, in position, wrote to me to smooth the way for return,—and, when in answer I begged him to lay aside the thought as inconsistent with what I might call the "rerum natura," for my mind was so constituted as to make it impossible, I only got a second letter telling me he hoped I should overcome my "pride" which was the obstacle to my confession of a change. One person, a country gentleman, at length wrote to a county paper, saying that it was {582} notorious that I had given up all definite religion, and was living in Paris.

'At length appeared the paragraph in the Stamford Morning Advertiser. No common denial would have put down the far-spread impression. I took a course which would destroy it, and, as I think, which alone would be able to destroy it. It is little or nothing to me that people should think me angry, rude, insulting, &c. &c. No common language would have done the work. I had to use language which was unmistakeably my own, and could not have been dictated to me. And I had to show that the obstacle to my return lay, not merely in my reason, but in my feelings also, in my dislikings, aversion, and moral alienation to Protestantism. I have said as strong things before, but they have been forgotten. I have done the work now, as I flatter myself, at least for some years to come, and I may not be alive by the time that a new denial might have been necessary.'

Early in 1863 we find in his Journal the following Memoranda which have the same note of sadness as the earlier ones:

'January 21st, 1863.—When I wrote my first lines in this book, I meant to have continued similar remarks from time to time; but I found I had a great unwillingness to do so. I have not read what I then wrote since I wrote it, and I recollect nothing about it, except that it had to do with the Rambler. This morning, when I woke, the feeling that I was cumbering the ground came on me so strongly, that I could not get myself to go to my shower-bath. I said, what is the good of trying to preserve or increase strength, when nothing comes of it? what is the good of living for nothing? ... Of course one's earlier years are (humanly speaking) best, and again, events are softened by distance—and I look back on my years at Oxford and Littlemore with tenderness. And it was the time in which I had a remarkable mission—but how am I changed even in look! Till the affair of No. 90 and my going to Littlemore, I had my mouth half open, and commonly a smile on my face,—and from that time onwards my mouth has been closed and contracted, and the muscles are so set now, that I cannot but look grave and forbidding. Even as early as 1847, when I was going through the Vatican with Dalgairns, stopping before a statue of Fate which was very striking and stern and melancholy, he said: "Who can it be like? I know the face so well." {583} Presently he added: "Why, it is you!" Now, I am so conscious of my own stern look that I hardly like to see people. It began when I set my face towards Rome; and since I made the great sacrifice, to which God called me, He has rewarded me in a thousand ways,—O how many! but he has marked my course with almost unintermittent mortification. Few indeed successes has it been His Blessed Will to give me through life. I doubt whether I can point to any joyful event of this world besides my scholarship at Trinity and my fellowship at Oriel,—but since I have been a Catholic, I seem to myself to have had nothing but failure, personally.

.           .           .            .            .            .            .

'I am noticing all this opposition and distrust, not on their own account, for St. Philip had them abundantly, but because they have (to all appearance) succeeded in destroying my influence and my usefulness. Persons who would naturally look towards me, converts who would naturally come to me, inquirers who would naturally consult me, are stopped by some light or unkind word said against me. I am passé in decay, I am untrustworthy; I am strange; odd; I have my own ways and cannot get on with others; something or other is said in disparagement ...

'‘I should be very ungrateful if I did not bear in mind what God has vouchsafed to do by me. First to introduce the Oratory into England, and to found this Oratory,—and therefore I have not mentioned the great trials which we have had inside our walls, by death, secession, and in other ways,—for they have been the trials incidental to a new foundation, and have not interfered with its success. Secondly, to found the London Oratory, which has been the instrument of so much good,—thirdly, to found the Catholic University,—and fourthly, to found our Oratory school. This is another matter altogether. They are works of my name; what I am speaking of is what belongs to my own person;—things, which I ought to have been especially suited to do, and have not done, not done any one of them ...

'Rogers the other day asked Ward why it was that Catholics understood me so little? i.e. I suppose, why they thought so little of me. And the Saturday Review, writing apropos of my letter to the Globe of last summer, said that I had disappointed friends and enemies, since I had been a Catholic, by doing nothing. The reason is conveyed in the remark, of Marshall of Brighton to Fr. Ambrose last week; "Why, he has made no converts, as Manning and Faber have." Here is the real secret of my "doing nothing." {584} The only thing of course which it is worth producing, is fruit,—but with the Cardinal, immediate show is fruit, and conversions the sole fruit. At Propaganda, conversions, and nothing else, are the proof of doing anything. Everywhere with Catholics, to make converts, is doing something; and not to make them is "doing nothing." And further still, in the estimate of Propaganda, of the Cardinal, and of Catholics generally, they must be splendid conversions of great men, noble men, learned men, not simply of the poor. It must be recollected that at Rome they have had visions of the whole of England coming over to the Church, and that their notion of instrumentality of this conversion en masse is the conversion of persons of rank. "Il governo" is all in all in their ideas. Such an idea is perhaps even conveyed in our Brief, which sends us to the upper classes …

'But I am altogether different,—my objects, my theory of acting, my powers, go in a different direction, and one not understood or contemplated at Rome or elsewhere ... To me conversions were not the first thing, but the edification [building up] of Catholics. So much have I fixed upon the latter as my object, that up to this time the world persists in saying that I recommend Protestants not to become Catholics. And, when I have given as my true opinion, that I am afraid to make hasty converts of educated men, lest they should not have counted the cost, and should have difficulties after they have entered the Church, I do but imply the same thing, that the Church must be prepared for converts, as well as converts prepared for the Church. How can this be understood at Rome? What do they know there of the state of English Catholics? of the minds of English Protestants? What do they know of the antagonism of Protestantism and Catholicism in England? The Cardinal might know something, were he not so one-sided, so slow to throw himself into other minds, so sanguine, so controversial and unphilosophical in his attitude of mind, so desirous to make himself agreeable to the authorities at Rome. And Catholics in England, from their very blindness, cannot see that they are blind. To aim then at improving the condition, the status, of the Catholic body, by a careful survey of their argumentative basis, of their position relatively to the philosophy and the character of the day, by giving them juster views, by enlarging and refining their minds, in one word, by education, is (in their view) more than a superfluity or a hobby, it is an insult. It implies that they are deficient in material points. Now from first to last, education, in this large sense of the {585} word, has been my line, and, over and above the disappointment it has caused as putting conversions comparatively in the background, and the offence it has given by insisting that there was room for improvement among Catholics, it has seriously annoyed the governing body here and at Rome:—at Rome on the side of the philosophy of polemic. I should wish to attempt to meet the great infidel &c. questions of the day, but both Propaganda and the Episcopate, doing nothing themselves, look with extreme jealousy on anyone who attempts it ... And last of all, since from first to last, these have been the two objects of the Rambler, to raise the status of Catholics, first by education, secondly by a philosophical basis of argument,—and the Rambler has attempted it injudiciously, intemperately, and erroneously, at least at times,—I come in for the odium of all their (the Rambler) faults, and that the more because for a little while I was the editor of the Rambler and, when such, shared in my measure in the imperfections of the preceding and succeeding editors. The consequence is, that, so far from being thought engaged in any good work, I am simply discouraged and regarded suspiciously by the governing powers, as doing an actual harm.

'One circumstance there is, peculiar to the time, to give a special intensity to this feeling of suspicion. At present the Temporal Power is the all-important point at Rome. I, thinking that they would be obliged to rely more on reason, a truer defence, than on the sword, if they had it not, was lukewarm on the point; and this lukewarmness has been exaggerated into a supposed complicity with Garibaldi! The Cardinal some years ago said that I had put myself on the shelf. But the position I occupy at the moment is, in his mind, a less harmless one.'

Newman's depression only deepened as the year 1863 advanced. This year saw the final failure of the Home and Foreign to approve itself to the Catholic body; then came the Munich Brief, which, as he expressed it, 'tied his hands' as a controversialist. In his 'Apologia' indeed he tells us he was thankful for clear direction in a matter of difficulty. And he often refers to the double feeling which he experienced in being released from most urgent yet most difficult tasks. The momentary relief was proportionate to the anxiety and difficulty of the work he had contemplated; yet the permanent effect on him was that of far deeper despondency, {586} arising from the sense of his inactivity and uselessness. The same double phenomenon was apparent as we have seen at the moment when his editorship of the Rambler was suspended. We shall see it also later when his scheme for an intellectual work on the same lines at Oxford was checked. In each case he felt for an instant relieved at what brought, nevertheless, permanent and deep disappointment. He had now little hope for the future to relieve his sad thoughts of the past ten years. His mind went back with affection—as I have said—to old days and old Oxford friends, and he renewed old intimacies, while to his Catholic correspondents he wrote of the dreariness of the prospect.

Two letters to an intimate friend, a Catholic, exhibit his pessimism as to the future, and one to Keble his wistful retrospect.


'May 19th, 1863.
'Don't think about me. God uses his instruments as he will. "Hunc humiliat et hunc exaltat." To myself I feel as full of thought and life as ever I was,—but a certain invisible chain impedes me, or bar stops me, when I attempt to do anything,—and the only reason why I do not enjoy the happiness of being out of conflict is because I feel to myself I could do much in it. But in fact I could not do much in it. I should come into collision with everyone I met,—I should be treading on everyone's toes. From the very first an effort has been successfully made to separate all converts from me, and they are the only persons who would be likely to move aside of me without jostling ... I know what the Cardinal said to Father Faber, and what Father Faber said to the world, viz.; "That I had put myself on the shelf, and there was no help for it."

'But now to go to the root of the matter. This country is under Propaganda ... If I know myself, no one can have been more loyal to the Holy See than I am. I love the Pope personally into the bargain. But Propaganda is a quasi-military power, extraordinary, for missionary countries, rough and ready. It does not understand an intellectual movement. It likes quick results, scalps from beaten foes by the hundred. Our Bishop once on his return from Rome, {587} said pointedly to me what I am sure came as a quasi-message from Propaganda, that at Rome "they liked good news."

'True, the words were said with an implied antithesis,—for I had lately been to Rome to complain. I suppose the issue of the Achilli matter must have made them despise me at Rome,—but, whatever the cause of it was, two years after, Propaganda, without saying a word to me, appointed three Bishops to examine and report to it whether the Rule of the Birmingham Oratory could be, on a certain point, suspended to advantage ... Our Fathers prevailed on me to go to Rome about it. When I got there I found to my great relief and gratitude that, at the last moment, the dear Pope, when the matter necessarily came before him, simply asked: "Has Dr. Newman been consulted?" and would not give his assent to the act. Then, when I saw him, he asked me why I wished to get him to make me head or general of the two Oratories, of which not even a dream had come into our minds here, more than that of making you a Father General of us;—showing what hidden tales against me were going on. When we saw Mgr. Barnabo, he was very cross, and asked me why I had come to Rome, when, if I had remained quiet at home, the Pope would, as it turned out, have acted for us. When Monsell went to Rome shortly after, he came back with the remark that I had no friend at Rome. It was true;—but what had I done? this I had not done, and there was the rub, I had not preached sermons, made speeches, fussed about, and reported all my proceedings to Propaganda. I had been working away very hard in Ireland at the University, and saying nothing about it.

'Well, immediately my Dublin engagement was over, at the Cardinal's and our Bishop's direct solicitation, I interposed in the Rambler matter, and found myself in consequence, to my surprise and disgust, compelled to take the editorship on myself. I not only made the best of it, but I really determined to make it my work. All those questions of the day which make so much noise now,—Faith and Reason, Inspiration, &c., &c.,—would have been, according to my ability, worked out or fairly opened. Of course I required elbow-room,—but this was impossible. Our good Bishop, who has ever acted as a true friend, came after the publication of the first number, and advised me to give up the editorship. He said I had caused dissatisfaction. I only edited two numbers; but I wrote enough to cause one of our Bishops formally to denounce one of my articles to Propaganda. What did Propaganda know of the niceties of the English language? {588} yet a message came (not a formal one) asking explanations ... As what was said to me was very indirect and required no answer, I kept silence, and the whole matter was hushed up. I suppose so, for I have heard no more of it, but I suppose it might (per bisogno) be revived in time.

'Don't you see that this, if nothing else, puts a great obex to my writing? This age of the Church is peculiar,—in former times, primitive or medieval, there was not the extreme centralization which now is in use. If a private theologian said anything free, another answered him. If the controversy grew, then it went to a Bishop, a theological faculty, or to some foreign University. The Holy See was but the Court of ultimate appeal. Now, if I, as a private priest, put anything into print, Propaganda answers me at once. How can I fight with such a chain on my arm? It is like the Persians driven to fight under the lash. There was true private judgment in the primitive and medieval schools,—there are no schools now, no private judgment (in the religious sense of the phrase), no freedom, that is, of opinion. That is, no exercise of the intellect. No, the system goes on by the tradition of the intellect of former times. This is a way of things which, in God's own time, will work its own cure, of necessity; nor need we fret under a state of things, much as we may feel it, which is incomparably less painful than the state of the Church before Hildebrand, and again in the fifteenth century.

'I am only speaking of it in its bearing on myself. There was some talk, when the Bishop put in his plea against me, of calling me to Rome. Call me to Rome—what does that mean? It means to sever an old man from his home, to subject him to intercourse with persons whose languages are strange to him,—to food, and to fashions, which are almost starvation on one hand, and involve restless days and nights on the other—it means to oblige him to dance attendance on Propaganda week after week, and month after month—it means his death. (It was the punishment on Dr. Baines, 1840-41, to keep him at the door of Propaganda for a year.)

'This is the prospect which I cannot but feel probable, did I say anything, which one Bishop in England chose to speak against and report. Others have been killed before me. Lucas went of his own accord indeed,—but when he got there, oh! how much did he, as a loyal son of the Church and the Holy See as ever was, what did he suffer because Dr. Cullen was against him? He wandered (as Dr. Cullen said in a letter he published in a sort of triumph), he wandered from church to church {589} without a friend, and hardly got an audience from the Pope. And I too should go from St. Philip to Our Lady, and to St. Peter and St. Paul, and to St. Laurence and to St. Cecilia, and, if it happened to me, as to Lucas, should come back to die.

'We are not better than our Fathers. Think of St. Joseph Calasanctius, or of Blessed Paul of the Cross, or of St. Alfonso,—or of my own St. Philip, how they were misunderstood by the authorities at Rome. The Cardinal Vicar called Philip, to his face and in public an ambitious party man, and suspended his faculties. It is by bearing these things that we gain merit, but has one a right to bring it on one?'

Another letter to the same correspondent—written three days after the celebration of the Feast of St. Philip Neri—pursues further the subject of his literary inactivity:

'May 29th, 1863.
'I should have acknowledged your parcel of lamps, which I was very glad to see, and your own contributions to its luminousness, had not St. Philip come in the way, and given us a great deal of pleasant trouble, yet engrossing and absorbing, however pleasant, as is befitting, when the Master of a house comes to visit it. I was half tempted to ask you to come down to pay your homage to him, but doubted how far you were at liberty to do so, even had you leisure.

.           .           .            .            .            .            .

'Sometimes I seem to myself inconsistent, in professing to love retirement, yet seeming impatient at doing so little; yet I trust I am not so in any very serious way. In my letter to the Bishop of Oxford, on occasion of No. 90, I said that I had come forward because no one else had done so, and that I rejoiced to return to that privacy which I valued more than anything else. When I became a Catholic, I considered I never should even write again, except on definite unexciting subjects, such as history and philosophy and criticism; and, if on controversial subjects, still not on theology proper. And when I came here, where I have been for 14 years, I deliberately gave myself to a life of obscurity, which in my heart I love best. And so it has been, and so it is now, that the routine work of each day is in fact more than enough for my thoughts and my time. I have no leisure. I have had to superintend the successive enlargements of our Church, to get the Library in order, to devote a good deal of pains to our music, and a great deal more to our accounts. Then, there was my Dublin engagement, and {590} now there is the school. Just now too I am Sacristan, so hard up are we for hands. Things seem ordered for me without my having a will in the matter.

'And I am not only content, but really pleased that so things are. Yet there are those considerations which from time to time trouble me. First, lest my being where I am is my own doing in any measure, for then I say: "Perhaps I am hiding my talent in a napkin." Next, people say to me: "Why are you not doing more? How much you could do"; and then, since I think I could do a great deal if I were let to it, I become uneasy. And lastly, willing as I am to observe St. Philip's dear rule that we "should despise being despised"; yet when I find that scorn and contempt become the means of my Oratory being injured, as they have before now, then I get impatient.'


'The Oratory, Birmingham: August 15th, 1863.
'My dearest Keble,—I returned from abroad last night and, among the letters on my table waiting my arrival, found yours. I answer it before any of the others.

'Thank you very much for it, and for the books which accompany it, which I value first for your dear sake, next for their venerable and excellent subject. I am pleased too that you should tell me about your wife and brother,—but how odd it seems to me that you should speak of yourself and of him as old! Did you ever read Mrs. Sheridan's Tale of Nourjahad? such I think is the name. I have not read it since a boy. I am like one of the Seven Sleepers awakened when you so write to me, considering all my recollection of Hursley and of Bisley, which remain photographed on my mind, are of twenty-five years ago, or thirty. I cannot think of little Tom but as of the boy I carried pick-a-back when he was tired in getting up from the steep valley to the table land of Bisley. And I recollect your father and your dear sister and your wife as you cannot recollect them,—at least the latter two—for in my case their images are undimmed by the changes which years bring upon us all. My great delight is to take up your Poetry Lectures,—I only love them too well, considering my age, and that their subject is not simply a religious one. But what do you mean by saying that you are "as if dying"? I have heard nothing of your being unwell; and I trust you will live long, and every year more and more to the glory of God. {591}

'I have not been abroad for pleasure till now, since I went with dear Hurrell. I went to St. Germains near Paris to see the Wilberforces. Then my dear and faithful friend who went with me,—Ambrose St. John—insisted I should cut across to Treves, the place of sojourn of St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, and St. Jerome. Then I went down the Moselle and up the Rhine, which was all new to me; and we came back by Aix la Chapelle. I had a bad accident there, with (thank God and my Guardian Angel) no harm whatever. I had a bag in one hand and cloaks in the other, and turning round sharp at the top of a staircase, was sent down two flights headlong—but thank God I got nothing but a slight strain of the arm. Since then I have been stopping at Ostend to recruit.

'I have said all this, knowing it will interest you. Never have I doubted for one moment your affection for me, never have I been hurt at your silence. I interpreted it easily,—it was not the silence of others. It was not the silence of men, nor the forgetfulness of men, who can recollect about me and talk about me enough, when there is something to be said to my disparagement. You are always with me a thought of reverence and love, and there is nothing I love better than you and Isaac, and Copeland, and many others I could name, except Him Whom I ought to love best of all and supremely. May He Himself, Who is the over-abundant compensation for all losses, give me His own Presence, and then I shall want nothing and desiderate nothing, but none but He, can make up for the loss of those old familiar faces which haunt me continually.
'Ever yours most affectionately,

Such were his oft-recurring moods of despondency and sadness, of wistful contemplation of old days and old friends which would never be again all they once were. But there were other moods, at this very time of sadness, when the deeper, truer self was realised as he turned his thoughts to the surpassing value of the life of the soul which the Catholic Church satisfied so completely for him. For a moment at least the 'blessed vision of peace' shone out again, clear and unmistakable. Let us turn then from the fret and irritation apparent in his journal, and from the wistful melancholy which appears in such a letter as I have {592} just cited, to the following lines written just at the time we are surveying in this chapter. They tell us how at the very moment when he felt most that he had renounced 'the tender memories of the past, the hopes of coming years,' his truest self was deeply conscious of compensation a hundredfold:

       'The Two Worlds.
'Unveil, O Lord, and on us shine
  In glory and in grace;
This gaudy world grows pale before
  The beauty of Thy face.

'Till Thou art seen it seems to be
  A sort of fairy ground,
Where suns unsetting light the sky,
  And flowers and fruit abound.

'But when Thy keener, purer beam
  Is poured upon our sight,
It loses all its power to charm,
  And what was day is night.

'Its noblest toils are then the scourge
  Which made Thy Blood to flow;
Its joys are but the treacherous thorns
  Which circle round Thy brow.

'And thus, when we renounce for Thee
  Its restless aims and fears,
The tender memories of the past,
  The hopes of coming years,

'Poor is our sacrifice, whose eyes
  Are lighted from above;
We offer what we cannot keep,
  What we have ceased to love.'

Apart from such sacred thoughts and feelings as these lines record, Newman's sad thoughts of a happy past which had gone for ever, and of present uselessness, were occasionally relieved by a feeling which the very clearness of his insight brought with it—that, little as his contemporaries understood his views and aims, those views would triumph in the future. The Oxford Movement had appeared a failure at {593} the time. He had been repudiated by Oxford in the persons of the Heads of Houses, by the Church of England in the persons of its Bishops. Now Tractarianism was emerging again, and it promised to be an immense power in the land. Similarly, his views as to the necessities of Catholic education and thought would, he believed, be understood and acted upon when he was gone. In both cases his own personal suffering was the price he paid for future victory. This view of the case is set forth in a letter to the learned Jesuit Father Harper:

'The Oratory, Birmingham: Feby. 18/64.
'My dear Fr. Harper,—I thank you with all my heart for your kind letter, and I shall keep it as a pledge of what you say, that there are many, though I am removed from them, who do not forget me, nor the special need which a person of my age has of their religious thoughts and good prayers.

'When I say that I am "unpopular" and "down," I state what is a simple fact, but not at all the way of complaint or regret.

'It is impossible that the thought of me should remain so steadily on the minds of the religious parties who do not agree with me, if I were not still doing work. I accept it as a token that I am still feared, because I am still abused. And, to take the case of Oxford itself, I have within this week been shown the following most astonishing extract from the letter of an Ultra-liberal resident there of high name. In quoting it, I must beg you not to show it about, as it was written in the confidence of private friendship. "We are all becoming High Church again as fast as we can, a fact which it is difficult for the country to understand. It is so nevertheless. England will awake one morning, astonished to find itself Tractarian."

'But further than this, let me say to you, (what I trust I may say without taking a liberty in speaking so personally about myself,) that I take this long penance of slander and unpopularity, which has been on me for thirty years, nay rather I have taken it almost from the time when that thirty years began,—and have said so indeed more or less clearly in print,—as the price I pay for the victory, or at least the great extension, of those principles which are so near my heart;—and, I think, while I live, I shall go on paying it, because I trust, that, soon after my life, those principles will extend.       Very sincerely yours,
JOHN H. NEWMAN.' {594}

The brighter side of his life in these years was found in two things—his friendships and the success of the Oratory school.

Two letters to Mr. Serjeant Bellasis in 1861, though they speak unmistakably of Newman's sadness at this time, show also the relief which the sympathy of friends brought to him. Apart from Oxford intimates few, if any, gave him this sympathy in a more acceptable form than Edward Bellasis, of whose gladdening presence and friendship he more than once used the adjective 'sunny.' In the first letter we see Newman's close attention to the vocation of boys, a question which the school made so practical for him—and incidentally we see also that the school itself already promised to be a success.

'The Bristol Hotel, East Cliff, Brighton: August 5th, 1861.
'My dear Bellasis,—I little thought I should answer your letter from this place, where I have not been close upon 30 years. I delayed first from the importance of your question; then from wishing to talk to Mrs. Wootten on the subject, and lastly because I was not well. On Friday next I go to London for final advice and directions—meanwhile, I have had a very able opinion in London, and am assured in the strongest terms that there is nothing at all seriously the matter with me—but that the sorrows (for though not great ones, they have been various and continual) of thirty years have at last told upon my nerves—and that I want rest. In truth, though I have lived in the midst of blessings and comforts of all kinds, I have had, all through my life, nothing but disappointments, and "gutta cavat lapidem."

'If the school succeeds, it will be a great encouragement—and it promises to do so. And I ought to be very thankful, but I feel like the patriarch, when he was told that Joseph, his son, was yet alive, and I believe it not.

'Well, as to your boy. You see my mind runs so much its own way, that I do not know how to trust it. If I spoke it, it would be this—viz. I have little belief in true vocations being destroyed by contact with the world—I don't mean, contact with sin and evil—but that contact with the world which consists of such intercourse as is natural or necessary. Many boys seem to have vocations, in whom it is but appearance. They go to school and the appearance fades away—and then people may say, "They have lost their vocation," when they never had one. In such cases, it is on the other hand, rather, a positive good that they and their {595} parents were not deceived. What I shrink from with dread, as the more likely danger, is not the Church losing priests whom she ought to have had, but gaining priests whom she never should have been burdened with. The thought is awful, that boys should have had no trial of their heart, till at the end of some 41 years, they go out into the world with most solemn vows upon them, and then perhaps for the first time learn that the world is not a seminary:—when they exchange the atmosphere of the Church, the lecture room, and the study, the horarium of devotion, work, meals, and recreation, for this most bright, various, and seductive world.

'Moreover, I dread too early a separation from the world for another reason—for the spirit of formalism, affectation, and preciseness, which it is so very apt to occasion.

'That there are real vocations in the case of children I fully believe—we meet with them in the Lives of Saints—and in the case of others too—but, if some of these were early introduced into the religious life, as St. Thomas or the prophet Samuel, still, some of the most familiar to us, and who seem to have had their vocation, not in after life (as St. Ignatius or St. Anselm) but from childhood, nevertheless cherished it and nurtured it in the course of a secular training, as St. Carlo, St. Aloysius, St. Philip, and St. Alfonso.

'Under then the two opposite difficulties of depriving our Lord of His priests, and of giving to Him unworthy ones, I myself, if left to myself, should be disposed to act with far greater sensitiveness of the latter. I think a true vocation in a boy is not lost by secular education—at most it is but merged for a time, and comes up again—whereas a false vocation may be fatally and irreversibly fostered in a seminary. Or at least it is more common in this age for false vocations to be made by an early dedication to the religious or ecclesiastical state, than for true vocations to be lost by early secular education.
Ever yours most sincerely in Xt.

The second letter written in the same month shows Edward Bellasis as a true comforter at a very hard time.

'The Oratory, Bm.: Aug. 20, '61.
'My dear Bellasis,—I am at Rednal tho' I have dated above from habit. This is so nice a place, that I am trying to stay here, if I can.

'Your letter did me a great deal of good. The fable of the Diggings is very apposite. If I have been digging a field {596} with my own ideas and my own hopes, and, though they have failed, have been preparing ground for the sowing, the showers, and the harvest, of divine grace, I have done a work so far, though not the various definite works which I have proposed to myself. I ought to be most thankful to be so employed. I was not unmindful of God's mercy to myself and others, in making us Catholics, when I wrote, but I looked on this, as His work, as it was, not mine—however a digging, though it is but turmoil, confusion, and unsettlement, is a co-operation.

'But I cannot in a few words express to you what the matter is with what I may call the physical texture of my soul. It is not a matter of reason, nor of grace—but, just as the body wearies under continual toil, so does the mind. I should illustrate the trial which I mean, tho' it might not be to the letter, if I said I had received no piece of personal good news for thirty years and more. I question whether I have had any success, except getting a scholarship at Trinity when I was 17, and a fellowship of Oriel at 21. In one year (about 1830) I used to say laughingly I had been put out of five places; of course this was only a way of speaking, but there was truth in it, three of them I recollect—the Tutorship at Oriel, then Whitehall Preachership, and the Secretaryship of the Church Missionary Society; I was voted out of the list. Of course I deserved it, and never complained, but I say it is a matter not of reason, but of psycho-physical effect. So it has been with me all through life. I think I never have been praised for anything I did, except once, for my lectures on Catholicism in England by the Bishop and Catholics of Birmingham—and at the time of that praise the Achilli proceedings, arising out of those very Lectures, had begun, or at least were in distinct prospect.

'The case is the same of late years. Whenever I have attempted to do anything for God, I find after a little while that my arms or my legs have a string round them—and perhaps I sprain myself in the effort to move them in spite of it.

'Thank you for your friendly wish to see me at Ramsgate. I cannot conceive a pleasanter or more sunny sight, in this sunny weather, than to see you with your wife and family during your vacation. Ever yours most sincerely,

The happiness he derived in these years from intercourse with his friends was added to by the renewal after an interval of 17 years of old Oxford intimacies. He happened, on June {597} 3, 1862, to meet his old Littlemore curate—W. J. Copeland—in the streets of London. They had a long talk, and Newman pressed him to pay a visit to the Oratory. The letters which passed between them tell their own tale. There is an almost hungry love of the dear memories of Oxford days visible in them. The tender yearning after all that reminds him of the happy time that can never be again, is unmistakable, in spite of a certain accompanying reserve. We see, too, in these letters that the thought of his advancing age was seldom absent, and that he felt that meetings with the friends of long ago, might prove final leave-takings. Copeland was a busy man, and, having said he would come to the Oratory, wrote of the prospect as somewhat indefinite. Newman replied urgently to his friend on June 25th:

'My dearest Copeland,—You must not disappoint me. I have a hundred questions to ask you, and a hundred things to show you. And I have many things to tell you which will interest you, and I want you to see the place where I am to be buried.

'Now do come. Ever yours most affectly.,
of the Oratory.'

But again came a put-off, and Newman wrote still more insistently:

'Now you are not going to disappoint me. Except Ambrose St. John, I have not spoken to any one so near to my heart and memory as you are, for near 17 years—and you are going to deny me what you promised!

'I have been lately turning up letters of yours of untold antiquity.

'How do I know that I shall ever see you again, if you don't come now? People are carried off so unexpectedly. There was Sir Robert Throckmorton last week, a hearty looking man, younger than I—and he is gone. Men drop as on a battlefield.'

Copeland was not proof against this urgent appeal. He appointed his day, and Newman wrote to him in joy at the prospect:

'You are the best fellow in the world. Wednesday is a better day than Monday.

'The case is this— {598}

'(We have a school of 70 boys, boarding school) Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday—examinations days.

'Thursday noon—gaudy.

'Friday hurrah for the Holydays.

'Do let us have a long confab. We cannot recollect things in a moment. Do get some one to do your duty on the Sunday.'

The visit came off on July 16, and at Christmas Copeland sent a reminder of his visit in the shape of a turkey. Newman in response pressed him to come again:

'You must come and look at my Letters. I only wish they were all in order. There are so many things I could talk to you about. And I want to show you (Ambrose suggests, and blames my omission when you were here) my Episcopal cross, ring, chain, &c., &c., when they were going to make me a Bishop in 1854. The Pope did it—but Dr. Cullen to my great joy put a spoke in the wheel—for which he is my great benefactor.

'You could not be kinder to me than you are in telling me that persons whom I love have not forgotten me.'

More correspondence followed, and Newman showed his usual tender interest in small things that concerned his friends. He did not think Copeland strong, and he urged him against the fast of Lent:

'Now, you are not indeed as old as I am, but you are old enough not to be able to keep a strict Lent—and, since such fellows as you judge for yourselves, and not by good advice, I am tempted to preach to you and beg you to be very gentle with yourself—for I want you to live many years, and never, never again to be so cruel to me as you were for near 17 long years.'

Then came a proposal, already half thrown out at their meeting, that Copeland should write his reminiscences of the Oxford Movement. This would mean a fresh visit to the Oratory:

'You would be delighted to see Froude's letters to me, and I could shew you many things which would perhaps interest you still more. I don't expect you could come till after Easter, but you ought to be a good week here.

'I hope Isaac has not been "scolding" you about coming to see me—if so, it is most cruel. No one knows but myself {599} how great an infliction upon me it has been that you all have so simply treated me as dead. I do not complain of anyone who does so as a matter of principle, but I don't know how to think this is the reason at bottom. Isaac himself talked of coming to see me last [1861] year—why should he object to your doing so?'

Another turkey came on Christmas Eve 1863, and Newman wrote his joyful thanks, which brought another visit from his friend:

'What a turkey!—it is as large as a baby—we shall make a good Catholic of it by means of a hot fire, before it comes to table. We shall eat it with the kindest, most loving thoughts of you—wishing, ah, wishing ("I wish you may get it") that you (were) eating it with us.

'I have nothing to write, though a great deal to say.'

Intercourse with Isaac Williams and a visit from Frederick Rogers came at this time. It all meant deep happiness, though mixed with deep pain, for Newman. It was a recovery of a few precious remains of friendships and associations which had seemed to be lost for ever.

The faithful companions and correspondents among his own co-religionists, with whom his intercourse had never ceased, became perhaps still more to him now that the strenuous tasks which one after another he had essayed and had to abandon were no longer pressing on his time and attention. He considered himself very old, and continually spoke of his age to his friends. He seems to have regarded life as practically over. The few years that remained were to be given mainly to the school. This would be some renewal of happy Oxford days, he said; for boys were, after all, not very different beings from undergraduates. His writing powers were chiefly devoted to his letters to friends, though there are also memoranda belonging to this time which he used in later publications. He preached occasionally, and to 1859 belongs the memorable sermon at the funeral of Dr. Weedall, the last of the Catholics of the old school who had won his admiration in the early years of his Catholic life.

These letters—from 1859 to 1864—bring vividly before us his state of mind. Each year he was watching, with his {600} intense realisation of all the facts of life and of the mystery of human existence, the advance of age and its effects on his mind and body. Each birthday was noted with its solemn warning. He was looking forward to the time when he should pass, to use his own words, 'from shadows and images to the truth'—a time which he thought could not be distant. If any work remained for him to do, it was to put his papers in order, and to re-edit some of his Anglican writings. Publishing, however, meant pecuniary loss. He resigned himself to present failure—but he cherished a hope that at some future day his works might be read. He prayed, and asked for prayers. His thoughts often went back to the past, to scenes and places connected with his early youth. He would talk of its smallest details, which stood before his mind's eye with wonderful vividness. An anniversary connected with some one he loved was rarely forgotten. He wrote also of the details of his daily life, nothing being too trivial—from plans for a new cook to the illness at Rednal of Father Ambrose's favourite cow. He watched in the papers the movements of public affairs and did not forget to apply the lessons of history. He gave affectionate attention to the concerns of those who consulted him. He loved to visit the house of the Oratory at Rednal, outside Birmingham: his pleasure in the country and in the beauties of nature had lost none of its keenness. He seems in these letters on the whole resigned to the abandonment of further writing for the public; yet at moments the doubt troubles him, 'Has he yet fulfilled his mission?' Is the life of peace and rest in accordance with God's Will? His health gave him anxiety at times. At moments he is almost absurdly anxious without cause. At other moments he disclaims the idea that there is reason for fears. 'What do you mean by thinking me unwell? You have been listening to some of those fee-fo-fum stories that go about,' he writes within a few weeks of an alarmist letter. A trip abroad in 1863 set things right after a somewhat anxious time, and the doctor prophesied a hale old age for him unless worry and fidget prevented it. The letters are full of close sympathy with his dear friends—wistful, gentle, tender, though at moments reminding us of the special sadness of these years. He puts his {601} mind to each writer, and even to a young girl like Isy Froude [Note 4] he writes with complete sympathy and understanding. The happiness in his religion is unmistakable throughout, though by a suggestive comparison he likens his life as a Catholic, with its special trials, to the state of the souls in Purgatory, who have privileges in the present and assurance for the future to which the dwellers in this world are strangers, and yet acute sufferings, from which equally those still on earth are free. From these letters some selections must now be made, and I shall not omit even trivial details which bring the writer before us in his habit as he lived.

The following were written to Miss Holmes—a lady who for many years sought his help and advice in a life of trial—to Ambrose St. John, to Mr. John Pollen, to Miss Bowles, and to the Froudes. They shall be given with little or no comment, as they speak for themselves:


'The Oratory, Bm.: Nov. 18, 1859.
'That your Devotions are both beautiful in themselves and apposite, I feel entirely—whether they will "supply a demand," the publishers alone can tell. For myself, I lose by every thing I print—and I scrape together the money for the outlay, from a sort of feeling, that at a future day people may treat me better than they do now. I hope you will find yourself more fortunate in this matter than I do.

'So Dr. Weedall is gone. He was one of the holiest men I knew,—he hardly ever committed a sin in his life, I should think. It is the one testimony of all who knew him. Yet for at least six years he has had a mortal complaint on him, trying him doubtless very much, and gradually dragging him down to the grave. He is doubtless in heaven by this time. He is, I suppose, the last of that memorable generation, of which Dr. Milner is the principal luminary, which has done so much for English Catholicism.'

(In reply to a request for an introduction).

'February 14th, 1860.
'Tell me anything I really can do, and I will do it. But I know no one, and I liken myself to Tithonus in the last {602} Cornhill Magazine fading out from the world, and having nothing to do with its interests or its affairs. I have fallen off in flesh and shrunk up during the past year, and am like a grey grasshopper or the evaporating mist of the morning. And, as I get older, so do trouble and anxieties seem to multiply.'


'The Oratory, Birmingham: February 28th, 1860.
'My dear William,—I write in consequence of your kind anxiety about my health, as your wife reports it, and it so happens, I write on a day I never forget when it comes round. It so happens it is also the day on which dear Johnson, the observer, died last year—which indeed has been a great loss to young Hurrell at Oxford now. He could have been very useful to him. I do not forget, too, that we are just passed the day on which you lost your father last year.

'For myself, I certainly have fallen off in flesh and shrunk up all through the last year. My fingers are so thin that I cannot get reconciled to the look of them, and I have found it difficult to lie with ease without some management.

'You must not think that several things I have said to you lately came of low spirits, which I fancy you have done, and taken them as a proof I was out of health. It is not this. It is good for me to have trials and I am in a state of chronic trial which those only who come very close to me know. This has been the way with me for many years, the clouds of one kind or another returning after the rain, or, as I have before now expressed it, a shower of meteoric stones falling about me, as those which fall down from Heaven, in regular return, in the month of November. I might almost say that a pleasant event has not happened to me for more years than I can count.
Ever yours affectionately,


'The Oratory, Birmingham: May 16th, 1860.
'My dear Child,—Thank you for your letter of yesterday. Today's post brings an account of your grandfather's death. It must be an extreme trial to your mother and aunt, but God orders all things, and we must recollect that He is infinitely more tender and kind and merciful to every one of us than we can be, and that, in going to Him, we are going to One Who knows of what we are made, and, so knowing {603} us, is able to be indulgent in a way in which we cannot be to those even whom we know best.

'Mama most kindly wrote me some days ago asking after my health. I will not intrude upon her with my answer at this moment, but I will tell her through you, and you can tell her when you think it best.

'Tell her then that I never was in better health or in more perfect activity of mind. On the other hand, I cannot deny that all last year I was getting more and more an old man, and that I am still going on in the same process—that my hair is getting whiter and whiter, and my fingers thinner and thinner, and that I can't get rid of my hoarseness quite.

'But tell her that, please God, I shall not love her and all of you less and less, or lose my affectionate interest in all that concerns you, or forget to pray for you though I dwindle and fade into a spider's web.
'Ever yours most affectionately in Christ,
of the Oratory.'


'The Oratory, Birmingham: Sept. 2nd, 1860.
'You will be glad to know that the Canon Morris, whom you spoke of as "Chaplain," is not the peacock-killer who, though an able and learned man, would certainly be as unfitted "to guide little girls" as a battle-axe to cut one's hair with. He is the Very Rev. John Brande of Exeter College, but the Chaplain is a Cambridge man, a pupil of Mr. Paley's, and the author of the "Life of St. Thomas of Canterbury."

'As to Italy, it really looks as if the Pope might be a martyr. It will be well if, with his blood, he can cleanse it of all its sins and miseries. Dreadful as this outbreak of evil is, it was there before, or it could not break out. It is not an evil coming from without, but from within. I prefer evil that speaks to evil that rankles and plots. I had rather have a Garibaldi than an Orsini. Believing that you cannot destroy evil except by casting it into the everlasting prison, I think it less dangerous when it has a safety valve, than when it is in an iron furnace. The bars of hell alone are a match for its expansive force.'


'The Oratory, Birmingham: Nov. 4th, 1860.
'I have intended to send you a line a long while, but I have had a great deal of writing lately, and have over-written {604} myself, and felt unwilling to do anything I was not obliged to do. And then I had nothing to say.

'You were right in thinking that your family reminiscences would interest me. I think nothing more interesting, and it is strange to think how evanescent, how apparently barren and resultless, are the ten thousand little details and complications of daily life and family history. Is there any record of them preserved anywhere, any more than of the fall of the leaves in autumn? or are they themselves some reflection, as in an earthly mirror, of some greater truths above? So I think of musical sounds and their combinations—they are momentary—but is it not some momentary opening and closing of the Veil which hangs between the worlds of spirit and sense?

'Is it not most sad about the Duke of Norfolk! [Note 5] we now see the origin of those reports, about which you once wrote to me. Something had led me to think that the disease was upon him, which is now destroying him, and which might easily give rise to the reports which you have heard.

'As to poor Cardinal Antonelli, I cannot speak for or against him, but be quite sure the state of things was such, that no possible doctors could have set them right. It was, surely, a matter of time, whether they went to pieces and no other matter. A clever physician keeps a dying man some weeks longer in life than a second-rate one, but the wonder rather is that the frame-work of government kept together so long at Rome, than that now it goes. Take this one point. The Pontifical States find, admit, of no employment whatever for the young [lay]men, who are, in consequence, forced to go into mischief, if they go into anything. Fancy the state of Birmingham if the rising generation had nothing to do but to lounge in the streets and throng the theatre.'


'Nov. 26th, 1860.
' … How good and bad news are commingled here below. Today comes the news of the Duke of Norfolk's death. How very deplorable, humanly speaking, except for himself, and what a vanity is life. Only the other day succeeding to his title, and taking his place as one of the first persons in the Realm, and now in the prime of life hurried away. What a sad thing for the boy, not thirteen, who succeeds to him. It must have been a great consolation {605} to him in his last days to know the family had so faithful a protector, when he was removed, as Hope-Scott. The last time I saw him was at Abbotsford. What changes since then!'


'March 14th, 1861.
' … The notion of my publishing a book is one of those bright thoughts which I wish I could execute as easily as persons can report it of me. Our Bishop and the Cardinal have declared it so positively, down to the number of volumes, and the condition of the proof sheets, as simply to overcome inmates of this house who believed that such strong assertions must be well founded; whereas it is not a bit more true from beginning to end than that I am going to command the Channel Fleet. I wish it were; but my time is consumed by the quotidiana solicitudo of little things.'


'The Oratory: January 10th, 1861.
'A happy New Year to you. I have been wishing to write to you some time, but the duties of each day, as it comes, absorb my time. We are building, and I am called down every hour to answer some question. All this not only occupies but wearies and excites me, so I do nothing else.

'I said Mass for you this morning. Is Ireland as cold as we are? The frost is now in its fourth week. I have had a cold, but nothing worse. It is all but gone.

'As to your question, I admire exceedingly the volunteers for the Pope. Especially Major O'Reilly, whom I know, is a hero—but as for the volunteer movement for the Pope itself, I don't know why, but I hear that the Irish Catholic gentry are very much annoyed with the clergy for their conduct in it. And I have seen enough of Ireland to know, that the clergy do treat the gentry with great inconsiderateness; or, plainly, do ignore them.

'The same distance, why I know not, is between the clergy and gentry in Italy—and that is at the root of the mischief there. As far as I can make out, not instruction, but repression is the rule. I don't mean that they do not know their catechism, but their intellect is left to grow wild; in consequence it rebels; and is not met with counter and stronger intellect, but by authority. Of course I can only conjecture, but this seems to be the case.

'Should the temporal power of the Pope fall (which is as yet far from clear) I shall be tempted to conclude that it {606} was impossible, (without a miracle) to remedy the above deadlock without a revolution. If the vagaries of Protestantism and infidelity have free course in Italy, I shall not feel sure that fewer souls out of the whole nation go to heaven, (putting aside infants) than went under the state of things which preceded these profanities. But it is premature to say that the temporal sovereignty will fall.

'It is a wonderful time,—the oldest power in the world, China, and the newest, the United States, coming to pieces,—and the oldest European Powers,—the Pope and the Turk,—losing their temporalities.'


'The Oratory, Birmingham: Feb. 20th, 1861.
'My dear Child,—A great bore and nuisance it is, as you say, that I have to receive a letter from you—especially when it is for my birthday, and written, as yours is, with so much effusion of heart. Indeed, I am frightened at my great age, and I need people to be kind to me, to support me under the thought of it. I account it quite a mercy from Heaven that, (why I hardly know, for most people don't know their own birthdays, much less those of other people) so many of my friends bear mine in memory. For myself, I remember my fourth birthday, my fifth, my sixth, my tenth, my eighteenth, as days shining out from the long lapse of time to which they belong,—and, I suppose, it is some unconscious manifestation of the keen feeling which my birthday raises in me, which has occasioned others to become acquainted with it. But how you and your mother found it out, I have not an idea.

'Well, I say it is a mercy, because your kind religious thoughts of me upon it, and those of others kind like you, will gain me grace to bear its burden …
'Ever yours affectionately,
of the Oratory.'


'April 14th, 1861.
'I have been made very anxious by the accounts of the Pope's indisposition. It is wonderful indeed that he has borne so much—and at his age such a load of responsibility and suspense must, humanly speaking, be his death. People quote the instance of Pius VII who lived till 80—but his troubles were over when he was about the present Pope's age, whereas, as to the latter, things must be worse, as they say, before they are better.' {607}

To Father Ambrose he writes from the country house of the Oratory at Rednal, on July 6, 1861:

'Rednal has been beautiful, and I and William have been enjoying it. He is as enthusiastic about it as I am. My drawback has been my want of sleep. My nights are restless. Dr. Evans is away.

'What teases me is the loss of time ...

'My feeling is that I have not yet fulfilled my mission and have work to do. This haunts me.'


'Brighton: Aug. 5th, 1861.
'It is all but 30 years since I have been here. I have been ordered from home by the doctors, not that I am ill in any way, but the anxieties of thirty years are telling upon me. When I was last here they had hardly begun. I date them from my having to relinquish the Oriel Tuition in 1830. I have hardly had a success since,—and continual disappointment wears away the mind. While I was here in 1828 I had one of my greatest losses,—my sister, cut off in a few hours, lies in the cemetery attached to the old Church.

'I have been going about seeing once again, and taking leave for good, of the places I knew as a child. I have been looking at the windows of our house at Ham near Richmond, where I lay aged 5 looking at the candles stuck in them in celebration of the victory of Trafalgar. I have never seen the house since September 1807—I know more about it than any house I have been in since, and could pass an examination in it. It has ever been in my dreams.

'Also I tried to find the solitary cottage in which I passed my summer and autumn holydays at Norwood, when I was a schoolboy, but the whole face of the country is changed. Norwood was a terra incognita then, the wild beautiful haunt of gypsies. I had not been there since 1816.

'I bade them both farewell for good,—and perhaps I shall bid a like adieu to part of Hampshire which I knew when I was an undergraduate, where I have been but one day in 1834 since 1819.

'Is it not sad about Sidney Herbert? I have been continually thinking of him, and now that I am recommencing to say Mass, shall say a Mass for him. He was so kind as to go out of his way to call on me in Santa Croce at Rome in 1847.' {608}

To Miss Holmes, who urged him to set down for her some details of his life-story, he wrote on August 18:

'I was born in the city of London, I lived when a child in London and Ham, London and Brighton, London and Norwood,—I was at school at Ealing, near London. When I was an undergraduate I was a good deal in Hampshire. After my father's death in 1824 I have had no home but Oxford and Birmingham. It is a short tale, without adventure, without interest except for myself.'


'The Oratory, Birmingham: Oct. 17th, 1861.
'I returned from the Isle of Wight last night and found your letter on the table. I should have written before to you, had my time been my own ...

'Thank you for your various solicitude about me. I am glad to say that I am now able to go about my work as usual. As to my reading light books, I think it all fudge,—what I really want is what no one can give me,—to have an immunity from care and trouble. It is now for thirty years and more, that I have had little more than unrest. I suppose it is the condition of human life, though some people have joyful events to break their trials ... The souls in purgatory are without sin, and are visited by angels, yet, though they have higher privileges, they have more pains than we have, and that in spite of their having no bodies to be the seat of the suffering.'


'The Oratory, Birmingham: Feb. 23rd, 1862.
'My dear Isy,—Thank you for your kind letter and remembrance of my birthday. Have old people birthdays? Somehow they die out of memory and the death day, could it be known by anticipation, ought to stand instead of them. I send you a strange kind of egotistical present,—and another for Hurrell. I never had my photograph taken till now—and, as usual, friends were not pleased with it, so I have had to have several. I daresay you will like neither ...
'Ever yours affectionately,       JOHN H. NEWMAN
of the Oratory.

'P.S.—Mama has given me a very pleasant account of you. I am very much better in health than I was, and seem to have been strengthened in order to be equal to some late trial.' {609}


'The Oratory, Birmingham: April 2nd, 1862.
'I thank you for your beautiful little book, and the affectionate remembrance you have made of me in your handwriting in it. In this world of change it is a great thing to have unchanging friends—and you are one of them who have been most faithful to me amid all vicissitudes. It is not every Saint even, who can persevere—St. Columbanus, who did such great things, could not settle down in one place—and I think this is in the nature of you Celts.'


'43 Walmer Road, Deal: Oct. 5th, 1862.
'I was not unmindful of your kindness in sending me your photograph, tho' I did not acknowledge it. You know photographs never please friends; so you must not wonder if I was not reconciled to yours. You ought (if you didn't) to have gone to your artist with a friend, to have talked to her with animation, and then paused for a few seconds, while the expression which conversation had created was still vividly upon you, for the operation of the photographist,—whereas most persons go expressly for the operation, and make up their minds for it, as if it were an execution. The result of course is something very grave and disappointing. Now I hope it won't disappoint you, that I have said this. What I see in your photograph, I see in a multitude of others.'


'Royal Hotel, Ramsgate: Oct. 16th, 1862.
'You're a pretty fellow to talk against economizing,—you, who talk of being "delighted with my letters on the Home & Foreign," and of their being written, oh dear! "in my happiest style"—and of "my coming out first rate." You're a pretty fellow to talk, who have been telling me only the sunshiny side of all that has been going on.

'I am enchanted with this place, but tell William that for all substantial matters Deal did as well as any place could do. 1. I was perfectly quiet. 2. the weather, after the first week, was splendid. 3. I was out in the air good part of the day. Recollect coming to Deal was my act;—and Ramsgate would have been crowded then ... {610}


'Sept. 25th, 1862.
'It was Jowett I came up with. I did not know I had ever known him personally. He was so vigorous in his demonstrations (of countenance) that at last I asked him some indifferent question. On which he at once came and sat next me, and said, that he had known me in the Long Vacation of 1840. We had a good deal of conversation. He got out at Oxford.'


'The Oratory, Birmingham: April 16th, 1863.
'Day after day have I been sending you the sermons—and yet I have not done it. I got them out months ago, but I tried to weigh them and they would not weigh,—that is, I could not ascertain their weight. And I weighed shillings and half-crowns against such weights as I had, to fathom the difficulty, but could not satisfy myself. And so it has gone on till I am quite ashamed of myself.

'And now accept my best Easter greeting, though the sacred season is fleeting, and the months are completing the burst of the spring. It is here a wonderful spring, an annus mirabilis in that we have had no cold winds, no black heavens,—but the brightest February, the mildest March, and the most balmy April that I can recollect. The white blossoms of the fruit trees have been out these ten days—and the hedges were green at Easter. It is said to have been a bad season for colds. I have not found it so. For the first time in three years I have been able to celebrate at the Holy Week services, and I have had no cold through the winter. So you need not for some time fancy me breaking.'


'Rednal: Tuesday, June 9th, 1863.
'When I got here last night, poor Mrs. Catton was in a dreadful state. She had quite forgotten I was coming, thinking only of your cow which was all but given over. She was crying and sobbing, had been up four nights, and was to be up that night. And her great distress was that poor Father Ambrose was so very unfortunate; he had lost so much, and really it was not her fault if the cow died.

'She moved me so much that I said Mass for you this morning, first, from gratitude for what you have done to this place, and next from sorrow that you cannot enjoy your own {611} work yourself. This is the "amari aliquid" which "surgit" in the midst of my own enjoyment of it.

'However, through this day the cow has been improving. The doctor says he has 140 cows under the same complaint; it is the milk fever. They say calves should never be born at this time of year.

'Mrs. Catton has begged and prayed me not to tell you what a state she has been in about you, but I steadily refused to oblige her. On which she said: "she never, never would tell me anything again," but her distress was patent to the whole world, to the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and no confidential communication.'


'August 30th, 1863.
'My letter has been stopped,—first by my great day-long doings in the Library. I have been dusting, arranging, and rearranging to an heroic degree, though I have not yet done all. And next Frederick Rogers paid me a visit, and was the whole of yesterday with me. It is 20 years since we met. When he first saw me, he burst into tears, and would not let go my hands,—then his first words were: "How altered you are!" The lapse of so long a time brings itself in no other way so vividly. In memory, actions and doings of years ago appear like yesterday, and indeed in the course of the day he was led to cry out: "Oh, how like you!" and quoted parallel remarks of mine on occasions when we had been together, but, in the countenance, the silent course of years speaks unmistakably and all at once. We talked exceedingly freely on all subjects—my own difficulty is to keep from speaking too freely. It pleased me to find that he had no scepticism and had not gone back, apparently, one hair's breadth—but, I fear, neither has he advanced. It was a sad pleasure to me to find how very closely we agreed on a number of matters which have happened since we met. It was almost like two clocks keeping time.'


'Rednal: Sept. 16th, 1863.
'I hope you will come tomorrow—the clematis smells sweetly and the fuchsias are gorgeous. As to the poor dog, I think she is starved.

'I have spoken to the man,—he confesses she won't eat grass, and therefore has starved ever since July. Poor suffering animal,—by her gentle crawling about me, I think she knows I take her part.' {612}


'The Oratory, Birmingham: Dec. 27th, 1863.
'My best Christmas greetings to you and to Mr. and Mrs. Leigh.

'But I do not write to say what you will believe I feel, though I do not say it, but to express the piercing sorrow that I feel at Thackeray's death.

'You know I never saw him, but you have interested me in him, and one saw in his books the workings of his mind,—and he has died with such awful suddenness.

'A new work of his had been advertised, and I looked forward with pleasure to reading it, and now the drama of his life is closed, and he himself is the greatest instance of the text of which he was so full: "Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas." I wonder whether he has known his own decay, for a decay I think there has been. I thought his last novel betrayed lassitude and exhaustion of mind, and he has lain by apparently for a year. His last (fugitive) pieces in the Cornhill have been almost sermons—one should be very glad to know that he had presentiments of what was to come.

'What a world this is! How wretched they are who take it for their portion. Poor Thackeray! It seems but the other day since we became Catholics. Now all his renown has been since that—he has made his name, has been made much of, has been feted, and has gone out,—all since 1846 or 1847, all since I went to Propaganda and came back a Philippine.'


'The Oratory, Birmingham: Jan. 2nd, 1864.
'My dear William,—It is natural to begin by wishing you and yours, as I do from my heart, all blessings during the year we have just begun. A new year is an awful thing at all times, but, as one gets on in life, too solemn a thought almost for words. I recollect how I was oppressed when I was advancing to my lesser climacteric; and now I am close upon my greater ...
Yours ever affectionately,


'February 13th, 1864.
'It is very sad indeed to hear you have been so ill. I thought of course you were abroad. Well, it seems a token of God's Will towards you. What trials you have had. I do {613} hope you are getting well. Please keep me au courant about yourself. Oh! what a thing life is, and how objectless to most of us, unless there were a future. We seem to live and die as the leaves; but there is One Who notes the fragrance of everyone of them, and, when their hour comes, places them between the pages of His great book.

'And the book you have sent me is a kind of type of that rich Book of Life. I wonder over the vast toil which it implies, and don't know how enough to thank you for the love towards me it shows to have wrought out a present so beautiful and so perfect. How many hours must I have been, at least virtually and by implication, in your thoughts. I feel how very unworthy I am of such kindness, and I only hope that that minute, persevering diligence which is but another form of a multitude of prayers for me, may bear fruit in my own soul, and return in numberless blessings upon your head. May we all meet, "who love the Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption," where there is no separation and no change.

'I have nothing to tell you about myself. Mr. Arnold has had the scarlatina and is away. In consequence I am helping to take his place, and have printed an expurgated edition of Terence's "Phormio," and am lecturing a lot of boys on it. We are as yet very fortunate in our boys—and, if I could believe it to be God's Will, would turn away my thoughts from ever writing anything, and should see, in the superintendence of these boys, the nearest return to my Oxford life, for, to my surprise, I find that Oxford "men" and schoolboys are but varieties of one species, and I think I should get on with the one as I got on with the other. But no one will venture to say to me: "Give up writing,"—so I am between two bundles of hay.'


'Feb. 23rd, 1864.
'Thank you for your affectionate letter. It is awful to be such an age. It is indeed a calm and quiet time, like the little summer of St. Martin's—and, had I not too much to do, and were not I haunted with misgivings that I ought to do more in the way of writing books than I am doing, I should be too happy. Also I have anxious thoughts, as I suppose most old men have, what will become of those who are nearest to me, when I am gone.' [Note 6] {614}

Thus the beginning of 1864 found him a miles emeritus—to use his own phrase—tilling his garden, saying his prayers, looking after his schoolboys, thinking of approaching death, his field days apparently at an end. But this was not to last. A trumpet called him to arms in the very month in which these last letters were written. Charles Kingsley published an attack which brought him forth from his tent. Months of intense effort, a battle in which his sword proved keener than ever before, followed. An acknowledged victory—with the eyes of all England once more upon him—brought gratitude from Catholics to the brilliant defender of their cause, and universal congratulations which quickened his pulse once more, and gave him courage and hope for the future. But this story must be told in another chapter.

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1. See Apologia, p. 263.
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2. See Memoir of Lord Blachford, p. 249.
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3. Miss Bowles was a sister to Newman's colleague at Littlemore—Frederick Bowles.
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4. Miss E. M. Froude, daughter of William Froude, now Baroness Anatole von Hügel.
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5. Henry Granville, Duke of Norfolk, father of the present Duke.
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6. Further letters belonging to the period covered by this Chapter will be found in the Appendix at p. 643.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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