Chapter 2. Life in the Church of England (1801-1845)

{27} 'JOHN HENRY NEWMAN was born in Old Broad Street in the City of London on February 21, 1801, and was baptized in the Church of St. Benet Fink on April 9 of the same year. His father was a London banker whose family came from Cambridgeshire [Note 1]. His mother was of a French Protestant family who left France for this country on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. He was the eldest of six children—three boys and three girls.' Such is the account of his birth and parentage which Cardinal Newman has left in his autobiographical memoir; and beyond the facts that his paternal grandfather's name was like his father's John, and that his mother's family, the Fourdriniers, stayed for one generation in Holland before reaching England, the present biographer has, after careful inquiry, found no evidence for any further details of his ancestry [Note 2].

A curious and interesting picture of the various members of the family is given by Mrs. Thomas Mozley—the Cardinal's {28} sister—in a little book called 'Family Adventures.' [Note 3] The eldest boy is described (at the age of eleven) as 'a very philosophical young gentleman,' 'very observant and considerate.' He is fastidious and bored by general society. He is devoted to his mother, to whom he writes constantly when away from home and whom he delights in surprising with some gift which she will care for. He loves to read to the servants from serious books and to explain their meaning. He is tender and sympathetic to his sisters. 'You always understand about everything,' says one of them, 'and always make me happy when I am uncomfortable.' There is but one weak spot—the heel of Achilles—an undue personal sensitiveness to blame or to not being liked. He is ever moderate in view, measured in judgment and scrupulous as to facts. He rebukes impossible childish fancies. Thus, to a brother who is disappointed at the size of a famous oak he says in reproach, 'You expect something quite impossible, and then are surprised to find only a very great wonder.' One of the family pictures the great Duke of Wellington as a gigantic warrior; the eldest brother reminds them all that the Duke is well known to be short of stature. On the other hand, while 'unreal words' were as little to his taste in the schoolroom as in the Oxford pulpit in later years, he believes firmly a marvellous occurrence, if there is evidence for it, however antecedently improbable it may appear. He holds firmly to his story that he saw a tall man brandishing a drawn sword in pursuit of his sister, who had lost her way in the woods. The story proved to be literally true. The tall man was carving at a picnic with an old Indian sword which had been turned into a carving-knife, and, anxious to {29} catch the girl who had lost her way, had run after her, waving his arms to attract her attention.

In these stories there are real characteristics of the future man, although no moral is intended or pointed by the author.

The materials for John Henry Newman's early life are to be found mainly in the two volumes edited by Miss Anne Mozley, containing selections from his letters and diaries, and his own curious Autobiographical Memoir written in the third person, as well as the editor's notes [Note 4]. From these documents, as well as from the 'Apologia,' I here select the main outstanding facts. Much of his earliest childhood was passed at Grey's Court, Ham, near Richmond. So deep an impression was made on him by this home (which the family left in September 1807), that he writes of it nearly eighty years after quitting it, 'I dreamed about it when a school-boy as if it were paradise. It would be here where the angel faces appeared "loved long since but lost awhile."' [Note 5] On May 1, 1808, he was sent to a private school at Ealing, kept by Dr. Nicholas of Wadham College, Oxford. His own entreaties aided those of his mother and schoolmaster in preventing his going to Winchester, and he remained at Ealing until he went up to Trinity College, Oxford. Thus he never was at a public school. During the eight and a half years which he spent at Ealing he scarcely ever took part in any game. His character, however, made itself felt, and he was often chosen by the boys as arbitrator in their disputes. He acquired at Ealing his taste for Terence's plays which the boys used to act. Among the parts he himself played were Davus in the 'Andria' and Pythias in the 'Eunuchus.' He wrote both prose and verse with great promise at eleven. His home religious training made him, even at that early period, familiar with the Bible. And in his daydreams on religion as a boy there was apparent a vivid sense of the wonderful. In early notes quoted in the 'Apologia' he tells us that his imagination as a child ran on 'unknown influences; on magical powers and talismans'; {30} that he 'used to wish the "Arabian Nights" were true;' that he 'was very superstitious and used constantly to cross himself on going into the dark.' But he was not in childhood deeply religious. In an early MS. book he records that he used at fourteen to wish to be virtuous, but not religious. 'There was something in the latter idea I did not like. Nor did I see the meaning of loving God.' [Note 6] A certain sense of God's presence he always had, but it was just before going to Oxford that he came to know the Rev. Walter Mayer, one of the classical masters, from whom (to quote his own words) he received 'deep religious impressions, at the time Calvinistic in character, which were to him the beginning of a new life.' [Note 7] A complete and remarkable change in him supervened, deepening greatly the religious side of his nature. It was not accompanied (he states) by violent feeling, but was 'a return to, a renewing of, principles, under the power of the Holy Spirit which I had already felt and in a measure acted on when young.' [Note 8] The conversion had in it, he tells us in his Autobiographical Memoir, none of the 'special Evangelical experiences.' He did not go through the prescribed 'stages of conviction of sin, terror, despair, news of free and full salvation, joy and peace,' [Note 9] &c. The normal Evangelicals doubted whether he had been converted at all [Note 10], and when in 1821 he tried to write a description of the typical Evangelical conversion, he added in a note: 'I speak of conversion with great diffidence, being obliged to adopt the language of books. My own feelings, as far as I can remember, were so different from any account I have ever read that I dare not go by what may be an individual case.' The 'Apologia' gives interesting details as to the beliefs and feelings conversion brought in his own case; 'I believed,' he writes, 'that the inward conversion of which I was conscious (and of which I am still more certain than that I have hands and feet), would last into the next life, and that I was elected to eternal glory.' This belief helped, he explains, 'in confirming me in my mistrust of the reality of material phenomena, and making me rest in the thought of two, and two only, {31} absolute and luminously self-evident beings—myself and my Creator.' [Note 11]

This last thought had been already expressed in a note of 1817 (the year of the conversion itself). Using in his last three sentences the phraseology which he afterwards adopted in the 'Grammar of Assent,' he speaks of 'the reality of conversion as cutting at the root of doubt, providing a chain between God and the soul that is with every link complete. I know I am right. How do you know it? I know that I know.' [Note 12]

This feeling lasted in some sense through life. He has expressed it in the 'Apologia,' in a well-known passage:

'If I am asked why I believe in a God, I answer that it is because I believe in myself, for I feel it impossible to believe in my own existence (and of that fact I am quite sure) without believing also in the existence of Him, who lives as a Personal, All-seeing, All-judging Being in my conscience.' [Note 13]

On the other hand, while he thought of God as 'luminously self-evident,' and while his sense of God's presence was through life, he tells us, never 'dimmed by even a passing shadow,' [Note 14] he was conscious of a strong intellectual tendency to general scepticism, and this enabled him to enter into agnostic views of life in others, with a close understanding which was very rare and very helpful. 'I thank God,' he wrote to Dr. Pusey in 1845, 'that He has shielded me morally from what intellectually might easily come on me—general scepticism.' [Note 15]

His new Calvinistic rigorism imparted a solitariness of spirit and a certain austerity to his nature which it never lost. Yet he had also a keen sensitiveness to brighter aspects of life which appeared inconsistent with the typical Calvinist's {32} somewhat morose aloofness. In a very remarkable letter to his mother he owns to the depth of his sentiments as to sin and predestination, and defends them as follows:

'If they made me melancholy, morose, austere, distant, reserved, sullen, then indeed they might with justice be the subject of anxiety, but if, as I think is the case, I am always cheerful, if at home I am always ready and eager to join in any merriment, if I am not clouded with sadness, if my meditations make me neither absent in mind nor deficient in action, then my principles may be gazed at and puzzle the gazer, but they cannot be accused of bad practical effects. Take me when I am most foolish at home and extend mirth into childishness; stop me short and ask me then what I think of myself, whether my opinions are less gloomy; no, I think I should seriously return the same answer that. I "shudder at myself."' [Note 16]

A combination of lightness and brightness in his temperament, with a deep sense of human sinfulness, is noteworthy throughout his life.

When his father was about to make the necessary arrangements for his transfer to the University he was in doubt whether to choose Oxford or Cambridge—a doubt which was only resolved by an Oxford friend in favour of his own university when the post-chaise was actually at the door of the house. John Henry Newman was entered as a commoner of Trinity College on December 14, 1816, and came into residence in the following June. He arrived at the University feeling (to use his own words) an 'awe and transport,' as though he approached 'some sacred shrine.' [Note 17] His imagination surrounded with a glow all the details and incidents of his early residence, and even the College dinner came in for a share of idealisation:

'At dinner I was much entertained by the novelty of the thing,' he writes to his father. 'Fish, flesh and fowl, beautiful salmon, haunches of mutton, lamb, etc., fine strong beer, served up on old pewter plates and misshapen earthenware jugs. Tell Mama there were gooseberry, raspberry and apricot pies … there was such a profusion that scarcely two ate of the same. Neither do they sit according to their rank, but as they happen to come in.' [Note 18] {33}

The wine-parties, however, soon brought out the Puritan in him. He had, says an intimate friend, 'no grain of conviviality.'

'H. the other day asked me to take a glass of wine with two or three others,' he writes, 'and they drank and drank all the time I was there. I was very glad that prayers came half an hour after. I came to them, for I am sure I was not entertained with either the drinking or the conversation.' [Note 19]

In 1818 Newman was elected scholar of Trinity. Self-consciousness, shyness and a touch of awe at the scene are visible in writing of it to his mother:

'They made me first do some verses; then Latin translation; then Latin theme; then chorus of Euripides; then an English theme; then some Plato; then some Xenophon; then some Livy. What more distressing than suspense? At last I was called to the place where they had been voting, the Vice Chancellor said some Latin over me, then made a speech. The electors then shook hands with me, and I immediately assumed the scholar's gown. Just as I was going out before I had changed my gown, one of the candidates met me and wanted to know if it was decided. What was I to say? "It was." "And who has got it?" "Oh, an in-college man," I said and hurried away as fast as I could. On returning with my newly-earned gown I met the whole set going to their respective homes. I did not know what to do. I held my eyes down.' [Note 20]

At Trinity began his intimate friendship with John William Bowden.

'The two youths,' he writes in the Autobiographical Memoir, 'lived simply with and for each other all through their undergraduate time, up to the term when they went into the schools for their B.A. examination, being recognised in college as inseparables—taking their meals together, reading, walking, boating together—nay, visiting each other's homes in the vacations; and, though so close a companionship could not continue when at length they ceased to be in a state of pupilage, and had taken their several paths in life, yet the mutual attachment thus formed at the University was maintained between them unimpaired till Mr. Bowden's premature death in 1844.' [Note 21] {34}

It is interesting to note that Gibbon and Locke were the writers whose works absorbed him in the Long Vacation of 1818 [Note 22]. He has told us that he dreamed for some nights of what he read in Gibbon at this early time. 'My ears rang with the cadence of his sentences,' he adds. Forthwith he commenced an analysis of Thucydides in Gibbon's style [Note 23]. Later on he read Gibbon assiduously in connection with his own studies in Church history. 'Perhaps,' he writes in the Introduction to the 'Essay on Development,' 'the only English writer who has any claim to be considered an ecclesiastical historian is the unbeliever Gibbon.' Locke, so far as we know, was the first writer on philosophy whose works he studied.

The law was at this time his destined profession [Note 24], and he speaks of himself as 'too solicitous about fame.' He notes 'the high expectations which are formed of me, the confidence with which those who know nothing of me put down two first classes to my name.' Such ideas 'dismay' him. 'I fear much more from failure,' he adds, 'than I hope from success.' [Note 25]

Newman's failure in the Schools, in 1820, from exhaustion brought on by overwork, produced a disappointment which no subsequent success effaced from his mind [Note 26]. But he writes bravely to his father on December 1: 'I have done everything I could to attain my object; I have spared no labour and my reputation in my college is as solid as before if not as splendid.' His failure in the Schools led his father to think a barrister's profession, with its uncertainties, undesirable; and Newman's own pronounced religious tastes decided his career in favour of Holy Orders.

If he disappointed his friends by his failure he atoned to them for it by gaining the Oriel Fellowship a year later. This prize he eagerly coveted, and reproached himself for his ambition. 'Last 5th of January,' he writes in a memorandum, 'I wrote to my aunt: "I deprecate the day in which God gives me repute or any approach to wealth." Alas how I am changed. I am perpetually praying to get into Oriel and obtain the prize for my essay.' [Note 27] {35}

His ambition, if keen, was remarkable in its limitations, and he cared for nothing higher than the Oriel Fellowship [Note 28]. He received the news of his election on April 12, 1822, while playing the violin; and, with the undemonstrative instinct underlying intense feeling which characterised him through life, only replied to the messenger who summoned him to the College 'Very well,' and went on fiddling. But no sooner had the man left him than he 'flung down his instrument and dashed downstairs with all speed to Oriel College. And he recollected, after fifty years, the eloquent faces and eager bows of the tradesmen and others ... who had heard the news and well understood why he was crossing from St. Mary's to the house opposite at so extraordinary a pace.' [Note 29] Then came the congratulations of the Fellows; and when 'Keble advanced to take my hand … I could nearly have shrunk into the floor ashamed at so great an honour.' The youth of twenty-one, in whom reverence was ever a characteristic quality, was overcome by the honour of belonging to the great company of Oriel. 'I am absolutely a Member of the Common Room,' he writes to his father, 'am called by them "Newman" and am abashed to find that I must soon learn to call them Keble, Hawkins, Tyler.' What some of his friends looked for in his future career is apparent in such a letter as the following:

'Behold you now a Fellow of Oriel, the great object of the ambition of half the Bachelors of Oxford. Behold you (to take a peep into futurity) in Holy Orders, taking pupils in college, and having a curacy within a short distance; then Public Tutor, Vicar of ——, Provost, Regius Professor of Divinity, Bishop of ——, Archbishop of Canterbury; or shall we say thus—Student-at-law, Barrister, Lord Chancellor, or at least Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench? Which of these ladders is it your intention to climb? You now have it in your power to decide.' [Note 30] {36}

The Oriel Fellowship was the turning-point in Newman's early life. Not only did it give him an assured position, but, to use his own words, 'it opened upon him a theological career, placing him upon the high and broad platform of University society and intelligence, and bringing him across those various influences personal and intellectual ... whereby the religious sentiment in his mind which had been his blessing from the time he left school, was gradually developed and formed and brought on to its legitimate issues.' [Note 31]

His career at Oriel may be divided into three periods: (1) the period of the development of his mind under the influence of such liberal thinkers as Whately and the rest of the brilliant circle of Oriel Fellows afterwards known as the Noetics; (2) the early years of that close intimacy with Hurrell Froude—from 1828 to 1832—which came with the termination of the liberal tendency of his thought; years which witnessed his appointment to the vicarage of St. Mary's and his reforming campaign as tutor at Oriel; and (3) his share in the Tract movement of 1833-1845.

The first period was very momentous, and brought about his emancipation from the narrowness of his earlier Calvinism and Evangelicalism, and at the same time a great change in his social and intellectual character,—in the power of self-expression and of making himself felt. He has left a curious picture in his Autobiographical Memoir of the anxiety of some of the Oriel men after his election as to whether one apparently so reserved, and even awkward, had really the gifts which had been attributed to him:

'In the first place, they had to deal with his extreme shyness. It disconcerted them to find that, with their best efforts, they could not draw him out or get him to converse. He shrank into himself when his duty was to meet their advances. Easy and fluent as he was among his equals and near relatives, his very admiration of his new associates made a sudden intimacy with them impossible to him. An observant friend, who even at a later date saw him accidentally among strangers, not knowing the true account of his bearing, told him he considered he had had a near escape of being a stutterer. This untowardness in him was increased by a vivid self-consciousness, {37} which sometimes inflicted on him days of acute suffering from the recollection of solecisms, whether actual or imagined, which he recognised in his conduct in society. And then there was, in addition, that real isolation of thought and spiritual solitariness which was the result of his Calvinistic beliefs.'

The principal influence which developed the 'raw bashful youth' of 1821 into the brilliant John Henry Newman of 1825 was that of Whately, most stimulating of talkers, ever insisting on reality and activity of mind, professing sympathy with heretics—for they at least thought for themselves—and waging unsparing war on the conventional unreasoning formalism of the High and Dry school. Whately was brilliant and suggestive in intercourse, though at moments 'sharp, rude and positive'—in short, 'a bright June sun tempered by a March northeaster.' 'Much as I owe to Oriel,' Newman wrote to Whately in 1825, 'in the way of mental improvement, to none, as I think, do I owe so much as to you. I know who it was that first gave me heart to look about even after my election, and taught me to think correctly, and (strange office for an instructor) to rely on myself.' [Note 32] In 1825-6 he served under Whately as Vice-Principal of Alban Hall.

The influence of Whately was accompanied, as I have said, by that of other pioneers of liberal theology—members of the Oriel school. 'They were neither High Church nor Low Church,' he writes, 'but had become a new school … which was characterised by its spirit of moderation and comprehension, and of which the principal ornaments were Copleston, Darwin, Whately, Hawkins and Arnold.' [Note 33] They 'called everything into question; they appealed to first principles, and disallowed authority as a judge in matters intellectual.' From 1824 to 1826 Newman's views became substantially modified by his intercourse with these men. Some of the mannerisms of a narrow sect survived in his way of expressing himself, but his outlook became notably widened. Sympathy with what was good and earnest in all religious parties was the keynote of the Noetic theology, and Evangelicals found themselves treated with {38} respect and kindness—a somewhat new experience, and a marked contrast to the attitude of the High Church party in their regard. Newman, as an Evangelical, was thus readily drawn to the new Oriel school, and in course of time won by their influence from the narrowness attaching to his early creed. From Hawkins especially he learned toleration, and a recognition that the sharp division of men into converted and unconverted was untrue to the facts of life—a feeling which was further developed by the reading of Sumner's 'Apostolical Succession.' He read Butler's 'Analogy,' which placed his religion on a philosophical basis and rescued him from emotionalism. From Whately he learnt not only breadth of sympathy, but the idea of a Church, and of tradition as a guardian of religious truth.

The breadth of horizon thus imparted to Newman's views, while it drew him away from the Evangelicals, at the same time made his intellectual attitude very different from that of most of those from whom the Tract party was drawn later on. These were the years of his intimacy with Blanco White, the brilliant Spaniard of partly Irish descent, who resided at that time in Oxford. Blanco White in his reaction from the Catholicism in which he was bred drifted into Rationalism, and probably Newman discussed more fundamental questions with him than with any others of his intimates. 'Adieu, my Oxford Plato,' is the termination of one of Blanco White's letters to his friend. These years also saw the beginning of another friendship bringing an influence spiritual rather than intellectual—with Edward Bouverie Pusey, with whom he was not at the time in agreement on matters theological. Perhaps Newman's reputation as a thinker pure and simple—though confined to a comparatively small circle—was at its highest in these days of his youth, when the bent of his mind was towards liberalism.

Newman accepted the curacy of St. Clement's, offered to him at Pusey's suggestion, on May 16, 1824, and took Orders in that year. He also occasionally took Mr. Mayer's duty at Worton. While religion was his greatest interest his gifts and tastes were varied. He loved mathematics, and the study of Church history was, even in those years, a favourite pursuit with him. His senses were exceptionally {39} keen. He chose the wines for his College cellars—though he himself drank very sparingly. He played the violin with considerable proficiency—often in concert with Blanco White—having begun to learn at the age of ten. He took extraordinary delight in the beauties of nature.

He spent a fortnight of the Long Vacation of 1825 with his friend J. W. Bowden at Southampton, going there on September 27, and was taken to the Isle of Wight by his host, who had friends there in the Ward family, with whom he was later on connected by marriage,—for Bowden and Sir Henry Ward [Note 34] both married daughters of Sir John Swinburne of Capheaton. Newman's intense love of nature made him revel in the beautiful scenery of the island. 'The beauty of water and land,' he writes after an expedition to the Needles on September 28, 'only makes me regret that our language has not more adjectives of admiration.' On October 2 he records dining with Mr. Ward (the grandfather of William George Ward, with whom he was later on so closely associated) at Northwood House, near Cowes. He returned to Southampton on the 6th and to Oxford on the 12th.

In the following year began his acquaintance with Hurrell Froude, who was elected Fellow of Oriel on March 31. The visit to the Isle of Wight had left pleasant memories and was repeated in 1826. But its beauties paled before those of Dartington, where he stayed with the Froudes a little later. Of this lovely country he writes:

'What strikes me most is the strange richness of everything. The rocks blush into every variety of colour, the trees and fields are emeralds, and the cottages are rubies. A beetle I picked up at Torquay was as green and gold as the stone it lay upon, and a squirrel which ran up a tree just now was not the pale reddish-brown to which I am accustomed, but a bright brown-red. Nay, my very hands and fingers look rosy, like Homer's Aurora, and I have been gazing on them with astonishment. All this wonder I know is simple, and therefore, of course, do not you repeat it. The exuberance of the grass and the foliage is oppressive, as if one had not room to breathe, though this is a fancy—the depth {40} of the valleys and the steepness of the slopes increase the illusion—and the Duke of Wellington would be in a fidget to get some commanding point to see the country from. The scents are extremely fine, so very delicate yet so powerful, and the colours of the flowers as if they were all shot with white. The sweet peas especially have the complexion of a beautiful face. They trail up the wall mixed with myrtles as creepers. As to the sunset the Dartmoor heights look purple, and the sky close upon them a clear orange. When I turn back and think of Southampton Water and the Isle of Wight, they seem by contrast to be drawn in Indian Ink or pencil. Now I cannot make out that this is fancy; for why should I fancy? I am not especially in a poetic mood. I have heard of the brilliancy of Cintra, and still more of the East, and I suppose that this region would pale beside them; yet I am content to marvel at what I see, and think of Virgil's description of the purple meads of Elysium. Let me enjoy what I feel, even though I may unconsciously exaggerate.'

In 1826 Newman was appointed one of the public tutors of Oriel, resigning the curacy of St. Clement's. And in 1828 he was made Vicar of St. Mary's. In the same year Hurrell Froude and Robert Wilberforce [Note 35] were appointed tutors of Oriel, and henceforth Newman's friendship with Froude was far more intimate, and exercised a marked influence on his life.

We now come to what I have defined as the second period of his Oxford career. A serious illness in 1827 and the loss of his sister Mary in January 1828 made an epoch in his life, and greatly developed his religious nature. To this sister he had been specially devoted. She had been in delicate health. But her death was at the last sudden. His letters show how her memory haunts him. He bids the family set down in writing all they can remember about her. 'It draws tears to my eyes,' he writes, 'to think that all of a sudden we can only converse about her as about some inanimate object, wood or stone. But she shall "flourish from the tomb." And in the meantime, it being but a little {41} time, I would try to talk to her in imagination and in hope of the future by setting down all I can think of about her.' He wrote on her loss his well-known poem 'Consolations in Bereavement,' and reflected sadly how she would have loved his lines because they were his. 'May I be patient,' he writes. 'It is so difficult to realise what one believes, and to make these trials, as they are intended, real blessings.' For months her image haunts him when he is out riding, and in bed at night. Two letters illustrate his state of mind:

'I never felt so intensely the transitory nature of this world,' he writes to his sister Jemima in May 1828 after an expedition to the country, 'as when most delighted with these country scenes. And in riding out today I have been impressed more powerfully than before I had an idea was possible with the two lines;

'"Chanting with a solemn voice
Minds us of our better choice."

I could hardy believe the lines were not my own, and Keble had not taken them from me. I wish it were possible for words to put down those indefinite, vague, and withal subtle feelings which pierce the soul and make it sick. Dear Mary seems embodied in every tree and hid behind every hill. What a veil and curtain this world of sense is! beautiful, but still a veil.'

And again, some months later, to his sister Harriet:

'A solemn voice seems to chant from everything. I know whose voice it is—her dear voice. Her form is almost nightly before me, when I have put out the light and lain down. Is not this a blessing?'

The change wrought in his attitude on religion, which gradually affected his views, was a very important one. The element of eclecticism which went with his incipient liberalism, the recognition of elements of truth in all the religious schools of thought, the placing of religion on an intellectual rather than an emotional basis, dissipated, as we have seen, the narrowness of his early Evangelicalism and Calvinism—though he ever retained certain Evangelical mannerisms of expression. But in face of the deep religiousness which had now come on him he felt that he was beginning {42} to overvalue the intellectual element. The human intellect in fallen man actually and historically, he held, if left to itself, issues in infidelity [Note 36]. Yet to acquiesce in infidelity was to deny what was most certain to him, 'the chain in every link complete' between himself and God which had been to him since his conversion the most unquestionable of realities. He turned to the thought of those to whom in the past the supernatural world had been the great source of inspiration. There had been great minds in the past whom spiritual gifts had protected from the one-sidedness of intellectualism. To these he looked for guidance. There arose again the vision of the Church of the early Fathers which he has described as a 'paradise of delight' to him. This vision had fired his imagination when he read Milner's 'Church History' as a boy; and now the thought of the Fathers came with fresh significance. In their career and writings he saw religion in action, moulding the world and conquering men's hearts. The obvious living representative in his eyes of the Church of the Fathers, enfeebled indeed, but still capable of restitution, was the Church of his birth. The liberals were striving to undermine her, to destroy the ecclesiastical institutions which represented her descent from those early Fathers whose lives and writings so greatly moved him. Newman, reacting against his former friends, the liberal school of Oriel, and strongly affected by the influence of Hurrell Froude, took sides with the High Church party as a supporter of the Church. He came also under the influence of John Keble, with whom Froude brought him into friendly relations about 1828. At the same time, as Vicar of St. Mary's he began those memorable parochial sermons whereby, as Principal Shairp has told us, he made Oxford feel as though one of the early Fathers had come back to earth. The new accession of apostolic and religious zeal affected likewise his work as a College tutor. Differences arose with the Provost, Dr. Hawkins, as to the duties of the tutorship, which Newman regarded as a quasi-pastoral work. In this view Hurrell Froude and Robert Wilberforce, who were appointed tutors at this time, concurred. Their attitude was one of strong opposition to {43} certain long-standing abuses, and of hostility to the gentlemen commoners, men of birth and position, who were, Newman thought, treated with undue favouritism. On the other hand, the new tutors cultivated a special friendship with the pupils whom they regarded as most promising. Hawkins held that Newman was sacrificing the many to the few, and himself inaugurating a system of favouritism. The Provost eventually ceased to assign pupils to Newman and his two friends.

In virtue of his relations with his pupils at Oriel and of the wide influence of his Sermons, the brilliant thinker, the friend of Whately and of Blanco White, became definitely, five years before the Tracts were thought of, a spiritual father to many—one whose mind shrank from intellectualism, and embraced with all his heart the great Oxford motto 'Dominus illiuminatio mea.'

And in the same year, 1828, Newman began systematically to read the Fathers, working at them almost uninterruptedly during the Long Vacation, and continuing to do so during the two subsequent years. He threw into his work not only the exceptional power of application which his letters reveal, but also his faculty of historical imagination which we see already at work in the 'History of the Arians' and still more so later on in the 'Essay on Development.' 'The Fathers again rise full before me,' he writes in one letter. 'I am so hungry for Irenæus and Cyprian,' he writes in another letter, '[that] I long for the vacation.'

It was at this stage of his career that, identifying himself with High Church views, he became avowedly a party man—and he, of all men, the champion of the 'stupid party.' The paradox was not lost on him, and in a letter of the highest importance, to be cited shortly, he defends the position. The intellectual aristocracy of the day, it was true, found itself on the side of liberalism. The Noetic school of Oxford and the best talent at Cambridge were both liberal and intellectualist in their tendency. But Newman saw in this fact a great danger to be counteracted. A party must be formed to defend the Church,—the guardian of those truths which are above reason—against the assaults of brilliant intellectuality. Though he was never a traditionalist, his plea was in some {44} respects like that which Vicomte de Bonald urged against the destructive principles of the Revolution. It was an appeal to the wisdom of the ages against the intellectualism of the hour. The revelation of God once given to the human race may, he argued, be doggedly preserved by faithful, even though unintellectual, guardians. The wisdom of God claimed to stand above the most brilliant talent of the passing generation. Truths divinely revealed, developed, and explained by men of genius in the past, were preserved by that Church Catholic which was represented in our own country by the Church of England.

The occasion for formulating and expressing these views was Catholic Emancipation in 1829. Newman had no decided views on the measure itself. But he considered that it was proposed on principles of indifferentism. The Papist was to be tolerated, just as the Socinian was to be tolerated. He regarded it as 'one of the signs of the times,' a sign of the encroachment of philosophism and indifferentism in the Church. When Peel offered himself for re-election, Newman vigorously opposed him, and the opposition was successful. 'We have achieved a glorious victory,' he wrote to his mother on March 1; 'it is the first public event I have been concerned in, and I thank God from my heart both for my cause and its success. We have proved the independence of the Church and of Oxford ... We had the influence of government in unrelenting activity against us and the talent so-called of the University.'

On March 13 he writes to his mother the letter already alluded to, indicating the grounds of his reaction against the liberalism which had for a time attracted him. He sketches in it his new position as contrasted with the liberalism whether of the Noetics or of the Cambridge school:

'March 13, 1829.
'We live in a novel era—one in which there is an advance towards universal education. Men have hitherto depended on others, and especially on the clergy, for religious truth; now each man attempts to judge for himself. Now, without meaning of course that Christianity is in itself opposed to free enquiry, still I think it in fact at the present time opposed to the particular form which that liberty of thought has now {45} assumed. Christianity is of faith, modesty, lowliness, subordination; but the spirit at work against it is one of latitudinarianism, indifferentism, and schism, a spirit which tends to overthrow doctrine, as if the fruit of bigotry and discipline—as if the instrument of priestcraft. All parties seem to acknowledge that the stream of opinion is setting against the Church …

'And now I come to another phenomenon: the talent of the day is against the Church. The Church party (visibly at least, for there may be latent talent, and great times give birth to great men) is poor in mental endowments. It has not activity, shrewdness, dexterity, eloquence, practical power. On what, then, does it depend? On prejudice and bigotry.

'This is hardly an exaggeration; yet I have good meaning and one honourable to the Church. Listen to my theory. As each individual has certain instincts of right and wrong antecedently to reasoning, on which he acts—and rightly so—which perverse reasoning may supplant, which then can hardly be regained, but, if regained, will be regained from a different source—from reasoning, not from nature—so, I think, has the world of men collectively. God gave them truths in His miraculous revelations, and other truths in the unsophisticated infancy of nations, scarcely less necessary and divine. These are transmitted as "the wisdom of our ancestors," through men—many of whom cannot enter into them or receive them themselves—still on, on, from age to age, not the less truths because many of the generations through which they are transmitted are unable to prove them, but hold them, either from pious and honest feeling, it may be, or from bigotry or from prejudice. That they are truths it is most difficult to prove, for great men alone can prove great ideas or grasp them. Such a mind was Hooker's, such Butler's; and, as moral evil triumphs over good on a small field of action, so in the argument of an hour or the compass of a volume would men like Brougham, or, again, Wesley, show to far greater advantage than Hooker or Butler. Moral truth is gained by patient study, by calm reflection, silently as the dew falls—unless miraculously given—and when gained it is transmitted by faith and by "prejudice." Keble's book is full of such truths, which any Cambridge man might refute with the greatest ease.' [Note 37]

Almost released now from his labours as tutor (for while the Provost gave him no fresh pupils, each year diminished {46} the number of those who remained), his patristic reading grew more systematic. The Fathers deepened his opposition to liberalism; but the element of intolerance which was now visible in him had no affinity to the narrowness of his Calvinistic and Evangelical days. Though he waged war on intellectualism, there was no return to a merely emotional religion. The vision of the Church Catholic grew ever more distinct. It embodied in its theology the results of the labours of the great thinkers of patristic times and their successors. That theology was a precious intellectual legacy, but it was also a standing protest against mere intellectualism. The sacred traditions inherited from the past were the basis of Christian theology and a touchstone of the truth of its more recent speculations. There could be no greater contrast to the self-sufficient intellectualism of the hour.

In the summer of 1830 he was asked by Dr. Jenkyns to aid in a projected Ecclesiastical History. Newman declined to make any contribution to it which should be in the form of a merely popular work. 'An ecclesiastical history,' he wrote to Dr. Jenkyns, 'whether long or short ought to be derived from original sources, and not to be compiled from the standard authorities.' But the idea of writing history grew upon him. In the end he consented to write a serious work on the 'Arians of the Fourth Century.' His sense, both of the importance of the work and of the complexity of such an historical study to a genuine student, is expressed in his letters to Froude written in August 1831:

'I have nothing to say except that my work opens a grand and most interesting field to me; but how I shall ever be able to make one assertion, much less to write one page, I cannot tell. Any one, pure categorical, would need an age of reading and research. I shall confine myself to hypotheticals; your "if" is a great philosopher, as well as peacemaker.' [Note 38]

And again:

'Recollect, my good sir, that every thought I think is thought, and every word I write is writing, and that thought tells, and that words take room, and that, though I make the introduction the whole book, yet a book it is; and, {47} though this will not steer clear of the egg blunder, to have an introduction leading to nothing, yet it is not losing time. Already I have made forty-one pages out of eighteen.' [Note 39]

The subject was congenial to Newman for one reason especially. It was chiefly the state of the Church in the fourth century which enabled him to think of the Established Church of England as a part of the Church Catholic. He could not deny that the English Sees were in 1830 filled by Protestant bishops. But then so were multitudes of Catholic Sees in A.D. 360 filled by Arian bishops. He and his friends were in the position of faithful Catholics in those days, who kept the faith in spite of their bishops. He could only hope that an Athanasius or a Basil would arise in England. Perhaps there was some subconscious presage that he himself might be destined to take the place of those great champions of truth in the nineteenth century. But with this historical parallel to give him confidence in his position, he considered in the course of his history the deeper problems of Christian faith and the analogy in the fourth century to his own campaign against liberalism, and intellectualism.

Two sections of his work are of great importance in this connection. One concerns the 'economical' [Note 40] character of all religious creeds. Basing his treatment on St. Clement of Alexandria, and exhibiting the Alexandrian teaching, as he says in the 'Apologia,' 'with the partiality of a neophyte,' [Note 41] he argues that all religion is from God, and that Christianity corrects rather than abolishes false religions. But even in the Christian theology itself Divine things are seen 'through a glass darkly,' the human intellect being unequal to their adequate comprehension [Note 42]. Thus the task of the Christian {48} who would convert the heathen is not to destroy his religion, but to purify it, and restore the original good elements of a creed which has been corrupted [Note 43].

He was alive to the charge of narrowness and formalism made by the liberals against the multiplied and minute propositions of orthodox theology. The answer lay in their origin and their history. They were gradually formulated in order to preserve the fundamental truths of the Christian and Catholic creed. He regarded the crystallisation of portions of the early creed into definite formulæ as a protection gradually called for—much as in a civil polity laws are passed to prevent infringements on the rules necessary for social life. In a simpler society these rules may be secured—and better secured—by custom or good feeling; as society grows more complex, laws have to be enacted with correlative penalties as their sanction. So, too, the corrupting influence of heresy eventually made exactitude of theological expression a necessity to secure the permanence of the general character—what he afterwards called the 'type' of primitive {49} Christianity. Moreover, as the apostolic period receded into the distant past, the impressions [Note 44] of Christianity among the faithful lost their early vividness—another reason why dogmatic creeds became necessary. The necessity was, however, not congenial to the Church [Note 45]. And the original impression of Catholic truth which the propositions protected was something far more than the propositions by themselves contained.

Next, taking the doctrine of the Trinity as his example, he analyses the process whereby the simpler language of the early Fathers is replaced by the dogmatic propositions of the Athanasian Creed. These propositions, as expressing human ideas of Divine realities, are necessarily imperfect. Yet they are not merely on a par, as Coleridge seems to have held, with the economical teachings of other religions [Note 46]. They are the truth so far as human weakness allows us to know Divine truth [Note 47].

But while it is clear that the Church's creeds and definitions, in so far as they employ human words and figures, cannot be adequate to the Divine Reality, nevertheless they must be definite and imperatively enforced. 'If the Church would be vigorous and influential,' he writes, 'it must be decided and plainspoken in its doctrine.' Otherwise the {50} subtle heretical intellect, so active in Arian days, would claim apostolic and even Papal sanction for its teaching [Note 48].

He never revised these views after 1845, and we have no means of knowing how he would have treated the subject had he written on it in his later years. The importance of the 'Arians' is mainly historical, as indicating the train of thought which actually brought about his Catholic development and his revolt from liberalism.

'The Arians of the Fourth Century' was finished in June. As he wrote the last part his exhaustion was so great that he was frequently on the point of fainting. After it was finished a holiday was a crying need. He visited Cambridge in July for the first time. The genius loci seized him, and perhaps the need of relaxation after the tension of his work made his pleasure the keener. Anyhow, he writes of it to his mother with enthusiasm:

'Cambridge: July 16, 1832.
'Having come to this place with no anticipations, I am quite taken by surprise and overcome with delight. When I saw at the distance of four miles, on an extended plain, wider than the Oxford, amid thicker and greener groves, the Alma Mater Cantabrigiensis lying before me, I thought I should not be able to contain myself, and, in spite of my regret at her present defects and past history, and all that is wrong about her, I seemed about to cry "Floreat æternum." Surely there is a genius loci here, as in my own dear home; and the nearer I came to it the more I felt its power [Note 49].

But a far more tempting holiday than the visit to Cambridge was planned in September. Hurrell Froude was to go to the Mediterranean for his health, and he asked Newman to accompany him. They started in December, and the journey proved a memorable one. Like Darwin's voyage on the Beagle, it was a pause in routine work which led to fruitful meditation. The Church of England was at the moment in imminent peril. The Liberal party was frankly aiming at her disestablishment. She was, in Mr. Mozley's phrase, 'folding her robes about her to die with what dignity she could.' Newman writes in the 'Apologia': 'The bill for the suppression of the Irish Sees was in progress. I had fierce thoughts {51} against the Liberals.' The sights in the course of his travels that reminded him vividly of the early Fathers blended with these thoughts. A champion was needed for 'our Northern Church' to rekindle faith and zeal in an evil day. 'If we had our Athanasius or Basil,' he wrote, 'we could bear with twenty Eusebius'!' It was during this voyage that he wrote his poem on Athanasius. The poem tells also of the work of Cyprian, of Chrysostom, of Ambrose. It ends with the words—

'Dim future, shall we need
A prophet for truth's creed?'

The Mediterranean awakened a host of historic memories, including St. Paul's shipwreck and St. Athanasius' voyage to Rome. The sight of Africa again recalled scenes of history both pagan and Christian. I thought 'of the Phœnicians, Tyre, of the Punic wars, of Cyprian, and the glorious churches now annihilated.' [Note 50]

On his sister Harriet's birthday he passes Ithaca. Again to his mother he writes:

'I could not have believed that the view of these parts would have so enchanted me ... Not from classical associations, but the thought that what I saw before me was the reality of what had been the earliest vision of my childhood ... I gazed on it by the quarter of an hour together, being quite satisfied by the sight of the rock. I thought of Ham, and of all the various glimpses which memory barely retains, and which fly from me when I pursue them, of that earliest time of life when one seems almost to realise the remnants of a pre-existing state. Oh, how I longed to touch the land, and to satisfy myself that it was not a mere vision that I saw before me!' [Note 51]

The leisure afforded him by his voyage, and the stimulation given to his fancy by all that he saw, found vent in verse-making, and of his published poems, if we exclude the 'Dream of Gerontius,' about four-fifths were written in those weeks. Many of the verses contain indications of a subconscious presage of the future. The thought of prophets and the leaders of great movements in the Church frequently {52} reappears in them. These poems (published for the most part in the 'Lyra Apostolica'), though written hastily as outpourings of the heart, have been ranked very high by some of our best critics. 'For grandeur of outline, purity of taste and radiance of total effect,' writes Mr. Hutton, 'I know hardly any short poems in the language that equal them.' [Note 52]

A very interesting letter to his sister Harriet, written at Corfu, shows us how he himself estimated the ecstasies which foreign travel aroused in him. So complex an attitude as he described may have been only a passing mood, but the letter is a curious illustration of his high-strung and sensitive nature:

'I have a great deal to say, but fear I shall forget it. No description can give you any idea of what I have seen, but I will not weary you with my delight; yet does it not seem a strange paradox to say that, though I am so much pleased, I am not interested? That is, I don't think I should care—rather I should be very glad—to find myself suddenly transported to my rooms at Oriel, with my oak sported, and I lying at full length on my sofa. After all, every kind of exertion is to me an effort: whether or not my mind has been strained and wearied with the necessity of constant activity, I know not; or whether, having had many disappointments, and suffered much from the rudeness and slights of persons I have been cast with, I shrink involuntarily from the contact of the world, and, whether or not natural disposition assists this feeling, and a perception almost morbid of my deficiencies and absurdities—anyhow, neither the kindest attentions nor the most sublime sights have over me influence enough to draw me out of the way, and, deliberately as I have set about my present wanderings, yet I heartily wish they were over, and I only endure the sights, and had much rather have seen them than see them, though the while I am extremely astonished and almost enchanted at them.' [Note 53]

After a sojourn at Malta he sails to Naples, visiting Palermo and Egesta on his way.

Naples saddens him. 'The state of the Church is deplorable,' he writes. 'It seems as if Satan was let out of prison to range the whole earth again.' {53}

Then came Rome. All his letters show that the city made a profound impression on him. 'A wonderful place—the first city, mind, which I have ever much praised,' he writes the day after his arrival. 'The most wonderful place in the world,' he says in another letter.

And in yet another he writes:

'And now what can I say of Rome, but that it is the first of cities, and that all I ever saw are but as dust (even dear Oxford inclusive) compared with its majesty and glory? Is it possible that so serene and lofty a place is the cage of unclean creatures? I will not believe it till I have evidence of it. In St. Peter's yesterday, in St. John Lateran today, I have felt quite abased, chiefly by their enormous size, added to the extreme accuracy and grace of their proportions, which make one feel little and contemptible.' [Note 54]

The feeling about Rome was profound and lasting. It reappears in letter after letter. But he does not doubt that the religion it harbours is a 'wretched perversion of the truth.' There was 'great appearance of piety in the churches,' but it is a 'city still under a curse.'

The lines written on his journey home show the same feeling:

'O that thy creed were sound!
For thou dost soothe the heart, thou Church of Rome,
By thy unwearied watch and varied round
Of service, in thy Saviour's holy home.'

His final verdict is thus given:

'As to the Roman Catholic system, I have ever detested it so much that I cannot detest it more by seeing it; but to the Catholic system I am more attached than ever, and quite love the little monks (seminarists) of Rome; they look so innocent and bright, poor boys! and we have fallen in, more or less, with a number of interesting Irish and English priests. I regret that we could form no intimate acquaintance with them. I fear there are very grave and far-spreading scandals among the Italian priesthood, and there is mummery in abundance; yet there is a deep substratum of true Christianity; and I think they may be as near truth at the least as that Mr. B. [Note 55], whom I like less and less every day.' [Note 56] {54}

His last letter from Rome, written on April 7, shows no abatement of enthusiasm. What he saw there 'has stolen away half my heart,' he writes. 'Oh that Rome was not Rome! But I seem to see as clear as day that union with her is impossible.'

For three weeks in Sicily, whither he returned from Rome, he had a dangerous fever. He gave his servant instructions as to what he should do in the event of his death, but added that he did not think he should die, for he believed that God had a work for him to do. This illness he ever regarded as a crisis in his life. He has left a memorandum of his feelings at the time, in which we find also a searching self-examination. He seems to have felt that he was in some sense chosen by God and might be called to a great work; yet he trembles lest he should therefore regard himself as a great man. The note of 'Domine non sum dignus' is struck in his words; and it is strange that some modern writers should have taken advantage of the self-accusation of a Christian who dreads to spoil his work by pride, and should find in it evidence of his weaknesses rather than of the high standard which made him dwell insistently on each sign of human frailty.

'I felt and kept saying to myself "I have not sinned against light," and at one time I had a most consoling, over-powering thought of God's electing love, and seemed to feel I was His. But I believe all my feelings, painful and pleasant, were heightened by somewhat of delirium, though they still are from God in the way of Providence. Next day the self-reproaching feelings increased. I seemed to see more and more my utter hollowness. I began to think of all my professed principles, and felt they were mere intellectual deductions from one or two admitted truths. I compared myself with Keble, and felt that I was merely developing his, not my, convictions. I know I had very clear thoughts about this then, and I believe in the main true ones. Indeed, this is how I look on myself; very much, (as the illustration goes) as a pane of glass, which transmits heat, being cold itself. I have a vivid perception of the consequences of certain admitted principles, have a considerable intellectual capacity of drawing them out, have the refinement to admire them, and a rhetorical or histrionic power to represent them; and, having no great (i.e. no vivid) love of this world, whether riches, honours, or anything else, and some firmness and {55} natural dignity of character, take the profession of them upon me, as I might sing a tune which I liked—loving the Truth, but not possessing it, for I believe myself at heart to be nearly hollow, i.e. with little love, little self-denial. I believe I have some faith, that is all; and as to my sins, they need my possessing no little amount of faith to set against them and gain their remission.' [Note 57]

The sense of human frailty and sinfulness was accompanied by a self-abandoning trust in God. He felt that he must do his duty and that God would do the rest for him.

'I had a strange feeling on my mind,' he writes, 'that God meets those who go on in His way, who remember Him in His way, in the paths of the Lord; that I must put myself in His path, His way, that I must do my part, and that He met those who rejoiced and worked righteousness, and remembered Him and His ways—some texts of this kind kept haunting me, and I determined to set out by daybreak.' [Note 58]

The sense that God was leading him on to some task, he knew not what, seems to have remained with him thenceforth. On his homeward voyage to Marseilles, when becalmed in the Straits of Bonifacio, he wrote on June 16, 'Lead, kindly Light,' which, well known though it is, must be set down in any record of his life:

'Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
           Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
           Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene,—one step enough for me.

'I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
           Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
           Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

'So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
           Will lead me on
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
           The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.' {56}

Newman came back to England full of the spring and vitality which follows convalescence. The thoughts over which he and Froude had brooded while abroad had, to use Dean Church's words, 'broken out in papers sent home from time to time' to Rose's British Magazine, and Home Thoughts Abroad, and in Newman's own contributions already spoken of to the 'Lyra Apostolica.' And he landed in July at a critical moment. The blow at the Established Church which had been so deeply resented when in contemplation had now fallen. Ten Irish bishoprics had been suppressed at a sweep. Disestablishment seemed imminent in England itself. For Newman the Established Church was still the Catholic Church in England, although corrupted by Protestant heresy. If the strength of the Established Church was, as he felt, the most effectual safeguard in England against the plausible liberalism of the day which must eventually issue in infidelity, to defend the Church and to purify it was the great need of the hour. Froude and Keble and Palmer had already discussed the situation in the Oriel Common Room, and pledged themselves to 'write and associate in defence of the Church.' Newman now threw himself heart and soul into the movement which marked out the third and last period of his Anglican career. On July 14 Keble preached his famous sermon on 'The National Apostasy.' The 'Tracts for the Times' began in December, the immediate ostensible programme they were to advocate being the defence of the Apostolical Succession and of the integrity of the Prayer-Book. That the Church of England was a part of the Church Catholic had been maintained by the great Anglican divines of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but their view had fallen into comparative disrepute in the eighteenth. The writers of the Tracts were bent on restoring its predominance. The root-principle, however, for which they fought was the spiritual independence of the Church and the defeat of Erastianism. The thought of St. Ambrose in his combats with Valentinian and Theodosius inspired these writers. The Tracts were independent—the work of several minds agreeing in general principles, but not in detail.

The story of the gradually growing influence of the {57} Tracts has often been told. They were unsigned. The solitary exception to this rule was Dr. Pusey's Tract on Baptism, to which he appended his initials. It was mainly owing to this circumstance that the party became known in the country at large as Puseyites. Among those in close touch with Oxford it was (in its earlier years) more often designated Newmanite. In three years the movement became a power in Oxford and in the country. In 1836 the Tracts became treatises, and some, notably Tract 85, were of a somewhat philosophical character. In the same year Newman began to edit the Library of the Fathers—English versions of the great patristic writings. He also undertook, in 1836, the editorship of the British Critic as the organ of the party. That year saw Newman and Pusey at the head of the successful agitation which issued in the censure of Dr. Hampden by Convocation on his appointment by the Government as Regius Professor of Divinity, on the ground of his unorthodox views. The majority was nearly five to one, and recorded an emphatic protest on the part of the University against Erastianism.

Many of the ideas which the movement embodied had found first expression in the writings of Keble, the author of 'The Christian Year.' The impulse to take action had largely proceeded from the adventurous spirit of Hurrell Froude. But in Newman's own mind the movement had relation to a deeper problem than the ecclesiastical questions which exercised his two friends. His intellect was more speculative than Froude's, his thought more systematic than Keble's. In much that he wrote he was taking part in that inquiry into the foundations of all belief which the negative thinkers of the eighteenth century had made so necessary—Hume and Gibbon in England, the Encyclopedists in France. It has been truly said that the Oriel Noetic school was in some sense an outcome of the French Revolution. Both his share in their speculations and his subsequent reaction had set Newman thinking, and while Coleridge was preaching a philosophy of conservatism against Benthamism and radicalism, Newman found in the Catholic tradition latent in Anglicanism a more practical antidote to a rationalism which must issue in religious negation. It was in this deeper view {58} of the bearing of the Anglican controversy that his stand-point differed from that of most of his colleagues. From beginning to end the Catholic movement was in his eyes the only effective check on the advancing tide of unbelief. 'He anticipates,' testifies Mr. Aubrey de Vere some years later, 'an unprecedented outburst of infidelity all over the world, and to withstand it he deems his especial vocation.' [Note 59]

In a note written near the end of his life he states that from the time when he turned his serious attention to theology he felt the insufficiency of the current Christian apologetic as a reply to the abler exponents of rationalistic views. In the Middle Ages many of the deepest thinkers had been Christians. Now the predominant philosophy of the day, the intellect of the day, was against Christianity. He believed the necessary antidote to be double—first, the erection of a stronger intellectual defence of Christianity; but secondly (and this was the more pressing need), to strengthen the Church, which was the normal guardian of dogma for the many. He held (as we have seen in his book on the Arians) that definite dogmatic propositions, although the human ideas they employed were inadequate to the divine Reality, were the great safeguard of revealed truth. A deeper philosophy of dogma than that currently recognised was one of those very additions to apologetic which he desired. Thus his two defences had a common element. In all of this his thought was running on the very lines trodden already by S. T. Coleridge. 'During this spring,' he writes in 1835, 'I for the first time read parts of Coleridge's works; and I am surprised how much that I thought mine is to be found there.' [Note 60]

The philosophy of faith formed the subject of the remarkable sermons preached before the University, and afterwards published in 1843 as a volume. He characterises this volume in writing to James Hope as 'the best, not the most perfect, book I have done. I mean there is more to develop in it though it is imperfect.' [Note 61] The {59} sermons were an attempt to show the really philosophical temper underlying the Gospel ideal of faith—a right disposition of the mind making the divinity of Christianity readily credible. This disposition included a realisation of all that made a revelation antecedently probable. Evidence insufficient apart from the presumption thereby afforded was sufficient with its aid. The simple and uneducated mind was capable of a reasonable faith. There was philosophical wisdom in the Church as a whole; and the faith of individuals was a spontaneous participation in the fruits of that wisdom. The 'foolishness' of the Gospel in the eyes of the man of the world, its opposition to the wisdom of the world, was recognised by him to the full. What was stigmatised by the world as credulity and folly was really the instinctive trust of an individual Christian in a wisdom higher than his own.

This view underlay the Gospels themselves. But it had fallen out of the current Anglican apologetic. Yet it was (he held) essentially necessary. The sermons were a profound effort to analyse that wisdom and philosophy which consciously or unconsciously swayed the believer, and to exhibit the shallowness of the merely worldly wisdom which issues in unbelief. Reason and Faith were contrasted; but Reason meant in Newman's pages the exercise of the intellect with the assumption of secular maxims and with no recognition of the light shed on the problems of Faith by the moral nature.

The University Sermons, except only the first, which belongs to 1826, were preached during the progress of the movement. They were 'caviare to the general,' for the questioning attitude on religious belief was not yet widespread among their readers. But by the more speculative minds in Oxford, as W. G. Ward and the students of Coleridge, they were regarded, as by Newman himself, as containing his best and most valuable thoughts.

The more practical side of the controversy—the formulation of his 'Via Media' of Anglican theology against liberalism and Protestantism on the one side and Popery on the other, was worked out in his lectures on the prophetical office of the Church, delivered in 1837. These lectures were largely based on a correspondence with a French priest, the Abbé Jager, and the position taken up in them was directly {60} anti-Roman. The English Roman Catholics were in them regarded as schismatics.

The parochial sermons at St. Mary's, however, were the main instrument of Newman's influence on the Oxford of those years. They appealed to a far wider class than the University Sermons, and the indelible impression they made on many minds has been recorded by eminent men of widely different schools of thought—by J. A. Froude and A. P. Stanley, by Mr. Gladstone and Sir Francis Doyle, by Principal Shairp and Lord Coleridge, as well as by such disciples of the movement as Henry Wilberforce and Dean Church. They were primarily moral discourses, with little of theological elaboration. 'They belong,' writes Dean Stanley, 'not to provincial dogma, but to the literature of all time.'

Newman's merely intellectual reputation in the University had stood very high for about five Oxford generations, reckoning a generation at three years. It was thirteen years since he had been invited as quite a youth to join in the élite of English intellect which was to give the newly founded Athenaeum Club its prestige at starting. But now the character of a prophet and leader of men was added. And the movement in Oxford of which he was the life and soul aroused all the enthusiasm of the time. 'The influence of his singular combination of genius and devotion,' writes Dean Lake, 'has had no parallel there before or since.' [Note 62] 'Credo in Newmannum' was the creed which W. G. Ward first formulated, and which became general.

The party received a severe blow, in 1836, from the untimely death of Hurrell Froude. But his 'Memoirs,' which Newman and Keble published in 1838, created a great impression in Oxford, and gave fresh power to the movement. That power was viewed with suspicion by the Heads of Houses. Already Tractarianism was charged with Romanist tendencies. But as yet such charges only gave zest to the party in their propaganda. The active persecution of a later date had not begun; and the adherents of the movement presented as yet a united front. Newman himself—so he tells us—had supreme confidence in his {61} position. In January 1839 he writes to Frederick Rogers [Note 63], 'the Tracts are selling faster than they can print them.' He and Keble and Pusey were the triumvirate that led the movement, and Newman himself shrank from acknowledging the greatness of his position. But in the eyes of many he was not only the leader, but the others were on a totally different plane. Such was the feeling of W. G. Ward and his friends. Such is the testimony of J. A. Froude, who speaks of the others as ciphers and Newman as the indicating number. Let us, in recording this time of his supremacy at Oxford, place before our readers material for forming a mental picture of one whose personality is remembered to have been something far more impressive even than his writing. What is perhaps the most vivid description extant of his position in the eyes of the rising generation at Oxford was penned by the witness whose name has just been mentioned, J. A. Froude [Note 64].

'When I entered at Oxford,' writes Mr. Froude, 'John Henry Newman was beginning to be famous. The responsible authorities were watching him with anxiety; clever men were looking with interest and curiosity on the apparition among them of one of those persons of indisputable genius who was likely to make a mark upon his time. His appearance was striking. He was above the middle height, slight and spare. His head was large, his face remarkably like that of Julius Caesar. The forehead, the shape of the ears and nose were almost the same. The lines of the mouth were very peculiar, and I should say exactly the same. I have often thought of the resemblance, and believed that it extended to the temperament. In both there was an original force of character which refused to be moulded by circumstances, which was to make its own way, and become a power in the world; a clearness of intellectual perception, a disdain for conventionalities, a temper imperious and wilful, but along with it a most attaching gentleness, sweetness, singleness of heart and purpose. Both were formed by nature to command others, both had the faculty of attracting to themselves the passionate devotion of their friends and followers ... It has been said that men of letters are either much less or much greater than their writings. Cleverness and the skilful use of other people's thoughts produce works which take us in till we see the authors, and then we are disenchanted. A man of {62} genius, on the other hand, is a spring in which there is always more behind than flows from it. The painting or the poem is but a part of him inadequately realised, and his nature expresses itself, with equal or fuller completeness, in his life, his conversation, and personal presence. This was eminently true of Newman. Greatly as his poetry had struck me, he was himself all that the poetry was, and something far beyond. I had then never seen so impressive a person. I met him now and then in private; I attended his church and heard him preach Sunday after Sunday; he is supposed to have been insidious, to have led his disciples on to conclusions to which he designed to bring them, while his purpose was carefully veiled. He was, on the contrary, the most transparent of men. He told us what he believed to be true. He did not know where it would carry him. No one who has ever risen to any great height in this world refuses to move till he knows where he is going. He is impelled in each step which he takes by a force within himself. He satisfies himself only that the step is a right one, and he leaves the rest to Providence. Newman's mind was world-wide. He was interested in everything which was going on in science, in politics, in literature. Nothing was too large for him, nothing too trivial, if it threw light upon the central question, what man really was, and what was his destiny ... He could admire enthusiastically any greatness of action and character, however remote the sphere of it from his own. Gurwood's "Despatches of the Duke of Wellington" came out just then. Newman had been reading the book, and a friend asked him what he thought of it. "Think?" he said, "it makes one burn to have been a soldier." But his own subject was the absorbing interest with him ... Keble had looked into no lines of thought but his own. Newman had read omnivorously; he had studied modem thought and modern life in all its forms, and with all its many-coloured passions ...

'With us undergraduates Newman, of course, did not enter on such important questions, although they were in the air, and we talked about them among ourselves. He, when we met him, spoke to us about subjects of the day, of literature, of public persons and incidents, of everything which was generally interesting. He seemed always to be better informed on common topics of conversation than anyone else who was present. He was never condescending with us, never didactic or authoritative; but what he said carried conviction along with it. When we were wrong, he knew why {63} we were wrong, and excused our mistakes to ourselves while he set us right. Perhaps his supreme merit as a talker was that he never tried to be witty or to say striking things. Ironical he could be, but not ill-natured. Not a malicious anecdote was ever heard from him. Prosy he could not be. He was lightness itself—the lightness of elastic strength—and he was interesting because he never talked for talking's sake, but because he had something real to say.

'Thus it was that we, who had never seen such another man, and to whom he appeared, perhaps, at special advantage in contrast with the normal college don, came to regard Newman with the affection of pupils (though pupils, strictly speaking, he had none) for an idolized master. The simplest word which dropped from him was treasured as if it had been an intellectual diamond. For hundreds of young men Credo in Newmannum was the genuine symbol of faith.'

So far Mr. Froude; and to Newman's directly religious influence on the University Principal Shairp has perhaps given the most definite and direct testimony in his study of Keble [Note 65].

'The movement when at its height extended its influence far beyond the circle of those who directly adopted its views. There was not, in Oxford at least, a reading man who was not more or less directly influenced by it. Only the very idle or the very frivolous were wholly proof against it. On all others it impressed a sobriety of conduct and a seriousness not usually found among large bodies of young men. It raised the tone of average morality in Oxford to a level which perhaps it had never before reached. You may call it overwrought and too highly strung. Perhaps it was. It was better, however, for young men to be so than to be doubters or cynics.

'If such was the general aspect of Oxford society at that time, where was the centre and soul from which so mighty a power emanated? It lay, and had for some years lain, mainly in one man, a man in many ways the most remarkable that England had seen during this century, perhaps the most remarkable the English Church has possessed in any century—John Henry Newman. The influence he had gained, without apparently setting himself to seek it, was something altogether unlike anything else in our time. A {64} mysterious veneration had by degrees gathered round him, till now it was almost as though some Ambrose or Augustine of older ages had reappeared. He himself tells how one day, when he was an undergraduate, a friend with whom he was walking in an Oxford street cried out eagerly, "There is Keble," and with what awe he looked at him. A few years and the same took place with regard to himself. In Oriel Lane light-hearted undergraduates would drop their voices and whisper, "There's Newman," as with head thrust forward and gaze fixed as though at some vision seen only by himself, with swift, noiseless step he glided by. Awe fell on them for a moment almost as if it had been some apparition that had passed ... What were the qualities that inspired these feelings? There was, of course, learning and refinement. There was genius, not, indeed, of a philosopher, but of a subtle and original thinker, an unequalled edge of dialectic, and these all glorified by the imagination of a poet. Then there was the utter unworldliness, the setting aside of all the things which men most prize, the tamelessness of soul which was ready to essay the impossible. Men felt that here was:

"One of that small transfigured band
Which the world cannot tame."'

Of the ever-memorable sermons and of the evening service at St. Mary's at which they were delivered, Principal Shairp writes as follows:

'The centre from which his power went forth was the pulpit of St. Mary's, with those wonderful afternoon sermons. Sunday after Sunday, month by month, year by year, they went on, each continuing and deepening the impression the last had made ...

'The service was very simple,—no pomp, no ritualism; for it was characteristic of the leading men of the movement that they left these things to the weaker brethren. Their thoughts, at all events, were set on great questions which touched the heart of unseen things. About the service, the most remarkable thing was the beauty, the silver intonation, of Mr. Newman's voice, as he read the Lessons. It seemed to bring new meaning out of the familiar words. Still lingers in memory the tone with which he read: But Jerusalem which is from above is free, which is the mother of us all. When he began to preach, a stranger was not likely to be much struck, especially if he had been accustomed to pulpit oratory of the Boanerges sort. Here was no vehemence, no declamation, no show of elaborated argument, so that one {65} who came prepared to hear a "great intellectual effort" was almost sure to go away disappointed. Indeed, I believe that if he had preached one of his St. Mary's sermons before a Scotch town congregation, they would have thought the preacher a "silly body." The delivery had a peculiarity which it took a new hearer some time to get over. Each separate sentence, or at least each short paragraph, was spoken rapidly, but with great clearness of intonation; and then at its close there was a pause, lasting for nearly half a minute; then another rapidly but clearly spoken sentence, followed by another pause. It took some time to get over this, but, that once done, the wonderful charm began to dawn on you. The look and bearing of the preacher were as of one who dwelt apart, who, though he knew his age well, did not live in it. From the seclusion of study, and abstinence, and prayer, from habitual dwelling in the unseen, he seemed to come forth that one day of the week to speak to others of the things he had seen and known. Those who never heard him might fancy that his sermons would generally be about apostolical succession or rights of the Church or against Dissenters. Nothing of the kind. You might hear him preach for weeks without an allusion to these things. What there was of High Church teaching was implied rather than enforced. The local, the temporary, and the modern were ennobled by the presence of the catholic truth belonging to all ages that pervaded the whole. His power showed itself chiefly in the new and unlooked-for way in which he touched into life old truths, moral or spiritual, which all Christians acknowledge, but most have ceased to feel—when he spoke of "Unreal Words," of the "Individuality of the Soul," of "The Invisible World," of a "Particular Providence"; or again, of "The Ventures of Faith," "Warfare the Condition of Victory," "The Cross of Christ the Measure of the World," "The Church a Home for the Lonely." As he spoke, how the old truth became new! how it came home with a meaning never felt before! He laid his finger—how gently, yet how powerfully! on some inner place in the hearer's heart, and told him things about himself he had never known till then. Subtlest truths, which it would have taken philosophers pages of circumlocution and big words to state, were dropt out by the way in a sentence or two of the most transparent Saxon. What delicacy of style, yet what calm power! how gentle, yet how strong! how simple, yet how suggestive! how homely, yet how refined! …

'To call these sermons eloquent would be no word for {66} them; high poems they rather were, as of an inspired singer, or the outpourings as of a prophet, rapt yet self-possessed. And the tone of voice in which they were spoken, once you grew accustomed to it, sounded like a fine strain of unearthly music. Through the silence of that high Gothic building the words fell on the ear like the measured drippings of water in some vast dim cave. After hearing these sermons you might come away still not believing the tenets peculiar to the High Church system; but you would be harder than most men, if you did not feel more than ever ashamed of coarseness, selfishness, worldliness, if you did not feel the things of faith brought closer to the soul.'

Such were the feelings kindled even among those who dissented from his theology by the man who was the central figure in the Oxford of 1838. 'Those who by early education and conviction were kept aloof from the peculiar tenets of High Churchmen' (writes Principal Shairp) 'could not but acknowledge the moral quickening which resulted from the movement, and the marvellous character of him who was the soul of it.' That year was the summit of Newman's life to which he ever wistfully looked back, a time of hope, of confidence, of influence, when his one inspiring ideal, to work for God and for religion, was satisfied, and tokens of success daily multiplied. The vision of the future, unclouded as yet by misgiving, was of a Church of England purged of heresy, and once more breathing the spirit of Ambrose and Augustine.

The following lines from Aubrey de Vere's 'Reminiscences' give a vivid picture of Newman's appearance and manner at this time:—'Early in the evening a singularly graceful figure in cap and gown glided into the room. The slight form and gracious address might have belonged either to a youthful ascetic of the middle ages or to a graceful high-bred lady of our own days. He was pale and thin almost to emaciation, swift of pace, but when not walking intensely still, with a voice sweet and pathetic, and so distinct that you could count each vowel and consonant in every word. When touching on subjects which interested him much, he used gestures rapid and decisive, though not vehement.'

In April 1839, Newman, still pursuing his patristic studies, began the systematic reading of the Monophysite controversy. {67} For the first time there came a misgiving as to the Anglican position—a cloud no bigger than a man's hand, the forerunner of storm and shipwreck. While, like the Anglicans, the Monophysites took their stand on antiquity, their claim was, he saw, disallowed by the Church, which, at the instigation of Pope Leo, invented a new formula ('in two natures') at Chalcedon to exclude them. He was struck, as he writes to Rogers, by 'the great power of the Pope, as great as he claims now almost.' He could not adjust the story of the Monophysites to the principles of the Via Media. In September Robert Wilberforce put into his hands Wiseman's article in the Dublin Review on the 'Schism of the Donatists.' This deepened the impression made by the Monophysite story. It brought home to him a point of view which shook his faith in his own position. St. Augustine had replied to the claim of the Donatists to be really Catholics, on the ground that they adhered to antiquity, by the words securus judicat orbis terrarum. The mere appeal to antiquity had been disallowed. For a religious society to belong to the Universal Church it was necessary that that Church should recognise its claim. The parallel of the Arian period, on which Newman had relied, was gradually recognised by him not really to cover the facts of the Anglican position.

It so happened that these impressions came at a time when a new impulse towards Rome had just been brought to bear on the movement and on Newman's own mind. W. G. Ward and Frederick Oakeley had joined the Tractarian party in a spirit of avowed admiration for Rome. Ward's friend, Arthur Stanley, for a brief space shared in the new Roman campaign, which was directed against the comparatively moderate Anglicanism of Mr. Palmer and even of Dr. Pusey. Frederick Faber was another whose influence was in the same direction. The new party was characterised by great enthusiasm, a disposition to startle the older and more moderate spirits, a recklessness of consequences, a certain love of paradox. Their trust in Newman was absolute. And as long as he himself was confident in his own position they were not likely to break loose. It was when Newman's own mind was touched with doubt and his answers to arguments advanced by the Romanising school lacked {68} confidence, that they waxed bolder and more positive. A new sense of danger, of uncertainty, of disunion, was gradually felt in the ranks of the Tractarians.

Newman at first welcomed Ward's accession to the movement, which came in 1838 after the publication of Froude's 'Remains.' 'Ward is a very important accession,' Newman had written to Bowden. 'He is a man I know very little of, but whom I can't help liking very much.' After he had joined the Tract party Ward rapidly became intimate with Newman, and saw him almost daily, losing no opportunity of pressing the Roman argument and disparaging the purely Anglican view of the movement. Newman had not long before read Manzoni's 'Promessi Sposi.' This picture of 'Romanism' in action had deeply impressed him. 'The Capuchin in the "Promessi Sposi,"' he writes to Rogers, 'has stuck in my heart like a dart. I have never got over him.' And now in September 1839 came, as I have said, the Monophysite and Donatist histories, which suddenly touched him with real misgiving as to the theory which a year earlier he had taught with supreme confidence.

'Since I wrote to you,' he writes to Rogers on September 22, 'I have had the first real hit from Romanism which has happened to me. Robert Wilberforce, who has been passing through, directed my attention to Dr. Wiseman's article in the new Dublin. I must confess it has given me a stomachache. You see the whole history of the Monophysites has been a sort of alterative. And now comes this dose at the end of it. It does certainly come upon one that we are not at the bottom of things. At this moment we have sprung a leak; and the worst of it is that those sharp fellows, Ward, Stanley, and Co. will not let one go to sleep upon it. Curavimus Babylonem et non est curata was an awkward omen. I have not said so much to anyone.

'I seriously think this a most uncomfortable article on every account, though of course it is "ex parte."' [Note 66]

The article worked on him so rapidly that in the following month he confided to Henry Wilberforce his suspicion that in the end he might possibly find it his duty to join the Roman Catholic Church [Note 67]. {69}

Newman really never recovered from the blow which had thus been dealt him. At the moment when hope was highest he had received a serious wound; that it was mortal he did not think. But it destroyed the sense of triumph. It destroyed the confidence which had given his leadership such power. The isolation of the English Church from the rest of the Church Catholic—a commonplace of the controversy—had suddenly got hold of him. It had failed to affect him earlier because it was in the writings of the Catholic controversialists mixed up with untenable positions. The actual anomalies presented by history in the fourth century were not, he felt, allowed for by the Roman Catholics. Yet the argument from anomalies might, he now realised, be pressed too far. The precedent of the fourth century, on which he had taken his stand, might have justified an Anglican in the sixteenth century, before sides were clearly taken in the controversy between Catholic and Protestant. It could not in the nineteenth. He never returned to the old Via Media. He could not answer Ward and his friends with the decision which would have reassured them. They were quick to see this. They pressed the Roman view more and more openly. Pusey and the older party of the movement were distressed and uncomfortable. They failed to obtain from Newman a clear disavowal of the views of Ward and Oakeley. A sense of discomfort and uncertainty arose which changed the character of the movement and clouded its prospects.

In point of fact Newman's old anti-Roman position was broken. He did not see his way clearly, and therefore could not speak confidently. He now admitted that English Roman Catholics belonged to the Church Catholic. He no longer spoke of them as in schism. He gradually thought out a new basis for his position. He maintained that the life within the Church of England was a testimony to its being a living branch of the Church as the Roman Church was also a branch. If the note of Catholicity was not clear in the Church of England, she had clearly the note of Life and the note of Sanctity [Note 68]. 'We could not be as if we had never been a church. We were Samaria,' so he put it a little later, in 1841. He developed his new position in an article in {70} the British Critic in 1840, and in the discourses afterwards entitled 'Sermons on Subjects of the Day.' But he could not satisfactorily answer the difficulty Wiseman's article had raised. 'The only vulnerable point we have,' he wrote to Rogers in November 1840, 'is the penitus toto divisos orbe. It is the heel of Achilles. Yet a man must be a good shot to hit it.' He seemed to dread Rome now. 'It is a bad thing,' he writes to Bowden, 'stirring one's sympathies towards Rome.' And again: 'Were there Sanctity among the Roman Catholics they would indeed be formidable.' [Note 69] Oxford only gradually became conscious of the change. For one so long eager and confident in his attacks on Rome to hesitate and be on the defensive, for him to explain and apologise, meant a profound change, an immense loss in effective leadership. But he maintained still in his letters the attitude of a vigorous champion of the Anglican Church, though Rome had frightened him. Gladstone's book on Church and State he welcomed at this time. 'Doctrinaire and somewhat self-confident,' he writes, but nevertheless 'it will do good. Somehow there is great earnestness, but a want of amiableness about him.'

In one for whom subconscious workings of the mind went for so much, their symptoms may be noted. We see in his letters of 1840 several references to the prospect of adherents of the movement going to Rome. But further, in a letter of February 25, 1840, to his sister Mrs. John Mozley, we find for the first time a thought which must have strongly supplemented the effect of Dr. Wiseman's article—namely, that the Church of Rome alone would be found strong enough to stem the various infidel currents of the time.

'I begin to have serious apprehensions,' he wrote, 'lest any religious body is strong enough to withstand the league of evil but the Roman Church. At the end of the first millenary it withstood the fury of Satan, and now the end of the second is drawing on. Certainly the way that good principles have shot up is wonderful; but I am not clear that they are not tending to Rome—not from any necessity in the principles themselves, but from the much greater proximity between Rome and us than between infidelity and us, and that in a time of trouble we naturally look about for allies.' [Note 70] {71}

In the village of Littlemore, in his parish of St. Mary's, he had as early as 1829 interested himself specially, and had given catechetical instructions there on Sunday evenings. In 1836 he had built a chapel there. He regarded that year as a landmark [Note 71] in the providential course of his life. Now in 1840 he further developed his connection with Littlemore, with a dim presage that it might be his future home.

'We have bought nine or ten acres of ground at Littlemore,' he writes to his sister, 'the field between the chapel and Barnes's, and so be it in due time shall erect a monastic house upon it. This may lead ultimately to my resigning my fellowship. But these are visions as yet.'

The change in the character of the movement became more and more apparent. The Church of England had been the central object of interest from 1833 to 1838. The 'Church of Rome' had been only a feature in the historical controversy which defined her position. By 1841 the proportions were reversed. The presumption was no longer on the Anglican side—it was on the Roman. England had to justify a position at first sight untenable. In this new condition of things it was more than ever necessary to vindicate a Catholic interpretation for the Anglican formularies. The stronger the argument against the Anglicans from their actual separation, the more necessary it was to show that they were not committed to the views of a Protestant sect, and that they still interpreted all formularies enjoined in the Church of England in the sixteenth century, 'according to the sense of the Catholic Church.' [Note 72] To establish this principle in the case of the Thirty-nine Articles was the {72} object of the famous Tract 90, published in February 1841. If this were not done promptly Newman foresaw that the new adherents of the movement would go over to the Roman Church. The Articles (he noted in the Tract), while censuring popular corruptions in the Church of Rome, admitted those Catholic doctrines of which they were corruptions. They censured, not the authoritative and obligatory statements of that Church, but the prevalent teaching of its officials. Moreover, as they were drawn up before the Council of Trent, they could not have been directed against the decrees of that Council.

Newman had gone to history. He had realised that the Articles were a compromise, and that their framers had hoped to get the Catholic party to subscribe them in spite of their Protestant rhetoric. He claimed a like liberty of interpretation now, as the Franciscan, Santa Clara, had done in Charles I.'s reign. But such a claim amazed the Oxford of 1841, and Newman was charged with dishonest quibbling, a charge which remained in the public mind for many years.

The first person to insist on this view of it was Mr. Tait (the future Archbishop), then Fellow and Tutor of Balliol, who with three other tutors formally protested against the Tract. This step was followed a week later by its official censure by the Hebdomadal Board of the Heads of Houses. Dean Stanley's biographer has left a graphic account of the kindling of the flame which spread so rapidly:

'On the morning of the 27th of February, Ward burst excitedly into Tait's rooms. "Here," he cried, "is something worth reading," and threw No. 90 on the table; Tait described to Stanley how he "sate, half-asleep," over the pamphlet, "rather disturbed from time to time by sentences about 'working in chains,' and 'stammering lips,'" till, on turning over the pages, he was suddenly awakened by lighting on the commentary on the Twenty-second Article. He immediately rushed to Ward's rooms to know whether he had rightly understood it; and from that moment the sensation began. He showed No. 90 to one person after another; the excitement increased, but still unknown to Newman; and, on the second Sunday after the Tract had appeared, Ward, who had predicted that it would rouse a tumult, was dining with Newman, and Newman said, "You see, Ward, you {73} are a false prophet." When Ward returned that night to Balliol, he found that the Protest of the Four Tutors was already prepared. It appeared the next day; by the end of the week came down, like a clap of thunder, the Protest of the Heads, and instantly the silence was broken by its being reverberated through every paper in the country.' [Note 73]

The general excitement alarmed the Church authorities. The Bishop of Oxford sent a formal message objecting to the Tract and advising the suspension of the series of 'Tracts for the Times.' Newman published a second edition of the Tract with additions and changes designed to meet the criticisms it had received, writing at the same time to the Bishop expressing his willingness to discontinue the Tracts.

'The affair of No. 90,' writes Newman, 'was a far greater crisis than March 1836, and opened an entirely different scene.' Henceforth the members of the party were suspect of Romanism, and of dishonesty in holding their preferments in the Church of England. The party whose chiefs had represented practically the whole University in the Protest of 1836 against Dr. Hampden's appointment, and had been regarded as the champions of Anglican orthodoxy, was now under a cloud in University and Church alike. The change in the general atmosphere in the University itself was thus described in after years by the late Lord Coleridge:

'Four tutors protested, six doctors suspended, Hebdomadal Boards censured, deans of colleges changed the dinner hour, so as to make the hearing of Newman's sermon and a dinner in Hall incompatible transactions. This seemed then—it seems now—miserably small. It failed, of course; such proceedings always fail. The influence so fought with naturally widened and strengthened. There was imparted to an attendance at St. Mary's that slight flavour of insubordination which rendered such attendance attractive to many, to some at any rate, who might otherwise have stayed away. In 1839 the afternoon congregation at St. Mary's was, for a small Oxford parish, undoubtedly large—probably two or three times the whole population of the parish; but by 1842 it had become as remarkable a congregation as I should think was ever gathered together to hear regularly a single preacher. There was scarcely a man of {74} note in the University, old or young, who did not, during the last two or three years of Newman's incumbency, habitually attend the service and listen to the sermons. One Dean certainly, who had changed the time of his College dinner to prevent others going, constantly went himself; and the outward interest in the teaching was but one symptom of the deep and abiding influence which Cardinal Newman exercised [Note 74].

The Bishops were not satisfied with the suspension of the Tracts. One after another they issued Charges against them. The Charges emphasised the Protestant character of the Church of England. Then came the establishment of the avowedly Protestant English bishopric in Jerusalem, the Bishop being consecrated by the English Primate with the express object of ruling the Lutheran and Calvinistic congregations of the East.

Besides the action of the ecclesiastical authorities, there occurred at this time another event in the University which reminded the party that it was regarded with suspicion in Oxford itself. Mr. Isaac Williams, who was obviously the best qualified candidate for the Professorship of Poetry left vacant by Keble's resignation, was in January 1842 defeated, unmistakably on the ground of his being a Puseyite, though he was by no means in sympathy with the Romanising wing of the party. Then again in May 1843 Dr. Pusey preached a sermon on the Eucharist. He went not a step beyond the recognised Anglican divines, and yet was forthwith suspended for two years from preaching, by authority of the Vice-Chancellor. Signs were accumulating on every side that Oxford and the Church of England regarded Tractarianism as necessarily Roman, whether it took the professedly Anglican colour it wore in Pusey or the avowedly Roman hue imparted to it in Mr. Ward's writings and conversation. Newman's doubts perforce revived. How, he asked himself, could a position be normal to the Church of England which its authoritative organs energetically repudiated? Newman's position at Oxford became more and more difficult, and his visits to Littlemore grew longer and longer. Knowing fully {75} the weight of his lightest word, filled with a painful sense of responsibility, speech became almost impossible for him. He had led the party on for years in supreme confidence that he was strengthening the Anglican Church against Rome. He had denounced Rome with energy in his writings. Now, in his uncertainty, he could neither urge his followers to advance towards Rome nor keep back those who were actually moving Romewards. For himself, external events were slowly but surely pressing him onwards. For others he declined all responsibility. 'His parochial sermons assumed an uneasy tone which perplexed his followers,' writes Principal Shairp. To remain an Anglican with his views appeared to him more and more a paradox. The defence of the position in Oxford he left to those to whom paradox was more congenial, and W. G. Ward became gradually more and more active and outspoken [Note 75].

Before he had taken the final step Newman thus referred to the effect on him of the action of the ecclesiastical authorities at this time:

'Many a man might have held an abstract theory about the Catholic Church to which it was difficult to adjust the Anglican, might have admitted a suspicion or even painful doubt about the latter, yet never have been impelled onwards had our rulers preserved the quiescence of former years; but it is the corroboration of a great living and energetic heterodoxy that realises and makes such doubts practical. It has been the recent speeches and acts of authorities who had been so long tolerant of Protestant error, which has given to enquiry and to theory its force and edge.'

On April 19, 1842, he migrated to his cottage at Littlemore for good. Henceforth it was his headquarters, visits to Oriel being occasional. He was at Littlemore for some days quite alone, without friend or servant. He had made his determination and begun his preparations in February. It is clear that he regarded it as a significant step. The movement had never been more influential, and Tract 90 had an immerse sale. But its success was not for him. He writes thus to Mrs. J. Mozley: {76}

'Feb. 6, 42.
'I am going up to Littlemore and my books are all in motion—part gone, the rest in a day or two. It makes me very downcast. It is such a nuisance taking steps. But for years three lines of Horace have been in my ears:

'"Lusisti satis, edisti satis atque bibisti:
Tempus abire tibi est: ne potum largius aequo
Rideat et pulset lasciva decentius aetas."

'Of Tract 90 12,500 copies have been sold and a 3rd edition is printed. An American clergyman who was here lately told me he saw it in every house.'

In 1843 Newman wrote to a friend definitely that he believed the Roman Catholic Church to be the Church of the Apostles. England was in schism, and such graces as were apparent in the Anglican Communion were 'extraordinary and from the overflowing of the Divine dispensation' ('Apologia,' p. 208). He resigned the vicarage of St. Mary's on September 18. In the same year in the pages of the Conservative Journal he retracted all his attacks on the Church of Rome. The inevitable sequel was in sight for others as well as for himself—the parting from so many Oxford friends and disciples who had for years hung on his every word. On September 25 he preached at Littlemore his sermon on the Parting of Friends. It was the last public scene of the silent tragedy which was being enacted. He told in that sermon, clearly for those who understood, how he himself had found the Church of his birth and of his early affections wanting; how he was torn asunder between the claims of those he must leave behind him and those who would follow him; that he could speak to his friends no more from that pulpit, but could only commit them to God and bid them strive to do His will. His voice broke (so the tradition runs) and his words were interrupted by the sobs of his hearers as he said his last words of farewell.

From this time onwards he lived in seclusion at Littlemore with a group of his younger disciples, in whose company he led a life of quasi-monastic discipline. The Via Media as an intellectual theory was finally relinquished. He clung to the argument supplied by the presence of life and sanctity {77} within the Church of England. And it was this note of some continuity between the existing Church of England and that of happier days which inspired the 'Lives of the English Saints' which he now began to edit. Sanctity had been, he maintained, throughout Church history the great antidote to corruption. His last despairing hope for the Church of England seems to have been that this might be so again, and that, as with the human body, intense vitality might remedy functional disorder and restore normal health. To arouse interest in the English saints of old would stimulate religious zeal within the Church of England. It became plain, however, that the tone of the Lives was not in harmony with the Anglicanism of the time. The Life of St. Stephen Harding was held by persons of weight to be 'of a character inconsistent even with its proceeding from an Anglican publisher.' Newman retired from the editorship after two numbers had been published, though many others of the Lives were already in an advanced state of preparation and made their appearance in due course. That the Church of England could not now stand the biographies of those who were on Catholic principles its own saints was one more significant fact added to the number that had by now well-nigh crushed him.

The change of Communion was now really only a matter of time. And the terrible secret was whispered through Oxford. Gradually it dawned on those who had been longing to hear the loved voice again, who had been chafing at his silence without realising what it portended, that for Oxford he had ceased for ever to speak. Perhaps men had never before fully realised all that those sermons had been to them.

'How vividly,' writes Principal Shairp, 'comes back the remembrance of the aching blank, the awful pause, which fell on Oxford when that voice had ceased, and we knew that we should hear it no more. It was as when, to one kneeling by night, in the silence of some vast cathedral, the great bell tolling solemnly overhead has suddenly gone still. To many, no doubt, the pause was not of long continuance. Soon they began to look this way and that for new teachers, and to rush vehemently to the opposite extremes of thought. {78} But there were those who could not so lightly forget. All the more these withdrew into themselves. On Sunday forenoons and evenings, in the retirement of their rooms, the printed words of those marvellous sermons would thrill them till they wept "abundant and most sweet tears." Since then many voices of powerful teachers they may have heard, but none that ever penetrated the soul like his.'

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1. Mr. Thomas Mozley states that the family were once small landed proprietors in Cambridgeshire (Reminiscences, i. II). The Cardinal himself, in conversation with the late Father Neville, named Swaffham, in Norfolk, as the locality to which the family had belonged. The Lancaster Herald, Mr. Bellasis, who looked into the Cardinal's ancestry when the Cardinal's Hat was conferred in 1879, informs me that there is no official pedigree extant. The arms used by the family were granted in 1663 to Mr. John Newman of London, from whom, however, the Cardinal's descent has not been traced.
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2. The writer was at pains to ascertain the evidence for the alleged Jewish descent of the Newman family, and it proved to be a curious instance of how stories grow out of nothing. It is stated definitely in Dr. Barry's Cardinal Newman 'that its real descent was Hebrew.' Dr. Barry, in answer to my inquiries, referred me to the article on J. H. Newman in the Encyclopædia Britannica as his authority. And undoubtedly that article first broached the suggestion. I happened to know personally the writer in the Encyclopædia Britannica and communicated with him. In reply he pointed out that he had in his article never alleged Jewish descent as a fact, but only suggested its possibility. 'There is no evidence for it,' he added, 'except the nose and the name.' For those, then, who agree with the present writer that the nose was Roman rather than Jewish, the evidence remains simply that the name 'Newman' betokens Hebrew origin—a bold experiment in the higher criticism. I may add that in a more recent correspondence Dr. Barry agrees with me that no satisfactory evidence on the subject has been adduced. The Fourdriniers were a family of some interest. Their pedigree from 1658 made out by the late Dr. Lee, of All Saints', Lambeth, is given in the Appendix to Chapter II. facing p. 614.
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3. Family Adventures. By the author of the Fairy Bower. London: John and Charles Murphy, Paternoster Row, and Joseph Masters, New Broad Street; 1852. The Cardinal's two sisters Jemima and Harriet married respectively Mr. John Mozley and Mr. Thomas Mozley.
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4. I have also added some particulars from other portions of his works and from the reminiscences of his intimate friend Father Neville.
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5. This extract is from a letter of 1886.
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6. Newman's Letters and Correspondence, i. 22.
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7. Ibid. i. 27.
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8. Ibid. i. 124.
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9. Ibid. p. 123.
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10. Ibid. p. 122.
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11. Apologia, p. 4.
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12. Letters and Correspondence, p. 25; Grammar of Assent, p. 197.
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13. Apologia, p. 198. In speaking of Newman's keen sense of God's presence in his conscience as an interesting psychological fact I am of course not examining the entirely distinct question as to the place which he assigned to the phenomena of conscience as an argument for Theism. Of this I shall speak later on. The feeling referred to in the text is akin to that found in such great mystics as St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa.
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14. Letters and Correspondence, p. 14.
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15. Life of Pusey, ii. 450.
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16. Letters, i. 59.
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17. Ibid. i. 48.
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18. Ibid. i. 29.
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19. Letters, i. 30.
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20. Ibid. i. 35.
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21. Ibid. i. 28.
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22. Letters, i. 39.
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23. See Idea of a University, p. 322.
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24. He was entered as a student at Lincoln's Inn in June 1819.
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25. Letters, i. 45.
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26. Ibid. i. 49.
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27. Ibid. i. 68.
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28. 'He never wished for anything better or higher than, in the words of the epitaph, "to live and die a Fellow of Oriel"' (i. 73, Autobiographical Memoir).
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29. i. p. 72, Autobiographical Memoir. In a letter to his mother he adds 'Men hurried from all directions to Trinity … The bells were set ringing from three towers (I had to pay for them).'
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30. Letters, i. 74.
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31. Autobiographical Memoir quoted in Letters, i. p. 73.
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32. Letters, i. 105-7.
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33. Ibid. i. 114.
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34. A nephew of Mr. Ward, of the Isle of Wight, and afterwards Governor of Ceylon. Sir Henry Ward's father was the well-known statesman and novelist Robert Plumer Ward, the friend of William Pitt, and author of Tremaine.
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35. The brother of Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, and of Newman's intimate friend Henry Wilberforce. He ultimately became a Catholic.
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36. Apologia, p. 243.
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37. Letters, i. 204, seq.
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38. Letters, i. 245.
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39. Letters, i. 254.
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40. For Newman's use of the word 'economy' see University Sermons, p. 65 note; also pp. 199, 264, 269. See also Arians, pp. 77 seq. In the Apologia he speaks of the doctrine of the economy as one of the 'underlying principles of a great portion of my teaching' (p. 10). See also Apologia, p. 243.
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41. Apologia, p. 26.
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42. 'If we would speak correctly, we must confess, on the authority of the Bible itself, that all knowledge of religion is from Him, and not only that which the Bible has transmitted to us. There never was a time when God had not spoken to man, and told him to a certain extent his duty. His injunctions to Noah, the common father of all mankind, is the first recorded fact of the sacred history after the Deluge. Accordingly, we are expressly told in the New Testament that at no time He left Himself without witness in the world, and that in every nation He accepts those who fear and obey Him. It would seem, then, that there is something true and divinely revealed in every religion all over the earth, overloaded, as it may be, and at times even stifled, by the impieties which the corrupt will and understanding of man have incorporated with it. Such are the doctrines of the power and presence of an invisible God, of His moral law and governance, of the obligation of duty and the certainty of a just judgment, and of reward and punishment, as eventually dispensed to individuals; so that Revelation, properly speaking, is an universal, not a local gift; and the distinction between the state of Israelites formerly and Christians now, and that of the heathen, is, not that we can and they cannot attain to future blessedness, but that the Church of God ever has had, and the rest of mankind never have had, authoritative documents of truth and appointed channels of communication with Him. The Word and the Sacraments are the characteristic of the elect people of God; but all men have had more or less the guidance of tradition, in addition to those internal notions of right and wrong which the Spirit has put into the heart of each individual. This vague and uncertain family of religious truths, originally from God, but sojourning, without the sanction of miracle or a definite home, as pilgrims up and down the world, and discernible and separable from the corrupt legends with which they are mixed by the spiritual mind alone, may be called the Dispensation of Paganism, after the example of the learned Father already quoted.'—Arians of the Fourth Century, p. 79.
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43. 'While he strenuously opposes all that is idolatrous, immoral, and profane in their creed, he will profess to be leading them on to perfection, and to be recovering and purifying, rather than reversing, the essential principles of their belief.'—Ibid. p. 84.
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44. For Newman's use of the word 'impression' see University Sermons, pp. 333, 334; see also pp. 332, 336, and 350 for a fuller expression of the analysis of his position given in the text.
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45. 'While the line of tradition, drawn out as it was to the distance of two centuries from the Apostles, had at length become of too frail a texture to resist the touch of subtle and ill-directed reason, the Church was naturally unwilling to have recourse to the novel, though necessary, measure of imposing an authoritative creed upon those whom it invested with the office of teaching. If I avow my belief that freedom from symbols and articles is abstractedly the highest state of Christian communion, and the peculiar privilege of the primitive Church, it is not from any tenderness towards that proud impatience of control in which many exult, as in a virtue; but, first, because technicality and formalism are, in their degree, inevitable results of public confessions of faith; and next, because when confessions do not exist, the mysteries of Divine truth, instead of being exposed to the gaze of the profane and uninstructed, are kept hidden in the bosom of the Church far more faithfully than is otherwise possible.'—Arians, 36-7.
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46. Newman speaks of Coleridge as 'looking at the Church, sacraments, doctrines, &c., rather as symbols of a philosophy than as truths—as the mere accidental type of principles.'—Letters, ii. 156.
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47. See Arians, p. 143, and University Sermons, p. 350.
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48. Arians, p. 35.
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49. Letters, i. 265.
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50. Letters, i. 306.
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51. Ibid. i. 317.
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52. R. H. Hutton's Cardinal Newman (Methuen), p. 44.
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53. Letters, i. 320-21.
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54. Letters, i. 358.
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55. Who Mr. B. was I do not know.
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56. Letters, i. 378-9.
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57. Letters, i. 416-7.
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58. Ibid. i. 419.
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59. Life of Aubrey de Vere, p. 182.
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60. Letters, ii. 39. But there were differences between the two thinkers—cf. pp. 54, 93, 156. Some writers have, I observe, quoted Newman's letter in old age stating that he 'never read a line of Coleridge.' It is not the only instance in which his memory was in later years seriously at fault.
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61. See Letters, ii. p. 407.
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62. Life of Archbishop Tait, i. 105.
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63. Fellow of Oriel, afterwards Lord Blachford.
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64. In Short Studies, vol. iv.
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65. The Essay on Keble was published in a volume entitled Studies in Poetry and Philosophy by Principal Shairp of St. Andrews (p. 244).
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66. Letters, ii. 286.
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67. See Dublin Review, April 1869, p. 327.
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68. Apologia, pp. 150-52.
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69. Letters, ii. 314-15.
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70. Ibid. ii. 300.
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71. The following note is attached by Newman to a packet of letters of 1836:
'March 1836 is a cardinal point of time. It gathers about it, more or less closely, the following events:

1. Froude's death.
2. My mother's death and my sister's marriage.
3. My knowing and using the Breviary.
4. First connexion with the British Critic.
5. The tracts becoming treatises.
6. Start of the "Library of the Fathers."
7. Theological Society.
8. My writing against the Church of Rome.
9. Littlemore Chapel.

A new scene gradually opened.'
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72. Letters, ii. 336.
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73. Life of Stanley, i. 292.
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74. See Lord Coleridge's tribute 'In Memoriam,' to Principal Shairp, published in Professor Knight's volume, Principal Shairp and his Friends.
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75. Dean Bradley writes of this time that W. G. Ward 'succeeded Newman in Oxford as the acknowledged leader of the party' (see his A. P. Stanley, p. 65).
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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