Chapter 7. The English Oratory (1848-1850)

{197} THE second week in January saw the gradual assembling of the new community. Dr. Wiseman had now been transferred to London as acting Vicar Apostolic of the district [Note 1]. But the new Oratory was placed by Papal Brief at Birmingham, close to his former residence at Oscott, and there it consequently remained. A letter to Henry Wilberforce gives some particulars as to the Brief of foundation. It also shows Newman filled with that deep sense of the supernatural agencies at work in the history of the Church which he had brought with him from Rome and from the Holy House at Loretto:

'Maryvale: January 19, 1848.
'I suppose you think I might have told you more in my last letter by this your second. But I really have not much to tell. The Pope's Brief, which I bring with me, fixes me at Maryvale and Birmingham—but, as my name alone is introduced into it, me only. I could not change without his interference. Dr. Wiseman's going to London is since the Brief was drawn up. The late Bishop [Note 2] (of London) between ourselves was the only Bishop who did not cordially welcome me. He was a good, upright, careful man, but timid—he was really kind to me personally, but he feared me. So I felt myself cut out of London. He died just after the Brief was finished. My being at Birmingham (which I like better myself) will not preclude my coming to London occasionally.

'We were to have brought the Bulls (for establishing the Hierarchy), and waited for that purpose—but there were {198} delays, and we saw that if we waited longer, we should miss either Loretto or a London Christmas. We arrived, as it was, only on Christmas Eve—and had travelled seven nights out of eight.

'I went to Loretto with a simple faith, believing what I still more believed when I saw it. I have no doubt now. If you ask me why I believe, it is because every one believes it at Rome; cautious as they are and sceptical about some other things—I believe it then as I believe that there is a new planet called Neptune, or that chloroform destroys the sense of pain. I have no antecedent difficulty in the matter. He who floated the Ark on the surges of a world-wide sea, and inclosed in it all living things, who has hidden the terrestrial paradise, who said that faith might move mountains, who sustained thousands for forty years in a sterile wilderness, who transported Elias and keeps him hidden till the end, could do this wonder also. And in matter of fact we see all other records of our Lord and His Saints gathered up in the heart of Christendom from the ends of the earth as Paganism encroached on it (i.e. his relics). St. Augustine leaves Hippo, the prophet Samuel and St. Stephen Jerusalem, the crib in which our Lord lay leaves Bethlehem with St. Jerome, the Cross is dug up, St. Athanasius goes to Venice, there is a general [metabainomen enteuthen]. In short I feel no difficulty in believing it, though it may be often difficult to realize [Note 3] …

'Ever yours affectionately,

In January there were gathered together at Maryvale Fathers St. John, Dalgairns, Penny, Stanton, and Coffin. These, together with Father Knox (a novice) and three lay brothers, formed the original community of Oratorians. Philip and Joseph Gordon joined them as novices [Note 4] in the following month.

Besides the actual novices, the Oratory proposed to take and educate a few boys with a view to their ultimately joining the community.

'You should let me take Lisle,' Newman wrote to George Ryder, 'and make a little Oratorian of him, i.e. to wear the {199} dress and serve at functions, and be educated. Then when he grew up, he could exercise the dear right of Private Judgment, throw off the habit and set up for a flash character—for we have no vows [Note 5].

'The Oratory was formally inaugurated on February 2, the Feast of the Purification. Newman chose that day—which was also the foundation day at Oriel—in order that his new Oratory might be 'under the shadow of Maria Purificans.' Some of ,the Fathers took as their customary designation the name of some saint: thus Coffin became Father Robert, Dalgairns Father Bernard. Others, as St. John, Knox, and Newman himself, retained their own Christian names.

Thus 'under the protection of Our Lady and St. Philip' his first work as a Catholic was begun, in the double spirit of faith and absolute resignation which was so marked in him. He was ready for failure in the world's eye, for possible failure also to accomplish much which he himself pictured as the aim to be striven for. God would bless as His own all work done for Him, and therefore real failure was impossible. But He would bless it in His own way and not necessarily in the way imagined by His instruments. Newman never forgot that the world's neglect was the recompense for which St. Philip himself used to pray. 'Neglect,' he said in an early sermon, 'was the badge which St. Philip desired for himself and for his own, "to despise the whole world, to despise no member of it, to despise oneself, to despise being despised."' His grateful acquiescence in Birmingham rather than London as the scene of their labours was conceived in this same spirit.

The story which has now to be told is, for years, that of strenuous labour, as Newman followed unswervingly the {200} 'kindly light,' still, and in some ways more than even in his earlier life, 'amid the encircling gloom.' The prayer for neglect seemed at moments to be very literally answered; and the answer was hard to bear. Many chapters in the story tell of misunderstanding on the part of those whom he strove to serve, of the temporary prevalence in England within the Church of tendencies which he deplored, of the troubles which inevitably attend on one with the poet's or literary artist's temperament who is called on to initiate a great practical work—and this late in life. Such trials at moments, to use his own words, 'tore off' his 'morbidly sensitive skin.' To one with his temperament mental trial and apparent incidental failure appeared to cause a kind of physical pain even amid the most patient endurance. And as we read in the following pages the record of what he suffered we may be tempted to think that such sufferings represented the whole of his life in these years. But those who knew him best all bear the same testimony as he himself bore when directly questioned on the subject—that his trials never even in the most joyless hours diminished the underlying peace and happiness, the rest of soul, which the Catholic Church had brought him, and which he had never known before. His life as a Catholic recalls the device inscribed at the beginning of a Benedictine prayer-book—the word 'Pax' encircled with a crown of thorns. So, too, for the souls in purgatory peace is held to remain amid the acutest sufferings, because they know that their union with God is at last secure and their very suffering unites them to Him. Precisely twenty years after the opening of the Oratory, when purifying trial had done its very worst or very best, he wrote some words which must never be forgotten while the following pages are read. One who was still an Anglican had in January 1868 expressed a doubt whether Newman did not regret having parted from his old friends in the Church of England, whether he had found in the Catholic Church after all what he looked for, or what compensated for all he had lost. To this question, conveyed to Newman through an intimate friend (the late Lord Blachford), he thus replied in a letter: {201}

'My own deep wound was before I left them, and in leaving them; and it was healed, when the deed was done, as far as it was personal, and not from the reflection of their sorrow. Today is the 20th anniversary of my setting up the Oratory in England, and every year I have more to thank God for, and more cause to rejoice that He helped me over so great a crisis—Since A.B. obliges me to say it, this I cannot omit to say:—I have found in the Catholic Church abundance of courtesy, but very little sympathy, among persons in high place, except a few—but there is a depth and a power in the Catholic religion, a fulness of satisfaction in its creed, its theology, its rites, its sacraments, its discipline, a freedom yet a support also, before which the neglect or the misapprehension about oneself on the part of individual living persons, however exalted, is as so much dust, when weighed in the balance. This is the true secret of the Church's strength, the principle of its indefectibility, and the bond of its indissoluble unity. It is the earnest and the beginning of the repose of heaven.'

The new congregation was in full working order before February was over.

'We are very busy, as you may think,' Newman writes on March 9—'I as Superior, as Novice Master, as Lecturer in theology, have enough to do—besides chance matters and going to Birmingham. We have, I believe, 18 priests in fact or potentialiter.'

Indeed the number of coming recruits seemed to be very large, and the possibility was soon discussed of branch houses at Bayswater, in Reading, and elsewhere. From the very beginning of Newman's labours for the Oratory on his return to England we observe a certain note of despondency amid untiring work. He complains in many letters of loss of vigour. He was forty-seven years old—a time of life when even very hard work in a groove already formed is easy, but the worry of initiation is irksome. 'Tis a strange time,' he writes to one friend in March, 'all things are being new cast.' 'It is an awful thing,' he writes to another (Henry Wilberforce), 'beginning so new a life in the end of my days. How I wish I had in me the energy which I had when I began the Tracts for the Times! Now I am scarce more, to my own feelings, {202} than an inutile lignum; so stiff, so wooden. May you never have, dear Henry, the bitter reflection that you have left yourself but the dregs of life for God's service!'

Then, again, many of his new companions were less congenial than those of Oxford days. Frederick Faber had founded a community of enthusiastic converts, whom he named the Wilfridians, at St. Wilfrid's, Cotton Hall, Cheadle. They petitioned to be allowed to join the Oratory at Maryvale, and Newman consented. They were admitted in February. Devoted to Newman though these young men were, there was from the first a difference of temperament between him and the newcomers which only increased as time went on. Moreover, the constant pressure of the complicated and difficult work of practical organisation told upon Newman's spirits, and the rigorous fasting of many years upon his health and strength. He seems to have had at moments the feeling that his influence was gone and his power of doing good at an end.

One who knew him most intimately has said of him that he ever had an almost physical inability to open out spontaneously in conversation when there had been misunderstanding. If others took the first step he would often respond gratefully. But only a few knew him well enough to approach him with success. Thus a wholly mistaken impression might long prevail and colour his view of the relations between himself and others. Possibly enough, some such misconception entered into the feeling which he expressed that summer in writing to Ambrose St. John, who had left him for a few days on family business, that the young men from St. Wilfrid's (the giovani as he called them) were stiff and restrained in their intercourse with him. The letter is characteristic even in its minute and in themselves trivial details as to his health:

'Maryvale: July 12, 1848.
'Carissime,—Don't come back till Tuesday.

'My head is so stupid today, that I take up my pen, as the only thing I can do, even if that. I have a little cold, but, independent of that, my head has been worse since you left ... It makes me languid and drowsy, and then I can't do my duties, and people think me reserved &c., when I don't mean to be. {203}

''At times the sense of weight (of responsibility) and of desolateness has come on me so strongly, that I could fancy it might grow equal to any pain; and I thought what the Pope must suffer. It is useless to tell you on paper all the little trials which constitute all this and it is ungrateful in me not to be more cheered with the improvement of things in some quarters. My great trouble is some of the giovani—not that anything new has occurred, but they have so repelled anything between us but what is external, shown so little kindness when I have done things for them, treated me with so little confidence, as to throw me back upon myself—and now I quite dread the fortnightly chapter day, when I have to make them a little address, as being something so very external, when I have no means to know what is going on in their minds. In consequence I feel as if I was not doing my duty to them, yet without any fault. I don't know what influence I am exerting over them. It is as if my time of work were gone by. Except that one has been led step by step to where one is, beginning in 1841 with going to Littlemore, one is tempted to say: "How much happier for me to have no liabilities (so to speak) but to be a single unfettered convert";—but if this had been so, I should not have known you, Carissime—so good and evil go together.

'The above I wrote before dinner, and suddenly during dinner my deafness &c. went away completely on my taking some cayenne pepper, which I had speculated upon using for some hours before, and for the time I am better than I have been for a fortnight past—how odd it is—whether nervous, or what?

'I grieve for your troubles at home, though I have been talking only of my own. Don't take them to heart.

'Love from all.
'Ever yours affectionately,

A curious instance of Newman's difficulty in bridging the apparent separation between himself and younger members of the community, when there was in reality nothing but affectionate feeling on both sides, was related to me by Father Philip Gordon. He told me that after some weeks, during which he and Newman met daily without a word, when he was wondering as to the cause of what appeared to be a real breach between them, the Father Superior one morning put into his hands the following note: {204}

'My dearest Brother,—It is strange to write to you and write about nothing; but such is my fate just now and for some time, that, since I have nothing to say to you, I must either be silent or unseasonable.

'Many is the time I have stood over the fire at breakfast and looked at you at Recreation, hunting for something to talk about. The song says that "love cannot live on flowers": not so, yet it requires material, if not for sustenance, at least for display—and I have fancied too that younger and lighter minds perhaps could not, if they would, care much for one who has had so much to wear him down.

'All blessings come on you my dear Brother—in proportion to my waning.

'Ever yours affectionately,

Newman at first made a great effort to throw himself completely into the ideas of his new followers from St. Wilfrid's who were disposed to adopt Continental forms of popular devotion almost indiscriminately. He also used in these early years the vehement language, common among the younger converts, in respect of the Anglican Church. He wrote of its services as 'a ritual dashed upon the ground, trodden on and broken piecemeal; prayers clipped, pieced, shuffled about at pleasure until the meaning of the composition perished … vestments chucked off, lights quenched, jewels stolen, the pomp and circumstance of worship annihilated; a dreariness which could be felt and which seemed the token of an uninspired Socinianism pouring itself upon the eye, the ear, the nostril of the worshipper.' [Note 6] As years went on such language became less congenial to him. As to popular devotions he came definitely to hold the view which had all along commended itself to the solid commonsense of men like Dr. Newsham of Ushaw and Dr. Ullathorne, who advocated no wide departure from such forms of piety as had long been in use among English Catholics [Note 7]. The earlier impulse came, {205} as he says in his letter to Dr. Pusey, from younger men whom he 'loved and trusted'; but he adds, 'my mind in no long time fell back to what seems to me a safer and more practical course.' The struggle in his mind, however, and the ultimate modification in his opinions added to his trial, and in the time of transition he failed wholly to please either party. The 'old Catholics' of England, along with certain deficiencies arising from their long exclusion from our great educational centres, had plenty of character, and together with it plenty of honest English prejudice. There were novelties in devotion introduced from Continental sources by the converts which were not to their taste. Faber and his friends, besides adopting the Roman vestments and classical architecture, which were not to the liking of the generation of English Catholics whose taste had been formed by Pugin, affected also the exuberant and sometimes untheological language to be found in some French and Italian books of devotion. These things were innovations. The 'old Catholics' (as they were called) were no doubt somewhat jealous of the influence of clever converts from Oxford who aspired apparently to teach the whole Catholic community in England. Newman's younger followers were far less disposed to be considerate towards the 'old Catholics' than was Newman himself. They went their own way. And the 'old Catholics' came to regard them as a party which held aloof from the general body. Newman, who felt that, even with all possible encouragement, his task in founding the Oratory was hard enough, was keenly sensitive to the smallest sign of such absence of sympathy. Dr. Wiseman now asked the Oratorians to preach Lenten sermons in the London churches. Newman expected crowded congregations. The enthusiasm with which he had been received everywhere in 1846 was still fresh in his mind. But a certain reaction seemed already to have set in, and the churches were nearly empty. Newman preached at St. George's on April 9, at Chelsea on the 10th, at Spanish Place on the 11th, and again at St. George's on the 12th. Other sermons followed. The congregations grew no larger. It was a fortnight of complete failure. To the younger fathers—Faber, Hutchison, Dalgairns, Coffin—who also preached, the failure was of {206} little account. Newman felt it deeply. 'To please Dr. Wiseman,' he writes in his Journal, looking back at the time fifteen years later, 'I made the wretched throw off in London, against my will, of the Oratorian Lent preaching at Passiontide—a blunder and a failure which even now I cannot think of without a raw sensitiveness.'

Then Father Wilfrid Faber—as Frederick Faber was now called—full of vigour and initiative, acting on Newman's wish to make English Catholics familiar with the biographies of modern Saints, started some translations of Italian Saints' lives.

The following memorandum gives the views with which Newman sanctioned the inauguration of the series [Note 8]:

'The Saints are the glad and complete specimens of the new creation which our Lord brought into the moral world, and as "the heavens declare the glory of God" as Creator, so are the Saints proper and true evidence of the God of Christianity, and tell out into all lands the power and grace of Him who made them. What the existence of the Church itself is to the learned and philosophical, such are the Saints to the multitude. They are the popular evidence of Christianity, and the most complete and logical evidence while the most popular. It requires time, learning, the {207} powers of attention and logical consecutiveness and comprehensiveness, to survey the Church of all ages and places as one, and to recognise it, (as to the intellect, it is, and must be distinctly recognised,) as the work of God alone; to most of us it is the separate, and in one sense incomplete, portions of this great phenomenon which turn one's mind to Catholicism, or whole work of God,—a perfect work from beginning to end, yet one which may be bound between two boards, and mastered by the most unlearned. The exhibition of a person, his thoughts, his words, his acts, his trials, his features, his beginnings, his growth, his end, have a charm to every one; and where he is a Saint they have a divine influence and persuasion, a power of exercising and eliciting the latent elements of divine grace in individual readers, as no other reading can have. We consider that the Lives of the Saints are one of the main and special instruments, to which, under God, we may look for the conversion of our countrymen at this time.'

Some features in these 'Lives,' with which readers of Italian hagiography are familiar, scandalised many English readers. Mr. Price, a priest of the old school, published in Dolman's Magazine a strong attack on the life of St. Rose of Lima. The attack was violent and indefensible. Mr. Price accused the writer and translator of sanctioning idolatry, on the ground that St. Rose was represented as asking favours from the image of a saint. But while Mr. Price was generally admitted to have gone too far, few if any of the hereditary Catholics considered the series entirely satisfactory; and even Dr. Newsham of Ushaw, Newman's staunch friend, held that they needed modification to suit the taste of English readers. The abundance of imperfectly proved miracles was objected to, and some of the stories of scandals within the Church were considered unsuitable for Protestant England. Dr. Ullathorne, who on April 30 was installed as Vicar Apostolic of the Central district (and consequently Newman's Bishop), held the objection to them to be wide-spread. On learning that the 'Lives' chosen and edited by Father Faber were in some quarters disapproved, Newman wrote to Bishop Wiseman in October, proposing, if the Bishops thought well, to edit the series himself, in the name of the whole Congregation. {208}

Newman had an interview with Dr. Ullathorne, and chronicled the result in a letter to one of his brother Oratorians. The letter shows a touch of combativeness and party spirit unlike Newman's earlier or later manner—a sign perhaps of the strain caused by his efforts to fall in with the tone of mind of some of the younger fathers:

'Maryvale: Oct. 22/48.
'Well then, the Bishop has stopped the Lives of the Saints. Without my asking him—for what I put before him was, that we could not go on, without the Bishop's support. He has not simply declined his support, but in every variety of form, categorically and circumstantially, advised their stopping.

'I saw him yesterday. He was very kind and easy in his manner. He said he had asked a number of persons—first Dr. Browne of Wales, who was for stopping them. He had asked a number of priests—he had been to nunneries, and found them disliked. The first great fault was dryness. What he wanted extremely was original lives like that most beautiful of St. Stephen Harding, and others which we published at Oxford. Next, that the feeling of Catholics about them might be summed up in these two objections—first that the miracles need not be believed (and were difficult)—secondly that they would prejudice protestants—that the nuns of St. Benedict's Priory (I think), a very well regulated spiritual body, feared they would harm Protestants—that he had heard some Catholics or Protestants (I forget which) at Wolverhampton scrupled at receiving the account of St. Winifred carrying her head—that Bacci was dry—that he believed that Dr. Waring, from the "English" character of his mind, would be of the same view. I did not give any opinion of my own, because I was not asked;—he said he would write to one or two other Bishops, and then let me know ...

'He went on to ask if F. Faber was not opposed to Gothic architecture, screens, etc. I said that we all disliked exclusiveness but nothing more—that I thought Gothic was extremely superior to Grecian as a matter of art, but that we wished to keep the Rubrics. He said here or elsewhere, that we must do something to soothe the "jealousy" of the clergy. I did not reply—but this strikes me as impertinent—why are they jealous? What have we done? since the day we were Catholics they have been bursting with "jealousy"—and we are on every occasion to give way to this indefinite terror. {209}

'The only remark which I have to make is that it is shameful to recommend us to stop the Lives, before they have made Price eat his words publicly. But it is our destiny, and blessedness, thus to be treated ever. I thought of trying to set him against Price, but I somehow think that our Lady and St. Philip will take our part, if we do not take our own—and even humanly speaking we shall be sure to have defenders, if we do not defend ourselves.

'But this is almost clear, that we must send some one to Rome—at least I don't see how we can escape it. I know I have at present the Pope's ear; and I think he might he made to see that a so-called Englishman may speciously conceal under screens and roods a great deal of doctrinal error. We ought to (and might) get full leave in our rescript to keep up the Italian traditions of the Oratory.'

That Dr. Ullathorne's views were not quite what might be inferred from this account of Newman's the following letter from the Bishop himself shows. His standpoint seems to differ but little from that of Dr. Newsham—that portions of the Lives were unsuitable to the general public.

'We must guard,' he writes to Newman on November 3, 'against mistaking each other. We are each looking from a separate point of view, I suspect. My letter requires the limitations implied in my previous conversations; and what I have said from myself must be distinguished from what I have cited from others. The principal enjoyment of my own life has been the lives of the Saints and their mystic writings. Very rare, alas! now, are such enjoyments. I had even planned with a Dominican Father the publication of a series of such works, when the mitre placed against my own inclinations upon my head, extinguished the plan. Hard and toilsome and full of pains are the unseen labours of a Bishop in a country like this.

'Heroic spirits are the small minority. Such spirits have been drawn towards you, and have gathered around you. Heroic grace is gained by the "small number." Give strong meats with wisdom and soberness. It was what St. Paul did with the new Christians of his time. He knew them well and did not give the same food to all.

'The late Fr. Gentili, a bosom friend of mine, and as you know a saintly man, began in England with a lofty ideal, which, happily, never diminished in his own ardent spirit; and for many years he concealed not his opinions on the English {210} clergy and their "low" views. He became intimately conversant with their missionary struggles and with the nature of the people; old Catholics, and converts, and catechumens, with whom they have to deal. A few months before his death I had, to my great happiness, many and long conversations with him, prolonged day by day for six weeks. His view of the facts of our position and of the nature of our contest had become wonderfully changed in the course of his missions ... It was his wide experimental knowledge of the whole body of society in England which is brought in contact with Catholic teaching which changed his views. He had become much more moderate in his mode of instruction, though he lamented its necessity. He saw that many things in the clergy which he had formerly attributed to sluggishness were to be ascribed to prudence. This fact must be taken with its right limitations. He lamented the hasty conclusions which new converts (this does not, believe me, include you or those who are with you,) and some indiscreet young Catholics of old stocks, had reported in Rome, and also the mischief which had been created from which we all had for a time to suffer ... He longed himself to go to Rome to give in person this corrected view of things, as his more intimate experience had found the case to be.

'What I say then, is:—

'1st. You are free in right to publish whatever is not against faith and morals.

'2nd. You are right in zeal and charity in publishing many lives of Saints and holy books.

'3rd. Prudence, without which, as the fathers of the desert say, no virtue is a virtue, she being the ruler of all virtues as a Queen, requires that what to you and me is full of edification and instruction should not be put forth in such a form that what to you and me is apprehended rightly may be changed into error in the ill-prepared minds of the multitude. The mass will generalize particular facts with regard to the clergy for example, where they know not by experience the general spirit of the clergy ... They only can safely for themselves know the weaknesses which Satan sows in the Church, who know the force of her graces. The feeble in faith and the faithless will fasten upon the first as a ground for withholding consent to the second. The bane and antidote are before them, but will they not in taking both make the bane destroy the antidote. An English Catholic does not refuse to own what is in his church, but belongs not to it; but he {211} declines coming forward to tell it, as he would decline to tell the vices of his next neighbour where he knows that it will scandalize.

'But to return for a moment to the general subject. I would say let the majority of readers, the mass of the weak, the ignorant and the grossly prejudiced be kept in view. I would advise the lives to be rewritten, and then we shall have a language always clear and unmistakeable as to the substance of doctrine implied in the narrative. So wrote the Fathers when they wrote in the midst of heresy. The less authenticated miracles, those which a writer introduces when he wishes to make a work as full as possible, should be pruned down. Not the most wondrous but the least authenticated. A writer writing for England would naturally throw in those reflections which would prepare the mind of the reader and put him in the proper point of view. How well this was done in the Oxford lives, and how popular they were for that reason, amongst others, even amongst Catholics.'

The Bishop did undertake to show publicly that he disapproved of Mr. Price's strong language. He wrote a public rebuke of Mr. Price. But as some weeks passed before its appearance and the Oratorians (who had seen it) did not think its language sufficiently emphatic, a circular giving notice of the suspension of the publication of the series was forthwith issued by Fr. Faber, who printed as his warrant for so doing the following letter from Newman:

'"Maryvale: Oct. 30th, 1848.
'"My dear Father Wilfrid,—I have consulted the Fathers who are here on the subject of the Lives of the Saints, and we have come to the unanimous conclusion of advising you to suspend the series at present. It appears there is a strong feeling against it on the part of a portion of the Catholic Community in England, on the ground, as we are given to understand, that the lives of foreign saints, however edifying in their respective countries, are unsuited to England, and unacceptable to Protestants. To this feeling we consider it a duty, for the sake of peace, to defer. For myself, you know well, without my saying it, how absolutely I identify myself with you in this matter; but, as you may have to publish this letter, I make it an opportunity, which has not as yet been given me, of declaring that I have no sympathy at all with the feeling to which I have alluded, and, in {212} particular, that no one can assail your name without striking at mine.

'"Ever your affectionate friend and brother,
in our Lady and St. Philip,
Congr. Orat. Presb."'

Newman's letter caused considerable offence among the hereditary Catholics, and gave pain to Dr. Ullathorne himself.

The Bishop had distinctly promised to express his disapproval of Mr. Price's article—though not so strongly as Newman had desired—and therefore seems to have felt that the Oratorians on their side ought to act towards him in a more friendly spirit. He thought them too sensitive—and plainly said so in the following letter:

'I have often in my secret heart regretted that the course of events has tended to isolate the fathers of the Oratory from the body of old Catholics in this country. I am not solitary in that feeling, which is a most kind one. You know how difficult it is for those who are not intimately acquainted with each other in all the turns of their sentiments, not to mistake each other at times, when working together in one cause. How easily we misjudge each other and how soon we become critical. For instance, old Catholics, familiar with all our habits, will consider that I have strongly censured the article in Dolman's and marked the author for life. To have gone much further, would, in my position, have looked more like passion than judgment. The words added, "that I had not concealed my opinion whenever the subject was brought up before me," show that my censure had been habitual until it came, when occasion offered, to a public expression.

'Before my letter appeared in the Tablet, a painful feeling had arisen. For under the impression that the "Lives" had been stopped by authority, the circular was thought to betray sensitiveness and "pugnacity." The former impression is now removed, but still the sensitiveness of the circular, regarding as it does the lives of the meek and humble servants of God, has widely left a painful impression …

'My dear Mr. Newman, I can with difficulty refrain from tears whilst I write. I love you so much, and yet I feel so anxious for the spirit recently, I think, indicated.

'Believe me, that a little of human nature is to be found fermenting in this sensitiveness. I write with pain, for it is difficult for us to see ... any of the more delicate shades {213} of pride, and more especially of intellectual pride, until it is beginning to move from us by the impulse of an act of humility. Forgive my freedom. Hitherto from delicacy and respect I have withheld from pointing out to your charity a source from which some part of this uneasiness has sprung, whatever external occasion may have given it opportunity. See what a faith I have in your humility. An invocation of the Holy Ghost, two or three chapters of the following of Christ, an examen, and a few acts in presence of Almighty God give peace to our disturbed hearts, and the humbleness of right judgment to our minds. Let us pray for one another that we may bear ourselves in all the meekness of Christ and of his saints.'

This letter Newman forwarded to Dr. Wiseman. It helped to an understanding. And Mr. Price, who was not at all the villain of the piece he had been considered, wrote a generous letter of apology in which he begged Father Faber to continue the series.


'St. Wilfrid's, Cheadle: Dec. 3, 1848.
'I hope the late unpleasant business is now ended. We have received a most generous letter from Mr. Price, and I wrote today to ask him down here, if his duties will allow him time, and he will favour us by coming.

'Mr. Capes says that you thought that "Dr. Ullathorne had no call to lecture me," but My dear Lord,—not only he, as a Bishop, but any one may lecture me, and I should be obliged for it. What I had to remark in Dr. Ullathorne was that he spoke about me without knowing me. It stands to reason that no one can know a person of my age in a moment—and the Bishop has had no experience whatever of persons in my circumstances—and he spoke of me on a theory. I sent you the letter to see, that you might know how we stood.

'I foresaw, before suspending the Series, that I should not succeed without bringing a corresponding quantity of criticism on myself. But I will willingly bear the imputation, if I have done a good work. If we started again, we should like very much the names of the Bishops in general. I do not like subjecting your Lordship to such attacks as have been made from those who place themselves under the countenance, as it were, of other Bishops. From Dr. Ullathorne's published letter, I trust he will now give his name.' {214}

Early in the following year, however, the extreme reticence of the English Bishops whom he consulted on the subject led Newman to the conclusion that they considered the series likely still to proceed on lines which were unwise, even if not actually censurable; and it was discontinued. The whole episode tried him extremely—the more so probably because the opinion to which he was gradually coming coincided on the whole with that of the Bishops and Dr. Newsham. That opinion is expressed at length in a well-known passage, written in 1865, in his published letter to Dr. Pusey on occasion of the Eirenicon [Note 9].

On October 31, 1848, Newman left Maryvale for good for St. Wilfrid's, Cheadle. Stanton came with him, and they were followed a few days later by St. John, Bowles, and Dalgairns. The six novices at this time were Joseph and Philip Gordon, Francis Knox (afterwards known as the learned editor of the Douai diaries), Stanislas Flanagan (in later years a famous character as Rector of Adare in County Limerick), Nicholas Darnell, and Alban Wells. Schemes for a branch Oratory had been discussed and dropped. While plans were changing and maturing, 'good-natured friends' told Newman of the criticisms passed on the Oratory by the old Catholics. Newman laughed at the intelligence, but he had not the ideal thickness of skin which would have made {215} him indifferent to it. He refers to the various rumours in a letter of November 19 to Frederick Capes:

'From your letter I am amused to see that it is the feeling of all Catholics old and new, that the Oratory is hitherto a failure. But, my good fellow, you do not know what it is to bring a religious body into form. If a body with vows is difficult to manage, what is one without vows? We have between 30 and 40 as good and dear companions as we could wish in imagination, but the higher, the more gifted, the more spiritual are minds, the more difficult to shape in one course. No two Saints take quite the same line—could a body of saints exist? each with his particular inspiration? and though we are not Saints, and have no particular inspirations, but the ordinary rule to obey, yet you may fancy that these aspirations, which would keep Saints from a humdrum way, are somewhat difficult to regulate. Then again, we have to learn each other. And we have to learn the genius of the congregation, and to make it work. When I came back to England, I said "Oh for a year of quiet"—I despaired of it—and hoping to throw out a tub to the whale, I proposed the Lent sermons in London, thinking that if we seemed to do something, we should be let alone. They did not answer their object—however, a year's quiet we have had, and we could not have done without it. We could not have been a body without it. It is with difficulty we begin work even now—but we hope to manage it. Meanwhile it is amusing, while we have been hugging ourselves on the real work we have done, on the gigantic internal difficulties we have surmounted (I fear to boast, but certainly we have been much blessed) you and gentlemen at a distance looking on, and seeing we were not insane enough to waste our strength in flashes in the pan, have said, "It is a failure, the Father Superior is at his old game—sitting still—giving up things, cherishing ideals about Bishops, while souls lie by thousands, perishing in our great towns; nibbling at Bayswater and Reading, promising to go into the Adelphi shilly-shallying about Derretend (Deritend) in Birmingham, complaining of the want of funds, when he, like some others, should throw himself on a poor population for support, and fight (as you say) with brazen weapons." Well, as to work, we have done something—I should not wonder if, in Birmingham, Maryvale, and here, we shall have received into the Church a hundred converts in the course of the year;—I suppose we {216} have preached 8 to 10 sermons every Sunday, and have had a fair number of penitents—nothing indeed to what an Oratory should do, but something when it was not our direct work. And as to our apparent shilly-shallyings, we have only, during one year of quiet, been beating about for the best field of labour, and actually have settled on one before the end of it.

'But the truth is these old priests will be satisfied with nothing—they have pursued us with criticisms ever since we were Catholics. Why do you keep together? Why don't you go to Rome? why do you go to Rome? why do you rush into the Confessional before you are examined in all dogmatics and all morals? Why do you sit idle? What a short noviciate you have had! when did you read morals? None of these questions are fictitious, and they are but samples of a hundred. No, we must go our own way; we must look to the Fount of grace for blessing and for guidance—and we must care nothing (and we don't certainly care over much) for the tongues about us.'

The sojourn at St. Wilfrid's was temporary, pending the arrangement of the new Oratory in Alcester Street, Birmingham, of which some of the fathers took possession in January 1849. The Oratory Chapel was opened on February 2, Ambrose St. John saying the Mass and Newman preaching. Newman's diary records a visit on the 5th from Dr. Moriarty, afterwards Bishop of Kerry and his intimate friend. In the same month special sermons for children were inaugurated, and Newman and Dalgairns began a course of lectures.

There is no doubt that Newman's differences of view and temperament from the 'young men from St. Wilfrid's,' which gradually became unmistakable, contributed to suggest the idea of a separate Oratorian house in London in which the energies of Father Faber especially should have their scope, and which should be recruited from those fathers and novices whom Newman felt not to be in full sympathy with himself. It was in January 1849 that the scheme of an affiliated Oratory in London was first considered. Dr. Wiseman had been transferred to the London district on the death of Bishop Griffiths, and urged Newman to change the habitat of the Oratory from Birmingham to London. Newman declined this proposal, but suggested the establishment of a branch {217} of the congregation in the metropolis. A building in King William Street was secured [Note 10]. Father Wilfrid Faber (who had only come to Alcester Street from St. Wilfrid's on April 10) went there for good on April 16, and was joined there in the same month by his intimate friend Anthony Hutchison and by Father Dalgairns.

Thus the comradeship with Father Bernard Dalgairns—the most intimate of recent years except only the friendship with Ambrose St. John—came to an end. Newman writes thus to Faber on April 22:

'Father Bernard is just gone. Curiously enough I have set down seven years, for a long while, as the term of Contubernium with my friends. Froude was with me from 1827 to 1834. Rogers from 1833 to 1840, and when at the end of that time I saw him get on the Oxford coach for the continent, I thought of the seven years and wondered whether I should ever be with him again. Now F. Bernard came up to Littlemore on the eve of St. George 1842 and he leaves the Oratory here on St. George 1849. Don't mention this, as I have before now been afraid of Fr. Ambrose getting hold of it—he is so fanciful.'

Newman clearly felt that he was giving to those whom he sent to London in many ways the 'better part.' He had no wish to go to London himself, but he considered that he had shown all consideration for those from whom he was separating, as we see from the following words in a letter to Faber:

'I conceive the state of the case is as follows:

'We determine to colonize from Birmingham to London:—Those who go, give up certain things:

'They give up a formed house, the mother Oratory, possessed of vestments, churchplate, of the relics of St. Valentine, &c., of a library, &c., and as they go voluntarily, they gain certain things instead: they gain the Metropolis, the centre of political and ecclesiastical influence; wealthy friends, and those, gentlemen, instead of a population exclusively of poor Catholics, a Bishop especially devout to St. Philip, and attached to his congregation; a selection of those members {218} of the Congregation who are richest; it has struck me ever since the division was contemplated, as it now is, and I wrote it down to mention at the time of that division, and am sorry I did not, that the balance was more in favour of the London house than it ought to be.'

The formal opening of the London Oratory was fixed for May 31. The London group, both in their differences from Newman and in their loyalty to him, succeeded in some sort to the rle played by W. G. Ward and his friends at Oxford. Devoted to Newman personally, they were, as he came gradually to think, somewhat rash and imprudent in their enthusiasm. It was a difference both of age and of temperament. Newman, anxious to avoid display and unnecessary innovation, was content to move slowly and cautiously. He desired to avoid giving offence whether to the old Catholics, to the ecclesiastical authorities, or to the British Lion. His younger and more impetuous followers were eager to be up and doing. In Newman's eyes they did not fully realise the effect of their actions or count the cost. They paced the London streets in the Oratorian habit in sight of the Commissioner of Woods and Forests [Note 11]. They were caricatured in Punch, and rumours came from several quarters of the irritation which a spectacle so strange to the Londoners of 1849 caused. Again, they were reported to be hypercritical and to love strong expressions. Newman seems to have been in two minds when his friends were censured for indiscretion. Some of it was the outcome of a joy in their new faith which the world could not understand. He speaks of this in a striking passage in one of his sermons preached at this time:

'It sometimes happens that those who join the Catholic Church from some Protestant community, are seen to change the uncertainty and hesitation of mind which they showed before their conversion, into a clear and fearless confidence; they doubted about their old community, they have no doubt about their new. They have no fears, no anxieties, no difficulties, no scruples. They speak as they feel; and the world, not understanding that this is the effect of the grace which (as we may humbly trust) these happy souls have received, not understanding that, though it has full experience {219} of the region of the shadow of death in which it lies, it has none at all of that city whereof the Lord God and the Lamb is the light, measuring what Catholics have by what itself has not, cries out, "How forward, how unnatural, how excited, how extravagant!"—and it considers that such a change is a change for the worse, and a proof that the step was a mistake and a fault because it produces precisely that effect which it would produce, were it a change for the better.'

On the other hand, his letters to Faber himself show that Newman was not without some misgivings as to the prudence of his London brethren. He writes on May 12:

'Now I will tell you frankly, that I think you have been too go-a-head with the Bishop, and I say it the rather, because if you do not look sharp, you will be carried off your legs. I hear that dear Father Edward spreads out his cloak like a peacock's tail in the sight of Sir R. Inglis. While the Tablet, before you are well in your saddles in King William Street, advertises you to the universe as its destined saviour. All this will create fear, odium, jealousy—and you may have the newspapers or the Woods and Forests [Note 12] step in and do you a mischief. The Woods and Forests might at least pull off your habits for you.

'I was not pleased at your talking of Dr. Ullathorne as a little man—it may be a fact, but it is not a dogmatic fact, which the Church may rule contrariwise. I suppose the Church may rule he is a tall man—in the eyes of the Church he is a tall man.'

Again on May 15:

'Take my word. Beware of being carried off your legs just now. I had written a joking note to you the other day on the subject, but was afraid to send it, when I saw the earnest tone your letters were taking.

'I have been rendered anxious by one or two things. I suppose none of you knew what was to be, but that article in the Tablet about us should not have appeared without my being consulted. And now again you take it for granted the opening is to be advertised, and perhaps my name is to appear, yet I have not been asked about the advertisement. In like manner I ought to have seen your letter to the Bishop. The word "Philippine" is an innovation of the same kind, though perhaps without your knowing about it.

'Depend on it, Carissime, you all need my control over {220} you in little things at this minute, more than you have yet, or will again. You may damage everything just now. It is a very critical time.'

Faber promised to enter into Newman's views, but pleaded that he had no authority wherewith to enforce them. Before the formal opening, therefore, Newman appointed him Rector of the London Oratory. We see throughout his letters his desire to give the younger men free scope and yet his wish to retain a certain control in matters where his own maturer judgment was required.

'Advertise the day of opening,' he writes, 'by all means and in your own words. But what I mean, and the chief or only thing I wish to have a voice in, is external things, the modes of growing into notice. I am not quite satisfied, e.g. to hear that Sir R. Inglis stared at Father Edward. The Jesuits may have an excess of caution, but they are wiser in these matters. My very wish that you shall wear your habit in London makes me fear any wanton display which may look like a bravado and strip you of it. I feel what you say about want of control—be then at once and hereby Rector of the London Community—and I will write to Father Minister by this day's post and say what I have done, and that he is now naturally Father Minister and Missioner, as he has lost all his subjects. And be absolute in all internal matters. Only, as I have said, I should like to have an opinion on the services (when they are out of the way) and on public announcements.'

'As to my position at the opening,' Newman continues on May 20, 'do you know that it is the usage of the Chiesa Nuova on great functions, for the Father Superior to serve as acolyte? We saw Father Cesarini so serving, either on S. Philip's day or at St. Nereo. Therefore if you will put me into the function, I claim my place—there is no precedent for making me priest assistant, and I murdered it at Fulham.'

The opening ceremony was duly carried out on May 31, and Newman describes the event in a letter to Ambrose St. John:

'Oratory: London, May 31, 1849.
'The scaffolds were not out of the Church till last evening, nor the workmen till past eleven this morning. The Bishop (Dr. Wiseman) preached a most beautiful sermon—in composition and logic a perfect sermon, and with great feeling. He preached from the Altar. The music was composed {221} by Capes expressly for the occasion. The Collection (to our friends) very disappointing. I am no judge—30. They expected 100 at each service.

'It is now close on five—and the carriages are setting down their burdens. Birmingham is a place of peace. O that I had wings like a dove for I do dislike this preaching so much.'

The intense piety and zeal of Father Wilfrid and his friends soon had their effect, and Newman could but give thanks. 'I rejoice to hear such good accounts,' he writes on June 15; 'some one writes today "God be praised for your success in London. I hear of nothing but the stir the Oratorians are producing. It makes many storm and rage."'

Soon the question arose, what to do with St. Wilfrid's?—the house of the Wilfridians who had joined the Oratory. For long this difficulty exercised them, and eventually Newman proposed to solve it by founding a school under the direction of the Oratorians—a scheme which came to naught at the time, but was realised ten years later, not at St. Wilfrid's but at Edgbaston. The difficulties of the situation were summed up by Newman, after months of discussion, in the following characteristic memorandum:

'There is the famous story of the man who bought an elephant, and was too poor to keep, and too merciful to kill it, and was unable to persuade any one to accept of it. We are in somewhat of the same case.

'1. We cannot live at St. Wilfrid's because it is against our Rule.
'2. We cannot shut it up because we are bound to keep up the Mission.
'3. We cannot return it to the Earl of Shrewsbury because it is ecclesiastical property.
'4. We cannot give it away, for no one, neither District nor Religious Body, will accept so expensive a gift.
'5. We cannot, much less, sell, for no one will buy.
'6. We cannot let it to a family, for the Earl of Shrewsbury will not hear of it.
'7. We cannot let it for a school, for the Bishop protests against it.
'8. Yet we cannot keep it because of expense.
'Problem, like the quadrature of the circle, what is to be {222} done with St. Wilfrid's? It is a gain to get any plan, and undesirable as the following may be, before we put it altogether aside we must look at all the difficulties in the face and propose another or a better.
'To take boys above fourteen or fifteen years of age, and at a pension not under (?) 150.
'To educate them under two Fathers, one from each house, as directors of the Institution, and by means of persons from the Universities not members of the Oratory, e.g. F. Minister, as Rector and spiritual adviser—F. N. as superintendent of studies ...
'1. The age and pension of the boys precludes all interference with Catholic Colleges.
'2. The consequent rank, &c. of the boys approximates it to an Oratorian undertaking, as near as can be—at Naples they have an Oratorio dei Nobili, as distinct from the Common Oratory.
'3. Some of the Professors might in progress of time, not to say the boys, be converted into Oratorian subjects.'

We see in another letter that he regards the proposed school primarily as a feeder for the Oratory, the place of early education for Oratorians of the future.

'I should like St. Wilfrid's to be the Eton of the Oratory—a place where Fathers would turn with warm associations of boyhood or at least youth—a place where they wish to be buried—(where their relics would be kept)—a gin bottle or cayenne phial of the Venerabile servo di Dio, il Padre Wilfrido Faber, an old red biretta of his Eminence C. Robert Coffin, and a double tooth and knuckle bone of St. Aloysius of Birmingham.'

Again he writes:

'I think you will find no order or congregation but finds a school necessary to feed the order. The Benedictines profess this to be the only reason of their school at Downside, by which they do not gain. Stonyhurst has fed the Society—the Rosminians have begun a school. The Passionists who have no school, have no novices. Looking to the future, it is a question whether we can keep up the Congregation without a school in some shape or other.'

Newman's original plan was to take part in the work of the London Oratory for three months in the year, spending the rest of his time amid his books at Birmingham. And the old {223} thought remained—the hope that he might, in connection with the necessary education of his novices, with a view to Holy Orders, do a work for Catholic Theology and polemics by driving home the lessons of history. Dalgairns, who had been two years earlier so warm a supporter of this plan, had now so completely fallen into the very different programme mapped out by Faber, that he failed to enter into Newman's wish to devote special attention to theologico-historical work, and spoke of it as contrary to the spirit of the Italian Oratorians.

Newman, in defining his view, explains:

'When I spoke of a school, I hardly meant of dogmatics—but much more of history, which is quite Oratorian—and particularly early history and the early Pagan history—and the management of controversy, i.e. polemics—all which our Rule contemplates in the alteration expressly made on the Chiesa Nuova Rule as to the matter of our sermons.'

Faber and Dalgairns argued that such an ideal was more in the line of Cardinal Berrulle and the French Oratorians than of the followers of St. Philip. With this view Newman did not agree. He writes on June 19, 1849:

'I don't see the appositeness of what you say about the French and Italian Oratory. I suppose Baronius, Bozius, and Gallonio (immediate disciples of St. Philip), Rainaldus, Severanus, Aringhi, Galland (1770), de Magistris (1790), and Theiner (1840) are as learned men as any in the French Oratory, e.g. Thomassinus, Cotelerius, Morinus, Lami, Massillon, Quesnel; these are all I recollect. And I suspect the Italians, as a whole, beat them—can boast more learned men than any Brummagems ever will be, and you will observe they stretch from St. Philip's time to this day. Let me hear what you have to say to this.'

The two houses did not agree on the question, and Newman did not press his view on the London house. Still he maintained that his proposal was in line with St. Philip's rule and with their own Brief.

A certain difference of tone and habit between the two houses was visible—the reflection of the strong personalities of Newman and Faber respectively. And as time went on and Catholics in England divided into the two schools {224} of thought, the London Oratory was identified in popular estimation with one, the Birmingham with the other. 'These schools of thought had their counterpart throughout the Catholic world—being represented in France (though with certain differences) by the two reviews, the Univers and the Correspondant.

The Oratory hymns, now so well known, were begun at this time. Faber's reputation as a poet, established by his 'Sir Launcelot' and sealed by Wordsworth's recognition, marked him out for work of this kind, and Newman encouraged it—though not without giving some of the novice master's criticism. Faber's first attempts were on subjects which Newman accounted too theological and too scholastic for church hymns. And his sense of humour stuck at the younger man's theology in rhyme, which recalled the effusions of Evangelical poets.

'I admire your poems,' Newman writes; 'I don't revolt at the "Predestination"—but I stuck at the scholasticism. Have not I heard similar dogmatic effusions, though of an opposite school? e.g.

'My righteousness is "filthy rags,"
No "merits" can I plead,
For man is but a "lump of sin,"
And sin his worthiest deed.

vel splendidum illud et trochaicum:

'Man is but "accounted righteous,"
And, tho' justified, must sin.
Grace does nought but wash the surface,
Leaving him all-foul within.'

Newman wished the Oratorian poetry to form a book, partly sacred and partly profane. Mr. Capes, then editor of the Rambler, proposed to publish two poems in each number, giving permission that they should in the end be republished in one volume, to be called 'Songs of the Oratory.'

'I smile, invulnerable and prepared,' Newman writes to Faber in January 1850, 'at your quiet hit at my having time to versify—I "make" them while shaving.

'I have an idea, which you may pluck—what say you to a series of poems in the Rambler, such as the Lyra Apostolica in the British Magazine. It would do good to the Rambler, without possibly incurring the jealousy of the Dublin. Entitle it "Songs of the Oratory." I would have them of {225} every sort, songs, hymns, ballads, epigrams, latin poetry … There would be you, Caswall, I, Father Bernard (under obedience), Father Nicolas for Latin, and did St. Philip understand Greek, they might be from Mr. Simpson. You would be the staple—I should just do enough to connect my name with it, and should use my old signature—supposing only 2 were put into each number, it would literally take no time.'

'Form and send me some idea,' he writes in February, 'of the object of the book. In the Lyra, my object was not poetry but to bring out ideas. Thus my harshness, as you justly call it, was part (if nothing else) of a theory. I felt it absurd to set up for a poet—so, I wrote from Rome (where I was) to Keble, to tell him, we (Froude and I) wished merely to inflict and fix sentiments into men's minds. All mine are written with this view, and I think this only—and I affected a contempt of everything else.

'Now, however, we are, I suppose, poets, with characters to lose, grounded on Lilies and Launcelots. Still you must have a drift—what is it? e.g. have you any old secular poems, such as it would be waste of time to write now? they would come in well, and salt over the St. Wilfrid's portion of the scope. But how to combine this with any ecclesiastical purpose?—it seems to resolve the volume into a simple collection of poems—well is this or is this not enough?—I am inquiring. The difficulty would be the juxtaposition of secular and ecclesiastical, like pictures in a gallery. Would it be possible, e.g.. to have your death of St. Philip (which I have not seen) vis vis or arm in arm with the sort of trash I send you a specimen of—though, for myself, I have hardly any thing to rummage out of past years.'

The 'Songs of the Oratory' never appeared, and the only result of this letter was the publication in the Rambler (March to August 1850) of eight pieces—four by Faber, three by Newman, and one by Caswall—bearing the title of 'Poetry' and 'Oratorium Parvum.' Each Oratory subsequently went its own way. From Birmingham we have had Newman's own verses, including the 'Dream of Gerontius' and the charming poems and translations of Father Caswall and Father Ignatius Ryder, while the London Oratory hymns are sung in nearly every Catholic Church in England.

It would be tedious to follow the daily fortunes of the Oratories in further detail. Long and minute letters {226} passed between the two houses some three or four times a week. They are for the most part of no public interest. The characters of the different novices or fathers, the ritual ordinances, the practical work, the pecuniary arrangements all come under review. Newman continued to complain that he had no longer the energy of old days, and yet he could not but be conscious that the great powers which still remained to his deep and well-stored mind were being almost exhausted by attention to matters which an inferior man of strong practical sense, and less sensitive, would have done a good deal better.

When Mr. Capes had asked him in April 1849 to send a contribution to the Rambler he had had to decline simply for want of leisure:

'At present,' he writes, 'Dalgairns' going increases my work. It is an anxious time of the year—Lent past—summer coming, and Dalgairns gone, we are obliged to be very much on the alert. Then our members forming, some coming, some come, everyone taking his place, as one would in a stage coach, accommodating legs and stowing parcels. You know what a scare there is on deck when a vessel is just under weigh—packages, boxes, mackintoshes, live fowls, sheep and qualmish women strewed about in all directions. The school department, the instruction department, the mission department and the confession department, all have to be organised. Then the House is full of masons, carpenters and painters, not to say upholsterers—lath and plaster partitions, doors, windows, passages, bridges, skylights, and bookcases being all in course of formation. Fervet opus. Then, an eye must be kept upon the London House … and St. Wilfrid's must not be forgotten. You will understand then that visions of reading and writing, except sermons, do not appear even in the offing. If in any way I could associate my name with your undertaking I should be glad—but I can promise nothing definite at present.'

All this work came to him as the call of duty—'lead Thou me on'—and he seems to have thought of little else than this. One of the early trials of the Congregation consisted in the number of persons who, attracted by Newman's great name and character, presented themselves as applicants to join it. Many of these were excellent and able men, but unsuited to the Oratorian life. Some, however, were simply {227} eccentrics whom it took a little time to find out. The consequence was that some seven novices had to leave within a few months. This delayed getting things into such regular order as helped towards peace of mind or effective work. On July 19, with some weariness, but also with a saving sense of humour, Newman relates to Faber the last disappointment—the case of a real oddity who had abruptly to be dismissed.

'I could laugh at our misfortunes were they not worries. Have you heard the "last"? E. is gone! He drank too much beer, laid himself out on the kitchen dresser, packed up and went! Omnia tendunt visibiliter ad non esse, as King Edward says in our Oriel statutes. Formby, Whitty, A., B., C., D., and now E.! et tu Brute. Fr. Minister was so anxious for him. I think of Lycidas too and Eurydice, and the "prensantem umbras" and the "Ter frustra," and have all sorts of confused indescribable images in my mind. For where are we? Every morning we rise, and there is a fresh announcement;—but lament is in vain, for we must now "trick our beams," and "repair our drooping head," so to business.'

We must not omit to chronicle an act of Newman's which went far to making the hereditary Catholics realise the true character of one whom they did not all rightly understand at first. When the cholera broke out at Bilston in September 1849, Newman repaired thither in company with Father Ambrose St. John and Brother Aloysius, to help the resident priest, who was overcome with the work. The priest had shown great heroism, carrying on his back to the hospital those suddenly stricken down. The epidemic ceased almost immediately after the Oratorians arrived, but their prompt readiness to brave the pestilence and to help a priest who had no special claim on them was long remembered.

Newman was still a little anxious lest the London house should create irritation in the British public by a certain want of prudence in its zeal.

'As to yourselves,' he wrote to Faber, 'if a squall comes you must make yourselves comfortable in the cabin—after taking in your sail. Be very much on your guard against {228} extravagances. They say you are going to paint the souls in Purgatory—but we settled together you were to have only an inscription—else, Mr. Binney will say that it represents Protestants at Smithfield.'

By the end of 1849, however, the note struck in the correspondence is hopeful and confident. The London Fathers had made many conversions among the poor—and some in the higher classes, including Lady Arundel and Surrey, the future Duchess of Norfolk. The services were well attended in both houses. Newman preached to crowded congregations in Birmingham, of Protestants as well as Catholics, the discourses afterwards published under the name of 'Sermons for Mixed Congregations.' Their effect in Birmingham itself was very marked at the time; and when they were published they came upon a large circle of readers as wonderful efforts in a species of oratory far more ornate, more akin to the great French preachers—Bossuet, Bourdaloue, Massillon—than the chastened simplicity of the Oxford Parochial Sermons. Money was coming in abundance. In the personnel of the Oratories the tares had been sifted from the wheat, and those who remained were useful and zealous members. Some anxiety is still betrayed by Newman in his letters on the score of prudence—some fear of arousing jealousy through unguarded words or deeds—but his advice is given tenderly, and seems to amount to little more than that drag on the wheel which zealous and impetuous natures must ever require.

The following letters to Faber belong to February 1850:

'Before reading your sermons (which I will do and remark on them presently) I will say a word about those in prospect. We are prospering so much I am anxious lest we should have too much sail out ...

'Then there is an incipient jealousy in Dr. Wiseman (of which you must not make too much in him) which is an index of something in the air. Dr. Newsham writes to me about our great doings—things magnify at a distance. Then there is Lady Arundel, and I expect more converts here. In short, we are felt to be a power—exaggeratedly so—it is our momentum does it—for four years we have been quiescent— {229} the greatest of weights does nothing at rest—but let it move ever so little, it does a deal.

'Now at Rome they are especially jealous of any great power unless they can be quite sure of it. If they had perfect faith in us, they would do anything for us—but we are converts, partially untried—and one least fault will tell against us the more, as heavy bodies have the more dangerous falls. And we have no friend at Rome ... Therefore I say, before looking at your notes, we must be careful what we are doing. Recollect this too, that you preach without book. Now what you said about Gothic architecture, or what you did not say, in a sermon some months ago, went about and was criticized far and wide. You ought to be able to know just what you have said, and say just what you mean …'

On his birthday—February 21—he writes:

'Thanks for your congratulations, masses, and dolce ... I congratulate you in turn on your Sermons being ready, and marvel how you do things. Every year I get more languid and cumbersome. To move my mind is like putting a machine in motion, not an act of volition; yet Aristotle puts down 49 as the acm of mental vigour. But the body affects it. This time ten years was my severest fast—now the most trifling deprivation makes me unable to hold up my limbs. Grace only supplies the diminution of vital energy whether to body or mind. I wish every one who prays for me would ask for me efficacia desideria. The poor fellow whose criticism I enclose [Note 13] talks of iron wills; I would I had some portion of such galvanic power in me.'

To another correspondent who reported the opinion of a friend that Newman was himself already one of the Saints of the Church he wrote in the same month:

'You must undeceive Miss A. B. about me, though I suppose she uses words in a general sense. I have nothing of a saint about me as every one knows, and it is a severe (and salutary) mortification to be thought next door to one. I may have a high view of many things, but it is the consequence of education and a peculiar cast of intellect—but this is very different from being what I admire. I have no tendency to be a saint—it is a sad thing to say so. Saints are not literary men, they do not love the classics, they do {230} not write Tales. I may be well enough in my way, but it is not the "high line." People ought to feel this, most people do. But those who are at a distance have exalted notions about one. It is enough for me to black the saints' shoes—if St. Philip uses blacking in heaven.'

On March 8, 1850, came the celebrated decision of the Privy Council in what was known as the 'Gorham case'—overruling the refusal of the Bishop of Exeter (confirmed by the Court of Arches) to institute Mr. G. C. Gorham to the vicarage of Brampford Speke on the ground that he denied the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Here was a glaring case of the civil power asserting its supremacy over the spiritual as to what was the orthodox doctrine in an English clergyman, and making its decision on behalf of latitudinarian doctrine. Many Tractarians who had hitherto held back from Rome, including such influential men as Hope-Scott, Manning, and T. W. Allies, felt keenly this challenge to their position. Their following in Newman's footsteps appeared to be imminent. A strongly signed protest was at once drawn up at the house of Mr. Hope-Scott in Curzon Street against the action of the Privy Council. The matter caused great excitement in the press and among Anglicans generally, and seemed to call for some public comment from Newman.

Yet he shrank from interfering. It could not be 'a little war,' he told Faber, and might lead to exhausting controversy. For to touch it was to raise the whole Anglican question. Still he now had some leisure. The 'Sermons to Mixed Congregations' had been passed for press in October, and Father Faber and other friends had been urging him to lecture on the situation in the King William Street Oratory in London. In the end he complied with their request, and wrote the brilliantly witty lectures on Anglicanism of which some account must be given, and which now form the first volume of 'The Difficulties of Anglicans' in his published works.

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1. Dr. Walsh had succeeded Dr. Griffiths, but his delicate health led him to appoint Dr. Wiseman as his delegate.
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2. Dr. Griffiths, the Vicar Apostolic of the London district.
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3. It must be remembered that in 1847 recent criticism as to the history of the Holy House was unknown, and the tradition was far more widely received among Catholics than it is at present.
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4. Afterwards Father Philip Gordon, Superior of the London Oratory, and Father Joseph Gordon of the Birmingham Oratory, who died in 1853.
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5. Lisle Ryder came in the summer, and Newman writes to his father a few days after his arrival:

'Tell Mama that Lisle knows I am writing, but has nothing just now to say. Nor have I anything to tell about him, except that he had a dirty face the day before yesterday, and threw a handful of flour over Br. Aloysius's black cassock this morning.'

Lisle's brother Henry, afterwards an Oratorian, joined him a little later. But the plan of educating boys was soon abandoned, being, however, revived on far larger scale when the Oratory School was founded in 1859.
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6. Historical and Critical Essays, II. pp. 443-4.
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7. Cf. Letter to Dr. Pusey, pp. 21-22. At the same time there were Italian prayer-books like the Raccolta, to which he was always devoted. Indeed, his own personal taste in devotion was always far more in sympathy with the Continental forms than was that of the old Catholics. What he deprecated was untheological exaggerations. Concerning his love of the Roman architecture we have already spoken. And the Birmingham Oratory adopted the Roman vestments.
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8. The following is another memorandum on the same subject:

'The objects I had in view in starting the Modern Saints, beyond gratitude to the Regina Sanctorum who used the Saints' Lives for my conversion, were these:
'1. That we were in evil plight in England for want of the supernatural—the ethos of Catholics seemed utterly protestant, and their religion different from what had converted us.
'2. That there was an unusual amount of vocation and call to perfection among Catholics, and that converts would seem almost so called by their conversion, and life out of the Church, and that the Lives would cooperate with God in this.
'3. That there were numbers outside the Church with whom controversy was passed and over, and who would be reached by this.
'4. That low views of grace among Catholics, and wrong views of it in others would be corrected thus.
'5. That it would help to destroy antiquarianism and introduce modernism and foreignism.
'6. That, as a matter of fact, colleges, schools, and religious houses were greatly in want of some such work.
'7. That it would promote devotion to the Madonna, images, relics, etc.
'8. That it would help to make confessors into directors.
'9. That it would destroy much narrowness arising from actual ignorance of Catholic matters—men seeing heresy etc. everywhere.'
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9. I prefer English habits of belief and devotion to foreign from the same causes, and by the same right, which justifies foreigners in preferring their own. In following those of my people, I show less singularity, and create less disturbance than if I made a flourish with what is novel and exotic. And in this line of conduct I am but availing myself of the teaching which I fell in with on becoming a Catholic; and it is a pleasure to me to think that what I hold now, and would transmit after me if I could, is only what I received then. The utmost delicacy was observed on all hands in giving me advice: only one warning remains on my mind, and it came from Dr. Griffiths, the late Vicar Apostolic of the London district. He warned me against books of devotion of the Italian school which were just at that time coming into England ...

'When I went to Rome, though it may seem strange to you to say it, even here I learned nothing inconsistent with this judgment ...

'When I returned to England the first expression of theological opinion which came in my way, was apropos of the series of translated Saints' lives which the late Dr. Faber originated. That expression proceeded from a wise prelate, who was properly anxious as to the line which might be taken by the Oxford converts then for the first time coming into work. According, as I recollect his opinion, he was apprehensive of the effect of Italian compositions, as unsuited to this country, and suggested that the Lives should be original works, drawn up by ourselves and our friends from Italian sources' (p. 20).
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10. This building was afterwards Toole's Theatre, and W. G. Ward remarked after going to a very good play there: 'Yesterday I visited Toole's Theatre. Two thoughts came to my mind. The first was, "Last time I was here I heard Faber preach"; the second was, "How much more I am enjoying myself than I did when I was last here!"'
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11. Sir R. Inglis, the Commissioner of Woods and Forests, was a strong Evangelical.
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12. The Commissioner of Woods and Forests.
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13. A review in the Inquirer of the Sermons to Mixed Congregations.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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