Chapter 23. The 'Eirenicon' (1865-1866)

{99} PUSEY'S 'Eirenicon' appeared very shortly after the meeting above recorded between its author and Newman at Keble's house. Newman was disappointed at its hostile tone—at its treatment of views maintained by the more extreme Catholic writers as though they were the acknowledged teaching of the Church. He himself had never had hopes of corporate reunion. But he did regard it as of the utmost importance that difficulties in the way of an understanding should not be exaggerated. He wished any argument on the subject to be based on a calm and candid analysis of Catholic theological doctrine. He deprecated Pusey's treating as part of the Catholic faith the views of a party, or the devotional language of such a writer as Father Faber, which was often based only on 'pious opinions.' Yet Catholic apologists, who were angry at Pusey's tone, did not make the disclaimer on this point which Newman thought essential in order to place the Catholic position on a really unassailable basis. Those, on the other hand, like Father Lockhart, who wrote with sympathy for Pusey, cherished Utopian hopes as to future reunion which were not shared by any appreciable section of the Catholic body. They were indeed denounced as unorthodox by extremists. Newman deeply resented the inquisitorial spirit which was abroad, and, while not agreeing with Father Lockhart, wished him to have full liberty to urge his views. But what he accounted the true Via Media he gradually saw would not be set forth publicly unless he wrote himself. Even the Month, under the editorship of Father Coleridge, did not evince the degree of understanding sympathy with Pusey's book which Newman felt to be required in any reply which was to be at all convincing to the Puseyites {100} themselves. It was an opportunity in one respect similar to that afforded by Mr. Kingsley's attack. He could answer and disclaim Ward's exaggerations when Kingsley urged them as a reductio ad absurdum of the belief of Catholics; and so now he could disclaim Faber's ultra statements on devotion to Our Lady when Pusey urged them as an argument against the Church, and could perhaps repeat his protest against Ward. 'Many persons,' he wrote to Hope-Scott, 'wish me to write on the subject of Pusey's book, and it has struck me that it will be the most inoffensive way of alluding to Faber and Ward, if I can write without hurting Pusey.' To criticise Ward and Faber without such an excuse might have seemed the attack of a half-hearted Catholic, who was stingy of belief, on those who were whole-hearted and generous. He knew, moreover, that there still remained writers of the old Catholic school in England who had ever been averse to extremes both in devotion and in theology. This gave him strong support, and was a fact which ought to be brought home to Pusey. He wrote several private letters to Pusey himself before finally determining to publish anything.

'The Oratory, Birmingham: Oct. 31st, 1865.
'It is true, too true, that your book disappointed me. It does seem to me that "Eirenicon" is a misnomer; and that it is calculated to make most Catholics very angry. And that because they will consider it rhetorical and unfair.

'How is it fair to throw together Suarez, St. Bernardine, Eadmer, and Faber? As to Faber, I never read his books. I never heard of the names of de Montfort and Oswald. Thus a person like myself may be in authority and place, and know nothing at all of such extravagances as these writers put out. I venture to say the majority of Catholics in England know nothing of them. They do not colour our body. They are the opinions of a set of people, and not of even them permanently. A young man or woman takes them up, and abandons them in a few years. The single question is, how far ought they to be censured. Such extravagances are often censured by authority. I recollect hearing, more than twenty years ago, instances of books about the B.V.M. which Pope Gregory XVI. had censured. I think I am right in saying that every superstition about Our Lady's presence in the Holy Eucharist has been censured,—I think Rogers told me this in 1841, writing from Rome … {101}

'The Oratory, Birmingham: Nov. 17th, 1865.
'As to the Infallibility of the Pope, I see nothing against it, or to dread in it,—for I am confident that it must be so limited practically that it will leave things as they are. As to Ward's notions, they are preposterous,—nor do I see anything in the Pope's Encyclical to confirm them ...

'Then again, as to the Syllabus, it has no connexion with the Encyclical, except that of date. It does not come from the Pope. There was a great attempt to make it a formal ecclesiastical act, and in the Recueil you have it with the censures annexed to each proposition, as it was originally intended,—but the Bishops over the world interfered, and the censures were struck out—and it is not a direct act of the Pope's, but comes to the Bishops from Cardinal Antonelli, with the mere coincidence of time, and as a fact, each condemnation having only the weight which it had in the original Papal document (Allocution, Encyclical, &c., &c.) in which each is to be found. If an Allocution is of no special weight, neither is the condemnation of a proposition which it contains. Of course, nothing comes from the Pope without having weight, but there is a great difference between weight and infallibility ...

'Mgr. Dupanloup (entre nous) was gravely opposed to the issuing of the Syllabus, &c., and much disconcerted at its appearance. Don't repeat it, but he said: "If we can tide over the next ten years we are safe." Perhaps you know him already. You should have seen PÍre Gratry in Paris,—I mean, he was a man to see. I thought Mr. Pope could have given you the names of persons who took the same moderate view of ecclesiastical politics.'

'The Oratory, Birmingham: Nov. 19th, 1865.
'I am much surprised and much rejoiced to see yesterday's article on your book in the Weekly Register. I hope you will like it. I have not a dream who wrote it.

'If they rat next week, it will be very provoking. I am not easy about it, for not long ago they would not insert a review of a book because it was not according to Ward, who is according to Manning, who is according to the Pope. But this review, though not against the mind of the Pope, is certainly against Ward and Manning.

'It has surprised me so much that I said to myself: "Is it possible that Manning himself has changed? He is so close, that no one can know."' {102}

'The Oratory, Birmingham: Nov. 23rd, 1865.
'I fear that Lockhart mistakes what I have said ... I grieve to say I could not have written exactly as he has written ... But I truly rejoice to find another can write in a less distant way about your book than I could myself,—and I abominate the fierce tyranny which would hinder an expression of opinion such as his, and calls to account everyone who ventures to keep clear of ultra-isms.

'You may be sure that Manning is under the lash as well as others. There are men who would remonstrate with him, and complain of him at Rome if he did not go all lengths,—and in his position he can't afford to get into hot water, even tho' he were sure to get out of it.'

Newman's final resolution to publish a reply to Pusey was conveyed to his friend in the following letter, written on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception—the day after the answer was completed:

'The Oratory, Birmingham: In fest. Concept. Immac. 1865.
'You must not be made anxious that I am going to publish a letter on your "Eirenicon." I wish to accept it as such, and shall write in that spirit. And I write, if not to hinder, for that is not in my power, but to balance and neutralize other things which may be written upon it. It will not be any great length. If I shall say anything which is in the way of remonstrance, it will be because, unless I were perfectly honest, I should not only do no good, but carry no one with me,—but I am taking the greatest possible pains not to say a word which I shall be sorry for afterwards.'

At starting Newman stamps his published letter to Pusey as a work of apologetic which should have its effect in leading to conversions to the Church. Pusey's influence at that moment was at its height. His words, as Newman pointed out, affected large multitudes. Any reply which made him reconsider his position would affect his followers also [Note 1]. {103}

And if the hope of a large accession of Puseyites to the Catholic Church appeared quite extravagant to some Catholics, Newman was able to point to the time when Dr. Wiseman had expressed a similar hope in 1843 in respect of the old Tractarian party and Newman himself, and had been mercilessly laughed at by his fellow-Catholics. Yet the events of 1845 proved that Wiseman was right and the pessimists wrong.

Wiseman had treated the difficulties of the Tractarians with sympathy and consideration. This course had proved helpful and successful. Hence Newman appealed to Wiseman's success in justification of his own similar line on the present occasion. And he pointed out, moreover, that in disclaiming excesses in devotional language concerning the Blessed Virgin, he was making no new attempt to minimise recognised Catholic devotions, but rather following in the ancient track of Catholic practice in England, which, at the time of his own conversion, was pointed out to him by Dr. Griffiths, the Vicar-Apostolic of the London District. For Dr. Griffiths strongly objected to certain foreign 'Saints' Lives' and devotional works, as being unsuitable to England.

On the other hand, the English writers to whom Pusey appealed as representing the extravagances characteristic of the Church of Rome were not the hereditary representatives of the Catholic tradition, but Oxford converts—Faber and W. G. Ward. The former had written on devotion to Our Lady, the latter on Papal Infallibility, in language which Pusey cited as at once characteristic of the existing Catholic and Roman Church, and irrational;—as on these two points finally barring the way to the acceptance of Roman claims among English Churchmen. Of the fact that they were converts, comparatively young, and innovators on the traditions of English Catholicism, while the typical {104} English hereditary Catholics had ever used measured language on both points, Newman made great capital. He signalised Faber's gifts as a poet, and Ward's 'energy, acuteness and theological reading,' displayed on the vantage ground of the historic Dublin Review, but added—

'They are in no sense spokesmen for English Catholics, and they must not stand in the place of those who have a real title to such an office. The chief authors of the passing generation, some of them still alive, others gone to their reward, are Cardinal Wiseman, Dr. Ullathorne, Dr. Lingard, Mr. Tierney, Dr. Oliver, Dr. Rock, Dr. Waterworth, Dr. Husenbeth, and Mr. Flanagan; which of these ecclesiastics has said anything extreme about the prerogatives of the Blessed Virgin, or the Infallibility of the Pope?' [Note 2]

Newman urged two points in his letter with special insistence: (1) that the recognised Catholic doctrine and devotion is a natural and lawful development from beliefs already visible in patristic days; (2) that the undeniable extravagances which Pusey cites from the works of some foreign divines may well be disavowed by any Catholic—as Newman himself disowns them—although he characteristically adds that he knows nothing of such extravagances as they are found in the writings of the authors he refers to, but only as they stand in Pusey's own pages.

That Pusey's idea of reunion with Rome on equal terms is Utopian Newman clearly intimated—as he had already done in his private letters. Yet he believed that a better understanding might be promoted and some approximation won by the attempt on either side to do justice to the other; and he reproached Pusey with speaking of an 'Eirenicon' and yet fixing attention on the most contentious utterances of Catholics. 'There was one of old times,' he wrote, 'who wreathed his sword in myrtle; excuse me—you discharge {105} your olive branch as if from a catapult. The common ground of approximation is to be found in the teaching Fathers whom both sides profess to accept. To realise the patristic teaching and sentiments concerning the Blessed Virgin is to go far on the road towards a true Eirenicon.'

After speaking of the doctrine defined at Ephesus by the term Theotocos, or 'mother of God,' he wrote as follows of the prevalence of the thought it expresses, which goes back to yet earlier days:

'It would be tedious to produce the passages of authors who, using or not using the term, convey the idea. "Our God was carried in the womb of Mary," says Ignatius, who was martyred A.D. 106. "The Word of God," says Hippolytus, "was carried in that Virgin frame." "The Maker of all," says Amphilochius, "is born of a Virgin." "She did compass without circumscribing the Sun of Justice,—the Everlasting is born," says Chrysostom. "God dwelt in the womb," says Proclus. "When thou hearest that God speaks from the bush," asks Theodotus, "in the bush seest thou not the Virgin?" Cassian says: "Mary bore her Author." "The One God only begotten," says Hilary, "is introduced into the womb of a Virgin." "The Everlasting," says Ambrose, "came into the Virgin." "The closed gate," says Jerome, "by which alone the Lord God of Israel enters, is the Virgin Mary." "That man from Heaven," says Capriolus, "is God conceived in the womb." "He is made in thee," says St. Augustine, "who made thee."

'This being the faith of the Fathers about the Blessed Virgin, we need not wonder that it should in no long time be transmuted into devotion. No wonder if their language should become unmeasured, when so great a term as "Mother of God" had been formally set down as the safe limit of it ... Little jealousy was shown of her in those times; but, when any such niggardness of affection occurred, then one Father or other fell upon the offender with zeal, not to say with fierceness. Thus St. Jerome inveighs against Helvidius; thus St. Epiphanius denounces Apollinaris, St. Cyril Nestorius, and St. Ambrose Bonosus; on the other hand, each successive insult offered to her by individual adversaries did but bring out more fully the intimate sacred affection with which Christendom regarded her.' [Note 3] {106}

With regard to the excesses of expression among Catholic writers which had formed the most effective part of Pusey's indictment, Newman brought to bear a large weight of theological authority on the lines of St. Anselm's affirmation 'that the Church thinks it indecent that anything that admits of doubt should be said in Our Lady's praise when things that are certainly true of her supply such large materials for laudation.' And he then proceeded:

'After such explanation, and with such authorities, to clear my path, I put away from me, as you would wish, without any hesitation, as matters in which my heart and reason have no part, (when taken in their literal and absolute sense, as any Protestant would naturally take them and as the writers doubtless did not use them), such sentences and phrases as [you quote].'

After enumerating, one after another, the extreme statements quoted by Pusey [Note 4], he thus concluded:

'Sentiments such as these I freely surrender to your animadversion; I never knew of them till I read your book, nor, as I think, do the vast majority of English Catholics know them. They seem to me like a bad dream. I could {107} not have conceived them to be said. I know not to what authority to go for them; to Scripture, or to the Fathers, or to the decrees of Councils, or to the consent of schools, or to the tradition of the faithful, or to the Holy See, or to Reason. They defy all the loci theologici. There is nothing of them in the Missal, in the Roman Catechism, in the Roman Raccolta, in the "Imitation of Christ," in Gother, Challoner, Milner, or Wiseman, as far as I am aware. They do but scare and confuse me ... I do not, however, speak of these statements, as they are found in their authors, for I know nothing of the originals, and cannot believe that they have meant what you say; but I take them as they lie in your pages. Were any of them the sayings of Saints in ecstasy, I should know they had a good meaning; still I should not repeat them myself; but I am looking at them, not as spoken by the tongues of Angels, but according to that literal sense which they bear in the mouths of English men and English women. And, as spoken by man to man, in England, in the nineteenth century, I consider them calculated to prejudice inquirers, to frighten the unlearned, to unsettle consciences, to provoke blasphemy, and to work the loss of souls.' [Note 5]

On reaching the point in his letter at which W. G. Ward's views concerning Papal Infallibility would naturally have been dealt with, Newman breaks off and postpones the subject to another occasion. In later editions he speaks of Father Ryder's pamphlets in reply to Ward, published in 1867, as precluding the necessity of his saying more himself. He did return to the question ten years later in his letter to the Duke of Norfolk. But Father Neville told me that, when writing the letter to Pusey, he decided after much thought and prayer that it was not wise to deal at that moment with so delicate and burning a topic as the Papal claims. In his criticism on Faber he felt fairly certain of carrying a large proportion of English Catholic opinion with him. The other case was more difficult at a moment when the troubles of the Holy See might make many resent a dry theological analysis of the Papal claims, and deprecate a protest against views which, if not theologically accurate, were nevertheless inspired by that loyal devotion which the Holy Father so greatly needed. He therefore terminated his letter as follows: {108}

'So far concerning the Blessed Virgin; the chief, but not the only subject of your Volume. And now, when I could wish to proceed, she seems to stop all controversy, for the Feast of her Immaculate Conception is upon us; and close upon its Octave, which is kept with special solemnities in the Churches of this town, come the great Antiphons, the heralds of Christmas. That joyful season,—joyful for all of us,—while it centres in Him Who then came on earth, also brings before us in peculiar prominence that Virgin Mother who bore and nursed Him. Here she is not in the background, as at Eastertide, but she brings Him to us in her arms. Two great Festivals, dedicated to her honour,—tomorrow's and the Purification,—mark out and keep the ground, and, like the towers of David, open the way to and fro, for the high holiday season of the Prince of Peace. And all along it her image is upon it, such as we see it in the typical representation of the Catacombs. May the sacred influences of this tide bring us all together in unity. May it destroy all bitterness on your side and ours! May it quench all jealous, sour, proud, fierce, antagonism on our side; and dissipate all captious, carping, fastidious, refinements of reasoning on yours! May that bright and gentle Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, overcome you with her sweetness, and revenge herself on her foes by interceding effectually for their conversion.'

The letter to Pusey was published before Christmas. Newman was fully prepared for a mixed reception of it among Catholics. 'Don't expect much from my pamphlet,' he wrote to Miss Bowles, 'which is at last through the press. Pusey's work is on too many subjects, not to allow of a dozen answers, and, since I am only giving one, every reader will be expecting one or other of the eleven which I don't give.'

It was not to be expected, again, that Pusey's emphatic challenge to the school of Faber and Ward, and again of Louis Veuillot, should remain unanswered. Still, W. G. Ward, Manning, and others, had necessarily to recognise in their own answers the force and value of Newman's main argument against Pusey. The very fact of a common cause, which enabled Newman indirectly to attack the extremists, made it difficult for them to reply to him. On the other hand, the effect of the 'Apologia' was again visible among the English public. The Press signalised the {109} importance of an utterance from Newman's pen—according it the fullest attention, in marked contrast to the almost entire neglect of him shown for twenty years since the publication of the 'Essay on Development,' in 1846. The climax was reached in the long article of seven columns which appeared in the Times of March 31, 1866.

An article of such length in the Times in those days proclaimed, as a rule, a public event of first-rate national importance. That Newman's brief letter to Dr. Pusey should call forth a review nearly as long as itself, was an eloquent comment on the position Newman now held in the public mind; and to the initiated who knew that it came from the pen of R. W. Church, afterwards Dean of St. Paul's, this fact added to its interest.

The writer in the Times, at starting, recognises that 'there is only one person on the Roman Catholic side whose reflections' on Pusey's pamphlet 'English readers in general would much care to know,' and that person is Dr. Newman. He notes that in substance Newman, like Manning and other Roman Catholic writers, regards Pusey's ideas as impracticable. But he notes, too, the understanding sympathy with Pusey's attitude which Newman shows. He marks the note of candour which renders Newman so singularly persuasive, 'the English habit of not letting off the blunders and follies of his own side, and of daring to think that a cause is better served by outspoken independence of judgment than by fulsome, unmitigated puffing.' He recognises in particular that there is a tendency among Roman Catholics in England, showing itself largely in the importation of 'foreign ideas and foreign usages,' with which Newman strongly disclaims all sympathy. The writer cites the impressive passage in which Newman emphasises what he calls 'fashions' in Catholic opinions, and in which he intimates that to disagree with the views prevalent within the Church at a particular time or place may be not to lack Catholic instinct, but rather to show a fuller acquaintance with the length and breadth of authorised Catholic theological opinion, and with the story of different Pontificates. If, Newman had added, authority is seen in history largely to consider, in its determinations at a particular time, the various phases of Catholic {110} opinion exhibited at that time, then the expression of opinion may become a duty on the part of individuals. And seeing the traditionary views of English Catholicism falling into the background in favour of foreign ideas with which he has small sympathy, he had felt called upon to express his own judgment, lest the newer habits of thought might appear to outsiders to be exclusively those which the Church sanctions. He had claimed the right 'to speak as well as to hear' for one who, like himself, had now for twenty years been a Catholic and given close attention to the different phases of Catholic opinion.

'I prefer English habits of belief and devotion to foreign,' Newman had written, '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 Times writer questions the accuracy of Newman's account of the situation. Over against his contention that the views dominant within the Church of a particular time may be but a passing and accidental fashion, due to the character of the particular Pope or other circumstances, the Times sets Archbishop Manning's apparently opposite statement in his reply to Pusey, that the Church is in some sense committed to them by the very fact of their being dominant and unreproved. The careful reader will see that there is in reality no marked contradiction between the two. Manning had not claimed more than immunity from the censure of private Catholics for extreme views that were tolerated by authority, and Newman had only claimed toleration for those less extreme. Manning had claimed, as more than the tenets of a school, only what Pontiffs successively witnessed. Newman had claimed liberty rather where they diverged. But the tone of Manning's words told for dogmatism, of Newman's for liberty. And the writer in the Times went on to urge, that all the official encouragement of the Church was given to the views of Manning; that Papal censures {111} were reserved for 'Liberalism,' while extreme statements as to the Papal prerogatives and 'Mariolatry' were unreproved.

'Dr. Newman has often told us,' the Times continued, 'that we must take the consequences of our principles and theories, and here are some of the consequences which meet him; and, as he says, they "scare and confuse him." He boldly disavows them with no doubtful indignation. But what other voice but his, of equal authority and weight, has been lifted up, to speak the plain truth about them? Why, if they are wrong, extravagant, dangerous, is his protest solitary? His communion has never been wanting in jealousy of dangerous doctrines, and it is vain to urge that these things, and things like them, have been said in a corner. The Holy Office is apt to detect mischief in small writers as well as great, even if these teachers were as insignificant as Dr. Newman would gladly make them. Taken as a whole, and in connection with notorious facts, these statements are fair examples of manifest tendencies, which certainly are not on the decline ...

'Allocutions and Encyclicals are not for errors of this kind. Dr. Newman says that "it is wiser for the most part to leave these excesses to the gradual operation of public opinion,—that is, to the opinion of educated and sober Catholics; and this seems to me the healthiest way of putting them down." We quite agree with him; but his own Church does not think so; and we want to see some evidence of a public opinion in it capable of putting them down ...

'It is very little use, then, for Dr. Newman to tell Dr. Pusey or anyone else, "You may safely trust us English Catholics as to this devotion." "English Catholics," as such,—it is the strength and the weakness of their system,—have really the least to say in the matter. The question is not about the trusting "us English Catholics," but the Pope, and the Roman congregations, and those to whom the Roman Authorities delegate their sanction and give their countenance.'

In brief, the writer claims that it is Ward and Manning who represent the effective mind of the ruling power, and that it is with them that Dr. Pusey and his friends have to reckon. Newman had pointed out that prevalent excesses were no argument against the 'grand faith and worship' which the Church had preserved. But the writer argues that the {112} admission that such prevalent excesses were deplorable was not effectively made among Catholics; that the tendency of Manning to justify what is unjustifiable on the sole ground that it was prevalent and not condemned, was practically the tendency of the Catholic Church in the nineteenth century.

The case had been put in this article from the standpoint of an Anglican. Yet the article was welcome to Newman not only as an advertisement of his book, but on other grounds. An answer to the writer from the Catholic standpoint was, he held, easy if the distinctions recognised by the best theologians were remembered. An answer from the standpoint of Ward or Veuillot, or even Manning, was very difficult. The definitions of Faith, and their logical consequences, could be maintained with controversial success as unalterable, with no detriment to the fact, historically incontestable, that opinions not really true might be—nay, have been—universally accepted in the Church at a given time. To hold with Ward that such prevalence makes them part of the teaching of the Church was to go in the face of history—it was to justify belief in the 'Parousia' or the 'Millennium,' on the early universal prevalence of which among Catholics Newman had so often insisted. The article in the Times, then, had brought out a very important issue, and had at least laid stress on the fact that opinions which Ward and his friends constantly represented as the only orthodox Catholic opinions were challenged by Newman; and his challenge remained not only without reproof, but received the assent of others well equipped to speak with authority for what was theologically sound.

At the same time messages came to Newman from the Bishop of Birmingham and the Bishop of Clifton, identifying themselves with his view; and a similar attitude was, as he heard, prevalent in the majority of the Episcopate. Ward's party and Manning's followers in London were, of course, dissatisfied with the letter and attacked it; but the balance of opinion was in its favour.

Newman's faithful friends the Dominican sisters at Stone were among those who keenly appreciated the letter, and he rejoiced in their approval. He wrote to Sister Imelda on April 2: {113}

'My dear Sister Imelda,—Thank you for your welcome letter, and for your Reverend Mother's message. And I am much rejoiced to hear so good an account of her.

'One can't do better than one's best. I have done my very best in my Pamphlet—but bad is the best I daresay. Certainly, we may say of our Lady, as we say of the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, "quia major omni laude, nec laudare sufficit." It is still more difficult at once to praise her, and to dispraise some of her imprudent votaries. On the other hand it is very easy to criticize what we should not do a bit better if we ourselves tried our hand at it. Therefore I am not surprised that I am open to criticism, and have been criticized, and in spite of that, not at all dissatisfied on the whole with what I have done, for I have had a number of letters from important quarters, all in my favour. One, which is the most gratifying is from our own Bishop.

'With my best Easter greetings to your Reverend Mother and all your Community, I am
'My dear Sister Imelda most sincerely yours in Xt.
of the Oratory.'

To Pusey he writes on the general situation two days after the appearance of the Times article:

'Thank you for your sympathy about the attacks on me, but you have enough upon yourself to be able to understand that they have no tendency to annoy me,—and on the other hand are a proof that one is doing a work. I hail the Article in the Times with great satisfaction as being the widest possible advertisement of me. I never should be surprised at its comments being sent by some people to Rome, as authoritative explanations of my meaning, wherever they are favourable to me. The truth is, that certain views have been suffered without a word, till their maintainers have begun to fancy that they are de fide,—and they are astonished and angry beyond measure when they find that silence on the part of others was not acquiescence, indifference, or timidity, but patience. My own Bishop and Dr. Clifford, and, I believe, most of the other Bishops, are with me. And I have had letters from the most important centres of theology and of education through the country, taking part with me. London, however, has for years been oppressed with various incubi; though I cannot forget, with great gratitude, that two years ago as many as a hundred and ten priests of the Westminster Diocese, including {114} all the Canons, the Vicars General, the Jesuits, and other Orders, went out of their way (and were the first to do so), to take my part before the "Apologia" appeared.

'I am very sorry the Jesuits are so fierce against you. They have a notion that you are not exact in your facts, and it has put their backs up; but we are not so exact ourselves as to be able safely to throw stones.'

While Newman loyally defended the Jesuits in writing to Pusey, to Father Coleridge himself he very frankly indicated, in an interesting letter what he regarded as unfair, or, at least, ungenerous, in the treatment of the controversy in the pages of the Month:

'As to Pusey, I fully think that whatever is misrepresented in facts should be brought out, as well as what is wrong in theology. But ... I say ... "show that Pusey's facts are wrong, but don't abuse him." Abuse is as great a mistake in controversy as panegyric in biography. Of course a man must state strongly his opinion, but that is not personal vituperation. Now I am not taking the liberty of accusing you of vituperation, but I think an Anglican would say: "This writer is fierce—" and would put you aside in consequence as a partisan. He would shrink into his prejudices instead of imbibing confidence.

'Now mind, I am not accusing you of all this maladresse, but bringing out what I mean. But I will tell you, if you will bear with me, what does seem to me to approach to it in what you have written, e.g. [Note 6]

'1. "The great name of Bossuet has been foolishly invoked by Dr. Pusey," p. 384.

'2. "There can be no more mistake about the fact than about the impression which Dr. Pusey has meant to produce on his readers," p. 387, note.

'3. "How does this ... differ from the artifice of an unscrupulous advocate?" p. 388.

'4. "Great confusion of thought," p. 388.

'5. "In happy unconsciousness of the absurdity of his language," p. 389.

'6. "This language shows as much confusion or ignorance, &c." p. 389.

'7. "He does not understand that ... ," p. 389.

'8. "He talks of a continual flow, &c." p. 389.

'9. "This is very childish," p. 389. {115}

'10. "Dr. Pusey then must have deliberately ignored the distinction," p. 389.

'It must be recollected that your object is to convince those who respect and love Dr. Pusey that he has written hastily and rashly and gone beyond his measure. Now if even I feel pained to read such things said of him, what do you suppose is the feeling of those who look up to him as their guide? They are as indignant at finding him thus treated as you are for his treatment of Catholic doctrine. They close their ears and hearts. Yet these are the very people you write for. You don't write to convince the good Fathers at No. 9 [Note 7], but to say a word in season to his followers and to his friends—to dispose them to look kindly on Catholics and Catholic doctrine,—to entertain the possibility that they have misjudged us, and that they are needlessly, as well as dangerously, keeping away from us,—but to mix up your irrefutable matter with a personal attack on Pusey, is as if you were to load your gun carefully, and then as deliberately to administer some drops of water at the touch-hole.

'Now excuse me for all this, but you have put me on my defence by making the point at issue whether or not the "Papers should be suffered all to assume that his statements are founded on real theological knowledge—" which is not the issue.       Very sincerely yours,

Loyalty to his friends called for another letter in connection with the 'Eirenicon.' Newman had expressed to Mr. Ambrose de Lisle so much sympathy with his attitude towards the Anglican movement that he felt that he ought to make it quite clear that he considered his scheme of 'corporate reunion' to be Utopian, and why he thought so.

'I find it very difficult,' he writes to de Lisle on March 3, 1866, 'to realise such an idea as a fact. As a Protestant, I never could get myself to entertain it as such, nor have I been able as a Catholic. Nothing is impossible to God, and the more we ask of Him, the more we gain—but still, His indications in Providence are often our guide, what to ask and what not to ask. We ask what is probable; we do not ask definitely that England should be converted in a day;—unless under the authority of a particular inspiration, such a prayer {116} would be presumptuous, as being a prayer for a miracle. Now to me, the question is whether the conversion of that corporate body, which we call the Anglican Church, would not be in the same general sense a miracle,—in the same sense in which it would be a miracle for the Thames to change its course, and run into the sea at the Wash instead of the Nore. Of course in the course of ages such a change of direction might take place without miracle—by the stopping up of a gorge or the alteration of a level. But I should not pray for it; and, if I wished to divert the stream from London, I should cut a canal at Eton or Twickenham. I should carry the innumerable drops of water my own way by forming a new bed by my own labour—and for the success of this project I might reasonably pray. Now the Anglican Church is sui generis—it is not a collection of individuals—but it is a bed, a river bed, formed in the course of ages, depending on external facts, such as political, civil, and social arrangements. Viewed in its structure, it has never been more than partially Catholic. If its ritual has been mainly such, yet its articles are the historical offspring of Luther and Calvin. And its ecclesiastical organisation has ever been, in its fundamental principles, Erastian. To make that actual and visible, tangible body Catholic, would be simply to make a new creature—it would be to turn a panther into a hind. There are very great similarities between a panther and a hind. Still they are possessed of separate natures, and a change from one to the other would be a destruction and reproduction, not a process. It could be done without a miracle in a succession of ages, but in any assignable period, no.

'See what would be needed to bring the Anglican Church into a condition capable of union with the Catholic body. There have ever been three great parties in it. The rod of Aaron (so to call it) must swallow up the serpents of the magicians. That rod has grown of late years—doubtless—but the history of opinion, and of Anglican opinion, has ever been a course of reactions. Look at ourselves, truths de fide are unchangeable and indefectible, but you yourself were lately predicting, and with reason, a reaction among us from Ultramontanism. The chance is, humanly speaking, that the Catholic movement in the Anglican Church, being itself a reaction, will meet with a re-reaction—but suppose it does not. Then it has to absorb into itself the Evangelical and the Liberal parties. When it has done this, the Erastian party, which embraces all three, {117} and against which there is no reaction at present, which ever has been, which is the foundation of Anglicanism, must begin to change itself. I say all parties ever have been Erastian. Archbishop Whitgift, a Calvinist, was as Erastian, as much opposed to the Puritans, as Laud was. And Hoadly, the representative of the Liberals, was of course emphatically an Erastian. But let us keep to the Catholic party. They were Erastian in Laud, they are Erastian in their most advanced phase now. What is the rejection of Gladstone at Oxford, what is the glorification of that angel Disraeli, but an Erastian policy? and who are specially the promoters of it but the Union Review and the party it represents?

'When then I come to consider the possibility of the Established Church becoming capable of Catholicism, I must suppose its Evangelical party adding to its tenets the Puritanism of Cartwright as well as disowning at the same time its own and Cartwright's Protestantism;—I must suppose the Catholic party recalling the poor Non-jurors and accepting their anti-Erastianism, while preserving and perfecting its own orthodoxy—and the Liberal party denying that Royal supremacy which is the boast of members of it, as different from each other in opinion as Tillotson, Arnold and Colenso. I must anticipate the Catholic party, first beating two foes, each as strong as itself, and then taking the new step, never yet dreamed of except by the Non-jurors, who in consequence left it, and by the first authors of the Tracts [for the] Times, the new step of throwing off the Supremacy of the State.

'Then comes a question, involved indeed, but not brought out clearly, in what I have been saying. Who are meant by the members of each party, the clergy only or the laity also? It is a miracle, if the "Catholic" clergy in the Establishment manage to swallow up the Evangelical and Liberal—but how much more difficult an idea is it to contemplate, that they should absorb the whole laity of their communion, of whom, but a fraction is with them, a great portion Evangelical, a greater Liberal, and a still greater, alas, without any faith at all. I do not see, moreover, how it is possible to forget that the Established Church is the Church of England—that Dissenters are, both in their own estimation and in that of its own members, in some sense a portion of it—and that, even were its whole proper laity Catholic in opinions, the whole population of England, of which Dissenters are nearly half, would, as represented by Parliament, claim it as their own. {118}

'And of course, when it came to the point, they would have fact and power on their side. It is indeed hard to conceive that the constitution of the Church of England, as settled by Act of Parliament, can be made fit for reunion with the Catholic Church, till political parties, as such, till the great interests of the nation, the country party, the manufacturing, the trade, become Catholic, as parties. Before that takes place, and sooner than it will, as it seems to me, the Establishment will cease to be, in consequence of the Free Church and voluntary principle and movement. So that from my point of view, I cannot conceive, to end as I began, the Establishment running into Catholicism, more than I can conceive the Thames running into the Wash.

'And now excuse me, if I have been at all free; but, since you seemed to wish to know what I think on so momentous a subject, and it seems to be a time when we shall all arrive best at what is true and expedient, and at unanimity and unity, by speaking out, I have thought I might throw myself on your indulgence, even in such respects as I fear will not commend themselves to your judgment.'

Theology was not the only matter which engaged Newman's attention at this time. He wrote frequently to Frederick Rogers and R. W. Church on questions of current interest. Rogers sent him in April 1866 Seeley's work entitled 'Ecce Homo,' which made a great stir on its appearance. Newman did not at first see much in the book. He found 'little new in it but what was questionable or fanciful,' but in view of Rogers' estimate of its great importance as a sign of the times, he wrote an appreciative review of it in the Month.

From his letters on politics of the time, two may be quoted—one on the Franco-Prussian War and one, in the following year, on the murder of Emperor Maximilian. In both these letters, addressed to R. W. Church, we have his thoughts on the future of his own country. Ever since the Reform Bill of 1832 he had viewed with great misgiving the extension of the suffrage and the growth of the democracy. 'The only defence of or consolation under Reform,' he writes to Rogers, 'is that power itself will have a sober and educational effect on the new voters. The other consolation is that it will only increase bribery immoderately.' England's international position also appeared to him at this time very {119} unsatisfactory. Still he had a great belief in the genius of his country and her power to recover.


'The Oratory, Bm': Septr 21, 1866.
'What wonderful events have taken place lately! quite a new world is coming in; and if Louis Napoleon were to fall ill, the catastrophe would be still more wonderful. I don't quite like our being thrown so much into the background. Twenty-five years ago Rogers said one ought to go abroad to know how great England was—it is not so now—some foreign papers simply leave out the heading "Angleterre" in their foreign news. And the fate of Austria, a state in some striking points like us, though in others different, is a sort of omen of what might happen to us in the future. Then, I am quite ashamed at the past ignorance of the Times and other papers and at myself for having been so taken in by them. Think of the Times during the American civil war! And again on the breaking out, and in the course of the Danish War. Really we are simply in the dark as to what is going on beyond our four seas—even if we know what is going on within them. How dark, as even I could see, we are as to Ireland, from having been there. Some four years ago I met a man, he seemed some sort of country gentleman, at the inn of a country town—we got into conversation. I told him the hatred felt for England in all ranks in Ireland—how great friends of mine did not scruple to speak to me of the "bloody English"—the common phrase—how cautious and quiet government people simply confessed they would gladly show their teeth if they were sure of biting; but he would not believe me—and that has been the state of the mass of our people. Even now they are slow to believe that Fenianism is as deeply rooted as it is. Every Irishman is but watching his opportunity—and if he is friendly to this country, it is because he despairs.

'Don't think I am tempted to despair about England. I am in as little despair about England as about the Pope. I think they have both enormous latent forces; and if, as they now talk, he goes to Malta, I shall think it is caused by some hidden sympathy of position. Misery does indeed make us acquainted with strange bedfellows. And, whatever the Pope will have to do, at least England must make {120} some great changes, and give up many cherished ways of going on, if she is to keep her place in the world.

'However, much all this is to an old man like me.'


'The Oratory, Bm: July 7, 1867.
'Your violin improves continually; I cannot desire a better one. I have got it at Rednal, where I make a noise, without remonstrance from trees, grass, roses or cabbages.

'Maximilian's death is the deepest tragedy in our day, the deeper because it has so little romantic about it—it is the case of a lion poisoned by a ratcatcher—or "a falcon, towering in her pride of place, and by a mousing owl hawked at and killed." There is a kind of death which seems, not a martyrdom, but a failure. Max's course in Mexico is not a career. He has left Europe and vanished into space; and is of those "which have no memorial, who have perished as tho' they had never been"; and his "empire" after him. And this is most tragic.

'As to Parliamentary proceedings, it is a crucial experiment whether England is stronger in its social or its political system. If the social framework can withstand and master such political changes it is strong indeed.'

Top | Contents | Biographies | Home


1. 'You cannot speak merely for yourself,' he wrote: 'your antecedents, your existing influence, are a pledge to us that what you may determine will be the determination of a multitude. Numbers, too, for whom you cannot properly be said to speak, will be moved by your authority or your arguments; and, numbers, again, who are of a school more recent than your own, and who are only not your followers because they have outstripped you in their free speeches and demonstrative acts in our behalf, will, for the occasion, accept you as their spokesman. There is no one anywhere,—among ourselves, in your own body, or, I suppose, in the Greek Church, who can affect so large a circle of men, so virtuous, so able, so learned, so zealous, as come, more or less, under your influence; and I cannot pay them a greater compliment than to tell them they ought all to be Catholics, nor do them a more affectionate service than to pray that they may one day become such. Nor can I address myself to any task more pleasing, as I trust, to the Divine Lord of the Church, or more loyal or dutiful to His Vicar on earth, than to attempt, however feebly, to promote so great a consummation.'
Return to text

2. Some thought that their names were given partly in irony. Newman emphatically disclaimed this.
'I am in earnest about the names I quoted,' he writes to H. Wilberforce. 'They are witnesses, and it does not require to be great authors in order to witness well. Ward and Faber, as well as myself, never had a course of theology. I at least have been a year at Rome. Other writers, such as Allies, also are not theologians. The ecclesiastics I named have been in seminaries. Their literary merit may not be high, but Lingard, Rock, Wiseman, Tierney, Oliver, are the first in their lines. I might say more.'
Return to text

3. Letter to Pusey, Difficulties of Anglicans, ii. 65, 66.
Return to text

4. The statements run as follows: 'That the mercy of Mary is infinite; that God has resigned into her hands His Omnipotence; that it is safer to seek her than to seek her Son; that the Blessed Virgin is superior to God; that Our Lord is subject to her command; that His present disposition towards sinners, as well as His Father's, is to reject them, while the Blessed Mary takes His place as an Advocate with Father and Son; that the Saints are more ready to intercede with Jesus than Jesus with the Father; that Mary is the only refuge of those with whom God is angry; that Mary alone can obtain a Protestant's conversion; that it would have sufficed for the salvation of men if Our Lord had died, not in order to obey His Father, but to defer to the decree of His Mother; that she rivals Our Lord in being God's daughter, not by adoption, but by a kind of nature; that Christ fulfilled the office of Saviour by imitating her virtues; that, as the Incarnate God bore the Image of His Father, so He bore the Image of His Mother; that redemption derived from Christ indeed its sufficiency, but from Mary its beauty and loveliness; that, as we are clothed with the merits of Christ, so we are clothed with the merits of Mary; that, as He is Priest, in a like sense is she Priestess; that His Body and Blood in the Eucharist are truly hers and appertain to her; that as He is present and received therein, so is she present and received therein; that Priests are ministers as of Christ, so of Mary; that elect souls are born of God and Mary; that the Holy Ghost brings into fruitfulness His action by her, producing in her and by her Jesus Christ in His members; that the Kingdom of God in our souls, as Our Lord speaks, is really the kingdom of Mary in the soul; that she and the Holy Ghost produce in the soul extraordinary things; and that when the Holy Ghost finds Mary in a soul He flies there' (pp. 113-14).
Return to text

5. Letter to Dr. Pusey, Difficulties of Anglicans, ii. 115.
Return to text

6. The references are to the article 'Archbishop Manning on the Reunion of Christendom,' in the Month for April 1866.
Return to text

7. No. 9 Hill Street (now No. 16) then served as the residence of the Farm Street community.
Return to text

Top | Contents | Biographies | Home

Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
Copyright © 2007 by The National Institute for Newman Studies. All rights reserved.