Chapter 4. History of My Religious Opinions from 1841 to 1845

§ 2.

{194} The letter which I have last inserted, is addressed to my dear friend, Dr. Russell, the present President of Maynooth. He had, perhaps, more to do with my conversion than any one else. He called upon me, in passing through Oxford in the summer of 1841, and I think I took him over some of the buildings of the University. He called again another summer, on his way from Dublin to London. I do not recollect that he said a word on the subject of religion on either occasion. He sent me at different times several letters; he was always gentle, mild, unobtrusive, uncontroversial. He let me alone. He also gave me one or two books. Veron's Rule of Faith and some Treatises of the Wallenburghs was one; a volume of St. Alfonso Liguori's Sermons was another; and it is to those Sermons that my letter to Dr. Russell relates.

Now it must be observed that the writings of St. Alfonso, as I knew them by the extracts commonly made from them, prejudiced me as much against the Roman Church as any thing else, on account of what was called their "Mariolatry;" but there was nothing of the kind in this book. I wrote to ask Dr. Russell whether any thing had {195} been left out in the translation; he answered that there certainly were omissions in one Sermon about the Blessed Virgin. This omission, in the case of a book intended for Catholics, at least showed that such passages as are found in the works of Italian Authors were not acceptable to every part of the Catholic world. Such devotional manifestations in honour of our Lady had been my great crux as regards Catholicism; I say frankly, I do not fully enter into them now; I trust I do not love her the less, because I cannot enter into them. They may be fully explained and defended; but sentiment and taste do not run with logic: they are suitable for Italy, but they are not suitable for England. But, over and above England, my own case was special; from a boy I had been led to consider that my Maker and I, His creature, were the two beings, luminously such, in rerum naturā. I will not here speculate, however, about my own feelings. Only this I know full well now, and did not know then, that the Catholic Church allows no image of any sort, material or immaterial, no dogmatic symbol, no rite, no sacrament, no Saint, not even the Blessed Virgin herself, to come between the soul and its Creator. It is face to face, "solus cum solo," in all matters between man and his God. He alone creates; He alone has redeemed; before His awful eyes we go in death; in the vision of Him is our eternal beatitude.

1. Solus cum solo:—I recollect but indistinctly what I gained from the Volume of which I have been speaking; but it must have been something considerable. At least I had got a key to a difficulty; in these Sermons, (or rather heads of sermons, as they seem to be, taken down by a hearer,) there is much of what would be called legendary illustration; but the substance of them is plain, practical, awful preaching upon the great truths of salvation. What I can speak of with greater confidence is the effect produced {196} on me a little later by studying the Exercises of St. Ignatius. For here again, in a matter consisting in the purest and most direct acts of religion,—in the intercourse between God and the soul, during a season of recollection, of repentance, of good resolution, of inquiry into vocation,—the soul was "sola cum solo;" there was no cloud interposed between the creature and the Object of his faith and love. The command practically enforced was, "My son, give Me thy heart." The devotions then to Angels and Saints as little interfered with the incommunicable glory of the Eternal, as the love which we bear our friends and relations, our tender human sympathies, are inconsistent with that supreme homage of the heart to the Unseen, which really does but sanctify and exalt, not jealously destroy, what is of earth. At a later date Dr. Russell sent me a large bundle of penny or half-penny books of devotion, of all sorts, as they are found in the booksellers' shops at Rome; and, on looking them over, I was quite astonished to find how different they were from what I had fancied, how little there was in them to which I could really object. I have given an account of them in my Essay on the Development of Doctrine. Dr. Russell sent me St. Alfonso's book at the end of 1842; however, it was still a long time before I got over my difficulty, on the score of the devotions paid to the Saints; perhaps, as I judge from a letter I have turned up, it was some way into 1844 before I could be said fully to have got over it.

2. I am not sure that I did not also at this time feel the force of another consideration. The idea of the Blessed Virgin was as it were magnified in the Church of Rome as time went on,—but so were all the Christian ideas; as that of the Blessed Eucharist. The whole scene of pale, faint, distant Apostolic Christianity is seen in Rome, as through a telescope or magnifier. The harmony of the whole, however, is of course what it was. It is unfair {197} then to take one Roman idea, that of the Blessed Virgin, out of what may be called its context.

3. Thus I am brought to the principle of development of doctrine in the Christian Church, to which I gave my mind at the end of 1842. I had made mention of it in the passage, which I quoted many pages back (vide p. 111), in Home Thoughts Abroad, published in 1836; and even at an earlier date I had introduced it into my History of the Arians in 1832; nor had I ever lost sight of it in my speculations. And it is certainly recognized in the Treatise of Vincent of Lerins, which has so often been taken as the basis of Anglicanism. In 1843 I began to consider it attentively; I made it the subject of my last University Sermon on February 2; and the general view to which I came is stated thus in a letter to a friend of the date of July 14, 1844;—it will be observed that, now as before, my issue is still Creed versus Church:—

"The kind of considerations which weighs with me are such as the following:—1. I am far more certain (according to the Fathers) that we are in a state of culpable separation, than that developments do not exist under the Gospel, and that the Roman developments are not the true ones. 2. I am far more certain, that our (modern) doctrines are wrong, than that the Roman (modern) doctrines are wrong. 3. Granting that the Roman (special) doctrines are not found drawn out in the early Church, yet I think there is sufficient trace of them in it, to recommend and prove them, on the hypothesis of the Church having a divine guidance, though not sufficient to prove them by itself. So that the question simply turns on the nature of the promise of the Spirit, made to the Church. 4. The proof of the Roman (modern) doctrine is as strong (or stronger) in Antiquity, as that of certain doctrines which both we and Romans hold: e.g. there is more of evidence in Antiquity for the necessity of Unity, than for {198} the Apostolical Succession; for the Supremacy of the See of Rome, than for the Presence in the Eucharist; for the practice of Invocation, than for certain books in the present Canon of Scripture, &c. &c. 5. The analogy of the Old Testament, and also of the New, leads to the acknowledgment of doctrinal developments."

4. And thus I was led on to a further consideration. I saw that the principle of development not only accounted for certain facts, but was in itself a remarkable philosophical phenomenon, giving a character to the whole course of Christian thought. It was discernible from the first years of the Catholic teaching up to the present day, and gave to that teaching a unity and individuality. It served as a sort of test, which the Anglican could not exhibit, that modern Rome was in truth ancient Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople, just as a mathematical curve has its own law and expression.

5. And thus again I was led on to examine more attentively what I doubt not was in my thoughts long before, viz. the concatenation of argument by which the mind ascends from its first to its final religious idea; and I came to the conclusion that there was no medium, in true philosophy, between Atheism and Catholicity, and that a perfectly consistent mind, under those circumstances in which it finds itself here below, must embrace either the one or the other. And I hold this still: I am a Catholic by virtue of my believing in a God; and if I am asked why I believe in a God, I answer that it is because I believe in myself, for I feel it impossible to believe in my own existence (and of that fact I am quite sure) without believing also in the existence of Him, who lives as a Personal, All-seeing, All-judging Being in my conscience. Now, I dare say, I have not expressed myself with philosophical correctness, because I have not given myself to the study of what metaphysicians have said on the subject; {199} but I think I have a strong true meaning in what I say which will stand examination.

6. Moreover, I found a corroboration of the fact of the logical connexion of Theism with Catholicism in a consideration parallel to that which I had adopted on the subject of development of doctrine. The fact of the operation from first to last of that principle of development in the truths of Revelation, is an argument in favour of the identity of Roman and Primitive Christianity; but as there is a law which acts upon the subject-matter of dogmatic theology, so is there a law in the matter of religious faith. In the first chapter of this narrative I spoke of certitude as the consequence, divinely intended and enjoined upon us, of the accumulative force of certain given reasons which, taken one by one, were only probabilities. Let it be recollected that I am historically relating my state of mind, at the period of my life which I am surveying. I am not speaking theologically, nor have I any intention of going into controversy, or of defending myself; but speaking historically of what I held in 1843-4, I say, that I believed in a God on a ground of probability, that I believed in Christianity on a probability, and that I believed in Catholicism on a probability, and that these three grounds of probability, distinct from each other of course in subject matter, were still all of them one and the same in nature of proof, as being probabilities—probabilities of a special kind, a cumulative, a transcendent probability but still probability; inasmuch as He who made us has so willed, that in mathematics indeed we should arrive at certitude by rigid demonstration, but in religious inquiry we should arrive at certitude by accumulated probabilities;—He has willed, I say, that we should so act, and, as willing it, He co-operates with us in our acting, and thereby enables us to do that which He wills us to do, and carries us on, if our will does but co-operate with His, {200} to a certitude which rises higher than the logical force of our conclusions. And thus I came to see clearly, and to have a satisfaction in seeing, that, in being led on into the Church of Rome, I was not proceeding on any secondary or isolated grounds of reason, or by controversial points in detail, but was protected and justified, even in the use of those secondary or particular arguments, by a great and broad principle. But, let it be observed, that I am stating a matter of fact, not defending it; and if any Catholic says in consequence that I have been converted in a wrong way, I cannot help that now.

I have nothing more to say on the subject of the change in my religious opinions. On the one hand I came gradually to see that the Anglican Church was formally in the wrong, on the other that the Church of Rome was formally in the right; then, that no valid reasons could be assigned for continuing in the Anglican, and again that no valid objections could be taken to joining the Roman. Then, I had nothing more to learn; what still remained for my conversion, was, not further change of opinion, but to change opinion itself into the clearness and firmness of intellectual conviction.

Now I proceed to detail the acts, to which I committed myself during this last stage of my inquiry.

In 1843, I took two very significant steps:—1. In February, I made a formal Retractation of all the hard things which I had said against the Church of Rome. 2. In September, I resigned the Living of St. Mary's, Littlemore included:—I will speak of these two acts separately.

1. The words, in which I made my Retractation, have given rise to much criticism. After quoting a number of passages from my writings against the Church of Rome, which I withdrew, I ended thus:—"If you ask me how an individual could venture, not simply to hold, but to {201} publish such views of a communion so ancient, so wide-spreading, so fruitful in Saints, I answer that I said to myself, 'I am not speaking my own words, I am but following almost a consensus of the divines of my own Church. They have ever used the strongest language against Rome, even the most able and learned of them. I wish to throw myself into their system. While I say what they say, I am safe. Such views, too, are necessary for our position.' Yet I have reason to fear still, that such language is to be ascribed, in no small measure, to an impetuous temper, a hope of approving myself to persons I respect, and a wish to repel the charge of Romanism."

These words have been, and are, again and again cited against me, as if a confession that, when in the Anglican Church, I said things against Rome which I did not really believe.

For myself, I cannot understand how any impartial man can so take them; and I have explained them in print several times. I trust that by this time their plain meaning has been satisfactorily brought out by what I have said in former portions of this Narrative; still I have a word or two to say in addition to my former remarks upon them.

In the passage in question I apologize for saying out in controversy charges against the Church of Rome, which withal I affirm that I fully believed at the time when I made them. What is wonderful in such an apology? There are surely many things a man may hold, which at the same time he may feel that he has no right to say publicly, and which it may annoy him that he has said publicly. The law recognizes this principle. In our own time, men have been imprisoned and fined for saying true things of a bad king. The maxim has been held, that, "The greater the truth, the greater is the libel." And so as to the judgment of society, a just indignation would be felt against a writer who brought forward wantonly {202} the weaknesses of a great man, though the whole world knew that they existed. No one is at liberty to speak ill of another without a justifiable reason, even though he knows he is speaking truth, and the public knows it too. Therefore, though I believed what I said against the Roman Church, nevertheless I could not religiously speak it out, unless I was really justified, not only in believing ill, but in speaking ill. I did believe what I said on what I thought to be good reasons; but had I also a just cause for saying out what I believed? I thought I had, and it was this, viz. that to say what I believed was simply necessary in the controversy for self-defence. It was impossible to let it alone: the Anglican position could not be satisfactorily maintained, without assailing the Roman. In this, as in most cases of conflict, one party was right or the other, not both; and the best defence was to attack. Is not this almost a truism in the Roman controversy? Is it not what every one says, who speaks on the subject at all? does any serious man abuse the Church of Rome, for the sake of abusing her, or because that abuse justifies his own religious position? What is the meaning of the very word "Protestantism," but that there is a call to speak out? This then is what I said; "I know I spoke strongly against the Church of Rome; but it was no mere abuse, for I had a serious reason for doing so."

But, not only did I think such language necessary for my Church's religious position, but I recollected that the great Anglican divines had thought so before me. They had thought so, and they had acted accordingly. And therefore I observe in the passage in question, with much propriety, that I had not used strong language simply out of my own head, but that in doing so I was following the track, or rather reproducing the teaching, of those who had preceded me.

I was pleading guilty to using violent language, but I {203} was pleading also that there were extenuating circumstances in the case. We all know the story of the convict, who on the scaffold bit off his mother's ear. By doing so he did not deny the fact of his own crime, for which he was to hang; but he said that his mother's indulgence when he was a boy, had a good deal to do with it. In like manner I had made a charge, and I had made it ex animo; but I accused others of having, by their own example, led me into believing it and publishing it.

I was in a humour, certainly, to bite off their ears. I will freely confess, indeed I said it some pages back, that I was angry with the Anglican divines. I thought they had taken me in; I had read the Fathers with their eyes; I had sometimes trusted their quotations or their reasonings; and from reliance on them, I had used words or made statements, which by right I ought rigidly to have examined myself. I had thought myself safe, while I had their warrant for what I said. I had exercised more faith than criticism in the matter. This did not imply any broad misstatements on my part, arising from reliance on their authority, but it implied carelessness in matters of detail. And this of course was a fault.

But there was a far deeper reason for my saying what I said in this matter, on which I have not hitherto touched; and it was this:—The most oppressive thought, in the whole process of my change of opinion, was the clear anticipation, verified by the event, that it would issue in the triumph of Liberalism. Against the Anti-dogmatic principle I had thrown my whole mind; yet now I was doing more than any one else could do, to promote it. I was one of those who had kept it at bay in Oxford for so many years; and thus my very retirement was its triumph. The men who had driven me from Oxford were distinctly the Liberals; it was they who had opened the attack upon Tract 90, and it was they who would gain a second benefit, {204} if I went on to abandon the Anglican Church. But this was not all. As I have already said, there are but two alternatives, the way to Rome, and the way to Atheism: Anglicanism is the halfway house on the one side, and Liberalism is the halfway house on the other. How many men were there, as I knew full well, who would not follow me now in my advance from Anglicanism to Rome, but would at once leave Anglicanism and me for the Liberal camp. It is not at all easy (humanly speaking) to wind up an Englishman to a dogmatic level. I had done so in good measure, in the case both of young men and of laymen, the Anglican Via Media being the representative of dogma. The dogmatic and the Anglican principle were one, as I had taught them; but I was breaking the Via Media to pieces, and would not dogmatic faith altogether be broken up, in the minds of a great number, by the demolition of the Via Media? Oh! how unhappy this made me! I heard once from an eyewitness the account of a poor sailor whose legs were shattered by a ball, in the action off Algiers in 1816, and who was taken below for an operation. The surgeon and the chaplain persuaded him to have a leg off; it was done and the tourniquet applied to the wound. Then, they broke it to him that he must have the other off too. The poor fellow said, "You should have told me that, gentlemen," and deliberately unscrewed the instrument and bled to death. Would not that be the case with many friends of my own? How could I ever hope to make them believe in a second theology, when I had cheated them in the first? with what face could I publish a new edition of a dogmatic creed, and ask them to receive it as gospel? Would it not be plain to them that no certainty was to be found any where? Well, in my defence I could but make a lame apology; however, it was the true one, viz. that I had not read the Fathers cautiously enough; that in such nice points, as {205} those which determine the angle of divergence between the two Churches, I had made considerable miscalculations. But how came this about? why, the fact was, unpleasant as it was to avow, that I had leaned too much upon the assertions of Ussher, Jeremy Taylor, or Barrow, and had been deceived by them. Valeat quantum,—it was all that could be said. This then was a chief reason of that wording of the Retractation, which has given so much offence, because the bitterness, with which it was written, was not understood;—and the following letter will illustrate it:—

"April 3, 1844. I wish to remark on William's chief distress, that my changing my opinion seemed to unsettle one's confidence in truth and falsehood as external things, and led one to be suspicious of the new opinion as one became distrustful of the old. Now in what I shall say, I am not going to speak in favour of my second thoughts in comparison of my first, but against such scepticism and unsettlement about truth and falsehood generally, the idea of which is very painful.

"The case with me, then, was this, and not surely an unnatural one:—as a matter of feeling and of duty I threw myself into the system which I found myself in. I saw that the English Church had a theological idea or theory as such, and I took it up. I read Laud on Tradition, and thought it (as I still think it) very masterly. The Anglican Theory was very distinctive. I admired it and took it on faith. It did not (I think) occur to me to doubt it; I saw that it was able, and supported by learning, and I felt it was a duty to maintain it. Further, on looking into Antiquity and reading the Fathers, I saw such portions of it as I examined, fully confirmed (e.g. the supremacy of Scripture). There was only one question about which I had a doubt, viz. whether it would work, for it has never been more than a paper system ...

"So far from my change of opinion having any fair {206} tendency to unsettle persons as to truth and falsehood viewed as objective realities, it should be considered whether such change is not necessary, if truth be a real objective thing, and be made to confront a person who has been brought up in a system short of truth. Surely the continuance of a person, who wishes to go right, in a wrong system, and not his giving it up, would be that which militated against the objectiveness of Truth, leading, as it would, to the suspicion, that one thing and another were equally pleasing to our Maker, where men were sincere.

"Nor surely is it a thing I need be sorry for, that I defended the system in which I found myself, and thus have had to unsay my words. For is it not one's duty, instead of beginning with criticism, to throw oneself generously into that form of religion which is providentially put before one? Is it right, or is it wrong, to begin with private judgment? May we not, on the other hand, look for a blessing through obedience even to an erroneous system, and a guidance even by means of it out of it? Were those who were strict and conscientious in their Judaism, or those who were lukewarm and sceptical, more likely to be led into Christianity, when Christ came? Yet in proportion to their previous zeal, would be their appearance of inconsistency. Certainly, I have always contended that obedience even to an erring conscience was the way to gain light, and that it mattered not where a man began, so that he began on what came to hand, and in faith; and that any thing might become a divine method of Truth; that to the pure all things are pure, and have a self-correcting virtue and a power of germinating. And though I have no right at all to assume that this mercy is granted to me, yet the fact, that a person in my situation may have it granted to him, seems to me to remove the perplexity which my change of opinion may occasion.

"It may be said,—I have said it to myself,—'Why, however, {207} did you publish? had you waited quietly, you would have changed your opinion without any of the misery, which now is involved in the change, of disappointing and distressing people.' I answer, that things are so bound up together, as to form a whole, and one cannot tell what is or is not a condition of what. I do not see how possibly I could have published the Tracts, or other works professing to defend our Church, without accompanying them with a strong protest or argument against Rome. The one obvious objection against the whole Anglican line is, that it is Roman; so that I really think there was no alternative between silence altogether, and forming a theory and attacking the Roman system."

2. And now, in the next place, as to my Resignation of St. Mary's, which was the second of the steps which I took in 1843. The ostensible, direct, and sufficient reason for my doing so was the persevering attack of the Bishops on Tract 90. I alluded to it in the letter which I have inserted above, addressed to one of the most influential among them. A series of their ex cathedra judgments, lasting through three years, and including a notice of no little severity in a Charge of my own Bishop, came as near to a condemnation of my Tract, and, so far, to a repudiation of the ancient Catholic doctrine, which was the scope of the Tract, as was possible in the Church of England. It was in order to shield the Tract from such a condemnation, that I had at the time of its publication in 1841 so simply put myself at the disposal of the higher powers in London. At that time, all that was distinctly contemplated in the way of censure, was contained in the message which my Bishop sent me, that the Tract was "objectionable." That I thought was the end of the matter. I had refused to suppress it, and they had yielded that point. Since I published the former portions of this Narrative, I have found what I {208} wrote to Dr. Pusey on March 24, while the matter was in progress. "The more I think of it," I said, "the more reluctant I am to suppress Tract 90, though of course I will do it if the Bishop wishes it; I cannot, however, deny that I shall feel it a severe act." According to the notes which I took of the letters or messages which I sent to him on that and the following days, I wrote successively, "My first feeling was to obey without a word; I will obey still; but my judgment has steadily risen against it ever since." Then in the Postscript, "If I have done any good to the Church, I do ask the Bishop this favour, as my reward for it, that he would not insist on a measure, from which I think good will not come. However, I will submit to him." Afterwards, I got stronger still and wrote: "I have almost come to the resolution, if the Bishop publicly intimates that I must suppress the Tract, or speaks strongly in his charge against it, to suppress it indeed, but to resign my living also. I could not in conscience act otherwise. You may show this in any quarter you please."

All my then hopes, all my satisfaction at the apparent fulfilment of those hopes was at an end in 1843. It is not wonderful then, that in May of that year, when two out of the three years were gone, I wrote on the subject of my retiring from St. Mary's to the same friend, whom I had consulted upon it in 1840. But I did more now; I told him my great unsettlement of mind on the question of the Churches. I will insert portions of two of my letters:—

"May 4, 1843 … At present I fear, as far as I can analyze my own convictions, I consider the Roman Catholic Communion to be the Church of the Apostles, and that what grace is among us (which, through God's mercy, is not little) is extraordinary, and from the over-flowings of His dispensation. I am very far more sure that England is in schism, than that the Roman additions {209} to the Primitive Creed may not be developments, arising out of a keen and vivid realizing of the Divine Depositum of Faith.

"You will now understand what gives edge to the Bishops' Charges, without any undue sensitiveness on my part. They distress me in two ways:—first, as being in some sense protests and witnesses to my conscience against my own unfaithfulness to the English Church, and next, as being samples of her teaching, and tokens how very far she is from even aspiring to Catholicity.

"Of course my being unfaithful to a trust is my great subject of dread,—as it has long been, as you know."

When he wrote to make natural objections to my purpose, such as the apprehension that the removal of clerical obligations might have the indirect effect of propelling me towards Rome, I answered:—

"May 18, 1843 ... My office or charge at St. Mary's is not a mere state, but a continual energy. People assume and assert certain things of me in consequence. With what sort of sincerity can I obey the Bishop? how am I to act in the frequent cases, in which one way or another the Church of Rome comes into consideration? I have to the utmost of my power tried to keep persons from Rome, and with some success; but even a year and a half since, my arguments, though more efficacious with the persons I aimed at than any others could be, were of a nature to infuse great suspicion of me into the minds of lookers-on.

"By retaining St. Mary's, I am an offence and a stumbling-block. Persons are keen-sighted enough to make out what I think on certain points, and then they infer that such opinions are compatible with holding situations of trust in our Church. A number of younger men take the validity of their interpretation of the Articles, &c. from me on faith. Is not my present position a cruelty, as well as a treachery towards the Church? {210}

"I do not see how I can either preach or publish again, while I hold St. Mary's;—but consider again the following difficulty in such a resolution, which I must state at some length.

"Last Long Vacation the idea suggested itself to me of publishing the Lives of the English Saints; and I had a conversation with [a publisher] upon it. I thought it would be useful, as employing the minds of men who were in danger of running wild, bringing them from doctrine to history, and from speculation to fact;—again, as giving them an interest in the English soil, and the English Church, and keeping them from seeking sympathy in Rome, as she is; and further, as tending to promote the spread of right views.

"But, within the last month, it has come upon me, that, if the scheme goes on, it will be a practical carrying out of No. 90, from the character of the usages and opinions of ante-reformation times.

"It is easy to say, 'Why will you do any thing? why won't you keep quiet? what business had you to think of any such plan at all?' But I cannot leave a number of poor fellows in the lurch. I am bound to do my best for a great number of people both in Oxford and elsewhere. If I did not act, others would find means to do so.

"Well, the plan has been taken up with great eagerness and interest. Many men are setting to work. I set down the names of men, most of them engaged, the rest half engaged and probable, some actually writing." About thirty names follow, some of them at that time of the school of Dr. Arnold, others of Dr. Pusey's, some my personal friends and of my own standing, others whom I hardly knew, while of course the majority were of the party of the new Movement. I continue:—

"The plan has gone so far, that it would create surprise and talk, were it now suddenly given over. Yet how is it {211} compatible with my holding St. Mary's, being what I am?"

Such was the object and the origin of the projected Series of the English Saints; and, since the publication was connected, as has been seen, with my resignation of St. Mary's, I may be allowed to conclude what I have to say on the subject here, though it may read like a digression. As soon then as the first of the Series got into print, the whole project broke down. I had already anticipated that some portions of the Series would be written in a style inconsistent with the professions of a beneficed clergyman, and therefore I had given up my Living; but men of great weight went further in their misgivings than I, when they saw the Life of St. Stephen Harding, and decided that it was of a character inconsistent even with its proceeding from an Anglican publisher: and so the scheme was given up at once. After the two first numbers, I retired from the Editorship, and those Lives only were published in addition, which were then already finished, or in advanced preparation. The following passages from what I or others wrote at the time will illustrate what I have been saying:—

In November, 1844, I wrote thus to the author of one of them: "I am not Editor, I have no direct control over the Series. It is T.'s work; he may admit what he pleases; and exclude what he pleases. I was to have been Editor. I did edit the two first numbers. I was responsible for them, in the way in which an Editor is responsible. Had I continued Editor, I should have exercised a control over all. I laid down in the Preface that doctrinal subjects were, if possible, to be excluded. But, even then, I also set down that no writer was to be held answerable for any of the Lives but his own. When I {212} gave up the Editorship, I had various engagements with friends for separate Lives remaining on my hands. I should have liked to have broken from them all, but there were some from which I could not break, and I let them take their course. Some have come to nothing; others like yours have gone on. I have seen such, either in MS. or Proof. As time goes on, I shall have less and less to do with the Series. I think the engagement between you and me should come to an end. I have any how abundant responsibility on me, and too much. I shall write to T. that if he wants the advantage of your assistance, he must write to you direct."

In accordance with this letter, I had already advertised in January 1844, ten months before it, that "other Lives," after St. Stephen Harding, would "be published by their respective authors on their own responsibility." This notice was repeated in February, in the advertisement to the second volume entitled The Family of St. Richard, though to this number, for some reason which I cannot now recollect, I also put my initials. In the Life of St. Augustine, the author, a man of nearly my own age, says in like manner, "No one but himself is responsible for the way in which these materials have been used." I have in MS. another advertisement to the same effect, but cannot tell whether it ever appeared in print.

I will add, since the authors have been considered "hot-headed fanatic young men," whom I was in charge of, and whom I suffered to do intemperate things, that, while the writer of St. Augustine was in 1844 past forty, the author of the proposed Life of St. Boniface, Mr. Bowden, was forty-six; Mr. Johnson, who was to write St. Aldhelm, forty-three; and most of the others were on one side or other of thirty. Three, I think, were under twenty-five. Moreover, of these writers some became Catholics, {213} some remained Anglicans, and others have professed what are called free or liberal opinions [Note 1].

The immediate cause of the resignation of my Living is stated in the following letter, which I wrote to my Bishop:—

"August 29, 1843. It is with much concern that I inform your Lordship, that Mr. A. B., who has been for the last year an inmate of my house here, has just conformed to the Church of Rome. As I have ever been desirous, not only of faithfully discharging the trust, which is involved in holding a living in your Lordship's diocese, but of approving myself to your Lordship, I will for your information state one or two circumstances connected with this unfortunate event … I received him on condition of his promising me, which he distinctly did, that he would remain quietly in our Church for three years. A year has passed since that time, and, though I saw nothing in him which promised that he would eventually be contented with his present position, yet for the time his mind became as settled as one could wish, and he frequently expressed his satisfaction at being under the promise which I had exacted of him."

I felt it impossible to remain any longer in the service of the Anglican Church, when such a breach of trust, however little I had to do with it, would be laid at my door. I wrote in a few days to a friend:—

"September 7, 1843. I this day ask the Bishop leave to resign St. Mary's. Men whom you little think, or at least whom I little thought, are in almost a hopeless way. Really we may expect any thing. I am going to publish a Volume of Sermons, including those Four against moving."

I resigned my living on September the 18th. I had not {214} the means of doing it legally at Oxford. The late Mr. Goldsmid was kind enough to aid me in resigning it in London. I found no fault with the Liberals; they had beaten me in a fair field. As to the act of the Bishops, I thought, to borrow a Scriptural image from Walter Scott, that they had "seethed the kid in his mother's milk."

I said to a friend:—

"Victrix causa diis placuit, sed victa Catoni."

And now I may be almost said to have brought to an end, as far as is necessary for a sketch such as this is, the history both of my changes of religious opinion and of the public acts which they involved.

I had one final advance of mind to accomplish, and one final step to take. That further advance of mind was to be able honestly to say that I was certain of the conclusions at which I had already arrived. That further step, imperative when such certitude was attained, was my submission to the Catholic Church.

This submission did not take place till two full years after the resignation of my living in September 1843; nor could I have made it at an earlier day, without doubt and apprehension, that is, with any true conviction of mind or certitude.

In the interval, of which it remains to speak, viz. between the autumns of 1843 and 1845, I was in lay communion with the Church of England, attending its services as usual, and abstaining altogether from intercourse with Catholics, from their places of worship, and from those religious rites and usages, such as the Invocation of Saints, which are characteristics of their creed. I did all this on principle; for I never could understand how a man could be of two religions at once.

What I have to say about myself between these two autumns I shall almost confine to this one point,—the {215} difficulty I was in, as to the best mode of revealing the state of my mind to my friends and others, and how I managed to reveal it.

Up to January, 1842, I had not disclosed my state of unsettlement to more than three persons, as has been mentioned above, and as is repeated in the course of the letters which I am now about to give to the reader. To two of them, intimate and familiar companions, in the Autumn of 1839: to the third, an old friend too, whom I have named above, I suppose, when I was in great distress of mind upon the affair of the Jerusalem Bishopric. In May, 1843, I made it known, as has been seen, to the friend, by whose advice I wished, as far as possible, to be guided. To mention it on set purpose to any one, unless indeed I was asking advice, I should have felt to be a crime. If there is any thing that was abhorrent to me, it was the scattering doubts, and unsettling consciences without necessity. A strong presentiment that my existing opinions would ultimately give way, and that the grounds of them were unsound, was not a sufficient warrant for disclosing the state of my mind. I had no guarantee yet, that that presentiment would be realized. Supposing I were crossing ice, which came right in my way, which I had good reasons for considering sound, and which I saw numbers before me crossing in safety, and supposing a stranger from the bank, in a voice of authority, and in an earnest tone, warned me that it was dangerous, and then was silent, I think I should be startled, and should look about me anxiously, but I think too that I should go on, till I had better grounds for doubt; and such was my state, I believe, till the end of 1842. Then again, when my dissatisfaction became greater, it was hard at first to determine the point of time, when it was too strong to suppress with propriety. Certitude of course is a point, but doubt is a progress; I was not near certitude yet. Certitude is a reflex {216} action; it is to know that one knows. Of that I believe I was not possessed, till close upon my reception into the Catholic Church. Again, a practical, effective doubt is a point too, but who can easily ascertain it for himself? Who can determine when it is, that the scales in the balance of opinion begin to turn, and what was a greater probability in behalf of a belief becomes a positive doubt against it?

In considering this question in its bearing upon my conduct in 1843, my own simple answer to my great difficulty had been, Do what your present state of opinion requires in the light of duty, and let that doing tell: speak by acts. This I had done; my first act of the year had been in February. After three months' deliberation I had published my retractation of the violent charges which I had made against Rome: I could not be wrong in doing so much as this; but I did no more at the time: I did not retract my Anglican teaching. My second act had been in September in the same year; after much sorrowful lingering and hesitation, I had resigned my Living. I tried indeed, before I did so, to keep Littlemore for myself, even though it was still to remain an integral part of St. Mary's. I had given to it a Church and a sort of Parsonage; I had made it a Parish, and I loved it; I thought in 1843 that perhaps I need not forfeit my existing relations towards it. I could indeed submit to become the curate at will of another, but I hoped an arrangement was possible, by which, while I had the curacy, I might have been my own master in serving it. I had hoped an exception night have been made in my favour, under the circumstances; but I did not gain my request. Perhaps I was asking what was impracticable, and it is well for me that it was so.

These had been my two acts of the year, and I said, "I cannot be wrong in making them; let that follow which must follow in the thoughts of the world about me, when they see what I do." And, as time went on, they fully answered my purpose. What I felt it a simple duty to do, {217} did create a general suspicion about me, without such responsibility as would be involved in my initiating any direct act for the sake of creating it. Then, when friends wrote me on the subject, I either did not deny or I confessed my state of mind, according to the character and need of their letters. Sometimes in the case of intimate friends, whom I should otherwise have been leaving in ignorance of what others knew on every side of them, I invited the question.

And here comes in another point for explanation. While I was fighting in Oxford for the Anglican Church, then indeed I was very glad to make converts, and, though I never broke away from that rule of my mind, (as I may call it,) of which I have already spoken, of finding disciples rather than seeking them, yet, that I made advances to others in a special way, I have no doubt; this came to an end, however, as soon as I fell into misgivings as to the true ground to be taken in the controversy. For then, when I gave up my place in the Movement, I ceased from any such proceedings: and my utmost endeavour was to tranquillize such persons, especially those who belonged to the new school, as were unsettled in their religious views, and, as I judged, hasty in their conclusions. This went on till 1843; but, at that date, as soon as I turned my face Romeward, I gave up, as far as ever was possible, the thought of in any respect and in any shape acting upon others. Then I myself was simply my own concern. How could I in any sense direct others, who had to be guided in so momentous a matter myself? How could I be considered in a position, even to say a word to them one way or the other? How could I presume to unsettle them, as I was unsettled, when I had no means of bringing them out of such unsettlement? And, if they were unsettled already, how could I point to them a place of refuge, when I was not sure that I should choose it for myself? My only line, my only {218} duty, was to keep simply to my own case. I recollected Pascal's words, "Je mourrai seul." I deliberately put out of my thoughts all other works and claims, and said nothing to any one, unless I was obliged.

But this brought upon me a great trouble. In the newspapers there were continual reports about my intentions; I did not answer them; presently strangers or friends wrote, begging to be allowed to answer them; and, if I still kept to my resolution and said nothing, then I was thought to be mysterious, and a prejudice was excited against me. But, what was far worse, there were a number of tender, eager hearts, of whom I knew nothing at all, who were watching me, wishing to think as I thought, and to do as I did, if they could but find it out; who in consequence were distressed, that, in so solemn a matter, they could not see what was coming, and who heard reports about me this way or that, on a first day and on a second; and felt the weariness of waiting, and the sickness of delayed hope, and did not understand that I was as perplexed as they were, and, being of more sensitive complexion of mind than myself, were made ill by the suspense. And they too of course for the time thought me mysterious and inexplicable. I ask their pardon as far as I was really unkind to them. There was a gifted and deeply earnest lady, who in a parabolical account of that time, has described both my conduct as she felt it, and her own feelings upon it. In a singularly graphic, amusing vision of pilgrims, who were making their way across a bleak common in great discomfort, and who were ever warned against, yet continually nearing, "the king's highway," on the right, she says, "All my fears and disquiets were speedily renewed by seeing the most daring of our leaders, (the same who had first forced his way through the palisade, and in whose courage and sagacity we all put implicit trust,) suddenly stop short, and declare that he {219} would go on no further. He did not, however, take the leap at once, but quietly sat down on the top of the fence with his feet hanging towards the road, as if he meant to take his time about it, and let himself down easily." I do not wonder at all that I thus seemed so unkind to a lady, who at that time had never seen me. We were both in trial in our different ways. I am far from denying that I was acting selfishly both in her case and in that of others; but it was a religious selfishness. Certainly to myself my own duty seemed clear. They that are whole can heal others; but in my case it was, "Physician, heal thyself." My own soul was my first concern, and it seemed an absurdity to my reason to be converted in partnership. I wished to go to my Lord by myself, and in my own way, or rather His way. I had neither wish, nor, I may say, thought of taking a number with me. Moreover, it is but the truth to say, that it had ever been an annoyance to me to seem to be the head of a party; and that even from fastidiousness of mind, I could not bear to find a thing done elsewhere, simply or mainly because I did it myself, and that, from distrust of myself, I shrank from the thought, whenever it was brought home to me, that I was influencing others. But nothing of this could be known to the world.

The following three letters are written to a friend, who had every claim upon me to be frank with him, Archdeacon Manning:—it will be seen that I disclose the real state of my mind in proportion as he presses me.

1. "October 14, 1843. I would tell you in a few words why I have resigned St. Mary's, as you seem to wish, were it possible to do so. But it is most difficult to bring out in brief, or even in extenso, any just view of my feelings and reasons.

"The nearest approach I can give to a general account of them is to say, that it has been caused by the general repudiation of the view, contained in No. 90, on the part {220} of the Church. I could not stand against such an unanimous expression of opinion from the Bishops, supported, as it has been, by the concurrence, or at least silence, of all classes in the Church, lay and clerical. If there ever was a case, in which an individual teacher has been put aside and virtually put away by a community, mine is one. No decency has been observed in the attacks upon me from authority; no protests have been offered against them. It is felt,—I am far from denying, justly felt,—that I am a foreign material, and cannot assimilate with the Church of England.

"Even my own Bishop has said that my mode of interpreting the Articles makes them mean any thing or nothing. When I heard this delivered, I did not believe my ears. I denied to others that it was said ... Out came the charge, and the words could not be mistaken. This astonished me the more, because I published that Letter to him, (how unwillingly you know,) on the understanding that I was to deliver his judgment on No. 90 instead of him. A year elapses, and a second and heavier judgment came forth. I did not bargain for this,—nor did he, but the tide was too strong for him.

"I fear that I must confess, that, in proportion as I think the English Church is showing herself intrinsically and radically alien from Catholic principles, so do I feel the difficulties of defending her claims to be a branch of the Catholic Church. It seems a dream to call a communion Catholic, when one can neither appeal to any clear statement of Catholic doctrine in its formularies, nor interpret ambiguous formularies by the received and living Catholic sense, whether past or present. Men of Catholic views are too truly but a party in our Church. I cannot deny that many other independent circumstances, which it is not worth while entering into, have led me to the same conclusion. {221}

"I do not say all this to every body, as you may suppose; but I do not like to make a secret of it to you."

2. "Oct. 25, 1843. You have engaged in a dangerous correspondence; I am deeply sorry for the pain I shall give you.

"I must tell you then frankly, (but I combat arguments which to me, alas, are shadows,) that it is not from disappointment, irritation, or impatience, that I have, whether rightly or wrongly, resigned St. Mary's; but because I think the Church of Rome the Catholic Church, and ours not part of the Catholic Church, because not in communion with Rome; and because I feel that I could not honestly be a teacher in it any longer.

"This thought came to me last summer four years ... I mentioned it to two friends in the autumn ... It arose in the first instance from the Monophysite and Donatist controversies, the former of which I was engaged with in the course of theological study to which I had given myself. This was at a time when no Bishop, I believe, had declared against us [Note 2], and when all was progress and hope. I do not think I have ever felt disappointment or impatience, certainly not then; for I never looked forward to the future, nor do I realize it now.

"My first effort was to write that article on the Catholicity of the English Church; for two years it quieted me. Since the summer of 1839 I have written little or nothing on modern controversy ... You know how unwillingly I wrote my letter to the Bishop in which I committed myself again, as the safest course under circumstances. The article I speak of quieted me till the end of 1841, over the affair of No. 90, when that wretched Jerusalem Bishopric (no personal matter) revived all my alarms. {222} They have increased up to this moment. At that time I told my secret to another person in addition.

"You see then that the various ecclesiastical and quasi-ecclesiastical acts, which have taken place in the course of the last two years and a half, are not the cause of my state of opinion, but are keen stimulants and weighty confirmations of a conviction forced upon me, while engaged in the course of duty, viz. that theological reading to which I had given myself. And this last-mentioned circumstance is a fact, which has never, I think, come before me till now that I write to you.

"It is three years since, on account of my state of opinion, I urged the Provost in vain to let St. Mary's be separated from Littlemore; thinking I might with a safe conscience serve the latter, though I could not comfortably continue in so public a place as a University. This was before No. 90.

"Finally, I have acted under advice, and that, not of my own choosing, but what came to me in the way of duty, nor the advice of those only who agree with me, but of near friends who differ from me.

"I have nothing to reproach myself with, as far as I see, in the matter of impatience; i.e. practically or in conduct. And I trust that He, who has kept me in the slow course of change hitherto, will keep me still from hasty acts, or resolves with a doubtful conscience.

"This I am sure of, that such interposition as yours, kind as it is, only does what you would consider harm. It makes me realize my own views to myself; it makes me see their consistency; it assures me of my own deliberateness; it suggests to me the traces of a Providential Hand; it takes away the pain of disclosures; it relieves me of a heavy secret.

"You may make what use of my letters you think right." {223}

3. My correspondent wrote to me once more, and I replied thus: "October 31, 1843. Your letter has made my heart ache more, and caused me more and deeper sighs than any I have had a long while, though I assure you there is much on all sides of me to cause sighing and heartache. On all sides:—I am quite haunted by the one dreadful whisper repeated from so many quarters, and causing the keenest distress to friends. You know but a part of my present trial, in knowing that I am unsettled myself.

"Since the beginning of this year I have been obliged to tell the state of my mind to some others; but never, I think, without being in a way obliged, as from friends writing to me as you did, or guessing how matters stood. No one in Oxford knows it or here" [Littlemore], "but one near friend whom I felt I could not help telling the other day. But, I suppose, many more suspect it."

On receiving these letters, my correspondent, if I recollect rightly, at once communicated the matter of them to Dr. Pusey, and this will enable me to describe, as nearly as I can, the way in which he first became aware of my changed state of opinion.

I had from the first a great difficulty in making Dr. Pusey understand such differences of opinion as existed between himself and me. When there was a proposal about the end of 1838 for a subscription for a Cranmer Memorial, he wished us both to subscribe together to it. I could not, of course, and wished him to subscribe by himself. That he would not do; he could not bear the thought of our appearing to the world in separate positions, in a matter of importance. And, as time went on, he would not take any hints, which I gave him, on the subject of my growing inclination to Rome. When I found him so determined, I often had not the heart to go on. And then I knew, that, from affection to me, he so often took up and threw himself into what I said, that I {224} felt the great responsibility I should incur, if I put things before him just as I might view them myself. And, not knowing him so well as I did afterwards, I feared lest I should unsettle him. And moreover, I recollected well, how prostrated he had been with illness in 1832, and I used always to think that the start of the Movement had given him a fresh life. I fancied that his physical energies even depended on the presence of a vigorous hope and bright prospects for his imagination to feed upon; so much so, that when he was so unworthily treated by the authorities of the place in 1843, I recollect writing to the late Mr. Dodsworth to state my anxiety, lest, if his mind became dejected in consequence, his health should suffer seriously also. These were difficulties in my way; and then again, another difficulty was, that, as we were not together under the same roof, we only saw each other at set times; others indeed, who were coming in or out of my rooms freely, and according to the need of the moment, knew all my thoughts easily; but for him to know them well, formal efforts were necessary. A common friend of ours broke it all to him in 1841, as far as matters had gone at that time, and showed him clearly the logical conclusions which must lie in propositions to which I had committed myself; but somehow or other in a little while, his mind fell back into its former happy state, and he could not bring himself to believe that he and I should not go on pleasantly together to the end. But that affectionate dream needs must have been broken at last; and two years afterwards, that friend to whom I wrote the letters which I have just now inserted, set himself, as I have said, to break it. Upon that, I too begged Dr. Pusey to tell in private to any one he would, that I thought in the event I should leave the Church of England. However, he would not do so; and at the end of 1844 had almost relapsed into his former thoughts about me, if I may {225} judge from a letter of his which I have found. Nay, at the Commemoration of 1845, a few months before I left the Anglican Church, I think he said about me to a friend, I trust after all we shall keep him."

In that autumn of 1843, at the time that I spoke to Dr. Pusey, I asked another friend also to communicate in confidence, to whom he would, the prospect which lay before me.

To another friend, Mr. James Hope, now Mr. Hope Scott, I gave the opportunity of knowing it, if he would, in the following Postscript to a letter:—

"While I write, I will add a word about myself. You may come near a person or two who, owing to circumstances, know more exactly my state of feeling than you do, though they would not tell you. Now I do not like that you should not be aware of this, though I see no reason why you should know what they happen to know. Your wishing it would be a reason."

I had a dear and old friend, near his death; I never told him my state of mind. Why should I unsettle that sweet calm tranquillity, when I had nothing to offer him instead? I could not say, "Go to Rome;" else I should have shown him the way. Yet I offered myself for his examination. One day he led the way to my speaking out; but, rightly or wrongly, I could not respond. My reason was, "I have no certainty on the matter myself. To say 'I think' is to tease and to distress, not to persuade."

I wrote to him on Michaelmas Day, 1843: "As you may suppose, I have nothing to write to you about, pleasant. I could tell you some very painful things; but it is best not to anticipate trouble, which after all can but happen, and, for what one knows, may be averted. You are always so kind, that sometimes, when I part with you, I am nearly moved to tears, and it would be a relief to be {226} so, at your kindness and at my hardness. I think no one ever had such kind friends as I have."

The next year, January 22, I wrote to him: "Pusey has quite enough on him, and generously takes on himself more than enough, for me to add burdens when I am not obliged; particularly too, when I am very conscious, that there are burdens, which I am or shall be obliged to lay upon him some time or other, whether I will or no."

And on February 21: "Half-past ten. I am just up, having a bad cold; the like has not happened to me (except twice in January) in my memory. You may think you have been in my thoughts, long before my rising. Of course you are so continually, as you well know. I could not come to see you; I am not worthy of friends. With my opinions, to the full of which I dare not confess, I feel like a guilty person with others, though I trust I am not so. People kindly think that I have much to bear externally, disappointment, slander, &c. No, I have nothing to bear, but the anxiety which I feel for my friends' anxiety for me, and their perplexity. This is a better Ash-Wednesday than birthday present;" [his birthday was the same day as mine; it was Ash-Wednesday that year]; "but I cannot help writing about what is uppermost. And now, my dear B., all kindest and best wishes to you, my oldest friend, whom I must not speak more about, and with reference to myself, lest you should be angry." It was not in his nature to have doubts: he used to look at me with anxiety, and wonder what had come over me.

On Easter Monday: "All that is good and gracious descend upon you and yours from the influences of this Blessed Season; and it will be so, (so be it!) for what is the life of you all, as day passes after day, but a simple endeavour to serve Him, from whom all blessing comes? Though we are separated in place, yet this we have in {227} common, that you are living a calm and cheerful time, and I am enjoying the thought of you. It is your blessing to have a clear heaven, and peace around, according to the blessing pronounced on Benjamin [Note 3]. So it is, my dear B., and so may it ever be."

He was in simple good faith. He died in September of the same year. I had expected that his last illness would have brought light to my mind, as to what I ought to do. It brought none. I made a note, which runs thus: "I sobbed bitterly over his coffin, to think that he left me still dark as to what the way of truth was, and what I ought to do in order to please God and fulfil His will." I think I wrote to Charles Marriott to say, that at that moment, with the thought of my friend before me, my strong view in favour of Rome remained just what it was. On the other hand, my firm belief that grace was to be found within the Anglican Church remained too [Note 4]. I wrote to a friend thus:—

"Sept. 16, 1844. I am full of wrong and miserable feelings, which it is useless to detail, so grudging and sullen, when I should be thankful. Of course, when one sees so blessed an end, and that, the termination of so blameless a life, of one who really fed on our ordinances and got strength from them, and sees the same continued in a whole family, the little children finding quite a solace of their pain in the Daily Prayer, it is impossible not to feel more at ease in our Church, as at least a sort of Zoar, a place of refuge and temporary rest, because of the steepness of the way. Only, may we be kept from unlawful security, lest we have Moab and Ammon for our progeny, the enemies of Israel." {228}

I could not continue in this state, either in the light of duty or of reason. My difficulty was this: I had been deceived greatly once; how could I be sure that I was not deceived a second time? I thought myself right then; how was I to be certain that I was right now? How many years had I thought myself sure of what I now rejected? how could I ever again have confidence in myself? As in 1840 I listened to the rising doubt in favour of Rome, now I listened to the waning doubt in favour of the Anglican Church. To be certain is to know that one knows; what inward test had I, that I should not change again, after that I had become a Catholic? I had still apprehension of this, though I thought a time would come, when it would depart. However, some limit ought to be put to these vague misgivings; I must do my best and then leave it to a higher Power to prosper it. So, at the end of 1844, I came to the resolution of writing an Essay on Doctrinal Development; and then, if, at the end of it, my convictions in favour of the Roman Church were not weaker, of taking the necessary steps for admission into her fold.

By this time the state of my mind was generally known, and I made no great secret of it. I will illustrate it by letters of mine which have been put into my hands.

"November 16, 1844. I am going through what must be gone through; and my trust only is that every day of pain is so much taken from the necessary draught which must be exhausted. There is no fear (humanly speaking) of my moving for a long time yet. This has got out without my intending it; but it is all well. As far as I know myself, my one great distress is the perplexity, unsettlement, alarm, scepticism, which I am causing to so many; and the loss of kind feeling and good opinion on the part of so many, known and unknown, who have wished well to me. And of these two sources of pain it is the former that is the constant, urgent, unmitigated one. {229} I had for days a literal ache all about my heart; and from time to time all the complaints of the Psalmist seemed to belong to me.

"And as far as I know myself, my one paramount reason for contemplating a change is my deep, unvarying conviction that our Church is in schism, and that my salvation depends on my joining the Church of Rome. I may use argumenta ad hominem to this person or that [Note 5]; but I am not conscious of resentment, or disgust, at any thing that has happened to me. I have no visions whatever of hope, no schemes of action, in any other sphere more suited to me. I have no existing sympathies with Roman Catholics; I hardly ever, even abroad, was at one of their services; I know none of them, I do not like what I hear of them.

"And then, how much I am giving up in so many ways! and to me sacrifices irreparable, not only from my age, when people hate changing, but from my especial love of old associations and the pleasures of memory. Nor am I conscious of any feeling, enthusiastic or heroic, of pleasure in the sacrifice; I have nothing to support me here.

"What keeps me yet is what has kept me long; a fear that I am under a delusion; but the conviction remains firm under all circumstances, in all frames of mind. And this most serious feeling is growing on me; viz. that the reasons for which I believe as much as our system teaches, must lead me to believe more, and that not to believe more is to fall back into scepticism.

"A thousand thanks for your most kind and consoling letter; though I have not yet spoken of it, it was a great gift."

Shortly after I wrote to the same friend thus: "My intention is, if nothing comes upon me, which I cannot {230} foresee, to remain quietly in statu quo for a considerable time, trusting that my friends will kindly remember me and my trial in their prayers. And I should give up my fellowship some time before any thing further took place."

There was a lady, now a nun of the Visitation, to whom at this time I wrote the following letters:—

1. "November 7, 1844. I am still where I was; I am not moving. Two things, however, seem plain, that every one is prepared for such an event, next, that every one expects it of me. Few, indeed, who do not think it suitable, fewer still, who do not think it likely. However, I do not think it either suitable or likely. I have very little reason to doubt about the issue of things, but the when and the how are known to Him, from whom, I trust, both the course of things and the issue come. The expression of opinion, and the latent and habitual feeling about me, which is on every side and among all parties, has great force. I insist upon it, because I have a great dread of going by my own feelings, lest they should mislead me. By one's sense of duty one must go; but external facts support one in doing so."

2. "January 8, 1845. What am I to say in answer to your letter? I know perfectly well, I ought to let you know more of my feelings and state of mind than you do know. But how is that possible in a few words? Any thing I say must be abrupt; nothing can I say which will not leave a bewildering feeling, as needing so much to explain it, and being isolated, and (as it were) unlocated, and not having any thing with it to show its bearings upon other parts of the subject.

"At present, my full belief is, in accordance with your letter, that, if there is a move in our Church, very few persons indeed will be partners to it. I doubt whether one or two at the most among residents at Oxford. And I don't know whether I can wish it. The state of the {231} Roman Catholics is at present so unsatisfactory. This I am sure of, that nothing but a simple, direct call of duty is a warrant for any one leaving our Church; no preference of another Church, no delight in its services, no hope of greater religious advancement in it, no indignation, no disgust, at the persons and things, among which we may find ourselves in the Church of England. The simple question is, Can I (it is personal, not whether another, but can I) be saved in the English Church? am I in safety, were I to die tonight? Is it a mortal sin in me, not joining another communion?

"P.S. I hardly see my way to concur in attendance, though occasional, in the Roman Catholic chapel, unless a man has made up his mind pretty well to join it eventually. Invocations are not required in the Church of Rome; somehow, I do not like using them except under the sanction of the Church, and this makes me unwilling to admit them in members of our Church."

3. "March 30. Now I will tell you more than any one knows except two friends. My own convictions are as strong as I suppose they can become: only it is so difficult to know whether it is a call of reason or of conscience. I cannot make out, if I am impelled by what seems clear, or by a sense of duty. You can understand how painful this doubt is; so I have waited, hoping for light, and using the words of the Psalmist, 'Show some token upon me.' But I suppose I have no right to wait for ever for this. Then I am waiting, because friends are most considerately bearing me in mind, and asking guidance for me; and, I trust, I should attend to any new feelings which came upon me, should that be the effect of their kindness. And then this waiting subserves the purpose of preparing men's minds. I dread shocking, unsettling people. Any how, I can't avoid giving incalculable pain. So, if I had my will, I should like to wait till the summer of 1846, which would {232} be a full seven years from the time that my convictions first began to fall on me. But I don't think I shall last so long.

"My present intention is to give up my Fellowship in October, and to publish some work or treatise between that and Christmas. I wish people to know why I am acting, as well as what I am doing; it takes off that vague and distressing surprise, 'What can have made him?'"

4. "June 1. What you tell me of yourself makes it plain that it is your duty to remain quietly and patiently, till you see more clearly where you are; else you are leaping in the dark."

In the early part of this year, if not before, there was an idea afloat that my retirement from the Anglican Church was owing to my distress that I had been so thrust aside, without any one's taking my part. Various measures were, I believe, talked of in consequence of this surmise. Coincidently with it appeared an exceedingly kind article about me in a Quarterly, in its April number. The writer praised me in kind and beautiful language far above my deserts. In the course of his remarks, he said, speaking of me as Vicar of St. Mary's: "He had the future race of clergy hearing him. Did he value and feel tender about, and cling to his position? ... Not at all ... No sacrifice to him perhaps, he did not care about such things."

There was a censure implied, however covertly, in these words; it is alluded to in the following letter, addressed to a very intimate friend:—

"April 3, 1845 ... Accept this apology, my dear Church, and forgive me. As I say so, tears come into my eyes;—that arises from the accident of this time, when I am giving up so much I love. Just now I have been overset by James Mozley's article in the Remembrancer; yet really, my dear Church, I have never for an instant had {233} even the temptation of repenting my leaving Oxford. The feeling of repentance has not even come into my mind. How could it? How could I remain at St. Mary's a hypocrite? how could I be answerable for souls, (and life so uncertain,) with the convictions, or at least persuasions, which I had upon me? It is indeed a responsibility to act as I am doing; and I feel His hand heavy on me without intermission, who is all Wisdom and Love, so that my heart and mind are tired out, just as the limbs might be from a load on one's back. That sort of dull aching pain is mine; but my responsibility really is nothing to what it would be, to be answerable for souls, for confiding loving souls, in the English Church, with my convictions. My love to Marriott, and save me the pain of sending him a line."

I am now close upon the date of my reception into the Catholic Church; at the beginning of the year a letter had been addressed to me by a very dear friend, now no more, Charles Marriott. I quote some sentences from it, for the love which I bear him and the value that I set on his good word.

"January 15, 1845. You know me well enough to be aware, that I never see through any thing at first. Your letter to Badeley casts a gloom over the future, which you can understand, if you have understood me, as I believe you have. But I may speak out at once, of what I see and feel at once, and doubt not that I shall ever feel: that your whole conduct towards the Church of England and towards us, who have striven and are still striving to seek after God for ourselves, and to revive true religion among others, under her authority and guidance, has been generous and considerate, and, were that word appropriate, dutiful, to a degree that I could scarcely have conceived possible, more unsparing of self than I should have thought nature could sustain. I have felt with pain every link {234} that you have severed, and I have asked no questions, because I felt that you ought to measure the disclosure of your thoughts according to the occasion, and the capacity of those to whom you spoke. I write in haste, in the midst of engagements engrossing in themselves, but partly made tasteless, partly embittered by what I have heard; but I am willing to trust even you, whom I love best on earth, in God's Hand, in the earnest prayer that you may be so employed as is best for the Holy Catholic Church."

In July, a Bishop thought it worth while to give out to the world that "the adherents of Mr. Newman are few in number. A short time will now probably suffice to prove this fact. It is well known that he is preparing for secession; and, when that event takes place, it will be seen how few will go with him."

I had begun my Essay on the Development of Doctrine in the beginning of 1845, and I was hard at it all through the year till October. As I advanced, my difficulties so cleared away that I ceased to speak of "the Roman Catholics," and boldly called them Catholics. Before I got to the end, I resolved to be received, and the book remains in the state in which it was then, unfinished.

One of my friends at Littlemore had been received into the Church on Michaelmas Day, at the Passionist House at Aston, near Stone, by Father Dominic, the Superior. At the beginning of October the latter was passing through London to Belgium; and, as I was in some perplexity what steps to take for being received myself, I assented to the proposition made to me that the good priest should take Littlemore in his way, with a view to his doing for me the same charitable service as he had done to my friend.

On October the 8th I wrote to a number of friends the following letter:—

"Littlemore, October 8th, 1845. I am this night expecting Father Dominic, the Passionist, who, from his {235} youth, has been led to have distinct and direct thoughts, first of the countries of the North, then of England. After thirty years' (almost) waiting, he was without his own act sent here. But he has had little to do with conversions. I saw him here for a few minutes on St. John Baptist's day last year. 

"He is a simple, holy man; and withal gifted with remarkable powers. He does not know of my intention; but I mean to ask of him admission into the One Fold of Christ …

"I have so many letters to write, that this must do for all who choose to ask about me. With my best love to dear Charles Marriott, who is over your head, &c., &c.

"P.S. This will not go till all is over. Of course it requires no answer."

For a while after my reception, I proposed to betake myself to some secular calling. I wrote thus in answer to a very gracious letter of congratulation sent me by Cardinal Acton:—

"Nov. 25, 1845. I hope you will have anticipated, before I express it, the great gratification which I received from your Eminence's letter. That gratification, however, was tempered by the apprehension, that kind and anxious well-wishers at a distance attach more importance to my step than really belongs to it. To me indeed personally it is of course an inestimable gain; but persons and things look great at a distance, which are not so when seen close; and, did your Eminence know me, you would see that I was one, about whom there has been far more talk for good and bad than he deserves, and about whose movements far more expectation has been raised than the event will justify.

"As I never, I do trust, aimed at any thing else than obedience to my own sense of right, and have been magnified {236} into the leader of a party without my wishing it or acting as such, so now, much as I may wish to the contrary, and earnestly as I may labour (as is my duty) to minister in a humble way to the Catholic Church, yet my powers will, I fear, disappoint the expectations of both my own friends, and of those who pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

"If I might ask of your Eminence a favour, it is that you would kindly moderate those anticipations. Would it were in my power to do, what I do not aspire to do! At present certainly I cannot look forward to the future, and, though it would be a good work if I could persuade others to do as I have done, yet it seems as if I had quite enough to do in thinking of myself."

Soon, Dr. Wiseman, in whose Vicariate Oxford lay, called me to Oscott; and I went there with others; afterwards he sent me to Rome, and finally placed me in Birmingham.

I wrote to a friend:—

"January 20, 1846. You may think how lonely I am. 'Obliviscere populum tuum et domum patris tui,' has been in my ears for the last twelve hours. I realize more that we are leaving Littlemore, and it is like going on the open sea."

I left Oxford for good on Monday, February 23, 1846. On the Saturday and Sunday before, I was in my house at Littlemore simply by myself, as I had been for the first day or two when I had originally taken possession of it. I slept on Sunday night at my dear friend's, Mr. Johnson's, at the Observatory. Various friends came to see the last of me; Mr. Copeland, Mr. Church, Mr. Buckle, Mr. Pattison, and Mr. Lewis. Dr. Pusey too came up to take leave of me; and I called on Dr. Ogle, one of my very oldest friends, for he was my private Tutor, when I was an Undergraduate. In him I took leave of my first {237} College, Trinity, which was so dear to me, and which held on its foundation so many who had been kind to me both when I was a boy, and all through my Oxford life. Trinity had never been unkind to me. There used to be much snapdragon growing on the walls opposite my freshman's rooms there, and I had for years taken it as the emblem of my own perpetual residence even unto death in my University.

On the morning of the 23rd I left the Observatory. I have never seen Oxford since, excepting its spires, as they are seen from the railway [Note 6].

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1. Vide Note D, Lives of the English Saints.
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2. I think Sumner, Bishop of Chester, must have done so already.
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3. Deut. xxxiii. 12.
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4. On this subject, vide my Third Lecture on "Anglican Difficulties", also Note E, Anglican Church.
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5. Vide supr. p. 219, &c. Letter of Oct. 14, 1843, compared with that of Oct. 25.
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6. At length I revisited Oxford on Feb. 26th, 1878, after an absence of just 32 years. Vide additional Note at the end of the volume.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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