APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA
By John Henry (Cardinal) Newman
London: Published by J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. And in New York by E.P. Dutton & Co.
"No autobiography in the English language has been more read; to the nineteenth century it bears a relation not less characteristic than Boswell's 'Johnson' to the eighteenth."
Rev. Wm. Barry, D.D.
Newman was already a recognised spiritual leader of over thirty year's standing, but not yet a Cardinal, when in 1864 he wrote the Apologia. He was London born, and he had, as many Londoners have had, a foreign strain in him. His father came of Dutch stock; his mother was a Fourdrinier, daughter of an old French Huguenot family settled in this country. The date of his birth, 21st of February 1801, relates him to many famous contemporaries, from Heine to Renan, from Carlyle to Pusey. Sent to school at Ealing—an imaginative seven-year-old schoolboy, he was described even then as being fond of books and seriously minded. It is certain he was deeply read in the English Bible, thanks to his mother's care, before he began Latin and Greek. Another lifelong influence—as we may be prepared to find by a signal reference in the following autobiography, was Sir Walter Scott; and in a later page he speaks of reading in bed Waverley and Guy Mannering when they first came out—"in the early summer mornings," and of his delight in hearing The Lay of the Last Minstrel read aloud. Like Ruskin, another nineteenth-century master of English prose, he was finely affected by these two powerful inductors. They worked alike upon his piety and his imagination which was its true servant, and they helped to foster his seemingly instinctive style and his feeling for the English tongue.
In 1816 he went to Oxford—to Trinity College—and two years later gained a scholarship there. His father's idea was that he should read for the bar, and he kept a few terms at Lincoln's Inn; but in the end Oxford, which had, about the year of his birth, experienced a rebirth of ideas, thanks to the widening impulse of the French Revolution, held him, and Oriel College—the centre of the "Noetics," as old Oxford called the Liberal set in contempt—made him a fellow. His association there with Pusey and Keble is a matter of history; and the Oxford Movement, in which the three worked together, was the direct result, according to Dean Church, of their "searchings of heart and communing" for seven years, from 1826 to 1833. A word might be said of Whately too, whose Logic Newman helped to beat into final form in these Oxford experiences. Not since the days of Colet and Erasmus had the University experienced such a shaking of the branches. However, there is no need to do more than allude to these intimately dealt with in the Apologia itself.
There, indeed, the stages of Newman's pilgrimage are related with a grace and sincerity of style that have hardly been equalled in English or in any northern tongue. It ranges from the simplest facts to the most complicated polemical issues and is always easily in accord with its changing theme. So much so, that the critics themselves have not known whether to admire more the spiritual logic of the literary art of the writer and self-confessor. We may take, as two instances of Newman's power, the delightful account in Part III. of his childhood and the first growth of his religious belief; and the remarkable opening to Part IV., where he uses the figure of the death-bed with that finer reality which is born of the creative communion of thought and word in a poet's brain. Something of this power was felt, it is clear, in his sermons at Oxford. Dr. Barry describes the effect that Newman made at the time of his parting with the Anglican Church: "Every sermon was an experience;" made memorable by that "still figure, and clear, low, penetrating voice, and the mental hush that fell upon his audience while he meditated, alone with the Alone, in words of awful austerity. His discourses were poems, but transcripts too from the soul, reasonings in a heavenly dialectic...."
About his controversy with Charles Kingsley, the immediate cause of his Apologia, what new thing need be said? It is clear that Kingsley, who was the type of a class of mind then common enough in his Church, impulsive, prejudiced, not logical, gave himself away both by the mode and by the burden of his unfortunate attack. But we need not complain of it to-day, since it called out one of the noblest pieces of spiritual history the world possesses: one indeed which has the unique merit of making only the truth that is intrinsic and devout seem in the end to matter.
Midway in the forties, as the Apologia tells us, twenty years that is before it was written, Newman left Oxford and the Anglican Church for the Church in which he died. Later portraits make us realise him best in his robes as a Cardinal, as he may be seen in the National Portrait Gallery, or in the striking picture by Millais (now in the Duke of Norfolk's collection). There is one delightful earlier portrait too, which shows him with a peculiarly radiant face, full of charm and serene expectancy; and with it we may associate these lines of his—sincere expression of one who was in all his earthly and heavenly pilgrimage a truth-seeker, heart and soul:
"When I would search the truths that in me burn, And mould them into rule and argument, A hundred reasoners cried,—'Hast thou to learn Those dreams are scatter'd now, those fires are spent?' And, did I mount to simpler thoughts, and try Some theme of peace, 'twas still the same reply.
Perplex'd, I hoped my heart was pure of guile, But judged me weak in wit, to disagree; But now, I see that men are mad awhile, 'Tis the old history—Truth without a home, Despised and slain, then rising from the tomb."
The following is a list of the chief works of Cardinal Newman:—
The Arians of the Fourth Century, 1833; 29 Tracts to Tracts for the Times, 1834-1841; Lyra Apostolica, 1834; Elucidations of Dr. Hampden's Theological Statements, 1836; Parochial Sermons, 6 vols., 1837-1842; A Letter to the Rev. G. Faussett on Certain Points of Faith and Practice, 1838; Lectures on Justification, 1838; Sermons on Subjects of the Day, 1842; Plain Sermons, 1843; Sermons before the University of Oxford, 1843; The Cistercian Saints of England, 1844; An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 1845; Loss and Gain, 1848; Discourse addressed to Mixed Congregations, 1849; Lectures on Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching, 1850; Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England, 1851; The Idea of a University, 1852; Callista, 1856; Mr. Kingsley and Dr. Newman, 1864; Apologia pro Vita Sua, 1864; The Dream of Gerontius, 1865; Letter to the Rev. E. B. Pusey on his Eirenicon, 1866; Verses on Various Occasions, 1868; An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, 1870; Letter addressed to His Grace the Duke of Norfolk on Occasion of Mr. Gladstone's Expostulation, 1875; Meditations and Devotions, 1893.
Biographies.—By W. Meynell, 1890; by Dr. Wm Barry, 1890; by R. H. Hutton, 1891; Letters and Correspondence of J. H. Newman, during his life in the English Church (with a brief autobiography), edited by Miss Anne Mozley, 1891; Anglican Career of Cardinal Newman, by Rd. E. A. Abbott, 1892; as a Musician, by E. Bellasis, 1892; by A. R. Waller and G. H. S. Burrow, 1901; an Appreciation, by Dr. A. Whyte, 1901; Addresses to Cardinal Newman, with his Replies, edited by Rev. W. P. Neville, 1905; by W. Ward (in Ten Personal Studies), 1908; Newman's Theology, by Charles Sarolea, 1908; The Authoritative Biography, by Wilfrid P. Ward (based on Cardinal Newman's private journals and correspondence), 1912.
PART PAGE I. Mr. Kingsley's Method of Disputation 1 II. True Mode of Meeting Mr. Kingsley 15 III. History of My Religious Opinions up to 1833 29 IV. History of My Religious Opinions from 1833 to 1839 57 V. History of My Religious Opinions from 1839 to 1841 101 VI. History of My Religious Opinions from 1841 to 1845 147 VII. General Answer to Mr. Kingsley 215 APPENDIX: Answer in Detail to Mr. Kingsley's Accusations 253
APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA
Mr. Kingsley's Method of Disputation
I cannot be sorry to have forced Mr. Kingsley to bring out in fulness his charges against me. It is far better that he should discharge his thoughts upon me in my lifetime, than after I am dead. Under the circumstances I am happy in having the opportunity of reading the worst that can be said of me by a writer who has taken pains with his work and is well satisfied with it. I account it a gain to be surveyed from without by one who hates the principles which are nearest to my heart, has no personal knowledge of me to set right his misconceptions of my doctrine, and who has some motive or other to be as severe with me as he can possibly be.
And first of all, I beg to compliment him on the motto in his title-page; it is felicitous. A motto should contain, as in a nutshell, the contents, or the character, or the drift, or the animus of the writing to which it is prefixed. The words which he has taken from me are so apposite as to be almost prophetical. There cannot be a better illustration than he thereby affords of the aphorism which I intended them to convey. I said that it is not more than an hyperbolical expression to say that in certain cases a lie is the nearest approach to truth. Mr. Kingsley's pamphlet is emphatically one of such cases as are contemplated in that proposition. I really believe, that his view of me is about as near an approach to the truth about my writings and doings, as he is capable of taking. He has done his worst towards me; but he has also done his best. So far well; but, while I impute to him no malice, I unfeignedly think, on the other hand, that, in his invective against me, he as faithfully fulfils the other half of the proposition also.
This is not a mere sharp retort upon Mr. Kingsley, as will be seen, when I come to consider directly the subject to which the words of his motto relate. I have enlarged on that subject in various passages of my publications; I have said that minds in different states and circumstances cannot understand one another, and that in all cases they must be instructed according to their capacity, and, if not taught step by step, they learn only so much the less; that children do not apprehend the thoughts of grown people, nor savages the instincts of civilization, nor blind men the perceptions of sight, nor pagans the doctrines of Christianity, nor men the experiences of Angels. In the same way, there are people of matter-of-fact, prosaic minds, who cannot take in the fancies of poets; and others of shallow, inaccurate minds, who cannot take in the ideas of philosophical inquirers. In a lecture of mine I have illustrated this phenomenon by the supposed instance of a foreigner, who, after reading a commentary on the principles of English Law, does not get nearer to a real apprehension of them than to be led to accuse Englishmen of considering that the queen is impeccable and infallible, and that the Parliament is omnipotent. Mr. Kingsley has read me from beginning to end in the fashion in which the hypothetical Russian read Blackstone; not, I repeat, from malice, but because of his intellectual build. He appears to be so constituted as to have no notion of what goes on in minds very different from his own, and moreover to be stone-blind to his ignorance. A modest man or a philosopher would have scrupled to treat with scorn and scoffing, as Mr. Kingsley does in my own instance, principles and convictions, even if he did not acquiesce in them himself, which had been held so widely and for so long—the beliefs and devotions and customs which have been the religious life of millions upon millions of Christians for nearly twenty centuries—for this in fact is the task on which he is spending his pains. Had he been a man of large or cautious mind, he would not have taken it for granted that cultivation must lead every one to see things precisely as he sees them himself. But the narrow-minded are the more prejudiced by very reason of their narrowness. The apostle bids us "in malice be children, but in understanding be men." I am glad to recognise in Mr. Kingsley an illustration of the first half of this precept; but I should not be honest, if I ascribed to him any sort of fulfilment of the second.
I wish I could speak as favourably either of his drift or of his method of arguing, as I can of his convictions. As to his drift, I think its ultimate point is an attack upon the Catholic Religion. It is I indeed, whom he is immediately insulting—still, he views me only as a representative, and on the whole a fair one, of a class or caste of men, to whom, conscious as I am of my own integrity, I ascribe an excellence superior to mine. He desires to impress upon the public mind the conviction that I am a crafty, scheming man, simply untrustworthy; that, in becoming a Catholic, I have just found my right place; that I do but justify and am properly interpreted by the common English notion of Roman casuists and confessors; that I was secretly a Catholic when I was openly professing to be a clergyman of the Established Church; that so far from bringing, by means of my conversion, when at length it openly took place, any strength to the Catholic cause, I am really a burden to it—an additional evidence of the fact, that to be a pure, german, genuine Catholic, a man must be either a knave or a fool.
These last words bring me to Mr. Kingsley's method of disputation, which I must criticise with much severity;—in his drift he does but follow the ordinary beat of controversy, but in his mode of arguing he is actually dishonest.
He says that I am either a knave or a fool, and (as we shall see by and by) he is not quite sure which, probably both. He tells his readers that on one occasion he said that he had fears I should "end in one or other of two misfortunes." "He would either," he continues, "destroy his own sense of honesty, i.e. conscious truthfulness—and become a dishonest person; or he would destroy his common sense, i.e. unconscious truthfulness, and become the slave and puppet seemingly of his own logic, really of his own fancy.... I thought for years past that he had become the former; I now see that he has become the latter." (p. 20). Again, "When I read these outrages upon common sense, what wonder if I said to myself, 'This man cannot believe what he is saying?'" (p. 26). Such has been Mr. Kingsley's state of mind till lately, but now he considers that I am possessed with a spirit of "almost boundless silliness," of "simple credulity, the child of scepticism," of "absurdity" (p. 41), of a "self-deception which has become a sort of frantic honesty" (p. 26). And as to his fundamental reason for this change, he tells us, he really does not know what it is (p. 44). However, let the reason be what it will, its upshot is intelligible enough. He is enabled at once, by this professed change of judgment about me, to put forward one of these alternatives, yet to keep the other in reserve;—and this he actually does. He need not commit himself to a definite accusation against me, such as requires definite proof and admits of definite refutation; for he has two strings to his bow;—when he is thrown off his balance on the one leg, he can recover himself by the use of the other. If I demonstrate that I am not a knave, he may exclaim, "Oh, but you are a fool!" and when I demonstrate that I am not a fool, he may turn round and retort, "Well, then, you are a knave." I have no objection to reply to his arguments in behalf of either alternative, but I should have been better pleased to have been allowed to take them one at a time.
But I have not yet done full justice to the method of disputation, which Mr. Kingsley thinks it right to adopt. Observe this first:—He means by a man who is "silly" not a man who is to be pitied, but a man who is to be abhorred. He means a man who is not simply weak and incapable, but a moral leper; a man who, if not a knave, has everything bad about him except knavery; nay, rather, has together with every other worst vice, a spice of knavery to boot. His simpleton is one who has become such, in judgment for his having once been a knave. His simpleton is not a born fool, but a self-made idiot, one who has drugged and abused himself into a shameless depravity; one, who, without any misgiving or remorse, is guilty of drivelling superstition, of reckless violation of sacred things, of fanatical excesses, of passionate inanities, of unmanly audacious tyranny over the weak, meriting the wrath of fathers and brothers. This is that milder judgment, which he seems to pride himself upon as so much charity; and, as he expresses it, he "does not know" why. This is what he really meant in his letter to me of January 14, when he withdrew his charge of my being dishonest. He said, "The tone of your letters, even more than their language, makes me feel, to my very deep pleasure,"—what? that you have gambled away your reason, that you are an intellectual sot, that you are a fool in a frenzy. And in his pamphlet, he gives us this explanation why he did not say this to my face, viz. that he had been told that I was "in weak health," and was "averse to controversy," (pp. 6 and 8). He "felt some regret for having disturbed me."
But I pass on from these multiform imputations, and confine myself to this one consideration, viz. that he has made any fresh imputation upon me at all. He gave up the charge of knavery; well and good: but where was the logical necessity of his bringing another? I am sitting at home without a thought of Mr. Kingsley; he wantonly breaks in upon me with the charge that I had "informed" the world "that Truth for its own sake need not and on the whole ought not to be a virtue with the Roman clergy." When challenged on the point he cannot bring a fragment of evidence in proof of his assertion, and he is convicted of false witness by the voice of the world. Well, I should have thought that he had now nothing whatever more to do. "Vain man!" he seems to make answer, "what simplicity in you to think so! If you have not broken one commandment, let us see whether we cannot convict you of the breach of another. If you are not a swindler or forger, you are guilty of arson or burglary. By hook or by crook you shall not escape. Are you to suffer or I? What does it matter to you who are going off the stage, to receive a slight additional daub upon a character so deeply stained already? But think of me, the immaculate lover of Truth, so observant (as I have told you p. 8) of 'hault courage and strict honour,'—and (aside)—'and not as this publican'—do you think I can let you go scot free instead of myself? No; noblesse oblige. Go to the shades, old man, and boast that Achilles sent you thither."
But I have not even yet done with Mr. Kingsley's method of disputation. Observe secondly:—when a man is said to be a knave or a fool, it is commonly meant that he is either the one or the other; and that,—either in the sense that the hypothesis of his being a fool is too absurd to be entertained; or, again, as a sort of contemptuous acquittal of one, who after all has not wit enough to be wicked. But this is not at all what Mr. Kingsley proposes to himself in the antithesis which he suggests to his readers. Though he speaks of me as an utter dotard and fanatic, yet all along, from the beginning of his pamphlet to the end, he insinuates, he proves from my writings, and at length in his last pages he openly pronounces, that after all he was right at first, in thinking me a conscious liar and deceiver.
Now I wish to dwell on this point. It cannot be doubted, I say, that, in spite of his professing to consider me as a dotard and driveller, on the ground of his having given up the notion of my being a knave, yet it is the very staple of his pamphlet that a knave after all I must be. By insinuation, or by implication, or by question, or by irony, or by sneer, or by parable, he enforces again and again a conclusion which he does not categorically enunciate.
For instance (1) P. 14. "I know that men used to suspect Dr. Newman, I have been inclined to do so myself, of writing a whole sermon ... for the sake of one single passing hint, one phrase, one epithet, one little barbed arrow which ... he delivered unheeded, as with his finger tip, to the very heart of an initiated hearer, never to be withdrawn again."
(2) P. 15. "How was I to know that the preacher, who had the reputation of being the most acute man of his generation, and of having a specially intimate acquaintance with the weaknesses of the human heart, was utterly blind to the broad meaning and the plain practical result of a sermon like this, delivered before fanatic and hot-headed young men, who hung upon his every word? That he did not foresee that they would think that they obeyed him, by becoming affected, artificial, sly, shifty, ready for concealments and equivocations?"
(3) P. 17. "No one would have suspected him to be a dishonest man, if he had not perversely chosen to assume a style which (as he himself confesses) the world always associates with dishonesty."
(4) Pp. 29, 30. "If he will indulge in subtle paradoxes, in rhetorical exaggerations; if, whenever he touches on the question of truth and honesty, he will take a perverse pleasure in saying something shocking to plain English notions, he must take the consequences of his own eccentricities."
(5) P. 34. "At which most of my readers will be inclined to cry: 'Let Dr. Newman alone, after that.... He had a human reason once, no doubt: but he has gambled it away.' ... True: so true, etc."
(6) P. 34. He continues: "I should never have written these pages, save because it was my duty to show the world, if not Dr. Newman, how the mistake (!) of his not caring for truth arose."
(7) P. 37. "And this is the man, who when accused of countenancing falsehood, puts on first a tone of plaintive (!) and startled innocence, and then one of smug self-satisfaction—as who should ask, 'What have I said? What have I done? Why am I on my trial?'"
(8) P. 40. "What Dr. Newman teaches is clear at last, and I see now how deeply I have wronged him. So far from thinking truth for its own sake to be no virtue, he considers it a virtue so lofty as to be unattainable by man."
(9) P. 43. "There is no use in wasting words on this 'economical' statement of Dr. Newman's. I shall only say that there are people in the world whom it is very difficult to help. As soon as they are got out of one scrape, they walk straight into another."
(10) P. 43. "Dr. Newman has shown 'wisdom' enough of that serpentine type which is his professed ideal.... Yes, Dr. Newman is a very economical person."
(11) P. 44. "Dr. Newman tries, by cunning sleight-of-hand logic, to prove that I did not believe the accusation when I made it."
(12) P. 45. "These are hard words. If Dr. Newman shall complain of them, I can only remind him of the fate which befel the stork caught among the cranes, even though the stork had not done all he could to make himself like a crane, as Dr. Newman has, by 'economising' on the very title-page of his pamphlet."
These last words bring us to another and far worse instance of these slanderous assaults upon me, but its place is in a subsequent page.
Now it may be asked of me, "Well, why should not Mr. Kingsley take a course such as this? It was his original assertion that Dr. Newman was a professed liar, and a patron of lies; he spoke somewhat at random, granted; but now he has got up his references and he is proving, not perhaps the very thing which he said at first, but something very like it, and to say the least quite as bad. He is now only aiming to justify morally his original assertion; why is he not at liberty to do so?"
Why should he not now insinuate that I am a liar and a knave! he had of course a perfect right to make such a charge, if he chose; he might have said, "I was virtually right, and here is the proof of it," but this he has not done, but on the contrary has professed that he no longer draws from my works, as he did before, the inference of my dishonesty. He says distinctly, p. 26, "When I read these outrages upon common sense, what wonder if I said to myself, 'This man cannot believe what he is saying?' I believe I was wrong." And in p. 31, "I said, This man has no real care for truth. Truth for its own sake is no virtue in his eyes, and he teaches that it need not be. I do not say that now." And in p. 41, "I do not call this conscious dishonesty; the man who wrote that sermon was already past the possibility of such a sin."
Why should he not! because it is on the ground of my not being a knave that he calls me a fool; adding to the words just quoted, "[My readers] have fallen perhaps into the prevailing superstition that cleverness is synonymous with wisdom. They cannot believe that (as is too certain) great literary and even barristerial ability may co-exist with almost boundless silliness."
Why should he not! because he has taken credit to himself for that high feeling of honour which refuses to withdraw a concession which once has been made; though (wonderful to say!), at the very time that he is recording this magnanimous resolution, he lets it out of the bag that his relinquishment of it is only a profession and a pretence; for he says, p. 8: "I have accepted Dr. Newman's denial that [the Sermon] means what I thought it did; and heaven forbid" (oh!) "that I should withdraw my word once given, at whatever disadvantage to myself." Disadvantage! but nothing can be advantageous to him which is untrue; therefore in proclaiming that the concession of my honesty is a disadvantage to him, he thereby implies unequivocally that there is some probability still, that I am dishonest. He goes on, "I am informed by those from whose judgment on such points there is no appeal, that 'en hault courage,' and strict honour, I am also precluded, by the terms of my explanation, from using any other of Dr. Newman's past writings to prove my assertion." And then, "I have declared Dr. Newman to have been an honest man up to the 1st of February, 1864; it was, as I shall show, only Dr. Newman's fault that I ever thought him to be anything else. It depends entirely on Dr. Newman whether he shall sustain the reputation which he has so recently acquired," (by diploma of course from Mr. Kingsley.) "If I give him thereby a fresh advantage in this argument, he is most welcome to it. He needs, it seems to me, as many advantages as possible."
What a princely mind! How loyal to his rash promise, how delicate towards the subject of it, how conscientious in his interpretation of it! I have no thought of irreverence towards a Scripture Saint, who was actuated by a very different spirit from Mr. Kingsley's, but somehow since I read his pamphlet words have been running in my head, which I find in the Douay version thus; "Thou hast also with thee Semei the son of Gera, who cursed me with a grievous curse when I went to the camp, but I swore to him, saying, I will not kill thee with the sword. Do not thou hold him guiltless. But thou art a wise man and knowest what to do with him, and thou shalt bring down his grey hairs with blood to hell."
Now I ask, Why could not Mr. Kingsley be open? If he intended still to arraign me on the charge of lying, why could he not say so as a man? Why must he insinuate, question, imply, and use sneering and irony, as if longing to touch a forbidden fruit, which still he was afraid would burn his fingers, if he did so? Why must he "palter in a double sense," and blow hot and cold in one breath? He first said he considered me a patron of lying; well, he changed his opinion; and as to the logical ground of this change, he said that, if any one asked him what it was, he could only answer that he really did not know. Why could not he change back again, and say he did not know why? He had quite a right to do so; and then his conduct would have been so far straightforward and unexceptionable. But no;—in the very act of professing to believe in my sincerity, he takes care to show the world that it is a profession and nothing more. That very proceeding which at p. 15 he lays to my charge (whereas I detest it), of avowing one thing and thinking another, that proceeding he here exemplifies himself; and yet, while indulging in practices as offensive as this, he ventures to speak of his sensitive admiration of "hault courage and strict honour!" "I forgive you, Sir Knight," says the heroine in the Romance, "I forgive you as a Christian." "That means," said Wamba, "that she does not forgive him at all." Mr. Kingsley's word of honour is about as valuable as in the jester's opinion was the Christian charity of Rowena. But here we are brought to a further specimen of Mr. Kingsley's method of disputation, and having duly exhibited it, I shall have done with him.
It is his last, and he has intentionally reserved it for his last. Let it be recollected that he professed to absolve me from his original charge of dishonesty up to February 1. And further, he implies that, at the time when he was writing, I had not yet involved myself in any fresh acts suggestive of that sin. He says that I have had a great escape of conviction, that he hopes I shall take warning, and act more cautiously. "It depends entirely," he says, "on Dr. Newman, whether he shall sustain the reputation which he has so recently acquired" (p. 8). Thus, in Mr. Kingsley's judgment, I was then, when he wrote these words, still innocent of dishonesty, for a man cannot sustain what he actually has not got; only he could not be sure of my future. Could not be sure! Why at this very time he had already noted down valid proofs, as he thought them, that I had already forfeited the character which he contemptuously accorded to me. He had cautiously said "up to February 1st," in order to reserve the title-page and last three pages of my pamphlet, which were not published till February 12th, and out of these four pages, which he had not whitewashed, he had already forged charges against me of dishonesty at the very time that he implied that as yet there was nothing against me. When he gave me that plenary condonation, as it seemed to be, he had already done his best that I should never enjoy it. He knew well at p. 8, what he meant to say at pp. 44 and 45. At best indeed I was only out upon ticket of leave; but that ticket was a pretence; he had made it forfeit when he gave it. But he did not say so at once, first, because between p. 8 and p. 44 he meant to talk a great deal about my idiotcy and my frenzy, which would have been simply out of place, had he proved me too soon to be a knave again; and next, because he meant to exhaust all those insinuations about my knavery in the past, which "strict honour" did not permit him to countenance, in order thereby to give colour and force to his direct charges of knavery in the present, which "strict honour" did permit him to handsel. So in the fifth act he gave a start, and found to his horror that, in my miserable four pages, I had committed the "enormity" of an "economy," which in matter of fact he had got by heart before he began the play. Nay, he suddenly found two, three, and (for what he knew) as many as four profligate economies in that title-page and those Reflections, and he uses the language of distress and perplexity at this appalling discovery.
Now why this coup de theatre? The reason soon breaks on us. Up to February 1, he could not categorically arraign me for lying, and therefore could not involve me (as was so necessary for his case), in the popular abhorrence which is felt for the casuists of Rome: but, as soon as ever he could openly and directly pronounce (saving his "hault courage and strict honour") that I am guilty of three or four new economies, then at once I am made to bear, not only my own sins, but the sins of other people also, and, though I have been condoned the knavery of my antecedents, I am guilty of the knavery of a whole priesthood instead. So the hour of doom for Semei is come, and the wise man knows what to do with him;—he is down upon me with the odious names of "St. Alfonso da Liguori," and "Scavini" and "Neyraguet," and "the Romish moralists," and their "compeers and pupils," and I am at once merged and whirled away in the gulph of notorious quibblers, and hypocrites, and rogues.
But we have not even yet got at the real object of the stroke, thus reserved for his finale. I really feel sad for what I am obliged now to say. I am in warfare with him, but I wish him no ill;—it is very difficult to get up resentment towards persons whom one has never seen. It is easy enough to be irritated with friends or foes, vis-a-vis; but, though I am writing with all my heart against what he has said of me, I am not conscious of personal unkindness towards himself. I think it necessary to write as I am writing, for my own sake, and for the sake of the Catholic priesthood; but I wish to impute nothing worse to Kingsley than that he has been furiously carried away by his feelings. But what shall I say of the upshot of all this talk of my economies and equivocations and the like? What is the precise work which it is directed to effect? I am at war with him; but there is such a thing as legitimate warfare: war has its laws; there are things which may fairly be done, and things which may not be done. I say it with shame and with stern sorrow;—he has attempted a great transgression; he has attempted (as I may call it) to poison the wells. I will quote him and explain what I mean.
"Dr. Newman tries, by cunning sleight-of-hand logic, to prove that I did not believe the accusation when I made it. Therein he is mistaken. I did believe it, and I believed also his indignant denial. But when he goes on to ask with sneers, why I should believe his denial, if I did not consider him trustworthy in the first instance? I can only answer, I really do not know. There is a great deal to be said for that view, now that Dr. Newman has become (one must needs suppose) suddenly and since the 1st of February, 1864, a convert to the economic views of St. Alfonso da Liguori and his compeers. I am henceforth in doubt and fear, as much as any honest man can be, concerning every word Dr. Newman may write. How can I tell that I shall not be the dupe of some cunning equivocation, of one of the three kinds laid down as permissible by the blessed Alfonso da Liguori and his pupils, even when confirmed by an oath, because 'then we do not deceive our neighbour, but allow him to deceive himself?' ... It is admissible, therefore, to use words and sentences which have a double signification, and leave the hapless hearer to take which of them he may choose. What proof have I, then, that by 'mean it? I never said it!' Dr. Newman does not signify, I did not say it, but I did mean it?"—Pp. 44, 45.
Now these insinuations and questions shall be answered in their proper places; here I will but say that I scorn and detest lying, and quibbling, and double-tongued practice, and slyness, and cunning, and smoothness, and cant, and pretence, quite as much as any Protestants hate them; and I pray to be kept from the snare of them. But all this is just now by the bye; my present subject is Mr. Kingsley; what I insist upon here, now that I am bringing this portion of my discussion to a close, is this unmanly attempt of his, in his concluding pages, to cut the ground from under my feet;—to poison by anticipation the public mind against me, John Henry Newman, and to infuse into the imaginations of my readers, suspicion and mistrust of everything that I may say in reply to him. This I call poisoning the wells.
"I am henceforth in doubt and fear," he says, "as much as any honest man can be, concerning every word Dr. Newman may write. How can I tell that I shall not be the dupe of some cunning equivocation? ... What proof have I, that by 'mean it? I never said it!' Dr. Newman does not signify, 'I did not say it, but I did mean it'?"
Well, I can only say, that, if his taunt is to take effect, I am but wasting my time in saying a word in answer to his foul calumnies; and this is precisely what he knows and intends to be its fruit. I can hardly get myself to protest against a method of controversy so base and cruel, lest in doing so, I should be violating my self-respect and self-possession; but most base and most cruel it is. We all know how our imagination runs away with us, how suddenly and at what a pace;—the saying, "Caesar's wife should not be suspected," is an instance of what I mean. The habitual prejudice, the humour of the moment, is the turning-point which leads us to read a defence in a good sense or a bad. We interpret it by our antecedent impressions. The very same sentiments, according as our jealousy is or is not awake, or our aversion stimulated, are tokens of truth or of dissimulation and pretence. There is a story of a sane person being by mistake shut up in the wards of a lunatic asylum, and that, when he pleaded his cause to some strangers visiting the establishment, the only remark he elicited in answer was, "How naturally he talks! you would think he was in his senses." Controversies should be decided by the reason; is it legitimate warfare to appeal to the misgivings of the public mind and to its dislikings? Anyhow, if Mr. Kingsley is able thus to practise upon my readers, the more I succeed, the less will be my success. If I am natural, he will tell them, "Ars est celare artem;" if I am convincing, he will suggest that I am an able logician; if I show warmth, I am acting the indignant innocent; if I am calm, I am thereby detected as a smooth hypocrite; if I clear up difficulties, I am too plausible and perfect to be true. The more triumphant are my statements, the more certain will be my defeat.
So will it be if Mr. Kingsley succeeds in his manoeuvre; but I do not for an instant believe that he will. Whatever judgment my readers may eventually form of me from these pages, I am confident that they will believe me in what I shall say in the course of them. I have no misgiving it all, that they will be ungenerous or harsh with a man who has been so long before the eyes of the world; who has so many to speak of him from personal knowledge; whose natural impulse it has ever been to speak out; who has ever spoken too much rather than too little; who would have saved himself many a scrape, if he had been wise enough to hold his tongue; who has ever been fair to the doctrines and arguments of his opponents; who has never slurred over facts and reasonings which told against himself; who has never given his name or authority to proofs which he thought unsound, or to testimony which he did not think at least plausible; who has never shrunk from confessing a fault when he felt that he had committed one; who has ever consulted for others more than for himself; who has given up much that he loved and prized and could have retained, but that he loved honesty better than name, and truth better than dear friends.
And now I am in a train of thought higher and more serene than any which slanders can disturb. Away with you, Mr. Kingsley, and fly into space. Your name shall occur again as little as I can help, in the course of these pages. I shall henceforth occupy myself not with you, but with your charges.
True Mode of Meeting Mr. Kingsley
What shall be the special imputation, against which I shall throw myself in these pages, out of the thousand and one which my accuser directs upon me? I mean to confine myself to one, for there is only one about which I much care—the charge of untruthfulness. He may cast upon me as many other imputations as he pleases, and they may stick on me, as long as they can, in the course of nature. They will fall to the ground in their season.
And indeed I think the same of the charge of untruthfulness, and I select it from the rest, not because it is more formidable, but because it is more serious. Like the rest, it may disfigure me for a time, but it will not stain: Archbishop Whately used to say, "Throw dirt enough, and some will stick;" well, will stick, but not stain. I think he used to mean "stain," and I do not agree with him. Some dirt sticks longer than other dirt; but no dirt is immortal. According to the old saying, Praevalebit Veritas. There are virtues indeed, which the world is not fitted to judge about or to uphold, such as faith, hope, and charity: but it can judge about truthfulness; it can judge about the natural virtues, and truthfulness is one of them. Natural virtues may also become supernatural; truthfulness is such; but that does not withdraw it from the jurisdiction of mankind at large. It may be more difficult in this or that particular case for men to take cognizance of it, as it may be difficult for the Court of Queen's Bench at Westminster to try a case fairly which took place in Hindoostan; but that is a question of capacity, not of right. Mankind has the right to judge of truthfulness in the case of a Catholic, as in the case of a Protestant, of an Italian, or of a Chinese. I have never doubted, that in my hour, in God's hour, my avenger will appear, and the world will acquit me of untruthfulness, even though it be not while I live.
Still more confident am I of such eventual acquittal, seeing that my judges are my own countrymen. I think, indeed, Englishmen the most suspicious and touchy of mankind; I think them unreasonable and unjust in their seasons of excitement; but I had rather be an Englishman (as in fact I am) than belong to any other race under heaven. They are as generous, as they are hasty and burly; and their repentance for their injustice is greater than their sin.
For twenty years and more I have borne an imputation, of which I am at least as sensitive, who am the object of it, as they can be, who are only the judges. I have not set myself to remove it, first, because I never have had an opening to speak, and, next, because I never saw in them the disposition to hear. I have wished to appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober. When shall I pronounce him to be himself again? If I may judge from the tone of the public press, which represents the public voice, I have great reason to take heart at this time. I have been treated by contemporary critics in this controversy with great fairness and gentleness, and I am grateful to them for it. However, the decision of the time and mode of my defence has been taken out of my hands; and I am thankful that it has been so. I am bound now as a duty to myself, to the Catholic cause, to the Catholic priesthood, to give account of myself without any delay, when I am so rudely and circumstantially charged with untruthfulness. I accept the challenge; I shall do my best to meet it, and I shall be content when I have done so.
I confine myself then, in these pages, to the charge of untruthfulness; and I hereby cart away, as so much rubbish, the impertinences, with which the pamphlet of Accusation swarms. I shall not think it necessary here to examine, whether I am "worked into a pitch of confusion," or have "carried self-deception to perfection," or am "anxious to show my credulity," or am "in a morbid state of mind," or "hunger for nonsense as my food," or "indulge in subtle paradoxes" and "rhetorical exaggerations," or have "eccentricities" or teach in a style "utterly beyond" my accuser's "comprehension," or create in him "blank astonishment," or "exalt the magical powers of my Church," or have "unconsciously committed myself to a statement which strikes at the root of all morality," or "look down on the Protestant gentry as without hope of heaven," or "had better be sent to the furthest" Catholic "mission among the savages of the South seas," than "to teach in an Irish Catholic University," or have "gambled away my reason," or adopt "sophistries," or have published "sophisms piled upon sophisms," or have in my sermons "culminating wonders," or have a "seemingly sceptical method," or have "barristerial ability" and "almost boundless silliness," or "make great mistakes," or am "a subtle dialectician," or perhaps have "lost my temper," or "misquote Scripture," or am "antiscriptural," or "border very closely on the Pelagian heresy."—Pp. 5, 7, 26, 29-34, 37, 38, 41, 43, 44, 48.
These all are impertinences; and the list is so long that I am almost sorry to have given them room which might be better used. However, there they are, or at least a portion of them; and having noticed them thus much, I shall notice them no more.
Coming then to the subject, which is to furnish the staple of my publication, the question of my truthfulness, I first direct attention to the passage which the Act of Accusation contains at p. 8 and p. 42. I shall give my reason presently, why I begin with it.
My accuser is speaking of my sermon on Wisdom and Innocence, and he says, "It must be remembered always that it is not a Protestant, but a Romish sermon."—P. 8.
Then at p. 42 he continues, "Dr. Newman does not apply to it that epithet. He called it in his letter to me of the 7th of January (published by him) a 'Protestant' one. I remarked that, but considered it a mere slip of the pen. Besides, I have now nothing to say to that letter. It is to his 'Reflections,' in p. 32, which are open ground to me, that I refer. In them he deliberately repeats the epithet 'Protestant:' only he, in an utterly imaginary conversation, puts it into my mouth, 'which you preached when a Protestant.' I call the man who preached that Sermon a Protestant? I should have sooner called him a Buddhist. At that very time he was teaching his disciples to scorn and repudiate that name of Protestant, under which, for some reason or other, he now finds it convenient to take shelter. If he forgets, the world does not, the famous article in the British Critic (the then organ of his party), of three years before, July 1841, which, after denouncing the name of Protestant, declared the object of the party to be none other than the 'unprotestantising' the English Church."
In this passage my accuser asserts or implies, 1, that the sermon, on which he originally grounded his slander against me in the January No. of the magazine, was really and in matter of fact a "Romish" Sermon; 2, that I ought in my pamphlet to have acknowledged this fact; 3, that I didn't. 4, That I actually called it instead a Protestant Sermon. 5, That at the time when I published it, twenty years ago, I should have denied that it was a Protestant sermon. 6, By consequence, I should in that denial have avowed that it was a "Romish" Sermon; 7, and therefore, not only, when I was in the Established Church, was I guilty of the dishonesty of preaching what at the time I knew to be a "Romish" Sermon, but now too, in 1864, I have committed the additional dishonesty of calling it a Protestant sermon. If my accuser does not mean this, I submit to such reparation as I owe him for my mistake, but I cannot make out that he means anything else.
Here are two main points to be considered; 1, I in 1864 have called it a Protestant Sermon. 2, He in 1844 and now has styled it a Popish Sermon. Let me take these two points separately.
1. Certainly, when I was in the English Church, I did disown the word "Protestant," and that, even at an earlier date than my accuser names; but just let us see whether this fact is anything at all to the purpose of his accusation. Last January 7th I spoke to this effect: "How can you prove that Father Newman informs us of a certain thing about the Roman Clergy," by referring to a Protestant sermon of the Vicar of St. Mary's? My accuser answers me thus: "There's a quibble! why, Protestant is not the word which you would have used when at St. Mary's, and yet you use it now!" Very true; I do; but what on earth does this matter to my argument? how does this word "Protestant," which I used, tend in any degree to make my argument a quibble? What word should I have used twenty years ago instead of "Protestant?" "Roman" or "Romish?" by no manner of means.
My accuser indeed says that "it must always be remembered that it is not a Protestant but a Romish sermon." He implies, and, I suppose, he thinks, that not to be a Protestant is to be a Roman; he may say so, if he pleases, but so did not say that large body who have been called by the name of Tractarians, as all the world knows. The movement proceeded on the very basis of denying that position which my accuser takes for granted that I allowed. It ever said, and it says now, that there is something between Protestant and Romish; that there is a "Via Media" which is neither the one nor the other. Had I been asked twenty years ago, what the doctrine of the Established Church was, I should have answered, "Neither Romish nor Protestant, but 'Anglican' or 'Anglo-catholic.'" I should never have granted that the sermon was Romish; I should have denied, and that with an internal denial, quite as much as I do now, that it was a Roman or Romish sermon. Well then, substitute the word "Anglican" or "Anglo-catholic" for "Protestant" in my question, and see if the argument is a bit the worse for it—thus: "How can you prove that Father Newman informs us a certain thing about the Roman Clergy, by referring to an Anglican or Anglo-catholic Sermon of the Vicar of St. Mary's?" The cogency of the argument remains just where it was. What have I gained in the argument, what has he lost, by my having said, not "an Anglican Sermon," but "a Protestant Sermon?" What dust then is he throwing into our eyes!
For instance: in 1844 I lived at Littlemore; two or three miles distant from Oxford; and Littlemore lies in three, perhaps in four, distinct parishes, so that of particular houses it is difficult to say, whether they are in St. Mary's, Oxford, or in Cowley, or in Iffley, or in Sandford, the line of demarcation running even through them. Now, supposing I were to say in 1864, that "twenty years ago I did not live in Oxford, because I lived out at Littlemore, in the parish of Cowley;" and if upon this there were letters of mine produced dated Littlemore, 1844, in one of which I said that "I lived, not in Cowley, but at Littlemore, in St. Mary's parish," how would that prove that I contradicted myself, and that therefore after all I must be supposed to have been living in Oxford in 1844? The utmost that would be proved by the discrepancy, such as it was, would be, that there was some confusion either in me, or in the state of the fact as to the limits of the parishes. There would be no confusion about the place or spot of my residence. I should be saying in 1864, "I did not live in Oxford twenty years ago, because I lived at Littlemore in the Parish of Cowley." I should have been saying in 1844, "I do not live in Oxford, because I live in St. Mary's, Littlemore." In either case I should be saying that my habitat in 1844 was not Oxford, but Littlemore; and I should be giving the same reason for it. I should be proving an alibi. I should be naming the same place for the alibi; but twenty years ago I should have spoken of it as St. Mary's, Littlemore, and to-day I should have spoken of it as Littlemore in the Parish of Cowley.
And so as to my Sermon; in January, 1864, I called it a Protestant sermon, and not a Roman; but in 1844 I should, if asked, have called it an Anglican sermon, and not a Roman. In both cases I should have denied that it was Roman, and that on the ground of its being something else; though I should have called that something else, then by one name, now by another. The doctrine of the Via Media is a fact, whatever name we give to it; I, as a Roman Priest, find it more natural and usual to call it Protestant: I, as all Oxford Vicar, thought it more exact to call it Anglican; but, whatever I then called it, and whatever I now call it, I mean one and the same object by my name, and therefore not another object—viz. not the Roman Church. The argument, I repeat, is sound, whether the Via Media and the Vicar of St. Mary's be called Anglican or Protestant.
This is a specimen of what my accuser means by my "economies;" nay, it is actually one of those special two, three, or four, committed after February 1, which he thinks sufficient to connect me with the shifty casuists and the double-dealing moralists, as he considers them, of the Catholic Church. What a "Much ado about nothing!"
2. But, whether or not he can prove that I in 1864 have committed any logical fault in calling my Sermon on Wisdom and Innocence a Protestant Sermon, he is and has been all along, most firm in the belief himself that a Romish sermon it is; and this is the point on which I wish specially to insist. It is for this cause that I made the above extract from his pamphlet, not merely in order to answer him, though, when I had made it, I could not pass by the attack on me which it contains. I shall notice his charges one by one by and by; but I have made this extract here in order to insist and to dwell on this phenomenon—viz. that he does consider it an undeniable fact, that the sermon is "Romish,"—meaning by "Romish" not "savouring of Romish doctrine" merely, but "the work of a real Romanist, of a conscious Romanist." This belief it is which leads him to be so severe on me, for now calling it "Protestant." He thinks that, whether I have committed any logical self-contradiction or not, I am very well aware that, when I wrote it, I ought to have been elsewhere, that I was a conscious Romanist, teaching Romanism;—or if he does not believe this himself, he wishes others to think so, which comes to the same thing; certainly I prefer to consider that he thinks so himself, but, if he likes the other hypothesis better, he is welcome to it.
He believes then so firmly that the sermon was a "Romish Sermon," that he pointedly takes it for granted, before he has adduced a syllable of proof of the matter of fact. He starts by saying that it is a fact to be "remembered." "It must be remembered always," he says, "that it is not a Protestant, but a Romish Sermon," (p. 8). Its Romish parentage is a great truth for the memory, not a thesis for inquiry. Merely to refer his readers to the sermon is, he considers, to secure them on his side. Hence it is that, in his letter of January 18, he said to me, "It seems to me, that, by referring publicly to the Sermon on which my allegations are founded, I have given every one an opportunity of judging of their injustice," that is, an opportunity of seeing that they are transparently just. The notion of there being a Via Media, held all along by a large party in the Anglican Church, and now at least not less than at any former time, is too subtle for his intellect. Accordingly, he thinks it was an allowable figure of speech—not more, I suppose, than an "hyperbole"—when referring to a sermon of the Vicar of St. Mary's in the magazine, to say that it was the writing of a Roman priest; and as to serious arguments to prove the point, why, they may indeed be necessary, as a matter of form, in an act of accusation, such as his pamphlet, but they are superfluous to the good sense of any one who will only just look into the matter himself.
Now, with respect to the so-called arguments which he ventures to put forward in proof that the sermon is Romish, I shall answer them, together with all his other arguments, in the latter portion of this reply; here I do but draw the attention of the reader, as I have said already, to the phenomenon itself, which he exhibits, of an unclouded confidence that the sermon is the writing of a virtual member of the Roman communion, and I do so because it has made a great impression on my own mind, and has suggested to me the course that I shall pursue in my answer to him.
I say, he takes it for granted that the Sermon is the writing of a virtual or actual, of a conscious Roman Catholic; and is impatient at the very notion of having to prove it. Father Newman and the Vicar of St. Mary's are one and the same: there has been no change of mind in him; what he believed then he believes now, and what he believes now he believed then. To dispute this is frivolous; to distinguish between his past self and his present is subtlety, and to ask for proof of their identity is seeking opportunity to be sophistical. This writer really thinks that he acts a straightforward honest part, when he says "A Catholic Priest informs us in his Sermon on Wisdom and Innocence preached at St. Mary's," and he thinks that I am the shuffler and quibbler when I forbid him to do so. So singular a phenomenon in a man of undoubted ability has struck me forcibly, and I shall pursue the train of thought which it opens.
It is not he alone who entertains, and has entertained, such an opinion of me and my writings. It is the impression of large classes of men; the impression twenty years ago and the impression now. There has been a general feeling that I was for years where I had no right to be; that I was a "Romanist" in Protestant livery and service; that I was doing the work of a hostile church in the bosom of the English Establishment, and knew it, or ought to have known it. There was no need of arguing about particular passages in my writings, when the fact was so patent, as men thought it to be.
First it was certain, and I could not myself deny it, that I scouted the name "Protestant." It was certain again, that many of the doctrines which I professed were popularly and generally known as badges of the Roman Church, as distinguished from the faith of the Reformation. Next, how could I have come by them? Evidently, I had certain friends and advisers who did not appear; there was some underground communication between Stonyhurst or Oscott and my rooms at Oriel. Beyond a doubt, I was advocating certain doctrines, not by accident, but on an understanding with ecclesiastics of the old religion. Then men went further, and said that I had actually been received into that religion, and withal had leave given me to profess myself a Protestant still. Others went even further, and gave it out to the world, as a matter of fact, of which they themselves had the proof in their hands, that I was actually a Jesuit. And when the opinions which I advocated spread, and younger men went further than I, the feeling against me waxed stronger and took a wider range.
And now indignation arose at the knavery of a conspiracy such as this:—and it became of course all the greater, in consequence of its being the received belief of the public at large, that craft and intrigue, such as they fancied they beheld with their own eyes, were the very instruments to which the Catholic Church has in these last centuries been indebted for her maintenance and extension.
There was another circumstance still, which increased the irritation and aversion felt by the large classes, of whom I have been speaking, as regards the preachers of doctrines, so new to them and so unpalatable; and that was, that they developed them in so measured a way. If they were inspired by Roman theologians (and this was taken for granted), why did they not speak out at once? Why did they keep the world in such suspense and anxiety as to what was coming next, and what was to be the upshot of the whole? Why this reticence, and half-speaking, and apparent indecision? It was plain that the plan of operations had been carefully mapped out from the first, and that these men were cautiously advancing towards its accomplishment, as far as was safe at the moment; that their aim and their hope was to carry off a large body with them of the young and the ignorant; that they meant gradually to leaven the minds of the rising generation, and to open the gate of that city, of which they were the sworn defenders, to the enemy who lay in ambush outside of it. And when in spite of the many protestations of the party to the contrary, there was at length an actual movement among their disciples, and one went over to Rome, and then another, the worst anticipations and the worst judgments which had been formed of them received their justification. And, lastly, when men first had said of me, "You will see, he will go, he is only biding his time, he is waiting the word of command from Rome," and, when after all, after my arguments and denunciations of former years, at length I did leave the Anglican Church for the Roman, then they said to each other, "It is just as we said: I told you so."
This was the state of mind of masses of men twenty years ago, who took no more than an external and common-sense view of what was going on. And partly the tradition, partly the effect of that feeling, remains to the present time. Certainly I consider that, in my own case, it is the great obstacle in the way of my being favourably heard, as at present, when I have to make my defence. Not only am I now a member of a most un-English communion, whose great aim is considered to be the extinction of Protestantism and the Protestant Church, and whose means of attack are popularly supposed to be unscrupulous cunning and deceit, but besides, how came I originally to have any relations with the Church of Rome at all? did I, or my opinions, drop from the sky? how came I, in Oxford, in gremio Universitatis, to present myself to the eyes of men in that full-blown investiture of Popery? How could I dare, how could I have the conscience, with warnings, with prophecies, with accusations against me, to persevere in a path which steadily advanced towards, which ended in, the religion of Rome? And how am I now to be trusted, when long ago I was trusted, and was found wanting?
It is this which is the strength of the case of my accuser against me;—not his arguments in themselves, which I shall easily crumble into dust, but the bias of the court. It is the state of the atmosphere; it is the vibration all around which will more or less echo his assertion of my dishonesty; it is that prepossession against me, which takes it for granted that, when my reasoning is convincing it is only ingenious, and that when my statements are unanswerable, there is always something put out of sight or hidden in my sleeve; it is that plausible, but cruel conclusion to which men are so apt to jump, that when much is imputed, something must be true, and that it is more likely that one should be to blame, than that many should be mistaken in blaming him;—these are the real foes which I have to fight, and the auxiliaries to whom my accuser makes his court.
Well, I must break through this barrier of prejudice against me, if I can; and I think I shall be able to do so. When first I read the pamphlet of Accusation, I almost despaired of meeting effectively such a heap of misrepresentation and such a vehemence of animosity. What was the good of answering first one point, and then another, and going through the whole circle of its abuse; when my answer to the first point would be forgotten, as soon as I got to the second? What was the use of bringing out half a hundred separate principles or views for the refutation of the separate counts in the indictment, when rejoinders of this sort would but confuse and torment the reader by their number and their diversity? What hope was there of condensing into a pamphlet of a readable length, matter which ought freely to expand itself into half a dozen volumes? What means was there, except the expenditure of interminable pages, to set right even one of that series of "single passing hints," to use my assailant's own language, which, "as with his finger tip, he had delivered" against me?
All those separate charges of his had their force in being illustrations of one and the same great imputation. He had a positive idea to illuminate his whole matter, and to stamp it with a form, and to quicken it with an interpretation. He called me a liar—a simple, a broad, an intelligible, to the English public a plausible arraignment; but for me, to answer in detail charge one by reason one, and charge two by reason two, and charge three by reason three, and so to proceed through the whole string both of accusations and replies, each of which was to be independent of the rest, this would be certainly labour lost as regards any effective result. What I needed was a corresponding antagonist unity in my defence, and where was that to be found? We see, in the case of commentators on the prophecies of Scripture, an exemplification of the principle on which I am insisting; viz. how much more powerful even a false interpretation of the sacred text is than none at all;—how a certain key to the visions of the Apocalypse, for instance, may cling to the mind—(I have found it so in my own case)—mainly because they are positive and objective, in spite of the fullest demonstration that they really have no claim upon our belief. The reader says, "What else can the prophecy mean?" just as my accuser asks, "What, then, does Dr. Newman mean?" ... I reflected, and I saw a way out of my perplexity.
Yes, I said to myself, his very question is about my meaning; "What does Dr. Newman mean?" It pointed in the very same direction as that into which my musings had turned me already. He asks what I mean; not about my words, not about my arguments, not about my actions, as his ultimate point, but about that living intelligence, by which I write, and argue, and act. He asks about my mind and its beliefs and its sentiments; and he shall be answered;—not for his own sake, but for mine, for the sake of the religion which I profess, and of the priesthood in which I am unworthily included, and of my friends and of my foes, and of that general public which consists of neither one nor the other, but of well-wishers, lovers of fair play, sceptical cross-questioners, interested inquirers, curious lookers-on, and simple strangers, unconcerned yet not careless about the issue.
My perplexity did not last half an hour. I recognised what I had to do, though I shrank from both the task and the exposure which it would entail. I must, I said, give the true key to my whole life; I must show what I am that it may be seen what I am not, and that the phantom may be extinguished which gibbers instead of me. I wish to be known as a living man, and not as a scarecrow which is dressed up in my clothes. False ideas may be refuted indeed by argument, but by true ideas alone are they expelled. I will vanquish, not my accuser, but my judges. I will indeed answer his charges and criticisms on me one by one, lest any one should say that they are unanswerable, but such a work shall not be the scope nor the substance of my reply. I will draw out, as far as may be, the history of my mind; I will state the point at which I began, in what external suggestion or accident each opinion had its rise, how far and how they were developed from within, how they grew, were modified, were combined, were in collision with each other, and were changed; again how I conducted myself towards them, and how, and how far, and for how long a time, I thought I could hold them consistently with the ecclesiastical engagements which I had made and with the position which I filled. I must show—what is the very truth—that the doctrines which I held, and have held for so many years, have been taught me (speaking humanly) partly by the suggestions of Protestant friends, partly by the teaching of books, and partly by the action of my own mind: and thus I shall account for that phenomenon which to so many seems so wonderful, that I should have left "my kindred and my father's house" for a Church from which once I turned away with dread;—so wonderful to them! as if forsooth a religion which has flourished through so many ages, among so many nations, amid such varieties of social life, in such contrary classes and conditions of men, and after so many revolutions, political and civil, could not subdue the reason and overcome the heart, without the aid of fraud and the sophistries of the schools.
What I had proposed to myself in the course of half an hour, I determined on at the end of ten days. However, I have many difficulties in fulfilling my design. How am I to say all that has to be said in a reasonable compass? And then as to the materials of my narrative; I have no autobiographical notes to consult, no written explanations of particular treatises or of tracts which at the time gave offence, hardly any minutes of definite transactions or conversations, and few contemporary memoranda, I fear, of the feelings or motives under which from time to time I acted. I have an abundance of letters from friends with some copies or drafts of my answers to them, but they are for the most part unsorted, and, till this process has taken place, they are even too numerous and various to be available at a moment for my purpose. Then, as to the volumes which I have published, they would in many ways serve me, were I well up in them; but though I took great pains in their composition, I have thought little about them, when they were at length out of my hands, and, for the most part, the last time I read them has been when I revised their proof sheets.
Under these circumstances my sketch will of course be incomplete. I now for the first time contemplate my course as a whole; it is a first essay, but it will contain, I trust, no serious or substantial mistake, and so far will answer the purpose for which I write it. I purpose to set nothing down in it as certain, for which I have not a clear memory, or some written memorial, or the corroboration of some friend. There are witnesses enough up and down the country to verify, or correct, or complete it; and letters moreover of my own in abundance, unless they have been destroyed.
Moreover, I mean to be simply personal and historical: I am not expounding Catholic doctrine, I am doing no more than explaining myself, and my opinions and actions. I wish, as far as I am able, simply to state facts, whether they are ultimately determined to be for me or against me. Of course there will be room enough for contrariety of judgment among my readers, as to the necessity, or appositeness, or value, or good taste, or religious prudence of the details which I shall introduce. I may be accused of laying stress on little things, of being beside the mark, of going into impertinent or ridiculous details, of sounding my own praise, of giving scandal; but this is a case above all others, in which I am bound to follow my own lights and to speak out my own heart. It is not at all pleasant for me to be egotistical; nor to be criticised for being so. It is not pleasant to reveal to high and low, young and old, what has gone on within me from my early years. It is not pleasant to be giving to every shallow or flippant disputant the advantage over me of knowing my most private thoughts, I might even say the intercourse between myself and my Maker. But I do not like to be called to my face a liar and a knave: nor should I be doing my duty to my faith or to my name, if I were to suffer it. I know I have done nothing to deserve such an insult; and if I prove this, as I hope to do, I must not care for such incidental annoyances as are involved in the process.
History of My Religious Opinions
It may easily be conceived how great a trial it is to me to write the following history of myself; but I must not shrink from the task. The words, "Secretum meum mihi," keep ringing in my ears; but as men draw towards their end, they care less for disclosures. Nor is it the least part of my trial, to anticipate that my friends may, upon first reading what I have written, consider much in it irrelevant to my purpose; yet I cannot help thinking that, viewed as a whole, it will effect what I wish it to do.
I was brought up from a child to take great delight in reading the Bible; but I had no formed religious convictions till I was fifteen. Of course I had perfect knowledge of my Catechism.
After I was grown up, I put on paper such recollections as I had of my thoughts and feelings on religious subjects, at the time that I was a child and a boy. Out of these I select two, which are at once the most definite among them, and also have a bearing on my later convictions.
In the paper to which I have referred, written either in the long vacation of 1820, or in October, 1823, the following notices of my school days were sufficiently prominent in my memory for me to consider them worth recording:—"I used to wish the Arabian Tales were true: my imagination ran on unknown influences, on magical powers, and talismans ... I thought life might be a dream, or I an Angel, and all this world a deception, my fellow-angels by a playful device concealing themselves from me, and deceiving me with the semblance of a material world."
Again, "Reading in the Spring of 1816 a sentence from [Dr. Watts's] 'Remnants of Time,' entitled 'the Saints unknown to the world,' to the effect, that 'there is nothing in their figure or countenance to distinguish them,' etc. etc., I supposed he spoke of Angels who lived in the world, as it were disguised."
The other remark is this: "I was very superstitious, and for some time previous to my conversion" [when I was fifteen] "used constantly to cross myself on going into the dark."
Of course I must have got this practice from some external source or other; but I can make no sort of conjecture whence; and certainly no one had ever spoken to me on the subject of the Catholic religion, which I only knew by name. The French master was an emigre priest, but he was simply made a butt, as French masters too commonly were in that day, and spoke English very imperfectly. There was a Catholic family in the village, old maiden ladies we used to think; but I knew nothing but their name. I have of late years heard that there were one or two Catholic boys in the school; but either we were carefully kept from knowing this, or the knowledge of it made simply no impression on our minds. My brother will bear witness how free the school was from Catholic ideas.
I had once been into Warwick Street Chapel, with my father, who, I believe, wanted to hear some piece of music; all that I bore away from it was the recollection of a pulpit and a preacher and a boy swinging a censer.
When I was at Littlemore, I was looking over old copy-books of my school days, and I found among them my first Latin verse-book; and in the first page of it, there was a device which almost took my breath away with surprise. I have the book before me now, and have just been showing it to others. I have written in the first page, in my school-boy hand, "John H. Newman, February 11th, 1811, Verse Book;" then follow my first verses. Between "Verse" and "Book" I have drawn the figure of a solid cross upright, and next to it is, what may indeed be meant for a necklace, but what I cannot make out to be anything else than a set of beads suspended, with a little cross attached. At this time I was not quite ten years old. I suppose I got the idea from some romance, Mrs. Radcliffe's or Miss Porter's; or from some religious picture; but the strange thing is, how, among the thousand objects which meet a boy's eyes, these in particular should so have fixed themselves in my mind, that I made them thus practically my own. I am certain there was nothing in the churches I attended, or the prayer books I read, to suggest them. It must be recollected that churches and prayer books were not decorated in those days as I believe they are now.
When I was fourteen, I read Paine's tracts against the Old Testament, and found pleasure in thinking of the objections which were contained in them. Also, I read some of Hume's essays; and perhaps that on Miracles. So at least I gave my father to understand; but perhaps it was a brag. Also, I recollect copying out some French verses, perhaps Voltaire's, against the immortality of the soul, and saying to myself something like "How dreadful, but how plausible!"
When I was fifteen (in the autumn of 1816) a great change of thought took place in me. I fell under the influences of a definite creed, and received into my intellect impressions of dogma, which, through God's mercy, have never been effaced or obscured. Above and beyond the conversations and sermons of the excellent man, long dead, who was the human means of this beginning of divine faith in me, was the effect of the books which he put into my hands, all of the school of Calvin. One of the first books I read was a work of Romaine's; I neither recollect the title nor the contents, except one doctrine, which of course I do not include among those which I believe to have come from a divine source, viz. the doctrine of final perseverance. I received it at once, and believed that the inward conversion of which I was conscious (and of which I still am more certain than that I have hands and feet) would last into the next life, and that I was elected to eternal glory. I have no consciousness that this belief had any tendency whatever to lead me to be careless about pleasing God. I retained it till the age of twenty-one, when it gradually faded away; but I believe that it had some influence on my opinions, in the direction of those childish imaginations which I have already mentioned, viz. in isolating me from the objects which surrounded me, in confirming me in my mistrust of the reality of material phenomena, and making me rest in the thought of two and two only supreme and luminously self-evident beings, myself and my Creator;—for while I considered myself predestined to salvation, I thought others simply passed over, not predestined to eternal death. I only thought of the mercy to myself.
The detestable doctrine last mentioned is simply denied and abjured, unless my memory strangely deceives me, by the writer who made a deeper impression on my mind than any other, and to whom (humanly speaking) I almost owe my soul—Thomas Scott of Aston Sandford. I so admired and delighted in his writings, that, when I was an undergraduate, I thought of making a visit to his parsonage, in order to see a man whom I so deeply revered. I hardly think I could have given up the idea of this expedition, even after I had taken my degree; for the news of his death in 1821 came upon me as a disappointment as well as a sorrow. I hung upon the lips of Daniel Wilson, afterwards Bishop of Calcutta, as in two sermons at St. John's Chapel he gave the history of Scott's life and death. I had been possessed of his essays from a boy; his commentary I bought when I was an undergraduate.
What, I suppose, will strike any reader of Scott's history and writings, is his bold unworldliness and vigorous independence of mind. He followed truth wherever it led him, beginning with Unitarianism, and ending in a zealous faith in the Holy Trinity. It was he who first planted deep in my mind that fundamental truth of religion. With the assistance of Scott's essays, and the admirable work of Jones of Nayland, I made a collection of Scripture texts in proof of the doctrine, with remarks (I think) of my own upon them, before I was sixteen; and a few months later I drew up a series of texts in support of each verse of the Athanasian Creed. These papers I have still.
Besides his unworldliness, what I also admired in Scott was his resolute opposition to Antinomianism, and the minutely practical character of his writings. They show him to be a true Englishman, and I deeply felt his influence; and for years I used almost as proverbs what I considered to be the scope and issue of his doctrine, "Holiness before peace," and "Growth is the only evidence of life."
Calvinists make a sharp separation between the elect and the world; there is much in this that is parallel or cognate to the Catholic doctrine; but they go on to say, as I understand them, very differently from Catholicism,—that the converted and the unconverted can be discriminated by man, that the justified are conscious of their state of justification, and that the regenerate cannot fall away. Catholics on the other hand shade and soften the awful antagonism between good and evil, which is one of their dogmas, by holding that there are different degrees of justification, that there is a great difference in point of gravity between sin and sin, that there is the possibility and the danger of falling away, and that there is no certain knowledge given to any one that he is simply in a state of grace, and much less that he is to persevere to the end:—of the Calvinistic tenets the only one which took root in my mind was the fact of heaven and hell, divine favour and divine wrath, of the justified and the unjustified. The notion that the regenerate and the justified were one and the same, and that the regenerate, as such, had the gift of perseverance, remained with me not many years, as I have said already.
This main Catholic doctrine of the warfare between the city of God and the powers of darkness was also deeply impressed upon my mind by a work of a very opposite character, Law's "Serious Call."
From this time I have given a full inward assent and belief to the doctrine of eternal punishment, as delivered by our Lord Himself, in as true a sense as I hold that of eternal happiness; though I have tried in various ways to make that truth less terrible to the reason.
Now I come to two other works, which produced a deep impression on me in the same autumn of 1816, when I was fifteen years old, each contrary to each, and planting in me the seeds of an intellectual inconsistency which disabled me for a long course of years. I read Joseph Milner's Church History, and was nothing short of enamoured of the long extracts from St. Augustine and the other Fathers which I found there. I read them as being the religion of the primitive Christians: but simultaneously with Milner I read Newton on the Prophecies, and in consequence became most firmly convinced that the Pope was the Antichrist predicted by Daniel, St. Paul, and St. John. My imagination was stained by the effects of this doctrine up to the year 1843; it had been obliterated from my reason and judgment at an earlier date; but the thought remained upon me as a sort of false conscience. Hence came that conflict of mind, which so many have felt besides myself;—leading some men to make a compromise between two ideas, so inconsistent with each other—driving others to beat out the one idea or the other from their minds—and ending in my own case, after many years of intellectual unrest, in the gradual decay and extinction of one of them—I do not say in its violent death, for why should I not have murdered it sooner, if I murdered it at all?
I am obliged to mention, though I do it with great reluctance, another deep imagination, which at this time, the autumn of 1816, took possession of me—there can be no mistake about the fact;—viz. that it was the will of God that I should lead a single life. This anticipation, which has held its ground almost continuously ever since—with the break of a month now and a month then, up to 1829, and, after that date, without any break at all—was more or less connected, in my mind, with the notion that my calling in life would require such a sacrifice as celibacy involved; as, for instance, missionary work among the heathen, to which I had a great drawing for some years. It also strengthened my feeling of separation from the visible world, of which I have spoken above.
In 1822 I came under very different influences from those to which I had hitherto been subjected. At that time, Mr. Whately, as he was then, afterwards Archbishop of Dublin, for the few months he remained in Oxford, which he was leaving for good, showed great kindness to me. He renewed it in 1825, when he became Principal of Alban Hall, making me his vice-principal and tutor. Of Dr. Whately I will speak presently, for from 1822 to 1825 I saw most of the present Provost of Oriel, Dr. Hawkins, at that time Vicar of St. Mary's; and, when I took orders in 1824 and had a curacy at Oxford, then, during the long vacations, I was especially thrown into his company. I can say with a full heart that I love him, and have never ceased to love him; and I thus preface what otherwise might sound rude, that in the course of the many years in which we were together afterwards, he provoked me very much from time to time, though I am perfectly certain that I have provoked him a great deal more. Moreover, in me such provocation was unbecoming, both because he was the head of my college, and because in the first years that I knew him, he had been in many ways of great service to my mind.
He was the first who taught me to weigh my words, and to be cautious in my statements. He led me to that mode of limiting and clearing my sense in discussion and in controversy, and of distinguishing between cognate ideas, and of obviating mistakes by anticipation, which to my surprise has been since considered, even in quarters friendly to me, to savour of the polemics of Rome. He is a man of most exact mind himself, and he used to snub me severely, on reading, as he was kind enough to do, the first sermons that I wrote, and other compositions which I was engaged upon.
Then as to doctrine, he was the means of great additions to my belief. As I have noticed elsewhere, he gave me the "Treatise on Apostolical Preaching," by Sumner, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, from which I learned to give up my remaining Calvinism, and to receive the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration. In many other ways too he was of use to me, on subjects semi-religious and semi-scholastic.
It was Dr. Hawkins too who taught me to anticipate that, before many years were over there would be an attack made upon the books and the canon of Scripture. I was brought to the same belief by the conversation of Mr. Blanco White, who also led me to have freer views on the subject of inspiration than were usual in the Church of England at the time.
There is one other principle, which I gained from Dr. Hawkins, more directly bearing upon Catholicism, than any that I have mentioned; and that is the doctrine of Tradition. When I was an undergraduate, I heard him preach in the University pulpit his celebrated sermon on the subject, and recollect how long it appeared to me, though he was at that time a very striking preacher; but, when I read it and studied it as his gift, it made a most serious impression upon me. He does not go one step, I think, beyond the high Anglican doctrine, nay he does not reach it; but he does his work thoroughly, and his view was original with him, and his subject was a novel one at the time. He lays down a proposition, self-evident as soon as stated, to those who have at all examined the structure of Scripture, viz. that the sacred text was never intended to teach doctrine, but only to prove it, and that, if we would learn doctrine, we must have recourse to the formularies of the Church; for instance to the Catechism, and to the Creeds. He considers, that, after learning from them the doctrines of Christianity, the inquirer must verify them by Scripture. This view, most true in its outline, most fruitful in its consequences, opened upon me a large field of thought. Dr. Whately held it too. One of its effects was to strike at the root of the principle on which the Bible Society was set up. I belonged to its Oxford Association; it became a matter of time when I should withdraw my name from its subscription-list, though I did not do so at once.
It is with pleasure that I pay here a tribute to the memory of the Rev. William James, then Fellow of Oriel; who, about the year 1823, taught me the doctrine of Apostolical Succession, in the course of a walk, I think, round Christ Church meadow: I recollect being somewhat impatient on the subject at the time.
It was at about this date, I suppose, that I read Bishop Butler's Analogy; the study of which has been to so many, as it was to me, an era in their religious opinions. Its inculcation of a visible Church, the oracle of truth and a pattern of sanctity, of the duties of external religion, and of the historical character of revelation, are characteristics of this great work which strike the reader at once; for myself, if I may attempt to determine what I most gained from it, it lay in two points, which I shall have an opportunity of dwelling on in the sequel; they are the underlying principles of a great portion of my teaching. First, the very idea of an analogy between the separate works of God leads to the conclusion that the system which is of less importance is economically or sacramentally connected with the more momentous system, and of this conclusion the theory, to which I was inclined as a boy, viz. the unreality of material phenomena, is an ultimate resolution. At this time I did not make the distinction between matter itself and its phenomena, which is so necessary and so obvious in discussing the subject. Secondly, Butler's doctrine that probability is the guide of life, led me, at least under the teaching to which a few years later I was introduced, to the question of the logical cogency of faith, on which I have written so much. Thus to Butler I trace those two principles of my teaching, which have led to a charge against me both of fancifulness and of scepticism.
And now as to Dr. Whately. I owe him a great deal. He was a man of generous and warm heart. He was particularly loyal to his friends, and to use the common phrase, "all his geese were swans." While I was still awkward and timid in 1822, he took me by the hand, and acted the part to me of a gentle and encouraging instructor. He, emphatically, opened my mind, and taught me to think and to use my reason. After being first noticed by him in 1822, I became very intimate with him in 1825, when I was his Vice-Principal at Alban Hall. I gave up that office in 1826, when I became tutor of my College, and his hold upon me gradually relaxed. He had done his work towards me or nearly so, when he had taught me to see with my own eyes and to walk with my own feet. Not that I had not a good deal to learn from others still, but I influenced them as well as they me, and co-operated rather than merely concurred with them. As to Dr. Whately, his mind was too different from mine for us to remain long on one line. I recollect how dissatisfied he was with an article of mine in the London Review, which Blanco White, good-humouredly, only called platonic. When I was diverging from him (which he did not like), I thought of dedicating my first book to him, in words to the effect that he had not only taught me to think, but to think for myself. He left Oxford in 1831; after that, as far as I can recollect, I never saw him but twice—when he visited the University; once in the street, once in a room. From the time that he left, I have always felt a real affection for what I must call his memory; for thenceforward he made himself dead to me. My reason told me that it was impossible that we could have got on together longer; yet I loved him too much to bid him farewell without pain. After a few years had passed, I began to believe that his influence on me in a higher respect than intellectual advance (I will not say through his fault) had not been satisfactory. I believe that he has inserted sharp things in his later works about me. They have never come in my way, and I have not thought it necessary to seek out what would pain me so much in the reading.
What he did for me in point of religious opinion, was first to teach me the existence of the Church, as a substantive body or corporation; next to fix in me those anti-Erastian views of Church polity, which were one of the most prominent features of the Tractarian movement. On this point, and, as far as I know, on this point alone, he and Hurrell Froude intimately sympathised, though Froude's development of opinion here was of a later date. In the year 1826, in the course of a walk he said much to me about a work then just published, called "Letters on the Church by an Episcopalian." He said that it would make my blood boil. It was certainly a most powerful composition. One of our common friends told me, that, after reading it, he could not keep still, but went on walking up and down his room. It was ascribed at once to Whately; I gave eager expression to the contrary opinion; but I found the belief of Oxford in the affirmative to be too strong for me; rightly or wrongly I yielded to the general voice; and I have never heard, then or since, of any disclaimer of authorship on the part of Dr. Whately.
The main positions of this able essay are these; first that Church and State should be independent of each other:—he speaks of the duty of protesting "against the profanation of Christ's kingdom, by that double usurpation, the interference of the Church in temporals, of the State in spirituals," (p. 191); and, secondly, that the Church may justly and by right retain its property, though separated from the State. "The clergy," he says p. 133, "though they ought not to be the hired servants of the Civil Magistrate, may justly retain their revenues; and the State, though it has no right of interference in spiritual concerns, not only is justly entitled to support from the ministers of religion, and from all other Christians, but would, under the system I am recommending, obtain it much more effectually." The author of this work, whoever he may be, argues out both these points with great force and ingenuity, and with a thorough-going vehemence, which perhaps we may refer to the circumstance, that he wrote, not in propria persona, but in the professed character of a Scotch Episcopalian. His work had a gradual, but a deep effect on my mind.