The Oxford Movement - Twelve Years, 1833-1845
by R.W. Church
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Hurrell Froude was, when I, as an undergraduate, first knew him in 1828, tall and very thin, with something of a stoop, with a large skull and forehead, but not a large face, delicate features, and penetrating gray eyes, not exactly piercing, but bright with internal conceptions, and ready to assume an expression of amusement, careful attention, inquiry, or stern disgust, but with a basis of softness. His manner was cordial and familiar, and assured you, as you knew him well, of his affectionate feeling, which encouraged you to speak your mind (within certain limits), subject to the consideration that if you said anything absurd it would not be allowed to fall to the ground. He had more of the undergraduate in him than any "don" whom I ever knew; absolutely unlike Newman in being always ready to skate, sail, or ride with his friends—and, if in a scrape, not pharisaical as to his means of getting out of it. I remember, e.g., climbing Merton gate with him in my undergraduate days, when we had been out too late boating or skating. And unless authority or substantial decorum was really threatened he was very lenient—or rather had an amused sympathy with the irregularities that are mere matters of mischief or high spirits. In lecture it was, mutatis mutandis, the same man. Seeing, from his Remains, the "high view of his own capacities of which he could not divest himself," and his determination not to exhibit or be puffed up by it, and looking back on his tutorial manner (I was in his lectures both in classics and mathematics), it was strange how he disguised, not only his sense of superiority, but the appearance of it, so that his pupils felt him more as a fellow-student than as the refined scholar or mathematician which he was. This was partly owing to his carelessness of those formulae, the familiarity with which gives even second-rate lecturers a position of superiority which is less visible in those who, like their pupils, are themselves always struggling with principles—and partly to an effort, perhaps sometimes overdone, not to put himself above the level of others. In a lecture on the Supplices of Aeschylus, I have heard him say tout bonnement, "I can't construe that—what do you make of it, A.B.?" turning to the supposed best scholar in the lecture; or, when an objection was started to his mode of getting through a difficulty, "Ah! I had not thought of that—perhaps your way is the best." And this mode of dealing with himself and the undergraduates whom he liked, made them like him, but also made them really undervalue his talent, which, as we now see, was what he meant they should do. At the same time, though watchful over his own vanity, he was keen and prompt in snubs—playful and challenging retort—to those he liked, but in the nature of scornful exposure, when he had to do with coarseness or coxcombry, or shallow display of sentiment. It was a paradoxical consequence of his suppression of egotism that he was more solicitous to show that you were wrong than that he was right.

He also wanted, like Socrates or Bishop Butler, to make others, if possible, think for themselves.

However, it is not to be inferred that his conversation was made of controversy. To a certain extent it turned that way, because he was fond of paradox. (His brother William used to say that he, William, never felt he had really mastered a principle till he had thrown it into a paradox.) And paradox, of course, invites contradiction, and so controversy. On subjects upon which he considered himself more or less an apostle, he liked to stir people's minds by what startled them, waking them up, or giving them "nuts to crack." An almost solemn gravity with amusement twinkling behind it—not invisible—and ready to burst forth into a bright low laugh when gravity had been played out, was a very frequent posture with him.

But he was thoroughly ready to amuse and instruct, or to be amused and instructed, as an eager and earnest speaker or listener on most matters of interest. I do not remember that he had any great turn for beauty of colour; he had none, I think, or next to none, for music—nor do I remember in him any great love of humour—but for beauty of physical form, for mechanics, for mathematics, for poetry which had a root in true feeling, for wit (including that perception of a quasi-logical absurdity of position), for history, for domestic incidents, his sympathy was always lively, and he would throw himself naturally and warmly into them. From his general demeanour (I need scarcely say) the "odour of sanctity" was wholly absent. I am not sure that his height and depth of aim and lively versatility of talent did not leave his compassionate sympathies rather undeveloped; certainly to himself, and, I suspect, largely in the case of others, he would view suffering not as a thing to be cockered up or made much of, though of course to be alleviated if possible, but to be viewed calmly as a Providential discipline for those who can mitigate, or have to endure it.

J.H.N. was once reading me a letter just received from him in which (in answer to J.H.N.'s account of his work and the possibility of his breaking down) he said in substance: "I daresay you have more to do than your health will bear, but I would not have you give up anything except perhaps the deanery" (of Oriel). And then J.H.N. paused, with a kind of inner exultant chuckle, and said, "Ah! there's a Basil for you"; as if the friendship which sacrificed its friend, as it would sacrifice itself to a cause, was the friendship which was really worth having.

As I came to know him in a more manly way, as a brother Fellow, friend, and collaborateur, the character of "ecclesiastical agitator" was of course added to this.

In this capacity his great pleasure was taking bulls by their horns. Like the "gueux" of the Low Countries, he would have met half-way any opprobrious nickname, and I believe coined the epithet "apostolical" for his party because it was connected with everything in Spain which was most obnoxious to the British public. I remember one day his grievously shocking Palmer of Worcester, a man of an opposite texture, when a council in J.H.N.'s rooms had been called to consider some memorial or other to which Palmer wanted to collect the signatures of many, and particularly of dignified persons, but in which Froude wished to express the determined opinions of a few. Froude stretched out his long length on Newman's sofa, and broke in upon one of Palmer's judicious harangues about Bishops and Archdeacons and such like, with the ejaculation, "I don't see why we should disguise from ourselves that our object is to dictate to the clergy of this country, and I, for one, do not want any one else to get on the box." He thought that true Churchmen must be few before they were many—that the sin of the clergy in all ages was that they tried to make out that Christians were many when they were only few, and sacrificed to this object the force derivable from downright and unmistakable enforcement of truth in speech or action.

As simplicity in thought, word, and deed formed no small part of his ideal, his tastes in architecture, painting, sculpture, rhetoric, or poetry were severe. He had no patience with what was artistically dissolute, luscious, or decorated more than in proportion to its animating idea—wishy-washy or sentimental. The ornamental parts of his own rooms (in which I lived in his absence) were a slab of marble to wash upon, a print of Rubens's "Deposition," and a head (life-size) of the Apollo Belvidere. And I remember still the tall scorn, with something of surprise, with which, on entering my undergraduate room, he looked down on some Venuses, Cupids, and Hebes, which, freshman-like, I had bought from an Italian.

He was not very easy even under conventional vulgarity, still less under the vulgarity of egotism; but, being essentially a partisan, he could put up with both in a man who was really in earnest and on the right side. Nothing, however, I think, would have induced him to tolerate false sentiment, and he would, I think, if he had lived, have exerted himself very trenchantly to prevent his cause being adulterated by it.

He was, I should say, sometimes misled by a theory that genius cut through a subject by logic or intuition, without looking to the right or left, while common sense was always testing every step by consideration of surroundings (I have not got his terse mode of statement), and that genius was right, or at least had only to be corrected here and there by common sense. This, I take it, would hardly have answered if his trenchancy had not been in practice corrected by J.H.N.'s wider political circumspection.

He submitted, I suppose, to J.H.N.'s axiom, that if the movement was to do anything it must become "respectable"; but it was against his nature.

He would (as we see in the Remains) have wished Ken to have the "courage of his convictions" by excommunicating the Jurors in William III.'s time, and setting up a little Catholic Church, like the Jansenists in Holland. He was not (as has been observed) a theologian, but he was as jealous for orthodoxy as if he were. He spoke slightingly of Heber as having ignorantly or carelessly communicated with (?) Monophysites. But he probably knew no more about that and other heresies than a man of active and penetrating mind would derive from text-books. And I think it likely enough—not that his reverence for the Eucharist, but—that his special attention to the details of Eucharistic doctrine was due to the consideration that it was the foundation of ecclesiastical discipline and authority—matters on which his mind fastened itself with enthusiasm.


[18] I ought to say that I was not personally acquainted with Mr. Froude. I have subjoined to this chapter some recollections of him by Lord Blachford, who was his pupil and an intimate friend.

[19] "In this mortal journeying wasted shade Is worse than wasted sunshine."

HENRY TAYLOR, Sicilian Summer, v. 3.

[20] Remains, Second Part, i. 47.

[21] Remains, i. 82.

[22] Apologia, p. 84.

[23] The following shows the feeling about him in friends apt to be severe critics:—"The contents of the present collection are rather fragments and sketches than complete compositions. This might be expected in the works of a man whose days were few and interrupted by illness, if indeed that may be called an interruption, which was every day sensibly drawing him to his grave. In Mr. Froude's case, however, we cannot set down much of this incompleteness to the score of illness. The strength of his religious impressions, the boldness and clearness of his views, his long habits of self-denial, and his unconquerable energy of mind, triumphed over weakness and decay, till men with all their health and strength about them might gaze upon his attenuated form, struck with a certain awe of wonderment at the brightness of his wit, the intenseness of his mental vision, and the iron strength of his argument.... We will venture a remark as to that ironical turn, which certainly does appear in various shapes in the first part of these Remains. Unpleasant as irony may sometimes be, there need not go with it, and in this instance there did not go with it, the smallest real asperity of temper. Who that remembers the inexpressible sweetness of his smile, and the deep and melancholy pity with which he would speak of those whom he felt to be the victims of modern delusions, would not be forward to contradict such a suspicion? Such expressions, we will venture to say, and not harshness, anger, or gloom, animate the features of that countenance which will never cease to haunt the memory of those who knew him. His irony arose from that peculiar mode in which he viewed all earthly things, himself and all that was dear to him not excepted. It was his poetry." From an article in the British Critic, April 1840, p. 396, by Mr. Thomas Mozley, quoted in Letters of J.B. Mozley, p. 102.

[24] Such as the "Daniel" in the Lyra Apostolica, the "Dialogue between Old Self and New Self," and the lines in the Remains (i 208, 209).

[25] A few references to the Remains illustrating this are subjoined if any one cares to compare them with these recollections, i. 7, 13, 18, 26, 106, 184, 199, 200-204.

[26] I am indebted for these recollections to the late Lord Blachford. They were written in Oct. 1884.



In the early days of the movement, among Mr. Newman's greatest friends, and much in his confidence, were two Fellows of Trinity—a college which never forgot that Newman had once belonged to it,—Isaac Williams and William John Copeland. In mind and character very different, they were close friends, with the affection which was characteristic of those days; and for both of them Mr. Newman "had the love which passes that of common relation."[27] Isaac Williams was born among the mountains of Wales, and had the true poetic gift, though his power of expression was often not equal to what he wanted to say. Copeland was a Londoner, bred up in the strict school of Churchmanship represented by Mr. Norris of Hackney, tempered by sympathies with the Non-jurors. At Oxford he lived, along with Isaac Williams, in the very heart of the movement, which was the interest of his life; but he lived, self-forgetting or self-effacing, a wonderful mixture of tender and inexhaustible sympathy, and of quick and keen wit, which yet, somehow or other, in that time of exasperation and bitterness, made him few enemies. He knew more than most men of the goings on of the movement, and he ought to have been its chronicler. But he was fastidious and hard to satisfy, and he left his task till it was too late.

Isaac Williams was born in Wales in 1802, a year after Newman, ten years after John Keble. His early life was spent in London, but his affection for Wales and its mountain scenery was great and undiminished to the end of his life. At Harrow, where Henry Drury was his tutor, he made his mark by his mastery of Latin composition and his devotion to Latin language and literature. "I was so used to think in Latin that when I had to write an English theme, which was but seldom, I had to translate my ideas, which ran in Latin, into English";[28] and later in life he complained of the Latin current which disturbed him when he had to write English. He was also a great cricketer; and he describes himself as coming up to Trinity, where he soon got a scholarship, an ambitious and careless youth, who had never heard a word about Christianity, and to whom religion, its aims and its restraints, were a mere name.

This was changed by what, in the language of devotional schools, would have been called his conversion. It came about, as men speak, as the result of accidents; but the whole course of his thoughts and life was turned into a channel from which it nevermore diverged. An old Welsh clergyman gave the undergraduate an introduction to John Keble, who then held a place in Oxford almost unique. But the Trinity undergraduate and the Oriel don saw little of one another till Isaac Williams won the Latin prize poem, Ars Geologica. Keble then called on Isaac Williams and offered his help in criticising the poem and polishing it for printing. The two men plainly took to one another at first sight; and that service was followed by a most unexpected invitation on Keble's part. He had chanced to come to Williams's room, and on Williams saying that he had no plan of reading for the approaching vacation, Keble said, "I am going to leave Oxford for good. Suppose you come and read with me. The Provost has asked me to take Wilberforce, and I declined; but if you would come, you would be companions." Keble was going down to Southrop, a little curacy near his father's; there Williams joined him, with two more—Robert Wilberforce and R.H. Froude; and there the Long Vacation of 1823 was spent, and Isaac Williams's character and course determined. "It was this very trivial accident, this short walk of a few yards, and a few words spoken, which was the turning-point of my life. If a merciful God had miraculously interposed to arrest my course, I could not have had a stronger assurance of His presence than I always had in looking back to that day." It determined Isaac Williams's character, and it determined for good and all his theological position. He had before him all day long in John Keble a spectacle which was absolutely new to him. Ambitious as a rising and successful scholar at college, he saw a man, looked up to and wondered at by every one, absolutely without pride and without ambition. He saw the most distinguished academic of his day, to whom every prospect was open, retiring from Oxford in the height of his fame to bury himself with a few hundreds of Gloucestershire peasants in a miserable curacy. He saw this man caring for and respecting the ignorant and poor as much as others respected the great and the learned. He saw this man, who had made what the world would call so great a sacrifice, apparently unconscious that he had made any sacrifice at all, gay, unceremonious, bright, full of play as a boy, ready with his pupils for any exercise, mental or muscular—for a hard ride, or a crabbed bit of Aeschylus, or a logic fence with disputatious and paradoxical undergraduates, giving and taking on even ground. These pupils saw one, the depth of whose religion none could doubt, "always endeavouring to do them good as it were unknown to themselves and in secret, and ever avoiding that his kindness should be felt and acknowledged"; showing in the whole course of daily life the purity of Christian love, and taking the utmost pains to make no profession or show of it. This unostentatious and undemonstrative religion—so frank, so generous in all its ways—was to Isaac Williams "quite a new world." It turned his mind in upon itself in the deepest reverence, but also with something of morbid despair of ever reaching such a standard. It drove all dreams of ambition out of his mind. It made humility, self-restraint, self-abasement, objects of unceasing, possibly not always wise and healthy, effort. But the result was certainly a character of great sweetness, tenderness, and lowly unselfishness, pure, free from all worldliness, and deeply resigned to the will of God. He caught from Mr. Keble, like Froude, two characteristic habits of mind—a strong depreciation of mere intellect compared with the less showy excellences of faithfulness to conscience and duty; and a horror and hatred of everything that seemed like display or the desire of applause or of immediate effect. Intellectual depreciators of intellect may deceive themselves, and do not always escape the snare which they fear; but in Isaac Williams there was a very genuine carrying out of the Psalmist's words: "Surely I have behaved and quieted myself; I refrain my soul and keep it low, as a child that is weaned from his mother." This fear of display in a man of singularly delicate and fastidious taste came to have something forced and morbid in it. It seemed sometimes as if in preaching or talking he aimed at being dull and clumsy. But in all that he did and wrote he aimed at being true at all costs and in the very depths of his heart; and though, in his words, we may wish sometimes for what we should feel to be more natural and healthy in tone, we never can doubt that we are in the presence of one who shrank from all conscious unreality like poison.

From Keble, or, it may be said, from the Kebles, he received his theology. The Kebles were all of them men of the old-fashioned High Church orthodoxy, of the Prayer Book and the Catechism—the orthodoxy which was professed at Oxford, which was represented in London by Norris of Hackney and Joshua Watson; which valued in religion sobriety, reverence, and deference to authority, and in teaching, sound learning and the wisdom of the great English divines; which vehemently disliked the Evangelicals and Methodists for their poor and loose theology, their love of excitement and display, their hunting after popularity. This Church of England divinity was the theology of the old Vicar of Coln St. Aldwyn's, a good scholar and a good parish priest, who had brought up his two sons at home to be scholars; and had impressed his solid and manly theology on them so strongly that amid all changes they remained at bottom true to their paternal training. John Keble added to it great attainments and brilliant gifts of imagination and poetry; but he never lost the plain, downright, almost awkward ways of conversation and manner of his simple home—ways which might have seemed abrupt and rough but for the singular sweetness and charm of his nature. To those who looked on the outside he was always the homely, rigidly orthodox country clergyman. On Isaac Williams, with his ethical standard, John Keble also impressed his ideas of religious truth; he made him an old-fashioned High Churchman, suspicious of excitement and "effect," suspicious of the loud-talking religious world, suspicious of its novelties and shallowness, and clinging with his whole soul to ancient ways and sound Church of England doctrine reflected in the Prayer Book. And from John Keble's influence he passed under the influence of Thomas Keble, the Vicar of Bisley, a man of sterner type than his brother, with strong and definite opinions on all subjects; curt and keen in speech; intolerant of all that seemed to threaten wholesome teaching and the interests of the Church; and equally straightforward, equally simple, in manners and life. Under him Isaac Williams began his career as a clergyman; he spent two years of solitary and monotonous life in a small cure, seeking comfort from solitude in poetical composition ("It was very calm and subduing," he writes); and then he was recalled to Oxford as Fellow and Tutor of his college, to meet a new and stronger influence, which it was part of the work and trial of the rest of his life both to assimilate and to resist.

For, with Newman, with whom he now came into contact, he did both. There opened to him from intercourse with Newman a new world of thought; and yet while feeling and answering to its charm, he never was quite at ease with him. But Williams and Froude had always been great friends since the reading party of 1823, in spite of Froude's audacities. Froude was now residing in Oxford, and had become Newman's most intimate friend, and he brought Newman and Williams together. "Living at that time," he says, "so much with Froude, I was now in consequence for the first time brought into intercourse with Newman. We almost daily walked and often dined together." Newman and Froude had ceased to be tutors; their thoughts were turned to theology and the condition of the Church. Newman had definitely broken with the Evangelicals, to whom he had been supposed to belong, and Whately's influence over him was waning, and with Froude he looked up to Keble as the pattern of religious wisdom. He had accepted the position of a Churchman as it was understood by Keble and Froude; and thus there was nothing to hinder Williams's full sympathy with him. But from the first there seems to have been an almost impalpable bar between them, which is the more remarkable because Williams appears to have seen with equanimity Froude's apparently more violent and dangerous outbreaks of paradox and antipathy. Possibly, after the catastrophe, he may, in looking back, have exaggerated his early alarms. But from the first he says he saw in Newman what he had learned to look upon as the gravest of dangers—the preponderance of intellect among the elements of character and as the guide of life. "I was greatly delighted and charmed with Newman, who was extremely kind to me, but did not altogether trust his opinions; and though Froude was in the habit of stating things in an extreme and paradoxical manner, yet one always felt conscious of a ground of entire confidence and agreement; but it was not so with Newman, even though one appeared more in unison with his more moderate views."

But, in spite of all this, Newman offered and Isaac Williams accepted the curacy of St. Mary's. "Things at Oxford [1830-32] at that time were very dull." "Froude and I seemed entirely alone, with Newman only secretly, as it were, beginning to sympathise. I became at once very much attached to Newman, won by his kindness and delighted by his good and wonderful qualities; and he proposed that I should be his curate at St. Mary's.... I can remember a strong feeling of difference I first felt on acting together with him from what I had been accustomed to: that he was in the habit of looking for effect, and for what was sensibly effective, which from the Bisley and Fairford School I had been long habituated to avoid; but to do one's duty in faith and leave it to God, and that all the more earnestly, because there were no sympathies from without to answer. There was a felt but unexpressed difference of this kind, but perhaps it became afterwards harmonised as we acted together."[29]

Thus early, among those most closely united, there appeared the beginnings of those different currents which became so divergent as time went on. Isaac Williams, dear as he was to Newman, and returning to the full Newman's affection, yet represented from the first the views of what Williams spoke of as the "Bisley and Fairford School," which, though sympathising and co-operating with the movement, was never quite easy about it, and was not sparing of its criticism on the stir and agitation of the Tracts.

Isaac Williams threw himself heartily into the early stages of the movement; in his poetry into its imaginative and poetical side, and also into its practical and self-denying side. But he would have been quite content with its silent working, and its apparent want of visible success. He would have been quite content with preaching simple homely sermons on the obvious but hard duties of daily life, and not seeing much come of them; with finding a slow abatement of the self-indulgent habits of university life, with keeping Fridays, with less wine in common room. The Bisley maxims bade men to be very stiff and uncompromising in their witness and in their duties, but to make no show and expect no recognition or immediate fruit, and to be silent under misconstruction. But his was not a mind which realised great possibilities of change in the inherited ways of the English Church. The spirit of change, so keenly discerned by Newman, as being both certain and capable of being turned to good account as well as bad, to him was unintelligible or bad. More reality, more severity and consistency, deeper habits of self-discipline on the accepted lines of English Church orthodoxy, would have satisfied him as the aim of the movement, as it undoubtedly was a large part of its aim; though with Froude and Newman it also aimed at a widening of ideas, of interests and sympathies, beyond what had been common in the English Church.

In the history of the movement Isaac Williams took a forward part in two of its events, with one of which his connexion was most natural, with the other grotesquely and ludicrously incongruous. The one was the plan and starting of the series of Plain Sermons in 1839, to which not only the Kebles, Williams, and Copeland contributed their volumes, but also Newman and Dr. Pusey. Isaac Williams has left the following account of his share in the work.

"It seemed at this time (about 1838-39) as if Oxford, from the strength of principle shown there (and an almost unanimous and concentrated energy), was becoming a rallying point for the whole kingdom: but I watched from the beginning and saw greater dangers among ourselves than those from without; which I endeavoured to obviate by publishing the Plain Sermons. [Plain Sermons, by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, 1st Series, January 1839.] I attempted in vain to get the Kebles to publish, in order to keep pace with Newman, and so maintain a more practical turn in the movement. I remember C. Cornish (C.L. Cornish, Fellow and Tutor of Exeter) coming to me and saying as we walked in Trinity Gardens, 'People are a little afraid of being carried away by Newman's brilliancy; they want more of the steady sobriety of the Kebles infused into the movement to keep us safe; we have so much sail and want ballast.' And the effect of the publication of the Plain Sermons was at the time very quieting. In first undertaking the Plain Sermons, I had no encouragement from any one, not even from John Keble; acquiescence was all that I could gain. But I have heard J.K. mention a saying of Judge Coleridge, long before the Tracts were thought of: 'If you want to propagate your opinions you should lend your sermons; the clergy would then preach them, and adopt your opinions.' Now this has been the effect of the publication of the Plain Sermons."

Isaac Williams, if any man, represented in the movement the moderate and unobtrusive way of religious teaching. But it was his curious fate to be dragged into the front ranks of the fray, and to be singled out as almost the most wicked and dangerous of the Tractarians. He had the strange fortune to produce the first of the Tracts[30] which was by itself held up to popular indignation as embodying all the mischief of the series and the secret aims of the movement. The Tract had another effect. It made Williams the object of the first great Tractarian battle in the University, the contest for the Poetry Professorship: the first decisive and open trial of strength, and the first Tractarian defeat. The contest, even more than the result, distressed him greatly; and the course of things in the movement itself aggravated his distress. His general distrust of intellectual restlessness had now passed into the special and too well grounded fear that the movement, in some of its most prominent representatives, was going definitely in the direction of Rome. A new generation was rising into influence, to whom the old Church watchwords and maxims, the old Church habits of mind, the old Church convictions, had completely lost their force, and were become almost objects of dislike and scorn; and for this change Newman's approval and countenance were freely and not very scrupulously quoted. Williams's relation to him had long been a curious mixture of the most affectionate attachment and intimacy with growing distrust and sense of divergence. Newman was now giving more and more distinct warning that he was likely to go where Williams could not follow him, and the pain on both sides was growing. But things moved fast, and at length the strain broke.

The estrangement was inevitable; but both cherished the warmest feelings of affection, even though such a friendship had been broken. But Oxford became distasteful to Williams, and he soon afterwards left it for Bisley and Stinchcombe, the living of his brother-in-law, Sir G. Prevost. There he married (22d June 1842), and spent the remainder of his life devoting himself to the preparation of those devotional commentaries, which are still so well known. He suffered for the greatest part of his life from a distressing and disabling chronic asthma—from the time that he came back to Oxford as Fellow and Tutor—and he died in 1865. The old friends met once more shortly before Isaac Williams's death; Newman came to see him, and at his departure Williams accompanied him to the station.

Isaac Williams wrote a great deal of poetry, first during his solitary curacy at Windrush, and afterwards at Oxford. It was in a lower and sadder key than the Christian Year, which no doubt first inspired it; it wanted the elasticity and freshness and variety of Keble's verse, and it was often careless in structure and wanting in concentration. But it was the outpouring of a very beautiful mind, deeply impressed with the realities of failure in the Church and religion, as well as in human life, full of tenderness and pathetic sweetness, and seeking a vent for its feelings, and relief for its trouble, in calling up before itself the images of God's goodness and kingdom of which nature and the world are full. His poetry is a witness to the depth and earnestness and genuine delicacy of what seemed hard and narrow in the Bisley School; there are passages in it which are not easily forgotten; but it was not strong enough to arrest the excitement which soon set in, and with its continual obscurity and its want of finish it never had the recognition really due to its excellence. Newman thought it too soft. It certainly wanted the fire and boldness and directness which he threw into his own verse when he wrote; but serious earnestness and severity of tone it certainly did not want.


[27] Mozley, Reminiscences, i. 18.

[28] I. Williams, MS. Memoir.

[29] I. Williams, MS. Memoir.

[30] The history of this famous Tract, No. 80, on Reserve in communicating Religious Knowledge, belongs to a later stage of the movement.



Charles Marriott was a man who was drawn into the movement, almost in spite of himself, by the attraction of the character of the leaders, the greatness of its object, and the purity and nobleness of the motives which prompted it. He was naturally a man of metaphysical mind, given almost from a child to abstract and indeed abstruse thought.[31] He had been a student of S.T. Coleridge, whom the Oriel men disliked as a misty thinker. He used to discuss Coleridge with a man little known then, but who gained a high reputation on the Continent as a first-rate Greek scholar, and became afterwards Professor of Greek in the University of Sydney, Charles Badham. Marriott also appreciated Hampden as a philosopher, whom the Oriel men thoroughly distrusted as a theologian. He might easily under different conditions have become a divine of the type of F.D. Maurice. He was by disposition averse to anything like party, and the rough and sharp proceedings which party action sometimes seems to make natural. His temper was eminently sober, cautious and conciliatory in his way of looking at important questions. He was a man with many friends of different sorts and ways, and of boundless though undemonstrative sympathy. His original tendencies would have made him an eclectic, recognising the strength of position in opposing schools or theories, and welcoming all that was good and high in them. He was profoundly and devotedly religious, without show, without extravagance. His father, who died when he was only fourteen, had been a distinguished man in his time. He was a Christ Church man, and one of two in the first of the Oxford Honour lists in 1802, with E. Copleston, H. Phillpotts, and S.P. Rigaud for his examiners. He was afterwards tutor to the Earl of Dalkeith, and he became the friend of Walter Scott, who dedicated to him the Second Canto of Marmion; and having ready and graceful poetical talent, he contributed several ballads to the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, The Feast of Spurs, and Archie Armstrong's Aith. He was a good preacher; his sympathies—of friendship, perhaps, rather than of definite opinion—were with men like Mr. John Bowdler and the Thorntons. While he lived he taught Charles Marriott himself. After his death, Charles, a studious boy, with ways of his own of learning, and though successful and sure in his work, very slow in the process of doing it, after a short and discouraging experiment at Rugby, went to read with a private tutor till he went to Oxford. He was first at Exeter, and then gained a scholarship at Balliol. He gained a Classical First Class and a Mathematical Second in the Michaelmas Term of 1832, and the following Easter he was elected Fellow at Oriel.

For a man of his power and attainments he was as a speaker, and in conversation, surprisingly awkward. He had a sturdy, penetrating, tenacious, but embarrassed intellect—embarrassed, at least, by the crowd and range of jostling thoughts, in its outward processes and manifestations, for he thoroughly trusted its inner workings, and was confident of the accuracy of the results, even when helplessly unable to justify them at the moment.[32] In matters of business he seemed at first sight utterly unpractical. In discussing with keen, rapid, and experienced men like the Provost, the value of leases, or some question of the management of College property, Marriott, who always took great interest in such inquiries, frequently maintained some position which to the quicker wits round him seemed a paradox or a mare's nest. Yet it often happened that after a dispute, carried on with a brisk fire of not always respectful objections to Marriott's view, and in which his only advantage was the patience with which he clumsily, yet surely, brought out the real point of the matter, overlooked by others, the debate ended in the recognition that he had been right. It was often a strange and almost distressing sight to see the difficulty under which he sometimes laboured of communicating his thoughts, as a speaker at a meeting, or as a teacher to his hearers, or even in the easiness of familiar talk. The comfort was that he was not really discouraged. He was wrestling with his own refractory faculty of exposition and speech; it may be, he was busy deeper down in the recesses and storehouses of his mind; but he was too much taken up with the effort to notice what people thought of it, or even if they smiled; and what he had to say was so genuine and veracious, as an expression of his meaning, so full of benevolence, charity, and generosity, and often so weighty and unexpected, that men felt it a shame to think much of the peculiarities of his long look of blank silence, and the odd, clumsy explanations which followed it. He was a man, under an uncouth exterior, of the noblest and most affectionate nature; most patient, indulgent, and hopeful to all in whom he took an interest, even when they sorely tried his kindness and his faith in them. Where he loved and trusted and admired, he was apt to rate very highly, sometimes too highly. His gratitude was boundless. He was one of those who deliberately gave up the prospect of domestic life, to which he was naturally drawn, for the sake of his cause. Capable of abstract thought beyond most men of his time, and never unwilling to share his thoughts with those at all disposed to venture with him into deep waters, he was always ready to converse or to discuss on much more ordinary ground. As an undergraduate and a young bachelor, he had attained, without seeking it, a position of almost unexampled authority in the junior University world that was hardly reached by any one for many years at least after him. He was hopeless as a speaker in the Union; but with all his halting and bungling speeches, that democratic and sometimes noisy assembly bore from him with kindly amusement and real respect what they would bear from no one else, and he had an influence in its sometimes turbulent debates which seems unaccountable. He was the vir pietate gravis. In a once popular squib, occasioned by one of the fiercest of these debates, this unique position is noticed and commemorated—

[Greek: Oud' elathen Mariota, philaitaton Oreiaelon]

* * * * *

[Greek: Aelthe mega gronon, Masichois kai pas' agapaetos, Kai smeilon, prosephae pantas keindois epeesin].[33]

His ways and his talk were such as to call forth not unfrequent mirth among those who most revered him. He would meet you and look you in the face without speaking a word. He was not without humour; but his jokes, carried off by a little laugh of his own, were apt to be recondite in their meaning and allusions. With his great power of sympathy, he yet did not easily divine other men's lighter or subtler moods, and odd and sometimes even distressing mistakes were the consequence. His health was weak, and a chronic tenderness of throat and chest made him take precautions which sometimes seemed whimsical; and his well-known figure in a black cloak, with a black veil over his college cap, and a black comforter round his neck, which at one time in Oxford acquired his name, sometimes startled little boys and sleepy college porters when he came on them suddenly at night.

With more power than most men of standing alone, and of arranging his observations on life and the world in ways of his own, he had pre-eminently above all men round him, in the highest and noblest form, the spirit of a disciple. Like most human things, discipleship has its good and its evil, its strong and its poor and dangerous side; but it really has, what is much forgotten now, a good and a strong side. Both in philosophy and religion, the [Greek: mathaetaes] is a distinct character, and Charles Marriott was an example of it at its best. He had its manly and reasonable humility, its generous trustfulness, its self-forgetfulness; he had, too, the enthusiasm of having and recognising a great master and teacher, and doing what he wanted done; and he learned from the love of his master to love what he believed truth still more. The character of the disciple does not save a man from difficulties, from trouble and perplexity; but it tends to save him from idols of his own making. It is something, in the trials of life and faith, to have the consciousness of knowing or having known some one greater and better and wiser than oneself, of having felt the spell of his guidance and example. Marriott's mind, quick to see what was real and strong, and at once reverent to it as soon as he saw it, came very much, as an undergraduate at Balliol, under the influence of a very able and brilliant tutor, Moberly, afterwards Headmaster of Winchester and Bishop of Salisbury; and to the last his deference and affection to his old tutor remained unimpaired. But he came under a still more potent charm when he moved to Oriel, and became the friend of Mr. Newman. Master and disciple were as unlike as any two men could be; they were united by their sympathy in the great crisis round them, by their absorbing devotion to the cause of true religion. Marriott brought to the movement, and especially to its chief, a great University character, and an unswerving and touching fidelity. He placed himself, his life, and all that he could do, at the service of the great effort to elevate and animate the Church; to the last he would gladly have done so under him whom he first acknowledged as his master. This was not to be; and he transferred his allegiance, as unreservedly, with equal loyalty and self-sacrifice, to his successor. But to the end, while his powers lasted, with all his great gifts and attainments, with every temptation to an independent position and self-chosen employment, he continued a disciple. He believed in men wiser than himself; he occupied himself with what they thought best for him to do.

This work was, for the most part, in what was done to raise the standard of knowledge of early Christian literature, and to make that knowledge accurate and scholarlike. He was, for a time, the Principal of the Theological College at Chichester, under Bishop Otter. He was also for a time Tutor at Oriel, and later, Vicar of St. Mary's. He was long bent on setting on foot some kind of Hall for poor students; and he took over from Mr. Newman the buildings at Littlemore, which he turned into a place for printing religious works. But though he was connected more or less closely with numberless schemes of Christian work in Oxford and out of it, his special work was that of a theological student. Marriott had much to do with the Library of the Fathers, with correcting translations, collating manuscripts, editing texts.[34] Somehow, the most interesting portions hardly came to his share; and what he did in the way of original writing, little as it was, causes regret that so much of his time was spent on the drudgery of editing. Some sermons, a little volume of Thoughts on Private Devotion, and another on the Epistle to the Romans, are nearly all that he has left of his own. Novelty of manner or thought in them there is none, still less anything brilliant or sharp in observation or style; but there is an undefinable sense, in their calm, severe pages, of a deep and serious mind dwelling on deep and very serious things. It is impossible not to wish that a man who could so write and impress people might have had the leisure to write more.

But Marriott never had any leisure. It has been said above that he placed himself at the service of those whom he counted his teachers. But the truth is that he was at every one's service who wanted or who asked his help. He had a large, and what must have been often a burdensome, correspondence. With pupils or friends he was always ready for some extra bit of reading. To strangers he was always ready to show attention and hospitality, though Marriott's parties were as quaint as himself. His breakfast parties in his own room were things to have seen—a crowd of undergraduates, finding their way with difficulty amid lanes and piles of books, amid a scarcity of chairs and room, and the host, perfectly unconscious of anything grotesque, sitting silent during the whole of the meal, but perfectly happy, at the head of the table. But there was no claimant on his purse or his interest who was too strange for his sympathy—raw freshmen, bores of every kind, broken-down tradesmen, old women, distressed foreigners, converted Jews, all the odd and helpless wanderers from beaten ways, were to be heard of at Marriott's rooms; and all, more or less, had a share of his time and thoughts, and perhaps counsel. He was sensible of worry as he grew older; but he never relaxed his efforts to do what any one asked of him. There must be even now some still living who know what no one else knows, how much they owe, with no direct claim on him, to Charles Marriott's inexhaustible patience and charity. The pains which he would take with even the most uncongenial and unpromising men, who somehow had come in his way, and seemed thrown on his charge, the patience with which he would bear and condone their follies and even worse, were not to be told, for, indeed, few knew what they were.

"He was always ready to be the friend of any one whose conduct gave proofs of high principle, however inferior to himself in knowledge or acquirements, and his friendship once gained was not easily lost. I believe there was nothing in his power which he was not ready to do for a friend who wanted his help. It is not easy to state instances of such kindness without revealing what for many reasons had better be left untold. But many such have come to my knowledge, and I believe there are many more known only to himself and to those who derived benefit from his disinterested friendship."[35]

Marriott's great contribution to the movement was his solid, simple goodness, his immovable hope, his confidence that things would come right. With much imaginativeness open to poetical grandeur and charm, and not without some power of giving expression to feeling, he was destitute of all that made so many others of his friends interesting as men. He was nothing, as a person to know and observe, to the genius of the two Mozleys, to the brilliant social charm of Frederic Faber, to the keen, refined intelligence of Mark Pattison, to the originality and clever eccentricity of William Palmer of Magdalen. And he was nothing as a man of practical power for organising and carrying out successful schemes: such power was not much found at Oxford in those days. But his faith in his cause, as the cause of goodness and truth, was proof against mockery or suspicion or disaster. When ominous signs disturbed other people he saw none. He had an almost perverse subtlety of mind which put a favourable interpretation on what seemed most formidable. As his master drew more and more out of sympathy with the English Church, Marriott, resolutely loyal to it and to him, refused to understand hints and indications which to others were but too plain. He vexed and even provoked Newman, in the last agonies of the struggle, by the optimism with which he clung to useless theories and impossible hopes. For that unquenchable hoping against hope, and hope unabated still when the catastrophe had come, the English Church at least owes him deep gratitude. Throughout those anxious years he never despaired of her.

All through his life he was a beacon and an incitement to those who wished to make a good use of their lives. In him all men could see, whatever their opinions and however little they liked him, the simplicity and the truth of a self-denying life of suffering—for he was never well—of zealous hard work, unstinted, unrecompensed; of unabated lofty hopes for the great interests of the Church and the University; of deep unpretending matter-of-course godliness and goodness—without "form or comeliness" to attract any but those who cared for them, for themselves alone. It is almost a sacred duty to those who remember one who cared nothing for his own name or fame to recall what is the truth—that no one did more to persuade those round him of the solid underground religious reality of the movement. Mr. Thomas Mozley, among other generous notices of men whom the world and their contemporaries have forgotten, has said what is not more than justice.[36] Speaking of the enthusiasm of the movement, and the spirit of its members, "There had never been seen at Oxford, indeed seldom anywhere, so large and noble a sacrifice of the most precious gifts and powers to a sacred cause," he points out what each of the leaders gave to it: "Charles Marriott threw in his scholarship and something more, for he might have been a philosopher, and he had poetry in his veins, being the son of the well-known author of the 'Devonshire Lane.' No one sacrificed himself so entirely to the cause, giving to it all that he had and all that he was, as Charles Marriott. He did not gather large congregations; he did not write works of genius to spread his name over the land, and to all time; he had few of the pleasures or even of the comforts that spontaneously offer themselves in any field of enterprise. He laboured day and night in the search and defence of Divine Truth. His admirers were not the thousands, but the scholars who could really appreciate. I confess to have been a little ashamed of myself when Bishop Burgess asked me about Charles Marriott, as one of the most eminent scholars of the day. Through sheer ignorance I had failed in adequate appreciation." In his later years he became a member of the new Hebdomadal Council at Oxford, and took considerable part in working the new constitution of the University. In an epidemic of smallpox at Oxford in 1854, he took his full share in looking after the sick, and caught the disorder; but he recovered. At length, in the midst of troublesome work and many anxieties, his life of toil was arrested by a severe paralytic seizure, 29th June 1855. He partially rallied, and survived for some time longer; but his labours were ended. He died at Bradfield, 25th September 1858. He was worn out by variety and pressure of unintermitted labour, which he would scarcely allow any change or holiday to relieve. Exhaustion made illness, when it came, fatal.


[31] "He told me," writes a relative, "that questions about trade used to occupy him very early in life. He used to ponder how it could be right to sell things for more than they cost you."

[32] "He had his own way of doing everything, and used most stoutly to protest that it was quite impossible that he should do it in any other."—MS. Memoir by his brother, John Marriott.

[33] Uniomachia, 1833.

[34] "This became the main task of his life us long as health was continued to him. All who knew him well will remember how laboriously he worked at it, and how, in one shape or another, it was always on hand. Either he was translating, or correcting the translation of others; or he was collating MSS., or correcting the press. This last work was carried on at all times and wherever he was—on a journey, after dinner—even in a boat, he would pull out a sheet and go to write upon it in haste to get it finished for the next post. The number of volumes in the Library of the Fathers which bear the signature C.M. attest his diligence."—John Marriott's Memoir of him (MS.)

[35] J.M., MS. Memoir.

[36] Rem. i. 447.



"On 14th July 1833," we read in Cardinal Newman's Apologia, "Mr. Keble preached the assize sermon in the University Pulpit. It was published under the title of National Apostasy. I have ever considered and kept the day as the start of the religious movement of 1833."[37]

This memorable sermon was a strong expression of the belief common to a large body of Churchmen amid the triumphs of the Reform Bill, that the new governors of the country were preparing to invade the rights, and to alter the constitution, and even the public documents, of the Church. The suppression of ten Irish Bishoprics, in defiance of Church opinion, showed how ready the Government was to take liberties in a high-handed way with the old adjustments of the relations of Church and State. Churchmen had hitherto taken for granted that England was "a nation which had for centuries acknowledged, as an essential part of its theory of government, that, as a Christian nation, she is also a part of Christ's Church, and bound, in all her legislation and policy, by the fundamental laws of that Church." When "a Government and people, so constituted, threw off the restraint which in many respects such a principle would impose upon them, nay, disavowed the principle itself," this, to those whose ideas Mr. Keble represented, seemed nothing short of a "direct disavowal of the sovereignty of God. If it be true anywhere that such enactments are forced on the legislature by public opinion, is Apostasy too hard a word to describe the temper of such a nation?" The sermon was a call to face in earnest a changed state of things, full of immediate and pressing danger; to consider how it was to be met by Christians and Churchmen, and to watch motives and tempers. "Surely it will be no unworthy principle if any man is more circumspect in his behaviour, more watchful and fearful of himself, more earnest in his petitions for spiritual aid, from a dread of disparaging the holy name of the English Church in her hour of peril by his own personal fault and negligence. As to those who, either by station or temper, feel themselves more deeply interested, they cannot be too careful in reminding themselves that one chief danger in times of change and excitement arises from their tendency to engross the whole mind. Public concerns, ecclesiastical or civil, will prove indeed ruinous to those who permit them to occupy all their care and thought, neglecting or undervaluing ordinary duties, more especially those of a devotional kind. These cautions being duly observed, I do not see how any person can devote himself too entirely to the cause of the Apostolic Church in these realms. There may be, as far as he knows, but a very few to sympathise with him. He may have to wait long, and very likely pass out of this world, before he see any abatement in the triumph of disorder and irreligion. But, if he be consistent, he possesses to the utmost the personal consolations of a good Christian; and as a true Churchman, he has the encouragement which no other cause in the world can impart in the same degree: he is calmly, soberly, demonstrably sure that, sooner or later, his will be the winning side, and that the victory will be complete, universal, eternal."

But if Mr. Keble's sermon was the first word of the movement, its first step was taken in a small meeting of friends, at Mr. Hugh James Rose's parsonage at Hadleigh, in Suffolk, between the 25th and the 29th of the same July. At this little gathering, the ideas and anxieties which for some time past had filled the thoughts of a number of earnest Churchmen, and had brought them into communication with one another, came to a head, and issued in the determination to move. Mr. Rose, a man of high character and distinction in his day, who had recently started the British Magazine, as an organ of Church teaching and opinion, was the natural person to bring about such a meeting.[38] It was arranged that a few representative men, or as many as were able, should meet towards the end of July at Hadleigh Rectory. They were men in full agreement on the main questions, but with great differences in temperament and habits of thought. Mr. Rose was the person of most authority, and next to him, Mr. Palmer; and these, with Mr. A. Perceval, formed as it were the right wing of the little council. Their Oxford allies were the three Oriel men, Mr. Keble, Mr. Froude, and Mr. Newman, now fresh from his escape from death in a foreign land, and from the long solitary musings in his Mediterranean orange-boat, full of joyful vigour and ready for enterprise and work.[39] In the result, Mr. Keble and Mr. Newman were not present, but they were in active correspondence with the others.[40] From this meeting resulted the Tracts for the Times, and the agitation connected with them.

These friends were all devoted Churchmen, but, as has been said, each had his marked character, not only as a man but as a Churchman. The most important among them was as yet the least prominent. Two of them were men of learning, acquainted with the great world of London, and who, with all their zeal, had some of the caution which comes of such experience. At the time, the most conspicuous was Mr. Hugh James Rose.

Mr. Rose was a man whose name and whose influence, as his friends thought, have been overshadowed and overlooked in the popular view of the Church revival. It owed to him, they held, not only its first impulse, but all that was best and most hopeful in it; and when it lost him, it lost its wisest and ablest guide and inspirer. It is certainly true that when that revival began he was a much more distinguished and important person than any of the other persons interested in it. As far as could be seen at the time, he was the most accomplished divine and teacher in the English Church. He was a really learned man. He had the intellect and energy and literary skill to use his learning. He was a man of singularly elevated and religious character; he had something of the eye and temper of a statesman, and he had already a high position. He was profoundly loyal to the Church, and keenly interested in whatever affected its condition and its fortunes. As early as 1825 he had in some lectures at Cambridge called the attention of English Churchmen to the state of religious thought and speculation in Germany, and to the mischiefs likely to react on English theology from the rationalising temper and methods which had supplanted the old Lutheran teaching; and this had led to a sharp controversy with Mr. Pusey, as he was then, who thought that Mr. Rose[41] had both exaggerated the fact itself and had not adequately given the historical account of it. He had the prudence, but not the backwardness, of a man of large knowledge, and considerable experience of the world. More alive to difficulties and dangers than his younger associates, he showed his courage and his unselfish earnestness in his frank sympathy with them, daring and outspoken as they were, and in his willingness to share with them the risks of an undertaking of which no one knew better than he what were likely to be the difficulties. He certainly was a person who might be expected to have a chief part in directing anything with which he was connected. His countenance and his indirect influence were very important elements, both in the stirring of thought which led to the Hadleigh resolutions, and in giving its form to what was then decided upon. But his action in the movement was impeded by his failure in health, and cut short by his early death, January 1839. How he would have influenced the course of things if he had lived, it is not now easy to say. He must have been reckoned with as one of the chiefs. He would have been opposed to anything that really tended towards Rome. But there is no reason to think that he would have shrunk from any step only because it was bold. He had sympathy for courage and genius, and he had knowledge and authority which would have commanded respect for his judgment and opinion. But it is too much to say either that the movement could not have been without him, or that it was specially his design and plan, or that he alone could have given the impulse which led to it; though it seemed at one time as if he was to be its leader and chief. Certainly he was the most valuable and the most loyal of its early auxiliaries.

Another coadjutor, whose part at the time also seemed rather that of a chief, was Mr. William Palmer, of Worcester College. He had been educated at Trinity College, Dublin, but he had transferred his home to Oxford, both in the University and the city. He was a man of exact and scholastic mind, well equipped at all points in controversial theology, strong in clear theories and precise definitions, familiar with objections current in the schools and with the answers to them, and well versed in all the questions, arguments, and authorities belonging to the great debate with Rome. He had definite and well-arranged ideas about the nature and office of the Church; and, from his study of the Roman controversy, he had at command the distinctions necessary to discriminate between things which popular views confused, and to protect the doctrines characteristic of the Church from being identified with Romanism. Especially he had given great attention to the public devotional language and forms of the Church, and had produced by far the best book in the English language on the history and significance of the offices of the English Church—the Origines Liturgicae, published at the University Press in 1832. It was a book to give a man authority with divines and scholars; and among those with whom at this time he acted no one had so compact and defensible a theory, even if it was somewhat rigid and technical, of the peculiar constitution of the English Church as Mr. Palmer. With the deepest belief in this theory, he saw great dangers threatening, partly from general ignorance and looseness of thought, partly from antagonistic ideas and principles only too distinct and too popular; and he threw all his learning and zeal on the side of those who, like himself, were alive to those dangers, and were prepared for a great effort to counteract them.

The little company which met at Hadleigh Rectory, from 25th to 29th July 1833, met—as other knots of men have often met, to discuss a question or a policy, or to found an association, or a league, or a newspaper—to lay down the outlines of some practical scheme of work; but with little foresight of the venture they were making, or of the momentous issues which depended on their meeting. Later on, when controversy began, it became a favourite rhetorical device to call it by the ugly name of a "conspiracy." Certainly Froude called it so, and Mr. Palmer; and Mr. Perceval wrote a narrative to answer the charge. It was a "conspiracy," as any other meeting would be of men with an object which other men dislike.

Of the Oriel men, only Froude went to Hadleigh. Keble and Newman were both absent, but in close correspondence with the others. Their plans had not taken any definite shape; but they were ready for any sacrifice and service, and they were filled with wrath against the insolence of those who thought that the Church was given over into their hands, and against the apathy and cowardice of those who let her enemies have their way. Yet with much impatience and many stern determinations in their hearts, they were all of them men to be swayed by the judgment and experience of their friends.

The state of mind under which the four friends met at the Hadleigh conference has been very distinctly and deliberately recorded by all of them. Churchmen in our days hardly realise what the face of things then looked like to men who, if they felt deeply, were no mere fanatics or alarmists, but sober and sagacious observers, not affected by mere cries, but seeing dearly beneath the surface of things their certain and powerful tendencies. "We felt ourselves," writes Mr. Palmer some years afterwards,[42] "assailed by enemies from without and foes within. Our Prelates insulted and threatened by Ministers of State. In Ireland ten bishoprics suppressed. We were advised to feel thankful that a more sweeping measure had not been adopted. What was to come next?... Was the same principle of concession to popular clamour ... to be exemplified in the dismemberment of the English Church?... We were overwhelmed with pamphlets on Church reform. Lord Henley, brother-in-law of Sir Robert Peel, Dr. Burton, and others of name and influence led the way. Dr. Arnold of Rugby ventured to propose that all sects should be united by Act of Parliament with the Church of England. Reports, apparently well founded, were prevalent that some of the Prelates were favourable to alterations in the Liturgy. Pamphlets were in wide circulation recommending the abolition of the Creeds (at least in public worship), especially urging the expulsion of the Athanasian Creed; the removal of all mention of the Blessed Trinity; of the doctrine of baptismal regeneration; of the practice of absolution. We knew not to what quarter to look for support. A Prelacy threatened and apparently intimidated; a Government making its power subservient to agitators, who avowedly sought the destruction of the Church ... And, worst of all, no principle in the public mind to which we could appeal; an utter ignorance of all rational grounds of attachment to the Church; an oblivion of its spiritual character, as an institution not of man but of God; the grossest Erastianism most widely prevalent, especially amongst all classes of politicians. There was in all this enough to appal the stoutest heart; and those who can recall the feeling of those days will at once remember the deep depression into which the Church had fallen, and the gloomy forebodings universally prevalent."

"Before the spirit and temper of those who met at the conference is condemned as extravagant," writes Mr. Perceval in 1842,[43] "let the reader call to mind what was then actually the condition as well as the prospect of the Church and nation: an agrarian and civic insurrection against the bishops and clergy, and all who desired to adhere to the existing institutions of the country; the populace goaded on, openly by the speeches, covertly (as was fully believed at the time) by the paid emissaries of the ministers of the Crown; the chief of those ministers in his place in Parliament bidding the bishops 'set their house in order'; the mob taking him at his word, and burning to the ground the palace of the Bishop of Bristol, with the public buildings of the city, while they shouted the Premier's name in triumph on the ruins." The pressing imminence of the danger is taken for granted by the calmest and most cautious of the party, Mr. Rose, in a letter of February 1833. "That something is requisite, is certain. The only thing is, that whatever is done ought to be quickly done, for the danger is immediate, and I should have little fear if I thought that we could stand for ten or fifteen years as we are."[44] In the Apologia Cardinal Newman recalls what was before him in those days. "The Whigs had come into power; Lord Grey had told the bishops to 'set their house in order,' and some of the prelates had been insulted and threatened in the streets of London. The vital question was. How were we to keep the Church from being Liberalised? There was so much apathy on the subject in some quarters, such imbecile alarm in others; the true principles of Churchmanship seemed so radically decayed, and there was such distraction in the councils of the clergy. The Bishop of London of the day, an active and open-hearted man, had been for years engaged in diluting the high orthodoxy of the Church by the introduction of the Evangelical body into places of influence and trust. He had deeply offended men who agreed with myself by an off-hand saying (as it was reported) to the effect that belief in the apostolical succession had gone out with the Non-jurors. 'We can count you,' he said to some of the gravest and most venerated persons of the old school.... I felt affection for my own Church, but not tenderness: I felt dismay at her prospects, anger and scorn at her do-nothing perplexity. I thought that if Liberalism once got a footing within her, it was sure of victory in the event. I saw that Reformation principles were powerless to rescue her. As to leaving her, the thought never crossed my imagination: still I ever kept before me that there was something greater than the Established Church, and that that was the Church Catholic and Apostolic, set up from the beginning, of which she was but the local presence and organ. She was nothing unless she was this. She must be dealt with strongly or she would be lost. There was need of a second Reformation."

"If I thought that we could stand ten or fifteen years as we are, I should have little fear," said Mr. Rose. He felt that, if only he could secure a respite, he had the means and the hope of opening the eyes of Churchmen. They were secure and idle from long prosperity, and now they were scared and perplexed by the suddenness of an attack for which they were wholly unprepared. But he had confidence in his own convictions. He had around him ability and zeal, in which he had the best reason to trust. He might hope, if he had time, to turn the tide. But this time to stand to arms was just what he had not. The danger, he felt, was upon him. He could not wait. So he acquiesced in an agitation which so cautious and steady a man would otherwise hardly have chosen. "That something must be done is certain. The only thing is, that whatever is done ought to be quickly done." Nothing can show more forcibly the imminence and pressure of the crisis than words like these, not merely from Froude and his friends, but from such a man as Mr. Hugh James Rose.

"Something must be done," but what? This was not so easy to say. It was obvious that men must act in concert, and must write; but beyond these general points, questions and difficulties arose. The first idea that suggested itself at Hadleigh was a form of association, which would have been something like the English Church Union or the Church Defence Association of our days. It probably was Mr. Palmer's idea; and for some time the attempt to carry it into effect was followed up at Oxford. Plans of "Association" were drawn up and rejected. The endeavour brought out differences of opinion—differences as to the rightness or the policy of specific mention of doctrines; differences as to the union of Church and State, on the importance of maintaining which, as long as possible, Mr. Newman sided with Mr. Palmer against Mr. Keble's more uncompromising view. A "third formulary" was at length adopted. "Events," it said, "have occurred within the last few years calculated to inspire the true members and friends of the Church with the deepest uneasiness." It went on to notice that political changes had thrown power into the hands of the professed enemies of the Church as an establishment; but it was not merely as an establishment that it was in most serious danger. "Every one," it says, "who has become acquainted with the literature of the day, must have observed the sedulous attempts made in various quarters to reconcile members of the Church to alterations in its doctrines and discipline. Projects of change, which include the annihilation of our Creeds and the removal of doctrinal statements incidentally contained in our worship, have been boldly and assiduously put forth. Our services have been subjected to licentious criticism, with the view of superseding some of them and of entirely remodelling others. The very elementary principles of our ritual and discipline have been rudely questioned; our apostolical polity has been ridiculed and denied." The condition of the times made these things more than ordinarily alarming, and the pressing danger was urged as a reason for the formation, by members of the Church in various parts of the kingdom, of an association on a few broad principles of union for the defence of the Church. "They feel strongly," said the authors of the paper, "that no fear of the appearance of forwardness should dissuade them from a design, which seems to be demanded of them by their affection towards that spiritual community to which they owe their hopes of the world to come; and by a sense of duty to that God and Saviour who is its Founder and Defender." But the plan of an Association, or of separate Associations, which was circulated in the autumn of 1833, came to nothing. "Jealousy was entertained of it in high quarters." Froude objected to any association less wide than the Church itself. Newman had a horror of committees and meetings and great people in London. And thus, in spite of Mr. Palmer's efforts, favoured by a certain number of influential and dignified friends, the Association would not work. But the stir about it was not without result. Mr. Palmer travelled about the country with the view of bringing the state of things before the clergy. In place of the Association, an Address to the Archbishop of Canterbury was resolved upon. It was drawn up by Mr. Palmer, who undertook the business of circulating it. In spite of great difficulties and trouble of the alarm of friends like Mr. Rose, who was afraid that it would cause schism in the Church; of the general timidity of the dignified clergy; of the distrust and the crotchets of others; of the coldness of the bishops and the opposition of some of them—it was presented with the signatures of some 7000 clergy to the Archbishop in February 1834. It bore the names, among others, of Dr. Christopher Wordsworth, Master of Trinity; Dr. Gilbert, of Brasenose College; Dr. Faussett, and Mr. Keble. And this was not all. A Lay Address followed. There were difficulties about the first form proposed, which was thought to say too much about the doctrine and discipline of the Church; and it was laid aside for one with more vague expressions about the "consecration of the State," and the practical benefits of the Established Church. In this form it was signed by 230,000 heads of families, and presented to the Archbishop in the following May. "From these two events," writes Mr. Perceval in 1842, "we may date the commencement of the turn of the tide, which had threatened to overwhelm our Church and our religion."[45] There can, at any rate, be little doubt that as regards the external position of the Church in the country, this agitation was a success. It rallied the courage of Churchmen, and showed that they were stronger and more resolute than their enemies thought. The revolutionary temper of the times had thrown all Churchmen on the Conservative side; and these addresses were partly helped by political Conservatism, and also reacted in its favour.

Some of the Hadleigh friends would probably have been content to go on in this course, raising and keeping alive a strong feeling in favour of things as they were, creating a general sympathy with the Church, and confidence in the peculiar excellency of its wise and sober institutions, sedulously but cautiously endeavouring to correct popular mistakes about them, and to diffuse a sounder knowledge and a sounder tone of religious feeling. This is what Mr. H.J. Rose would have wished, only he felt that he could not insure the "ten or fifteen years" which he wanted to work this gradual change. Both he and Mr. Palmer would have made London, to use a military term, their base of operations. The Oriel men, on the other hand, thought that "Universities are the natural centres of intellectual movements"; they were for working more spontaneously in the freedom of independent study; they had little faith in organisation; "living movements," they said, "do not come of committees." But at Hadleigh it was settled that there was writing to be done, in some way or other; and on this, divergence of opinion soon showed itself, both as to the matter and the tone of what was to be written.

For the writers of real force, the men of genius, were the three Oriel men, with less experience, at that time, with less extensive learning, than Mr. Rose and Mr. Palmer. But they were bolder and keener spirits; they pierced more deeply into the real condition and prospects of the times; they were not disposed to smooth over and excuse what they thought hollow and untrue, to put up with decorous compromises and half-measures, to be patient towards apathy, negligence, or insolence. They certainly had more in them of the temper of warfare. We know from their own avowals that a great anger possessed them, that they were indignant at the sacred idea of the Church being lost and smothered by selfishness and stupidity; they were animated by the spirit which makes men lose patience with abuses and their apologists, and gives them no peace till they speak out. Mr. Newman felt that, though associations and addresses might be very well, what the Church and the clergy and the country wanted was plain speaking; and that plain speaking could not be got by any papers put forth as joint manifestoes, or with the revision and sanction of "safe" and "judicious" advisers. It was necessary to write, and to write as each man felt: and he determined that each man should write and speak for himself, though working in concert and sympathy with others towards the supreme end—the cause and interests of the Church.

And thus were born the Tracts for the Times.[46] For a time Mr. Palmer's line and Mr. Newman's line ran on side by side; but Mr. Palmer's plan had soon done all that it could do, important as that was; it gradually faded out of sight, and the attention of all who cared for, or who feared or who hated the movement, was concentrated on the "Oxford Tracts." They were the watchword and the symbol of an enterprise which all soon felt to be a remarkable one—remarkable, if in nothing else, in the form in which it was started. Great changes and movements have been begun in various ways; in secret and underground communications, in daring acts of self-devotion or violence, in the organisation of an institution, in the persistent display of a particular temper and set of habits, especially in the form of a stirring and enthralling eloquence, in popular preaching, in fierce appeals to the passions. But though tracts had become in later times familiar instruments of religious action, they had, from the fashion of using them, become united in the minds of many with rather disparaging associations. The pertinacity of good ladies who pressed them on chance strangers, and who extolled their efficacy as if it was that of a quack medicine, had lowered the general respect for them. The last thing that could have been thought of was a great religions revolution set in motion by tracts and leaflets, and taking its character and name from them.

But the ring of these early Tracts was something very different from anything of the kind yet known in England. They were clear, brief, stern appeals to conscience and reason, sparing of words, utterly without rhetoric, intense in purpose. They were like the short, sharp, rapid utterances of men in pain and danger and pressing emergency. The first one gave the keynote of the series. Mr. Newman "had out of his own head begun the Tracts": he wrote the opening one in a mood which he has himself described. He was in the "exultation of health restored and home regained": he felt, he says, an "exuberant and joyous energy which he never had before or since"; "his health and strength had come back to him with such a rebound" that some of his friends did not know him. "I had the consciousness that I was employed in that work which I had been dreaming about, and which I felt to be so momentous and inspiring. I had a supreme confidence in our cause; we were upholding that primitive Christianity which was delivered for all time by the early teachers of the Church, and which was registered and attested in the Anglican formularies and by the Anglican divines. That ancient religion had well-nigh faded out of the land through the political changes of the last 150 years, and it must be restored. It would be, in fact, a second Reformation—a better Reformation, for it would return, not to the sixteenth century, but to the seventeenth. No time was to be lost, for the Whigs had come to do their worst, and the rescue might come too late. Bishoprics were already in course of suppression; Church property was in course of confiscation; sees would be soon receiving unsuitable occupants. We knew enough to begin preaching, and there was no one else to preach. I felt," he goes on,[47] with a characteristic recollection of his own experience when he started on his voyage with Froude in the Hermes, "as on a vessel, which first gets under weigh, and then clears out the deck, and stores away luggage and live stock into their proper receptacles." The first three Tracts bear the date of 9th September 1833. They were the first public utterance of the movement. The opening words of this famous series deserve to be recalled. They are new to most of the present generation.


FELLOW-LABOURERS,—I am but one of yourselves—Presbyter; and therefore I conceal my name, lest I should take too much on myself by speaking in my own person. Yet speak I must; for the times are very evil, yet no one speaks against them.

Is not this so? Do not we "look one upon another," yet perform nothing? Do we not all confess the peril into which the Church is come, yet sit still each in his own retirement, as if mountains and seas cut off brother from brother? Therefore suffer me, while I try to draw you forth from those pleasant retreats, which it has been our blessedness hitherto to enjoy, to contemplate the condition and prospects of our Holy Mother in a practical way; so that one and all may unlearn that idle habit, which has grown upon us, of owning the state of things to be bad, yet doing nothing to remedy it.

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