The Oxford Movement - Twelve Years, 1833-1845
by R.W. Church
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The "persecution of Dr. Hampden" has been an unfailing subject of reproach to the party of the Oxford movement, since the days when the Edinburgh Review held them up to public scorn and hatred in an article of strange violence. They certainly had their full share in the opposition to him, and in the measures by which that opposition was carried out. But it would be the greatest mistake to suppose that in this matter they stood alone. All in the University at this time, except a small minority, were of one mind, Heads of Houses and country parsons, Evangelicals and High Churchmen—all who felt that the grounds of a definite belief were seriously threatened by Dr. Hampden's speculations. All were angry at the appointment; all were agreed that something ought to be done to hinder the mischief of it. In this matter Mr. Newman and his friends were absolutely at one with everybody round them, with those who were soon to be their implacable opponents. Whatever deeper view they might have of the evil which had been done by the appointment, and however much graver and more permanent their objections to it, they were responsible only as the whole University was responsible for what was done against Dr. Hampden. It was convenient afterwards to single them out, and to throw this responsibility and the odium of it on them alone; and when they came under the popular ban, it was forgotten that Dr. Gilbert, the Principal of Brasenose, Dr. Symons, the Warden of Wadham, Dr. Faussett, afterwards the denouncer of Dr. Pusey, Mr. Vaughan Thomas, and Mr. Hill of St. Edmund Hall, were quite as forward at the time as Dr. Pusey and Mr. Newman in protesting against Dr. Hampden, and in the steps to make their protest effective. Mr. Palmer, in his Narrative,[57] anxious to dissociate himself from the movement under Mr. Newman's influence, has perhaps underrated the part taken by Mr. Newman and Dr. Pusey; for they, any rate, did most of the argumentative work. But as far as personal action goes, it is true, as he says, that the "movement against Dr. Hampden was not guided by the Tract writers." "The condemnation of Dr. Hampden, then, was not carried by the Tract writers; it was carried by the independent body of the University. The fact is that, had those writers taken any leading part, the measure would have been a failure, for the number of their friends at that time was a very small proportion to the University at large, and there was a general feeling of distrust in the soundness of their views."

We are a long way from those days in time, and still more in habits and sentiment; and a manifold and varied experience has taught most of us some lessons against impatience and violent measures. But if we put ourselves back equitably into the ways of thinking prevalent then, the excitement about Dr. Hampden will not seem so unreasonable or so unjustifiable as it is sometimes assumed to be. The University legislation, indeed, to which it led was poor and petty, doing small and annoying things, because the University rulers dared not commit themselves to definite charges. But, in the first place, the provocation was great on the part of the Government in putting into the chief theological chair an unwelcome man who could only save his orthodoxy by making his speculations mean next to nothing—whose prima facie unguarded and startling statements were resolved into truisms put in a grand and obscure form. And in the next place, it was assumed in those days to be the most natural and obvious thing in the world to condemn unsound doctrine, and to exclude unsound teachers. The principle was accepted as indisputable, however slack might have been in recent times the application of it. That it was accepted, not on one side only, but on all, was soon to be shown by the subsequent course of events. No one suffered more severely and more persistently from its application than the Tractarians; no one was more ready to apply it to them than Dr. Hampden with his friends; no one approved and encouraged its vigorous enforcement against them more than Dr. Whately. The idle distinction set up, that they were not merely unsound but dishonest, was a mere insolent pretext to save trouble in argument, and to heighten the charge against them; no one could seriously doubt that they wrote in good faith as much as Dr. Whately or Dr. Faussett. But unless acts like Dr. Pusey's suspension, and the long proscription that went on for years after it, were mere instances of vindictive retaliation, the reproach of persecution must be shared by all parties then, and by none more than by the party which in general terms most denounced it. Those who think the Hampden agitation unique in its injustice ought to ask themselves what their party would have done if at any time between 1836 and 1843 Mr. Newman had been placed in Dr. Hampden's seat.

People in our days mean by religious persecution what happens when the same sort of repressive policy is applied to a religious party as is applied to vaccination recusants, or to the "Peculiar People." All religious persecution, from the days of Socrates, has taken a legal form, and justified itself on legal grounds. It is the action of authority, or of strong social judgments backed by authority, against a set of opinions, or the expression of them in word or act—usually innovating opinions, but not by any means necessarily such. The disciples of M. Monod, the "Momiers" of Geneva, were persecuted by the Liberals of Geneva, not because they broke away from the creed of Calvin, but because they adhered to it. The word is not properly applied to the incidental effects in the way of disadvantage, resulting from some broad constitutional settlement—from the government of the Church being Episcopal and not Presbyterian, or its creed Nicene and not Arian—any more than it is persecution for a nation to change its government, or for a legitimist to have to live under a republic, or for a Christian to have to live in an infidel state, though persecution may follow from these conditions. But the privilegium passed against Dr. Hampden was an act of persecution, though a mild one compared with what afterwards fell on his opponents with his full sanction. Persecution is the natural impulse, in those who think a certain thing right and important or worth guarding, to disable those who, thinking it wrong, are trying to discredit and upset it, and to substitute something different. It implies a state of war, and the resort to the most available weapons to inflict damage on those who are regarded as rebellious and dangerous. These weapons were formidable enough once: they are not without force still. But in its mildest form—personal disqualification or proscription—it is a disturbance which only war justifies. It may, of course, make itself odious by its modes of proceeding, by meanness and shabbiness and violence, by underhand and ignoble methods of misrepresentation and slander, or by cruelty and plain injustice; and then the odium of these things fairly falls upon it. But it is very hard to draw the line between conscientious repression, feeling itself bound to do what is possible to prevent mischief, and what those who are opposed, if they are the weaker party, of course call persecution.

If persecution implies a state of war in which one side is stronger, and the other weaker, it is hardly a paradox to say that (1) no one has a right to complain of persecution as such, apart from odious accompaniments, any more than of superior numbers or hard blows in battle; and (2) that every one has a right to take advantage and make the most of being persecuted, by appeals to sympathy and the principle of doing as you would be done by. No one likes to be accused of persecution, and few people like to give up the claim to use it, if necessary. But no one can help observing in the course of events the strange way in which, in almost all cases, the "wheel comes full circle." [Greek: Drasanti pathein]—Chi la fa, l' aspetti,[58] are some of the expressions of Greek awe and Italian shrewdness representing the experience of the world on this subject; on a large scale and a small. Protestants and Catholics, Churchmen and Nonconformists, have all in their turn made full proof of what seems like a law of action and reaction. Except in cases beyond debate, cases where no justification is possible, the note of failure is upon this mode of repression. Providence, by the visible Nemesis which it seems always to bring round, by the regularity with which it has enforced the rule that infliction and suffering are bound together and in time duly change places, seems certainly and clearly to have declared against it. It may be that no innovating party has a right to complain of persecution; but the question is not for them. It is for those who have the power, and who are tempted to think that they have the call, to persecute. It is for them to consider whether it is right, or wise, or useful for their cause; whether it is agreeable to what seems the leading of Providence to have recourse to it.


[56] See Pusey's Theology of Germany (1828), p. 18 sqq.

[57] Narrative pp. 29, 30, ed. 1841; p 131. ed. 1883.

[58] [Greek: Drasanti pathein, Trigeron mythos tade phonei.] Aesch. Choeph. 310. Italian proverb, in Landucci, Diario Fiorentino, 1513, p. 343.




By the end of 1835, the band of friends, whom great fears and great hopes for the Church had united, and others who sympathised with them both within and outside the University, had grown into what those who disliked them naturally called a party. The Hampden controversy, though but an episode in the history of the movement, was an important one, and undoubtedly gave a great impulse to it. Dr. Hampden's attitude and language seemed to be its justification—a palpable instance of what the Church had to expect. And in this controversy, though the feeling against Dr. Hampden's views was so widely shared, and though the majority which voted against him was a very mixed one, and contained some who hoped that the next time they were called to vote it might be against the Tractarians, yet the leaders of the movement had undertaken the responsibility, conspicuously and almost alone, of pointing out definitely and argumentatively the objections to Dr. Hampden's teaching. The number of Mr. Newman's friends might be, as Mr. Palmer says, insignificant, but it was they who had taken the trouble to understand and give expression to the true reasons for alarm.[59] Even in this hasty and imperfect way, the discussion revealed to many how much deeper and more various the treatment of the subject was in the hands of Mr. Newman and Dr. Pusey compared with the ordinary criticisms on Dr. Hampden. He had learned in too subtle a school to be much touched by the popular exceptions to his theories, however loudly expressed. The mischief was much deeper. It was that he had, unconsciously, no doubt, undermined the foundation of definite Christian belief, and had resolved it into a philosophy, so-called scholastic, which was now exploded. It was the sense of the perilous issues to which this diluted form of Blanco White's speculations, so recklessly patronised by Whately, was leading theological teaching in the University, which opened the eyes of many to the meaning of the movement, and brought some fresh friends to its side.

There was no attempt to form a party, or to proselytise; there was no organisation, no distinct and recognised party marks. "I would not have it called a party," writes Dr. Newman in the Apologia. But a party it could not help being: quietly and spontaneously it had grown to be what community of ideas, aims, and sympathies, naturally, and without blame, leads men to become. And it had acquired a number of recognised nicknames, to friends and enemies the sign of growing concentration. For the questions started in the Tracts and outside them became of increasing interest to the more intelligent men who had finished their University course and were preparing to enter into life, the Bachelors and younger Masters of Arts. One by one they passed from various states of mind—alienation, suspicion, fear, indifference, blank ignorance—into a consciousness that something beyond the mere commonplace of religious novelty and eccentricity, of which there had been a good deal recently, was before them; that doctrines and statements running counter to the received religious language of the day, doctrines about which, in confident prejudice, they had perhaps bandied about off-hand judgments, had more to say for themselves than was thought at first; that the questions thus raised drove them in on themselves, and appealed to their honesty and seriousness; and that, at any rate, in the men who were arresting so much attention, however extravagant their teaching might be called, there was a remarkable degree of sober and reserved force, an earnestness of conviction which could not be doubted, an undeniable and subtle power of touching souls and attracting sympathies. One by one, and in many different ways, these young men went through various stages of curiosity, of surprise, of perplexity, of doubt, of misgiving, of interest; some were frightened, and wavered, and drew back more or less reluctantly; others, in spite of themselves, in spite of opposing influences, were led on step by step, hardly knowing whither, by a spell which they could not resist, of intellectual, or still more, moral pressure. Some found their old home teaching completed, explained, lighted up, by that of the new school. Others, shocked at first at hearing the old watchwords and traditions of their homes decried and put aside, found themselves, when they least expected it, passing from the letter to the spirit, from the technical and formal theory to the wide and living truth. And thus, though many of course held aloof, and not a few became hostile, a large number, one by one, some rapidly, others slowly, some unreservedly, others with large and jealous reserves, more and more took in the leading idea of the movement, accepted the influence of its chiefs, and looked to them for instruction and guidance. As it naturally happens, when a number of minds are drawn together by a common and strong interest, some men, by circumstances, or by strength of conviction, or by the mutual affinities of tastes and character, came more and more into direct personal and intimate relations with the leaders, took service, as it were, under them, and prepared to throw themselves into their plans of work. Others, in various moods, but more independent, more critical, more disturbed about consequences, or unpersuaded on special points, formed a kind of fringe of friendly neutrality about the more thoroughgoing portion of the party. And outside of these were thoughtful and able men, to whom the whole movement, with much that was utterly displeasing and utterly perplexing, had the interest of being a break-up of stagnation and dull indolence in a place which ought to have the highest spiritual and intellectual aims; who, whatever repelled them, could not help feeling that great ideas, great prospects, a new outburst of bold thought, a new effort of moral purpose and force, had disturbed the old routine; could not help being fascinated, if only as by a spectacle, by the strange and unwonted teaching, which partly made them smile, partly perhaps permanently disgusted them, but which also, they could not deny, spoke in a language more fearless, more pathetic, more subtle, and yet more human, than they had heard from the religious teachers of the day. And thus the circle of persons interested in the Tracts, of persons who sympathised with their views, of persons who more and more gave a warm and earnest adherence to them, was gradually extended in the University—and, in time, in the country also. The truth was that the movement, in its many sides, had almost monopolised for the time both the intelligence and the highest religious earnestness of the University,[60] and either in curiosity or inquiry, in approval or in condemnation, all that was deepest and most vigorous, all that was most refined, most serious, most high-toned, and most promising in Oxford was drawn to the issues which it raised. It is hardly too much to say that wherever men spoke seriously of the grounds and prospects of religion, in Oxford, or in Vacation reading-parties, in their walks and social meetings, in their studies or in common-room, the "Tractarian" doctrines, whether assented to or laughed at, deplored or fiercely denounced, were sure to come to the front. All subjects in discussion seemed to lead up to them—art and poetry, Gothic architecture and German romance and painting, the philosophy of language, and the novels of Walter Scott and Miss Austen, Coleridge's transcendentalism and Bishop Butler's practical wisdom, Plato's ideas and Aristotle's analysis. It was difficult to keep them out of lecture-rooms and examinations for Fellowships.

But in addition to the intrinsic interest of the questions and discussions which the movement opened, personal influence played a great and decisive part in it. As it became a party, it had chiefs. It was not merely as leaders of thought but as teachers with their disciples, as friends with friends, as witnesses and examples of high self-rule and refined purity and goodness, that the chiefs whose names were in all men's mouths won the hearts and trust of so many, in the crowds that stood about them. Foremost, of course, ever since he had thrown himself into it in 1835, was Dr. Pusey. His position, his dignified office, his learning, his solidity and seriousness of character, his high standard of religious life, the charm of his charity, and the sweetness of his temper naturally gave him the first place in the movement in Oxford and the world. It came to be especially associated with him. Its enemies fastened on it a nickname from his name, and this nickname, partly from a greater smoothness of sound, partly from an odd suggestion of something funny in it, came more into use than others; and the terms Puseismus, Puseisme, Puseista found their way into German lecture-halls and Paris salons and remote convents and police offices in Italy and Sicily; indeed, in the shape of [Greek: pouzeismos] it might be lighted on in a Greek newspaper. Dr. Pusey was a person who commanded the utmost interest and reverence; he was more in communication with the great world outside than Oxford people generally, and lived much in retirement from Oxford society; but to all interested in the movement he was its representative and highest authority. He and Mr. Newman had the fullest confidence in one another, though conscious at times of not perfect agreement; yet each had a line of his own, and each of them was apt to do things out of his own head. Dr. Pusey was accessible to all who wished to see him; but he did not encourage visits which wasted time. And the person who was pre-eminently, not only before their eyes, but within their reach in the ordinary intercourse of man with man, was Mr. Newman. Mr. Newman, who lived in College in the ordinary way of a resident Fellow, met other university men, older or younger, on equal terms. As time went on, a certain wonder and awe gathered round him. People were a little afraid of him; but the fear was in themselves, not created by any intentional stiffness or coldness on his part. He did not try to draw men to him, he was no proselytiser; he shrank with fear and repugnance from the character—it was an invasion of the privileges of the heart.[61] But if men came to him, he was accessible; he allowed his friends to bring their friends to him, and met them more than half-way. He was impatient of mere idle worldliness, of conceit and impertinence, of men who gave themselves airs; he was very impatient of pompous and solemn emptiness. But he was very patient with those whom he believed to sympathise with what was nearest his heart; no one, probably, of his power and penetration and sense of the absurd, was ever so ready to comply with the two demands which a witty prelate proposed to put into the examination in the Consecration Service of Bishops: "Wilt thou answer thy letters?" "Wilt thou suffer fools gladly?" But courteous, affable, easy as he was, he was a keen trier of character; he gauged, and men felt that he gauged, their motives, their reality and soundness of purpose; he let them see, if they at all came into his intimacy, that if they were not, he, at any rate, was in the deepest earnest. And at an early period, in a memorable sermon,[62] the vivid impression of which at the time still haunts the recollection of some who heard it, he gave warning to his friends and to those whom his influence touched, that no child's play lay before them; that they were making, it might be without knowing it, the "Ventures of Faith." But feeling that he had much to say, and that a university was a place for the circulation and discussion of ideas, he let himself be seen and known and felt, both publicly and in private. He had his breakfast parties and his evening gatherings. His conversation ranged widely, marked by its peculiar stamp—entire ease, unstudied perfection of apt and clean-cut words, unexpected glimpses of a sure and piercing judgment. At times, at more private meetings, the violin, which he knew how to touch, came into play.

He had great gifts for leadership. But as a party chief he was also deficient in some of the qualities which make a successful one. His doctrine of the Church had the disadvantage of an apparently intermediate and ambiguous position, refusing the broad, intelligible watchwords and reasonings of popular religionism. It was not without clearness and strength; but such a position naturally often leads to what seem over-subtle modes of argument, seemingly over-subtle because deeper and more original than the common ones; and he seemed sometimes to want sobriety in his use of dialectic weapons, which he wielded with such force and effect. Over-subtlety in the leader of a party tends to perplex friends and give a handle to opponents. And with all his confidence in his cause, and also in his power and his call to use it, he had a curious shyness and self-distrust as to his own way of doing what he had to do; he was afraid of "wilfulness," of too great reliance on intellect. He had long been accustomed to observe and judge himself, and while conscious of his force, he was fully alive to the drawbacks, moral and intellectual, which wait on the highest powers. When attacks were made on him by authorities, as in the case of the Tract No. 90, his more eager friends thought him too submissive; they would have liked a more combative temper and would not accept his view that confidence in him was lost, because it might be shaken.[63] But if he bent before official authority the disapproval of friends was a severer trouble. Most tender in his affections, most trustful in his confidence, craving for sympathy, it came like a shock and chill when things did not go right between himself and his friends. He was too sensitive under such disapproval for a successful party chief. The true party leader takes these things as part of that tiresome human stupidity and perverseness with which he must make his account. Perhaps they sting for the moment, but he brushes them away and goes forward, soon forgetting them. But with Mr. Newman, his cause was identified with his friendships and even his family affections. And as a leader, he was embarrassed by the keenness with which he sympathised with the doubts and fears of friends; want of sympathy and signs of distrust darkened the prospect of the future; they fell like a blight on his stores of hope, never over-abundant; they tempted him, not to assert himself, but to throw up the game as convicted of unfitness, and retire for good and all to his books and silence. "Let them," he seemed to say, "have their way, as they will not let me have mine; they have the right to take theirs, only not to make me take it." In spite of his enthusiasm and energy, his unceasing work, his occasional bursts of severe punishment inflicted on those who provoked him, there was always present this keen sensitiveness, the source of so much joy and so much pain. He would not have been himself without it. But he would have been a much more powerful and much more formidable combatant if he had cared less for what his friends felt, and followed more unhesitatingly his own line and judgment. This keen sensitiveness made him more quickly alive than other people to all that lay round him and before; it made him quicker to discern danger and disaster; it led him to give up hope and to retire from the contest long before he had a right to do so. The experience of later years shows that he had despaired too soon. Such delicate sensitiveness, leading to impatience, was not capable of coping with the rough work involved in the task of reform, which he had undertaken.

All this time the four o'clock sermons at St. Mary's were always going on. But, besides these, he anticipated a freedom—familiar now, but unknown then—of public lecturing. In Advent and after Easter a company, never very large, used to gather on a week-day afternoon in Adam de Brome's Chapel—the old Chapel of "Our Lady of Littlemore"—to hear him lecture on some theological subject. It is a dark, dreary appendage to St. Mary's on the north side, in which Adam de Brome, Edward II.'s almoner, and the founder of Oriel College, is supposed to lie, beneath an unshapely tomb, covered by a huge slab of Purbeck marble, from which the brass has been stripped. The place is called a chapel, but is more like a court or place of business, for which, indeed, it was used in the old days by one of the Faculties of the House of Convocation, which held its assemblies there. At the end is a high seat and desk for the person presiding, and an enclosure and a table for officials below him; and round the rest of the dingy walls run benches fixed to the wall, dingy as the walls themselves. But it also had another use. On occasions of a university sermon, a few minutes before it began, the Heads of Houses assembled, as they still assemble, in the chapel, ranging themselves on the benches round the walls. The Vice-Chancellor has his seat on one side, the preacher, with the two Proctors below him, sits opposite; and there all sit in their robes, more or less grand, according to the day, till the beadle comes to announce that it is time to form the procession into church. This desolate place Mr. Newman turned into his lecture-room; in it he delivered the lectures which afterwards became the volume on the Prophetical Character of the Church, or Romanism and Popular Protestantism; the lectures which formed the volume on Justification; those on Antichrist, and on Rationalism and the Canon of Scripture, which afterwards became Nos. 83 and 85 of the Tracts for the Times.[64] The force, the boldness, the freedom from the trammels of commonplace, the breadth of view and grasp of the subject which marked those lectures, may be seen in them still. But it is difficult to realise now the interest with which they were heard at the time by the first listeners to that clear and perfectly modulated voice, opening to them fresh and original ways of regarding questions which seemed worn out and exhausted. The volumes which grew out of the Adam de Brome lectures were some of the most characteristic portions of the theological literature of the early movement. They certainly greatly influenced the course of thought in it, and some of its most serious issues.

The movement was not one of mere opinion. It took two distinct though connected lines. It was, on the one hand, theological; on the other, resolutely practical. Theologically, it dealt with great questions of religious principle—What is the Church? Is it a reality or a mode of speech? On what grounds does it rest? How may it be known? Is it among us? How is it to be discriminated from its rivals or counterfeits? What is its essential constitution? What does it teach? What are its shortcomings? Does it nerd reform? But, on the other hand, the movement was marked by its deep earnestness on the practical side of genuine Christian life. Very early in the movement (1833) a series of sketches of primitive Christian life appeared in the British Magazine—afterwards collected under the title of the Church of the Fathers (1840)—to remind people who were becoming interested in ancient and patristic theology that, besides the doctrines to be found in the vast folios of the Fathers, there were to be sought in them and laid to heart the temptations and trials, the aspirations and moral possibilities of actual life, "the tone and modes of thought, the habits and manners of the early times of the Church." The note struck in the first of Mr. Newman's published sermons—"Holiness necessary for future blessedness"—was never allowed to be out of mind. The movement was, above all, a moral one; it was nothing, allowed to be nothing, if it was not this.[65] Seriousness, reverence, the fear of insincere words and unsound professions, were essential in the character, which alone it would tolerate in those who made common cause with it.

Its ethical tendency was shown in two things, which were characteristic of it. One was the increased care for the Gospels, and study of them, compared with other parts of the Bible. Evangelical theology had dwelt upon the work of Christ, and laid comparatively little stress on His example, or the picture left us of His Personality and Life. It regarded the Epistles of St. Paul as the last word of the Gospel message. People who can recall the popular teaching, which was spoken of then as "sound" and "faithful," and "preaching Christ," can remember how the Epistles were ransacked for texts to prove the "sufficiency of Scripture" or the "right of private judgment," or the distinction between justification and sanctification, while the Gospel narrative was imperfectly studied and was felt to be much less interesting. The movement made a great change. The great Name stood no longer for an abstract symbol of doctrine, but for a living Master, who could teach as well as save. And not forgetting whither He had gone and what He was, the readers of Scripture now sought Him eagerly in those sacred records, where we can almost see and hear His going in and out among men. It was a change in the look and use of Scripture, which some can still look back to as an epoch in their religious history. The other feature was the increased and practical sense of the necessity of self-discipline, of taking real trouble with one's self to keep thoughts and wishes in order, to lay the foundation of habits, to acquire the power of self-control. Deeply fixed in the mind of the teachers, this serious governance of life, this direction and purification of its aims, laid strong hold on the consciences of those who accepted their teaching. This training was not showy; it was sometimes austere, even extravagantly austere; but it was true, and enduring, and it issued often in a steady and unconscious elevation of the religious character. How this character was fed and nurtured and encouraged—how, too, it was frankly warned of its dangers, may be seen in those Parochial Sermons at St. Mary's, under whose inspiration it was developed, and which will always be the best commentary on the character thus formed. Even among those who ultimately parted from the movement, with judgment more or less unfavourable to its theology and general line, it left, as if uneffaceable, this moral stamp; this value for sincerity and simplicity of feeling and life, this keen sense of the awfulness of things unseen. There was something sui generis in the profoundly serious, profoundly reverent tone, about everything that touched religion in all who had ever come strongly under its influence.

Of course the party soon had the faults of a party, real and imputed.[66] Is it conceivable that there should ever have been a religious movement, which has not provoked smiles from those outside of it, and which has not lent itself to caricature? There were weaker members of it, and headstrong ones, and imitative ones; there were grotesque and absurd ones; some were deeper, some shallower; some liked it for its excitement, and some liked it for its cause; there were those who were for pushing on, and those who were for holding back; there were men of combat, and men of peace; there were those whom it made conceited and self-important, and those whom it drove into seriousness, anxiety, and retirement. But, whatever faults it had, a pure and high spirit ruled in it; there were no disloyal members, and there were none who sought their own in it, or thought of high things for themselves in joining it. It was this whole-heartedness, this supreme reverence for moral goodness, more even than the great ability of the leaders, and in spite of mistakes and failures, which gave its cohesion and its momentum to the movement in its earlier stages.

The state of feeling and opinion among Churchmen towards the end of 1835, two years after the Tracts had begun, is thus sketched by one who was anxiously observing it, in the preface to the second volume of the Tracts (November 1835).

In completing the second volume of a publication, to which the circumstances of the day have given rise, it may be right to allude to a change which has taken place in them since the date of its commencement. At that time, in consequence of long security, the attention of members of our Church had been but partially engaged, in ascertaining the grounds of their adherence to it; but the imminent peril to all which is dear to them which has since been confessed, has naturally turned their thoughts that way, and obliged them to defend it on one or other of the principles which are usually put forward in its behalf. Discussions have thus been renewed in various quarters, on points which had long remained undisturbed; and though numbers continue undecided in opinion, or take up a temporary position in some one of the hundred middle points which may be assumed between the two main theories in which the question issues; and others, again, have deliberately entrenched themselves in the modern or ultra-Protestant alternative; yet, on the whole, there has been much hearty and intelligent adoption, and much respectful study, of those more primitive views maintained by our great Divines. As the altered state of public information and opinion has a necessary bearing on the efforts of those who desire to excite attention to the subject (in which number the writers of these Tracts are to be included), it will not be inappropriate briefly to state in this place what it is conceived is the present position of the great body of Churchmen with reference to it.

While we have cause to be thankful for the sounder and more accurate language, which is now very generally adopted among well-judging men on ecclesiastical subjects, we must beware of over-estimating what has been done, and so becoming sanguine in our hopes of success, or slackening our exertions to secure it. Many more persons, doubtless, have taken up a profession of the main doctrine in question, that, namely, of the one Catholic and Apostolic Church, than fully enter into it. This was to be expected, it being the peculiarity of all religious teaching, that words are imparted before ideas. A child learns his Creed or Catechism before he understands it; and in beginning any deep subject we are all but children to the end of our lives. The instinctive perception of a rightly instructed mind, prima facie force of the argument, or the authority of our celebrated writers, have all had their due and extensive influence in furthering the reception of the doctrine, when once it was openly maintained; to which must be added the prospect of the loss of State protection, which made it necessary to look out for other reasons for adherence to the Church besides that of obedience to the civil magistrate. Nothing which has spread quickly has been received thoroughly. Doubtless there are a number of seriously-minded persons who think that they admit the doctrine in question much more fully than they do, and who would be startled at seeing that realised in particulars which they confess in an abstract form. Many there are who do not at all feel that it is capable of a practical application; and while they bring it forward on special occasions, in formal expositions of faith, or in answer to a direct interrogatory, let it slip from their minds almost entirely in their daily conduct or their religious teaching, from the long and inveterate habit of thinking and acting without it. We must not, then, at all be surprised at finding that to modify the principles and motives on which men act is not the work of a day; nor at undergoing disappointments, at witnessing relapses, misconceptions, sudden disgusts, and, on the other hand, abuses and perversions of the true doctrine, in the case of those who have taken it up with more warmth than discernment.

From the end of 1835, or the beginning of 1836, the world outside of Oxford began to be alive to the force and the rapid growth of this new and, to the world at large, not very intelligible movement. The ideas which had laid hold so powerfully on a number of leading minds in the University began to work with a spell, which seemed to many inexplicable, on others unconnected with them. This rapidity of expansion, viewed as a feature of a party, was noticed on all sides, by enemies no less than friends. In an article in the British Critic of April 1839, by Mr. Newman, on the State of Religious Parties, the fact is illustrated from contemporary notices.

There is at the present moment a reaction in the Church, and a growing reaction, towards the views which it has been the endeavours [of the Tract writers] and, as it seemed at the commencement, almost hopeless endeavours, to advocate. The fairness of the prospect at present is proved by the attack made on them by the public journals, and is confessed by the more candid and the more violent among their opponents. Thus the amiable Mr. Bickersteth speaks of it as having manifested itself "with the most rapid growth of the hot-bed of these evil days." The scoffing author of the Via Media says: "At this moment the Via is crowded with young enthusiasts who never presume to argue, except against the propriety of arguing at all." The candid Mr. Baden-Powell, who sees more of the difficulties of the controversy than the rest of their antagonists pot together, says that it is clear that "these views ... have been extensively adopted, and are daily gaining ground among a considerable and influential portion of the members, as well as the ministers of the Established Church." The author of the Natural History of Enthusiasm says: "The spread of these doctrines is in fact having the effect of rendering all other distinctions obsolete. Soon there will be no middle ground left, and every man, especially every clergyman, will be compelled to make his choice between the two." ... The Bishop of Chester speaks of the subject "daily assuming a more serious and alarming aspect": a gossiping writer of the moment describes these doctrines as having insinuated themselves not only into popular churches and fashionable chapels, and the columns of newspapers, but "into the House of Commons."

And the writer of the article goes on:—

Now, if there be any truth in these remarks, it is plainly idle and perverse to refer the change of opinions which is now going on to the acts of two or three individuals, as is sometimes done. Of course every event in human affairs has a beginning; and a beginning implies a when, and a where, and a by whom, and how. But except in these necessary circumstance, the phenomenon in question is in a manner quite independent of things visible and historical. It is not here or there; it has no progress, no causes, no fortunes: it is not a movement, it is a spirit, it is a spirit afloat, neither "in the secret chambers" nor "in the desert," but everywhere. It is within us, rising up in the heart where it was least expected, and working its way, though not in secret, yet so subtly and impalpably, as hardly to admit of precaution or encounter on any ordinary human rules of opposition. It is an adversary in the air, a something one and entire, a whole wherever it is, unapproachable and incapable of being grasped, as being the result of causes far deeper than political or other visible agencies, the spiritual awakening of spiritual wants.

Nothing can show more strikingly the truth of this representation than to refer to what may be called the theological history of the individuals who, whatever be their differences from each other on important or unimportant points, yet are associated together in the advocacy of the doctrines in question. Dr. Hook and Mr. Churton represent the High Church dignitaries of the last generation; Mr. Perceval, the Tory aristocracy; Mr. Keble is of the country clergy, and comes from valleys and woods, far removed both from notoriety and noise; Mr. Palmer and Mr. Todd are of Ireland; Dr. Pusey became what he is from among the Universities of Germany, and after a severe and tedious analysis of Arabic MSS. Mr. Dodsworth is said to have begun in the study of Prophecy; Mr. Newman to have been much indebted to the friendship of Archbishop Whately; Mr. Froude, if any one, gained his views from his own mind. Others have passed over from Calvinism and kindred religions.

Years afterwards, and in changed circumstances, the same writer has left the following record of what came before his experience in those years:—[67]

From beginnings so small (I said), from elements of thought so fortuitous, with prospects so unpromising, the Anglo-Catholic party suddenly became a power in the National Church, and an object of alarm to her rulers and friends. Its originators would have found it difficult to say what they aimed at of a practical kind: rather, they put forth views and principles, for their own sake, because they were true, as if they were obliged to say them; and, as they might be themselves surprised at their earnestness in uttering them, they had as great cause to be surprised at the success which attended their propagation. And, in fact, they could only say that those doctrines were in the air; that to assert was to prove, and that to explain was to persuade; and that the movement in which they were taking part was the birth of a crisis rather than of a place. In a very few years a school of opinion was formed, fixed in its principles, indefinite and progressive in their range; and it extended itself into every part of the country. If we inquire what the world thought of it, we have still more to raise our wonder; for, not to mention the excitement it caused in England, the movement and its party-names were known to the police of Italy and to the backwoods-men of America. And so it proceeded, getting stronger and stronger every year, till it came into collision with the Nation and that Church of the Nation, which it began by professing especially to serve.


[59] "I answered, the person whom we were opposing had committed himself in writing, and we ought to commit ourselves, too."—Apologia, p. 143.

[60] "I very much doubt between Oxford and Cambridge for my boy. Oxford, which I should otherwise prefer, on many accounts, has at present two-thirds of the steady-reading men, Rabbinists, i.e. Puseyites." But this was probably an exaggeration.—Whately's Life; letter of Oct. 1838, p. 163 (ed. 1875).

[61] "The sagacious and aspiring man of the world, the scrutiniser of the heart, the conspirator against its privileges and rights."—Prophetical Office of the Church, p. 132.

[62] Parochial Sermons, iv. 20. Feb. 1836.

[63] Vide J.B. Mozley, Letters, pp. 114, 115. "Confidence in me was lost, but I had already lost confidence in myself." This, to a friend like J.B. Mozley, seemed exaggeration. "Though admiring the letter [to the Vice Chancellor] I confess, for my own part, I think a general confession of humility was irrelevant to the present occasion, the question being simply on a point of theological interpretation. I have always had a prejudice against general confessions." Mozley plainly thought Newman's attitude too meek. He would have liked something more spirited and pugnacious.

[64] Romanism and Popular Protestantism, from 1834 to 1836, published March 1837; Justification, after Easter 1837, published March 1838; Canon of Scripture, published May 1838; Antichrist, published June 1838.

[65] Cf. Lyra Apostolica, No. 65:

Thou to wax fierce In the cause of the Lord!

* * * * *

Anger and zeal, And the joy of the brave, Who bade thee to feel, Sin's slave?

[66] This weak side was portrayed with severity in a story published by Mr. Newman in 1848, after he left the English Church—Loss and Gain.

[67] Apologia, p. 156.



The Hampden controversy had contributed to bring to the front a question, which from the first starting of the Tracts had made itself felt, but which now became a pressing one. If the Church of England claimed to be part of the Catholic Church, what was the answer of the Church of England to the claims and charges of the Church of Rome? What were the true distinctions between the doctrines of the two Churches on the great points on which they were supposed to be at issue? The vague outcry of Popery had of course been raised both against the general doctrine of the Church, enforced in the Tracts, and against special doctrines and modes of speaking, popularly identified with Romanism; and the answer had been an appeal to the authority of the most learned and authoritative of our writers. But, of course, to the general public this learning was new; and the cry went on with a dreary and stupid monotony. But the charges against Dr. Hampden led his defenders to adopt as their best weapon an aggressive policy. To the attack on his orthodoxy, the counter buffet was the charge against his chief opponents of secret or open Romanising. In its keenest and most popular form it was put forth in a mocking pamphlet written probably under Whately's inspiration by his most trusted confidant, Dr. Dickinson, in which, in the form of a "Pastoral Epistle from his Holiness the Pope to some Members of the University of Oxford," the Tract-writers are made to appear as the emissaries and secret tools of Rome, as in a jeu d'esprit of Whately's they are made to appear as the veiled prophets of infidelity.[68] It was clever, but not clever enough to stand, at least in Oxford, against Dr. Pusey's dignified and gravely earnest Remonstrance against its injustice and trifling. But the fire of all Dr. Hampden's friends had been drawn on the leaders of the movement. With them, and almost alone with them, the opposition to him was made a personal matter. As time went on, those who had been as hot as they against Dr. Hampden managed to get their part in the business forgotten. Old scores between Orthodox, Evangelicals, and Liberals were wiped out, and the Tractarians were left to bear alone the odium of the "persecution" of Dr. Hampden. It must be said that they showed no signs of caring for it.

But the Roman controversy was looming in earnest, and it was idle to expect to keep it long out of sight. The Tracts had set forth with startling vehemence the forgotten claims of the Church. One reason why this had been done was the belief, as stated in the first volume of them, "that nothing but these neglected doctrines, faithfully preached, will repress the extension of Popery, for which the ever-multiplying divisions of the religious world are too clearly preparing the way."[69] The question, What is the Church? was one which the conditions of the times would not permit men any longer to leave alone. It had become urgent to meet it clearly and decisively. "We could not move a step in comfort till this was done."[70] "The controversy with the Romanists," writes Mr. Newman in No. 71 of the Tracts, about the end of 1835, "has overtaken us 'like a summer's cloud.' We find ourselves in various parts of the country preparing for it, yet, when we look back, we cannot trace the steps by which we arrived at our present position. We do not recollect what our feelings were this time last year on the subject; what was the state of our apprehensions and anticipations. All we know is, that here we are, from long security ignorant why we are not Roman Catholics, and they on the other side are said to be spreading and strengthening on all sides of us, vaunting of their success, real or apparent, and taunting us with our inability to argue with them."

The attitude taken by Mr. Newman at this time, as regards the Roman Church, both in the Tracts and in his book on Romanism and Popular Protestantism, published in the early months of 1836, was a new one. He had started, as he tells us, with the common belief that the Pope was Antichrist, and that the case was so clear against the whole system, doctrinal and practical, of the Church of Rome, that it scarcely needed further examination. His feeling against Rome had been increased by the fierce struggle about Emancipation, and by the political conduct of the Roman Catholic party afterwards; and his growing dissatisfaction with the ordinary Protestantism had no visible effect in softening this feeling. Hurrell Froude's daring questions had made his friends feel that there might be more to be known about the subject than they yet knew; yet what the fellow-travellers saw of things abroad in their visit to the South in 1832 did not impress them favourably. "They are wretched Tridentines everywhere," was Froude's comment. But attention had been drawn to the subject, and its deep interest and importance and difficulty recognised. Men began to read with new eyes. Froude's keen and deep sense of shortcomings at home disposed him to claim equity and candour in judging of the alleged faults and corruptions of the Church abroad. It did more, it disposed him—naturally enough, but still unfairly, and certainly without adequate knowledge—to treat Roman shortcomings with an indulgence which he refused to English. Mr. Newman, knowing more, and more comprehensive in his view of things, and therefore more cautious and guarded than Froude, was much less ready to allow a favourable interpretation of the obvious allegations against Rome. But thought and reading, and the authority of our own leading divines, had brought him to the conviction that whatever was to be said against the modern Roman Church—and the charges against it were very heavy—it was still, amid serious corruption and error, a teacher to the nations of the Christian creed and hope; it had not forfeited, any more than the English Church, its title to be a part of that historic body which connects us with the Apostles of our Lord. It had a strong and consistent theory to oppose to its assailants; it had much more to say for itself than the popular traditions supposed. This was no new idea in Anglican divinity, however ill it might sort with the current language of Protestant controversy. But our old divines, more easily satisfied than we with the course of things at home under the protection of the Stuart kings, and stung to bitter recrimination by the insults and the unscrupulous political intrigues of Roman Catholic agents, had exhausted the language of vituperation against a great aggressive rival, which was threatening everything that they held dear. They had damaged their own character for fairness, and overlaid their substantial grounds of objection and complaint, by this unbalanced exaggeration. Mr. Newman, in his study of these matters, early saw both the need and the difficulty of discrimination in the Roman controversy. It had to be waged, not as of old, with penal legislation behind, but against adversaries who could now make themselves listened to, and before a public sufficiently robust in its Protestantism, to look with amused interest on a dialectical triumph of the Roman over the Anglican claims. Romanism, he thought, was fatal both to his recent hopes for the English Church, and to the honour and welfare of Christianity at large. But in opposing it, ground loosely taken of old must be carefully examined, and if untenable, abandoned. Arguments which proved too much, which availed against any Church at all, must be given up. Popular objections, arising from ignorance or misconception, must be reduced to their true limits or laid aside. The controversy was sure to be a real one, and nothing but what was real and would stand scrutiny was worth anything in it.

Mr. Newman had always been impressed with the greatness of the Roman Church. Of old it had seemed to him great with the greatness of Antichrist. Now it seemed great with the strange weird greatness of a wonderful mixed system, commanding from its extent of sway and its imperial authority, complicated and mysterious in its organisation and influence, in its devotion and its superstitions, and surpassing every other form of religion both in its good and its evil.[71] What now presented itself to Mr. Newman's thoughts, instead of the old notion of a pure Church on one side, and a corrupt Church on the other, sharply opposed to one another, was the more reasonable supposition of two great portions of the divided Church, each with its realities of history and fact and character, each with its special claims and excellences, each with its special sins and corruptions, and neither realising in practice and fact all it professed to be on paper; each of which further, in the conflicts of past days, had deeply, almost unpardonably, wronged the other. The Church of England was in possession, with its own call and its immense work to do, and striving to do it. Whatever the Church of Rome was abroad, it was here an intruder and a disturber. That to his mind was the fact and the true position of things; and this ought to govern the character and course of controversy. The true line was not to denounce and abuse wholesale, not to attack with any argument, good or bad, not to deny or ignore what was solid in the Roman ground, and good and elevated in the Roman system, but admitting all that fairly ought to be admitted, to bring into prominence, not for mere polemical denunciation, but for grave and reasonable and judicial condemnation, all that was extravagant and arrogant in Roman assumptions, and all that was base, corrupt, and unchristian in the popular religion, which, with all its claims to infallibility and authority, Rome not only permitted but encouraged. For us to condemn Rome wholesale, as was ordinarily the fashion, even in respectable writers, was as wrong, as unfair, as unprofitable to the cause of truth and Christianity, as the Roman charges against us were felt by us to be ignorant and unjust. Rome professes like England to continue the constitution, doctrine, traditions, and spirit of the ancient and undivided Church: and so far as she does so—and she does so in a great degree—we can have no quarrel with her. But in a great degree also, she does this only in profession and as a theory: she claims the witness and suffrage of antiquity, but she interprets it at her own convenience and by her own authority. We cannot claim exemption from mistakes, from deviations from our own standard and principles, any more than Rome; but while she remains as she is, and makes the monstrous claims of infallibility and supremacy, there is nothing for English Churchmen but to resist her. Union is impossible. Submission is impossible. What we have to beware of for our own sake, as well as for our cause, are false arguments, unreal objections, ignorant allegations. There is enough on the very surface, in her audacious assertions and high-handed changes, for popular arguments against her, without having recourse to exaggeration and falsehood; she may be a very faulty Church, without being Babylon and Antichrist. And in the higher forms of argument, there is abundance in those provinces of ancient theology and ecclesiastical history and law, which Protestant controversialists have commonly surrendered and left open to their opponents, to supply a more telling weapon than any which these controversialists have used.

This line, though substantially involved in the theory of our most learned divines, from Andrewes to Wake, was new in its moderation and reasonable caution; in its abstention from insult and vague abuse, in its recognition of the prima facie strength of much of the Roman case, in its fearless attempt, in defiance of the deepest prejudices, to face the facts and conditions of the question. Mr. Newman dared to know and to acknowledge much that our insular self-satisfaction did not know, and did not care to know, of real Christian life in the Church of Rome. He dared to admit that much that was popularly held to be Popish was ancient, Catholic, edifying; he dared to warn Churchmen that the loose unsifted imputations, so securely hazarded against Rome, were both discreditable and dangerous. All this, from one whose condemnation of Rome was decisive and severe, was novel. The attempt, both in its spirit and its ability, was not unworthy of being part of the general effort to raise the standard of thought and teaching in the English Church. It recalled men from slovenly prejudices to the study of the real facts of the living world. It narrowed the front of battle, but it strengthened it enormously. The volume on Romanism and Popular Protestantism is not an exhaustive survey of the controversy with Rome or of the theory of the Church. There are great portions of the subject, both theological and historical, which it did not fall within the scope of the book to touch. It was unsystematic and incomplete. But so far as its argument extended, it almost formed an epoch in this kind of controversial writing. It showed the command of a man of learning over all the technical points and minutiae of a question highly scholastical in its conceptions and its customary treatment, and it presented this question in its bearings and consequences on life and practice with the freedom and breadth of the most vigorous popular writing. The indictment against Rome was no vague or general one. It was one of those arguments which cut the ground from under a great established structure of reasonings and proofs. And its conclusions, clear and measured, but stern, were the more impressive, because they came from one who did not disguise his feeling that there was much in what was preserved in the Roman system to admire and to learn from.

The point which he chose for his assault was indeed the key of the Roman position—the doctrine of Infallibility. He was naturally led to this side of the question by the stress which the movement had laid on the idea of the Church as the witness and teacher of revealed truth: and the immediate challenge given by the critics or opponents of the movement was, how to distinguish this lofty idea of the Church, with its claim to authority, if it was at all substantial, from the imposing and consistent theory of Romanism. He urged against the Roman claim of Infallibility two leading objections. One was the way in which the assumed infallibility of the present Church was made to override and supersede, in fact, what in words was so ostentatiously put forward, the historical evidence of antiquity to doctrine, expressed by the phrase, the "consent of the Fathers." The other objection was the inherent contradiction of the notion of infallibility to the conditions of human reception of teaching and knowledge, and its practical uselessness as an assurance of truth, its partly delusive, partly mischievous, working. But he felt, as all deep minds must feel, that it is easier to overthrow the Roman theory of Church authority than to replace it by another, equally complete and commanding, and more unassailable. He was quite alive to the difficulties of the Anglican position; but he was a disciple in the school of Bishop Butler, and had learned as a first principle to recognise the limitations of human knowledge, and the unphilosophical folly of trying to round off into finished and pretentious schemes our fragmentary yet certain notices of our own condition and of God's dealings with it. He followed his teacher in insisting on the reality and importance of moral evidence as opposed to demonstrative proof; and he followed the great Anglican divines in asserting that there was a true authority, varying in its degrees, in the historic Church; that on the most fundamental points of religion this authority was trustworthy and supreme; that on many other questions it was clear and weighty, though it could not decide everything. This view of the "prophetical office of the Church" had the dialectical disadvantage of appearing to be a compromise, to many minds a fatal disadvantage. It got the name of the Via Media; a satisfactory one to practical men like Dr. Hook, to whom it recommended itself for use in popular teaching; but to others, in aftertimes, an ill-sounding phrase of dislike, which summed up the weakness of the Anglican case. Yet it only answered to the certain fact, that in the early and undivided Church there was such a thing as authority, and there was no such thing known as Infallibility. It was an appeal to the facts of history and human nature against the logical exigencies of a theory. Men must transcend the conditions of our experience if they want the certainty which the theory of Infallibility speaks of.

There were especially two weak points in this view of Anglicanism. Mr. Newman felt and admitted them, and of course they were forced on his attention by controversialists on both sides; by the Ultra Protestant school, whose modes of dealing with Scripture he had exposed with merciless logic and by the now eager Roman disputants, of whom Dr. Wiseman was the able and not over-scrupulous chief. The first of these points was that the authority of the undivided Church, which Anglicanism invoked, though it completely covered the great foundations of Christian doctrine, our faith as to the nature of God, did not cover with equal completeness other important points of controversy, such as those raised at the Reformation as to the Sacraments, and the justification of the sinner. The Anglican answer was that though the formal and conciliar authority was not the same in each case, the patristic literature of the time of the great councils, all that it took for granted and preserved as current belief and practice, all that resulted from the questions and debates of the time, formed a body of proof, which carried with it moral evidence only short of authoritative definition, and was so regarded in the Anglican formularies. These formularies implied the authority of the Church to speak; and what was defined on this authority was based on good evidence, though there were portions of its teaching which had even better. The other point was more serious. "Your theory," was the objection, "is nothing but a paper theory; it never was a reality; it never can be. There may be an ideal halting-place, there is neither a logical nor an actual one, between Romanism and the ordinary negations of Protestantism." The answer to the challenge then was, "Let us see if it cannot be realised. It has recognised foundations to build upon, and the impediments and interruptions which have hindered it are well known. Let us see if it will not turn out something more than a paper theory." That was the answer given at the time, abandoned ten years afterwards. But this at least may be said, that the longer experience of the last fifty years has shown that the Church of England has been working more and more on such a theory, and that the Church of England, whatever its faults may be, is certainly not a Church only on paper.

But on the principles laid down in this volume, the Roman controversy, in its varying forms, was carried on—for the time by Mr. Newman, permanently by the other leaders of the movement. In its main outlines, the view has become the accepted Anglican view. Many other most important matters have come into the debate. The publicly altered attitude of the Papacy has indefinitely widened the breach between England and Rome. But the fundamental idea of the relations and character of the two Churches remains the same as it was shadowed forth in 1836.

One very important volume on these questions ought not to be passed by without notice. This was the Treatise on the Church of Christ, 1838, by Mr. W. Palmer, who had already by his Origines of the English Ritual, 1832, done much to keep up that interest of Churchmen in the early devotional language of the Church, which had first been called forth by Bishop Lloyd's lectures on the Prayer Book. The Treatise on the Church was an honour to English theology and learning; in point of plan and structure we have few books like it.[72] It is comprehensive, methodical, well-compacted, and, from its own point of view, exhaustive. It is written with full knowledge of the state of the question at the time, both on the Anglican side and on the Roman. Its author evades no objection, and is aware of most. It is rigorous in form, and has no place for anything but substantial argument. It is a book which, as the Apologia tells us, commanded the respect of such an accomplished controversialist as Perrone; and, it may be added, of a theologian of an opposite school, Dr. Doellinger. It is also one on which the highest value has been set by Mr. Gladstone. It is remarkable that it did not exercise more influence on religious thought in Oxford at the critical time when it appeared. But it had defects, and the moment was against it. It was dry and formal—inevitably so, from the scientific plan deliberately adopted for it; it treated as problems of the theological schools, to be discussed by the rules of severe and passionless disputation, questions which were once more, after the interval of more than a century, beginning to touch hearts and consciences, and were felt to be fraught with the gravest practical issues. And Mr. Newman, in his mode of dealing with them, unsystematic, incomplete, unsatisfactory in many ways as it was, yet saw in them not abstract and scholastic inquiries, however important, but matters in which not only sound argument, but sympathy and quick intelligence of the conditions and working of the living minds around him, were needed to win their attention and interest. To persons accustomed to Mr. Newman's habit of mind and way of writing, his ease, his frankness, his candour, his impatience of conventionality, his piercing insight into the very centre of questions, his ever-ready recognition of nature and reality, his range of thought, his bright and clear and fearless style of argument, his undisplayed but never unfelt consciousness of the true awfulness of anything connected with religion, any stiff and heavy way of treating questions which he had treated would have seemed unattractive and unpersuasive. He had spoiled his friends for any mere technical handling, however skilful, of great and critical subjects. He himself pointed out in a review the unique merit and the real value of Mr. Palmer's book, pointing out also, significantly enough, where it fell short, both in substance and in manner. Observing that the "scientific" system of the English Church is not yet "sufficiently cleared and adjusted," and adding a variety of instances of this deficiency, he lets us see what he wanted done, where difficulties most pressed upon himself, and where Mr. Palmer had missed the real substance of such difficulties. Looking at it by the light of after-events, we can see the contradiction and reaction produced by Mr. Palmer's too optimist statements. Still, Mr. Newman's praise was sincere and discriminating. But Mr. Palmer's book, though never forgotten, scarcely became, what it at another time might well have become, an English text-book.


[68] Whately's Life, ed. 1875, pp. 187-190.

[69] Advertisement to vol. i. 1st Nov. 1834.

[70] Apologia, p. 139.

[71] Vide Lyra Apostolica, Nos. 170, 172:

How shall I name thee, Light of the wide West, Or heinous error-seat?... Oh, that thy creed were sound! For thou dost soothe the heart, thou Church of Rome, By thy unwearied watch and varied round Of service, in thy Saviour's holy home.

And comp. No. 171, The Cruel Church.

[72] "The most important theological work which has lately appeared is Mr. Palmer's Treatise on the Church.... Whatever judgment may be formed of the conclusions to which he has come on the variety of points which he had to consider, we cannot contemplate without admiration, and (if it were right) without envy, the thorough treatment which his subject has received at his hands. It is indeed a work quite in character with the religious movement which has commenced in various parts of the Church, displaying a magnificence of design similar to that of the Bishop of London's plan of fifty new churches, and Dr. Pusey, of Oxford's, projected translation of the Fathers."—Brit. Crit.. July 1838. Short Notices.



The first seven years of the movement, as it is said in the Apologia, had been years of prosperity. There had been mistakes; there had been opposition; there had been distrust and uneasiness. There was in some places a ban on the friends of Mr. Newman; men like Mr. James Mozley and Mr. Mark Pattison found their connexion with him a difficulty in the way of fellowships. But on the whole, things had gone smoothly, without any great breakdown, or any open collision with authority. But after 1840 another period was to begin of trouble and disaster. The seeds of this had been partially sown before in the days of quiet, and the time was come for their development. Differences in the party itself had been growing sharper; differences between the more cautious and the more fearless, between the more steady-going and the more subtle thinkers. The contrast between the familiar and customary, and the new—between the unknown or forgotten, and a mass of knowledge only recently realised—became more pronounced. Consequences of a practical kind, real or supposed; began to show themselves, and to press. And above all, a second generation, without the sobering experience of the first, was starting from where the first had reached to, and, in some instances, was rising up against their teachers' caution and patience. The usual dangers of all earnest and aggressive assertions of great principles appeared: contempt for everything in opinion and practice that was not advanced, men vying with each other in bold inferences, in the pleasure of "talking strong." With this grew fear and exasperation on the other side, misunderstandings, misgivings, strainings of mutual confidence, within. Dr. Hook alternated between violent bursts of irritation and disgust, and equally strong returns of sympathy, admiration, and gratitude; and he represented a large amount of feeling among Churchmen. It was but too clear that storms were at hand. They came perhaps quicker than they were anticipated.

Towards the end of 1838, a proposal was brought forward, for which in its direct aspect much might plausibly be said, but which was in intention and indirectly a test question, meant to put the Tractarians in a difficulty, and to obtain the weight of authority in the University against them. It was proposed to raise a subscription, and to erect a monument in Oxford, to the martyrs of the Reformation, Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer. Considering that the current and popular language dated the Church of England from the Reformation of the sixteenth century, and cited the Reformers as ultimate and paramount authorities on its doctrine, there was nothing unreasonable in such a proposal. Dr. Hook, strong Churchman as he was, "called to union on the principles of the English Reformation." But the criticism which had been set afloat by the movement had discovered and realised, what defenders of the English Church had hitherto felt it an act of piety to disbelieve, when put before them by Romanists like Lingard, and radicals like Cobbett. that the Reformers had been accomplices in many indefensible acts, and had been inconsistent and untrustworthy theologians. Providentially, it was felt, the force of old convictions and tradition and the historical events of the time had obliged them to respect the essentials of Catholic truth and polity and usage; we owed to them much that was beautiful and devotional in the Prayer Book; and their Articles, clear in all matters decided by the early theology, avoided foreign extremes in dealing with later controversies. But their own individual language was often far in advance of the public and official language of formularies, in the direction of the great Protestant authorities of Geneva and Zurich. There were still, even among the movement party, many who respected the Reformers for the work which they had attempted, and partly and imperfectly done, to be more wisely and soberly carried on by their successors of the seventeenth century. But the charges against their Calvinistic and even Zwinglian language were hard to parry; even to those who respected them for their connexion with our present order of things, their learning, their soundness, their authority appeared to be greatly exaggerated; and the reaction from excessive veneration made others dislike and depreciate them. This was the state of feeling when the Martyrs' Memorial was started. It was eagerly pressed with ingenious and persevering arguments by Mr. Golightly, the indefatigable and long-labouring opponent of all that savoured of Tractarianism. The appeal seemed so specious that at first many even of the party gave in their adhesion. Even Dr. Pusey was disposed to subscribe to it. But Mr. Newman, as was natural, held aloof; and his friends for the most part did the same. It was what was expected and intended. They were either to commit themselves to the Reformation as understood by the promoters of the Memorial; or they were to be marked as showing their disloyalty to it. The subscription was successful. The Memorial was set up, and stood, a derisive though unofficial sign of the judgment of the University against them.

But the "Memorial" made little difference to the progress of the movement. It was an indication of hostility in reserve, but this was all; it formed an ornament to the city, but failed as a religious and effective protest. Up to the spring of 1839, Anglicanism, placed on an intellectual basin by Mr. Newman, developed practically in different ways by Dr. Pusey and Dr. Hook, sanctioned in theory by divines who represented the old divinity of the English Church, like Bishop Phillpotts and Mr. H.J. Rose, could speak with confident and hopeful voice. It might well seem that it was on its way to win over the coming generations of the English clergy. It had on its side all that gives interest and power to a cause,—thought, force of character, unselfish earnestness; it had unity of idea and agreement in purpose, and was cemented by the bonds of warm affection and common sympathies. It had the promise of a nobler religion, as energetic and as spiritual as Puritanism and Wesleyanism, while it drew its inspiration, its canons of doctrine, its moral standards, from purer and more venerable sources;—from communion, not with individual teachers and partial traditions, but with the consenting teaching and authoritative documents of the continuous Catholic Church.

Anglicanism was agreed, up to this time—the summer of 1839—as to its general principles. Charges of an inclination to Roman views had been promptly and stoutly met; nor was there really anything but the ignorance or ill-feeling of the accusers to throw doubt on the sincerity of these disavowals. The deepest and strongest mind in the movement was satisfied; and his steadiness of conviction could be appealed to if his followers talked wildly and rashly. He had kept one unwavering path; he had not shrunk from facing with fearless honesty the real living array of reasons which the most serious Roman advocates could put forward. With a frankness new in controversy, he had not been afraid to state them with a force which few of his opponents could have put forth. With an eye ever open to that supreme Judge of all our controversies, who listens to them on His throne on high, he had with conscientious fairness admitted what he saw to be good and just on the side of his adversaries, conceded what in the confused wrangle of conflicting claims he judged ought to be conceded. But after all admissions and all concessions, the comparative strength of his own case appeared all the more undeniable. He had stripped it of its weaknesses, its incumbrances, its falsehoods; and it did not seem the weaker for being presented in its real aspect and on its real grounds. People felt that he had gone to the bottom of the question as no one had yet dared to do. He was yet staunch in his convictions; and they could feel secure.

But a change was at hand. In the course of 1839, the little cloud showed itself in the outlook of the future; the little rift opened, small and hardly perceptible, which was to widen into an impassable gulf. Anglicanism started with undoubted confidence in its own foundations and its own position, as much against Romanism as against the more recent forms of religion. In the consciousness of its strength, it could afford to make admissions and to refrain from tempting but unworthy arguments in controversy with Rome; indeed the necessity of such controversy had come upon it unexpectedly and by surprise. With English frankness, in its impatience of abuses and desire for improvement within, it had dwelt strongly on the faults and shortcomings of the English Church which it desired to remedy; but while allowing what was undeniably excellent in Rome, it had been equally outspoken and emphatic in condemnation of the evils of Rome. What is there to wonder at in such a position? It is the position of every honest reforming movement, at least in England. But Anglican self-reliance was unshaken, and Anglican hope waxed stronger as the years went on, and the impression made by Anglican teaching became wider and deeper. Outside attacks, outside persecution, could now do little harm; the time was past for that. What might have happened had things gone on as they began, it is idle to inquire. But at the moment when all seemed to promise fair, the one fatal influence, the presence of internal uncertainty and doubt, showed itself. The body of men who had so for acted together began to show a double aspect. While one portion of it continued on the old lines, holding the old ground, defending the old principles, and attempting to apply them for the improvement of the practical system of the English Church, another portion had asked the question, and were pursuing the anxious inquiry, whether the English Church was a true Church at all, a true portion of the one uninterrupted Catholic Church of the Redeemer. And the question had forced itself with importunate persistence on the leading mind of the movement. From this time the fate of Tractarianism, as a party, was decided.

In this overthrow of confidence, two sets of influences may be traced.

1. One, which came from above, from the highest leading authority in the movement, was the unsettlement of Mr. Newman's mind. He has told the story, the story as he believed of his enfranchisement and deliverance; and he has told the story, though the story of a deliverance, with so keen a feeling of its pathetic and tragic character,—as it is indeed the most tragic story of a conversion to peace and hope on record,—that it will never cease to be read where the English language is spoken. Up to the summer of 1839, his view of the English position had satisfied him—satisfied him, that is, as a tenable one in the anomalies of existing Christendom. All seemed clear and hopeful, and the one thing to be thought of was to raise the English Church to the height of its own standard. But in the autumn of that year (1839), as he has told us, a change took place. In the summer of 1839, he had set himself to study the history of the Monophysite controversy. "I have no reason," he writes, "to suppose that the thought of Rome came across my mind at all.... It was during this course of reading that for the first time a doubt came across me of the tenableness of Anglicanism. I had seen the shadow of a hand on the wall. He who has seen a ghost cannot be as if he had never seen it. The heavens had opened and closed again." To less imaginative and slower minds this seems an overwrought description of a phenomenon, which must present itself sometime or other to all who search the foundations of conviction; and by itself he was for the time proof against its force. "The thought for the moment had been, The Church of Rome will be found right after all; and then it had vanished. My old convictions remained as before." But another blow came, and then another. An article by Dr. Wiseman on the Donatists greatly disturbed him. The words of St. Augustine about the Donatists, securus judicat orbis terrarum, rang continually in his ears, like words out of the sky. He found the threatenings of the Monophysite controversy renewed in the Arian: "the ghost had come a second time." It was a "most uncomfortable article," he writes in his letters; "the first real hit from Romanism which has happened to me"; it gave him, as he says, "a stomach-ache." But he still held his ground, and returned his answer to the attack in an article in the British Critic, on the "Catholicity of the English Church." He did not mean to take the attack for more than it was worth, an able bit of ex parte statement. But it told on him, as nothing had yet told on him. What it did, was to "open a vista which was closed before, and of which he could not see the end"; "we are not at the bottom of things," was the sting it left behind From this time, the hope and exultation with which, in spite of checks and misgivings, he had watched the movement, gave way to uneasiness and distress. A new struggle was beginning, a long struggle with himself, a long struggle between rival claims which would not be denied, each equally imperious, and involving fatal consequences if by mistake the wrong one was admitted. And it was not only the effect of these thoughts on his own mind which filled him with grief and trouble. He always thought much for others; and now there was the misery of perhaps unsettling others—others who had trusted him with their very souls—others, to whom it was impossible to explain the conflicts which were passing in his own mind. It was so bitter to unsettle their hope and confidence. All through this time, more trying than his own difficulties, were the perplexities and sorrows which he foresaw for those whom he loved. Very illogical and inconsecutive, doubtless; if only he had had the hard heart of a proselytiser, he would have seen that it was his duty to undermine and shatter their old convictions. But he cared more for the tempers and beliefs in which he was at one with his Anglican friends, than for those in which they could not follow him. But the struggle came on gradually. What he feared at first was not the triumph of Rome, but the break-up of the English Church; the apparent probability of a great schism in it. "I fear I see more clearly that we are working up to a schism in the English Church, that is, a split between Peculiars and Apostolicals ... I never can be surprised at individuals going off to Rome, but that is not my chief fear, but a schism; that is, those two parties, which have hitherto got on together as they could, from the times of Puritanism downwards, gathering up into clear, tangible, and direct forces, and colliding. Our Church is not at one with itself, there is no denying it." That was at first the disaster before him. His thought for himself began to turn, not to Rome, but to a new life without office and authority, but still within the English Church. "You see, if things come to the worst, I should turn brother of charity in London." And he began to prepare for a move from Oxford, from St. Mary's, from his fellowship. He bought land at Littlemore, and began to plant. He asks his brother-in-law for plans for building what he calls a [Greek: monea]. He looks forward to its becoming a sort of Monastic school, but still connected with the University.

In Mr. Newman's view of the debate between England and Rome, he had all along dwelt on two broad features, Apostolicity and Catholicity, likeness to the Apostolic teaching, and likeness to the uninterrupted unity and extent of the undivided Church; and of those two features he found the first signally wanting in Rome, and the second signally wanting in England. When he began to distrust his own reasonings, still the disturbing and repelling element in Rome was the alleged defect of Apostolicity, the contrast between primitive and Roman religion; while the attractive one was the apparent widely extended Catholicity in all lands, East and West, continents and isles, of the world-wide spiritual empire of the Pope. It is these two great points which may be traced in their action on his mind at this crisis. The contrast between early and Roman doctrine and practice, in a variety of ways, some of them most grave and important, was long a great difficulty in the way of attempting to identify the Roman Church, absolutely and exclusively, with the Primitive Church. The study of antiquity indisposed him, indeed, more and more to the existing system of the English Church; its claims to model itself on the purity and simplicity of the Early Church seemed to him, in the light of its documents, and still more of the facts of history and life, more and more questionable. But modern Rome was just as distant from the Early Church though it preserved many ancient features, lost or unvalued by England. Still, Rome was not the same thing as the Early Church; and Mr. Newman ultimately sought a way out of his difficulty—and indeed there was no other—in the famous doctrine of Development. But when the difficulty about Apostolicity was thus provided for, then the force of the great vision of the Catholic Church came upon him, unchecked and irresistible. That was a thing present, visible, undeniable as a fact of nature; that was a thing at once old and new; it belonged as truly, as manifestly, to the recent and modern world of democracy and science, as it did to the Middle Ages and the Fathers, to the world of Gregory and Innocent, to the world of Athanasius and Augustine. The majesty, the vastness of an imperial polity, outlasting all states and kingdoms, all social changes and political revolutions, answered at once to the promises of the prophecies, and to the antecedent idea of the universal kingdom of God. Before this great idea, embodied in concrete form, and not a paper doctrine, partial scandals and abuses seemed to sink into insignificance. Objections seemed petty and ignoble; the pretence of rival systems impertinent and absurd. He resented almost with impatience anything in the way of theory or explanation which seemed to him narrow, technical, dialectical. He would look at nothing but what had on it the mark of greatness and largeness which befitted the awful subject, and was worthy of arresting the eye and attention of an ecclesiastical statesman, alive to mighty interests, compared to which even the most serious human affairs were dwarfed and obscured. But all this was gradual in coming. His recognition of the claims of the English Church, faulty and imperfect as he thought it, did not give way suddenly and at once. It survived the rude shock of 1839, From first to almost the last she was owned as his "mother"—owned in passionate accents of disappointment and despair as a Church which knew not how to use its gifts; yet still, even though life seemed failing her, and her power of teaching and ruling seemed paralysed, his mother; and as long as there seemed to him a prospect of restoration to health, it was his duty to stay by her.[73] This was his first attitude for three or four years after 1839. He could not speak of her with the enthusiasm and triumph of the first years of the movement. When he fought her battles, it was with the sense that her imperfections made his task the harder. Still he clung to the belief that she held a higher standard than she had yet acted up to, and discouraged and perplexed he yet maintained her cause. But now two things happened. The Roman claims, as was natural when always before him, seemed to him more and more indisputable. And in England his interpretation of Anglican theology seemed to be more and more contradicted, disavowed, condemned, by all that spoke with any authority in the Church. The University was not an ecclesiastical body, yet it had practically much weight in matters of theology; it informally, but effectually, declared against him. The Bishops, one by one, of course only spoke as individuals; but they were the official spokesmen of the Church, and their consent, though not the act of a Synod, was weighty—they too had declared against him. And finally that vague but powerful voice of public opinion, which claims to represent at once the cool judgment of the unbiassed, and the passion of the zealous—it too declared against him. Could he claim to understand the mind of the Church better than its own organs?

Then at length a change came; and it was marked outwardly by a curious retractation of his severe language about Rome, published in a paper called the Conservative Journal, in January 1843; and more distinctly, by his resignation of St. Mary's in September 1843, a step contemplated for some time, and by his announcement that he was preparing to resign his fellowship. From this time he felt that he could no longer hold office, or be a champion of the English Church; from this time, it was only a matter of waiting, waiting to make quite certain that he was right and was under no delusion, when he should leave her for the Roman Communion. And to his intimate friends, to his sisters, he gave notice that this was now impending. To the world outside, all that was known was that he was much unsettled and distressed by difficulties.

It may be asked why this change was not at this time communicated, not to a few intimates, but to the world? Why did he not at this time hoist his quarantine flag and warn every one that he was dangerous to come near? So keen a mind must, it was said, have by this time foreseen how things would end; he ought to have given earlier notice. His answer was that he was sincerely desirous of avoiding, as far as possible, what might prejudice the Church in which he had ministered, even at the moment of leaving her. He saw his own way becoming clearer and clearer; but he saw it for himself alone. He was not one of those who forced the convictions of others; he was not one of those who think it a great thing to be followed in a serious change by a crowd of disciples. Whatever might be at the end, it was now an agonising wrench to part from the English body, to part from the numbers of friends whose loyalty was immovable, to part from numbers who had trusted and learned from him. Of course, if he was in the right way, he could wish them nothing better than that they should follow him. But they were in God's hands; it was not his business to unsettle them; it was not his business to ensnare and coerce their faith. And so he tried for this time to steer his course alone. He wished to avoid observation. He was silent on all that went on round him, exciting as some of the incidents were. He would not he hurried; he would give himself full time; he would do what he could to make sure that he was not acting under the influence of a delusion.

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