Chapter 10. The Achilli Trial (1851-1853)

{275} TWO incidents during the course of the Corn Exchange lectures were fraught with momentous consequences. On July 8, Dr. Cullen, Archbishop of Armagh, paid a visit to the Oratory, and asked Newman to undertake as Rector the foundation of a Catholic University in Ireland. Sir Robert Peel's Queen's Colleges of Galway and Cork had been banned by the Irish episcopate. They were founded by Peel in 1846 with a genuine desire of giving Irish Catholics facilities for University education on the same terms as their fellow countrymen. Trinity College was still Protestant in its constitution; the new colleges were undenominational. Dr. Murray, Archbishop of Dublin, had favoured their acceptance by Catholics, in the belief that just as the undenominational primary education had in Catholic districts fallen into Catholic hands and fulfilled all the practical purposes of Catholic schools, so the Queen's Colleges at Cork and Galway, from their situation amid an overwhelming majority of Catholics in the population, would become practically Catholic. It was a moment, however, when the opposition to 'mixed' education was very pronounced in Rome. In addition, Dr. Cullen objected to the colleges, and his influence in Rome was great. Gregory XVI. opposed the colleges, and when his successor Pius IX. returned to the Vatican after the troubles of 1848 and 1849, his policy was in this respect similar to that of his predecessor. Moreover, Peel went out of office in 1846, and the prospect of the Queen's Colleges really giving Catholics fair play became far less hopeful. The synod of Thurles in 1850, by the narrow majority of one, finally endorsed the policy of Dr. Cullen and decreed the foundation of a Catholic University {276} for Ireland. The great work done by the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium—at the outset not a State foundation, but a private enterprise—was an encouraging precedent. And the distinguished name of Newman appeared to Dr. Cullen to promise great things for the success of the scheme if he could be persuaded to take part in it. Newman accepted the proposal in circumstances which shall be detailed in a future chapter. The second event to which I refer was Newman's famous indictment of Dr. Achilli in the Corn Exchange lectures, and the resulting action for libel. It struck Newman most painfully that the great mass of his fellow-countrymen were not at all satisfied with the charges against Catholicism preferred by respectable enemies, but deliberately welcomed the lies of notorious blackguards. Newman's old Oxford friend, Blanco White, had brought a very severe indictment against the Catholic Church, of which he had been a member in his boyhood. To any fair-minded man his accusations bore at least the stamp of honesty. But they left Rome human and not monstrous. The English palate was accustomed to much stronger meat in the current No-popery literature. Blanco White's testimony was therefore ignored by the English public. And to whom did they listen? The very public which assumed the most elevated moral tone in its horror of papist corruption, which championed scrupulous veracity against papist equivocation, fair play and toleration against the ways of the Inquisition, flocked in crowds to learn the case against Rome from the lectures of an unfrocked priest, not only without a character of any kind, but one who might without exaggeration be described as a portent of immorality. This was Dr. Giacinto Achilli, formerly a Dominican friar, now a public lecturer in London, his subjects being the scandals of the Roman Inquisition.

Achilli had been arrested by the Cardinal Vicar of Rome under the Pontifical Government and imprisoned by the Inquisition for preaching against the Catholic religion and taking part in revolutionary agitation. He had gained his freedom through the influence of Englishmen; and he came to England in 1850, and thenceforth posed as a released prisoner of the Inquisition whose sole crime had been disbelief in the mummeries of Rome. The moment was an {277} opportune one. The No-popery fever created by the Papal Aggression clamoured for scandals in the Church of Rome to feed the public mind. And these Dr. Achilli liberally supplied. Hardly any manifestation of opinion in modern times illustrated the bigoted credulity of the No-popery party in England more forcibly than the acclaim accorded to Achilli. This disreputable priest (as he is now universally admitted to have been) wrote gravely to the Christian Times on February 22, 1851, advocating the establishment of a college in England for evangelising Italy, and the suggestion was hailed with applause by the British public. He had received special attentions on his first arrival from Lord Palmerston as Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and a deputation from the Council of the Evangelical Alliance tendered to the Foreign Minister their formal thanks in an interminable sentence, 'for the important and valuable services which in the exercise of a generous philanthropy, and a sacred regard to the claims of truth and of conscience, combined with a discriminating wisdom, worthy of his exalted and responsible position, his lordship had been able to render,' &c. &c. 'Dr. Achilli accompanied the deputation,' so we read in the report, 'to express formally his obligations to Lord Palmerston, and was most kindly received, his lordship conversing with him at some length in Italian.' [Note 1] {278}

Cardinal Wiseman wrote an article in the Dublin Review of July 1850, giving a detailed account, with dates and places, of Dr. Achilli's offences against morality. The article, though republished as a pamphlet, was never either replied to or protested against by Achilli. It supplied very effective material for Newman's lecture; yet with his usual caution he inquired of James Hope-Scott, before making use of it, whether to repeat the charges in a lecture was to incur any risk of a libel action.

'Could you off hand answer me a question?' he writes on July 16; 'could I be had up for a libel, in criminal court or civil, for saying against Dr. Achilli the contents of the Article in the Dublin, since published as a pamphlet? I can't make out he has answered it. It contains the gravest charges, ... with many of the legal documents proving them.'

Hope-Scott replied that a libel prosecution was possible, but not probable. He thought that the risk might be taken in the circumstances, and Newman delivered his lecture on July 28.

The fourth lecture had dealt with Blanco White, the respectable hater of Catholicism, whose testimony wholly failed to satisfy the British appetite for No-popery scandals. In this—the fifth lecture—he depicted the greed with which this same public, which would not listen to even the half-defence of Catholicism which the words of an honest man could not avoid supplying, sucked in the lying charges of a profligate ex-friar, the burden of whose accusation was the intolerance and persecuting injustice of the Inquisition. Newman accumulated instances of flagrant and violent exhibitions of bigotry against Catholics called forth by the so-called 'Papal aggression.' 'Such,' he continued, 'are some of the phenomena of a Religion which makes it its special boast to be the Prophet of Toleration. And in the midst of outrages such as these, my brothers of the Oratory, wiping its mouth, and clasping its hands, and turning up its eyes, it trudges to the Town Hall to hear Dr. Achilli expose the Inquisition.'

Then followed an account of the career of the man whose testimony Englishmen flocked to hear, and treated as gospel,— {279} an account reproduced precisely from Dr. Wiseman's article and giving instances of immorality astonishing in frequency and unblushing publicity [Note 2]. If so public a treatment of the theme now startles us to read, it must be remembered that it was a moment of immense tension. Flagrant calumnies against Catholics were in daily circulation. Newman realised that his blow must be unflinching and must be struck with all his might.

Hope-Scott proved wrong in his confidence. Achilli took note of the exasperation of public feeling. The crowd was longing to hit back at the brilliant Oratorian. A jury of {280} twelve tradesmen was likely to be on Achilli's side. Newman was bigger game than Wiseman and the Dublin Review. Within a month of the lecture Achilli did bring an action for libel. Newman had relied entirely on the Dublin article, and had no evidence whatever to produce, apart from such papers as Dr. Wiseman could give him. He was a poor man, and though he did not anticipate what proved to be the actual amount of the expenses incurred, he knew that they must be heavy, and he had no means of defraying them. On the other hand, to withdraw the charges would be in effect to plead guilty at the least to rash defamation of character on the part of Dr. Wiseman as well as himself, and to admit little less of the bulk of Catholics who had applauded him. He had his hands already more than full, first with the remaining Corn Exchange lectures and then with the preparation of the inaugural discourses for his Irish Rectorship. Everything seemed to go against Newman from the first. A compromise was suggested; but the bigotry of the time proved too strong. A mere withdrawal of the charges so worded as not to imply a denial of their truth was declined by the prosecution. And to declare them false Newman would not consent.

Cardinal Wiseman was applied to, as the authority for the charges; but in the stress of that troublous time he seemed to Newman only to give half his mind to the affair. He could not at once find the documents on which he had relied in his article, and Newman believed that he had not even looked for them [Note 3]. The Oratorian fathers went to Naples to collect evidence, but the Cardinal's introductions proved insufficient to gain them access to the police books. Then again the plea of 'Not guilty' put in in Newman's behalf in place of the sole plea of justification proved to be unfortunate. Mr. Henry Matthews (afterwards Lord Llandaff) urged the importance of confining the plea to that of 'justification' not only as the more dignified course, but also as securing the right of opening the case—no small matter when a prejudiced jury has to be influenced. Mr. Matthews' view was rejected as shutting the door to all possibility of escaping technically from responsibility for accusations for which Cardinal Wiseman in {281} the Dublin Review had been primarily responsible. This hope proved illusory, and an advantage was thus lost with no corresponding gain. Newman hoped for fair treatment at all events from his judge; but Lord Campbell, who was to try the case, was one of the prominent spokesmen of the anti-Catholic agitation, and showed marked hostility to the Oratorian from the beginning. Indeed, Newman learnt from his lawyer, Mr. Lewin, that there was a Protestant feeling among all the judges. He felt that he was in the hands of enemies. He had hoped in the case of so flagrant a wrong-doer to obtain written affidavits from Achilli's victims, which would save the expense of importing foreign witnesses; but the trial was fixed for an early date, and mere affidavits from witnesses abroad were (his counsel told him) legally insufficient after the date was determined. Witnesses had not only to be found, but to be brought to England, in order to give evidence personally. Then again, at one moment, there was every symptom that insufficient time would be given to procure the evidence at all. We see in his letters the intense strain of anxiety which this state of things caused. However, he had good friends, and by dint of great exertions enough witnesses to establish many of the charges were ready and at hand by the beginning of February 1852. It was at this time of hard work and anxiety that the Oratorians were preparing to enter their present home in Hagley Road, Edgbaston. The actual move was effected on April 15.

One of those who was most successful in finding witnesses and bringing them to England has left a record showing the difficulty of the task—Miss Maria Rosina Giberne, the old friend of Newman's family. We see in her account the absolute trust and loving promptness on which he could count from his loyal disciples. For this hard task was undertaken by Miss Giberne without a word—no questions asked, no difficulties raised. 'One evening,' writes Miss Giberne, 'after I had been to confession (the confessional was then in a guest-room) the Father leaning against a mantelpiece said to me "I think you can be very useful to us in this affair." Without thinking how or when, or in what capacity, I could be useful to him I arose and said, "I am ready at your service," and my heart beat with joy {282} at the thought of suffering with him to whom I was devoted. He continued, "We are obliged to get witnesses from Italy who are women. They are more likely to be willing to come with a lady than with one of us, so we think of sending you to find them." "And when, Father?" "At once, I think: but I will tell you tomorrow the decision of the Committee." … Next day it was decided that I should start on the following morning (December 6) at six. I asked him timidly how I was to set about the finding of the women. He took a weight off my mind by saying that Father Joseph [Gordon] was already in Rome with a lawyer looking for them, and that all I should have to do was to keep them and amuse them in England, until the trial.'

After many adventures, including a fire on board ship in which lives were lost, this devoted emissary reached Rome. The lawyer and Father Joseph Gordon had already found one of the victims of Achilli. She was confided to the care of Miss Giberne—whom she at first supposed to be another of those whom the apostate had injured. Eleanor Valenta, as this woman was named, consented to come with her husband Vincenzo and bear witness at the trial. At Paris other witnesses from Naples joined them. The task of keeping the Italians in good humour while the weary months dragged on, and the delays of English law, administered in this case with intention to throw difficulties in the way of justice, involved a strain on the nerves from which Newman's devoted disciple suffered long afterwards. The women quarrelled. The men who accompanied them drank too much. Four months were spent in Paris—the great help and consolation being the encouragement of the great Jesuit, Père de Ravignan, to whom Miss Giberne went to confession, and who made her rejoice in her suffering for the cause of God and the Church. Vincenzo towards the end was thoroughly bored by his surroundings, and said he should leave the rooms assigned to him by Miss Giberne and go to an hotel. His keeper was firm, and declared that if he did so she should not allow him a penny to pay his hotel bill. His wrath was gradually mollified and he consented to remain. Miss Giberne proposed to his wife as a peace-offering to increase Vincenzo's allowance of cigars from two to three {283} a day. 'Her reply,' she adds, 'was too characteristic of an Italian for me to omit—"Signora! there are three Persons in the Trinity, but two cigars are enough for Vincenzo."' After five months in Paris they crossed to Dover in April for the trial; but it was again put off. Miss Giberne's devotion was in the end rewarded, for these witnesses proved the best at the trial.

Newman's own letters illustrate vividly the sequence of events. He seems in them at times to be almost overwhelmed by anxiety and depression, and anticipates a premature old age to be brought on by worry. Yet the feeling that the Catholic, like the early Christian, must suffer for the truth, and should welcome suffering, appears again and again, in one whose fortitude could not substitute a thick skin for the abnormally thin one which nature had given him.

I select the following to Hope-Scott, to W. G. Ward, to Mr. Capes, to Mr. and Mrs. W. Froude, and to Sister Imelda Poole and Mother Margaret Mary Hallahan, of the Dominican Community at Stone, whose sympathy and prayers were very much to him.

To W. G. Ward he writes in November of the general state of the case:

'Oratory, Birmingham.
'My dear Ward,—The marvellous mistakes which have been made show most strikingly that God's hand is in the whole matter. As to its hurting my influence, it is absurd, but it will be a most severe cross.

'I have anticipated it since August last ... Nothing has been wanting on my part in vigilance and promptitude. I will tell you in confidence the origines mali.

'1. The Cardinal, who did not look for his documents till the hour when the Rule was made absolute, and it was too late. In that hour he looked and found. Father Hutchison brought them to me. I took up my hat and went to Lewin. He had just returned from Westminster. It was all over.

'2. The Cardinal ditto, who sent our dear Fathers to Naples with introductions not strong enough to open the Police books. They were told there that everything could have been done had the Cardinal been more alive.

'3. The Attorney General, who said confidently that we should gain till Easter—who took it for granted, and threw {284} us off our guard completely. Consequently the affidavit was drawn up as a form, and the Attorney General had it with him several days before he brought it into Court. When it was unsuccessful, Badeley drew up other and stronger affidavits, but the Attorney General would have nothing to do with them.

'4. Lord Campbell, who from the first has been against me. I brought the point of the Dublin Review before my lawyers, but they said it would only tell in mitigation of the punishment—as, indeed, Hope had told me before I published the passage.

'I cannot help thinking matters will go on to conviction and imprisonment; but for three months I have been saying "Nothing but prayer will save me," and I have been a Cassandra—my words have fallen idle, men have but laughed.
'Ever yours affectionately,
J. H. N.'

The proposal of a compromise—which was favoured by the Bishops whom Newman consulted—is fully considered in the following memorandum, sent on November 25, to James Hope-Scott:

Reasons for a Compromise.

'1. Since the charge if not true is a most scandalous libel, directly there is a verdict of guilty a most heavy punishment follows.

'2. For instance, imprisonment for a year.

'3. The charge cannot be proved, except by evidence as good as if I were actually prosecuting Achilli for seduction, adultery, &c.

'4. Thus it is undertaking a series of separate indictments.

'5. It will not be enough, merely to prove every one; some at least must be fully brought home to him.

'6. They are of a nature proverbially difficult to prove.

'7. They will require a number of witnesses, at a great expense.

'8. The most trustworthy witnesses break down in the witness box.

'9. We are in a state of extreme uncertainty what our evidence amounts to. We have at present no evidence at all, and do not know whether we shall get even what might be got.

'10. The judge will certainly find me guilty if he can.

'11. And the jury is certain of giving it against me. {285}

'12. And my own lawyers, as being lawyers, are obliged to go by legal forms and traditions, not aiming at moral effect.

'13. The person put on his trial is one who has a great deal to lose.

'14. E.g. my Irish engagement would be completely disarranged by a year's imprisonment.

'15. We must then look defeat in the face.

'16. In cases like this, the Catholic Church has commonly given way, if she could not make a point. It is a question of expedience.

'17. Her Bishops flee in persecution.

'18. St. Ambrose would not have resisted Justina, unless he knew he should be backed up by the Catholic people.

'19. Mr. Weale was sent to prison, and excited no popular (Catholic) feeling.

'20. Dr. McNeil and Mr. Stowell said priests deserved death, and roused no popular (Catholic) feeling.

'21. The judges, to guard against the chance, might merely insult me with a lecture, and cripple me with a fine.

'22. It is not right to suffer for the mere sake of suffering, when Catholic interests are involved.

'23. Suffering only tells, when it is also a fact, as intimately influencing and shared by the whole Catholic body.

'24. I will gladly take the whole risk, if the Catholic body will make my cause theirs. Is this likely?

'25. If then it can be done honourably, a compromise is expedient.

'26. There is nothing dishonourable in yielding to necessity, e.g. running away from a wild beast.

'27. It is not fair to bring a great Catholic question before a Protestant judge and jury.

'28. To submit at this moment is explained to the world by the fact of the judges having refused me time.

'29. Achilli will be detected on the long run without our trouble.

'30. A withdrawal of the passage is not a recantation.

'31. It must anyhow be withdrawn shortly, for conviction involves it.

'32. It is withdrawn already, for the Lecture is put out of circulation.

'33. A compromise does but anticipate what will soon be done with worse concomitants.'

The Dominican sisters at Stone had proposed a 'triduo,' or three days' prayer, for Father Newman in his trouble and {286} anxiety. In reference to this suggestion he wrote to his friend Sister Imelda Poole:

'Oratory, Birmingham: Nov. 25, 1851.
'Just now is a most critical time, since you ask, but for what I know the crisis was over yesterday, and before this letter goes we may know about it. We have an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on the matter this evening.

'What is going on is an attempt at a Compromise ... Thus I have not known whether to write to you at once or wait. Perhaps it is refused, and then there is urgent need of a triduo ...

'The need, if it is refused, for a triduo, is that we all may have strength to bear God's blessed will. Tomorrow we begin a Novena to the Holy Ghost for that object. Your good Mother may if she will, and I will thank her, add the intention of my deliverance from the snare of the hunter, but let the main intention be, that we—that I, may have fortitude, patience, peace, to bear His sweet will withal.

'Since the middle of August I have been saying with St. Andrew, "O bona crux, diu desiderata." I was going to bring mention of it into my concluding lecture, but found it would not be in keeping—and now it is coming as we approach St. Andrew's Day.

'You will see I expect the matter will go on. I hope, I pray it will not. I may be fanciful, but I cannot divest myself of the notion that it will. I have anticipated evil from the first:—i.e. if it can be called evil. Anyhow it is no harm to offer myself in expectation and in will, a sacrifice to Him who bore the judgment seat and the prison of the unbeliever. Lawyers tell me that the chance is, I shall have a year's imprisonment.

'Everything has gone so wonderfully hitherto—as if our dear Lord were taking the matter into His own hands, and utterly destroying all human means. He has let me be bound as in a net, and, as I said to Sister M. Agnes Philomena near three months ago, with intense conviction, nothing but prayer can break the bond. It will be prayer has unlocked the fetter if we can say "Laqueus contritus est; et nos liberati sumus."

'When it flashed on my mind at the beginning of September that I might go to prison, I said, "May I come out a Saint!" I don't say that now when things are more real, but, "May it be accepted for my sins." I have all my life been speaking about suffering for the Truth,—now it has come upon me.' {287}

To Mr. Capes he wrote thus:

'Nov. 27/51.
'The series of strange occurrences connected with this matter it is impossible to convey to any one who is not with me. If the devil raised a physical whirlwind, rolled me up in sand, whirled me round, and then transported me some thousands of miles, it would not be more strange, though it would be more imposing a visitation. I have been kept in ignorance and suspense; incomprehensibly, every now and then a burst of malignant light showing some new and unexpected prospect.

'This morning, when I thought a negotiation for a compromise coming on, suddenly I have a letter not even alluding to this, but saying the trial is to come on in February, and that Mr. Harting, the Cardinal's Lawyer, is to go abroad in two days to get evidence.

'Last week I was whirled up to Town by telegraphic despatch to be told that the Attorney General had quite taken us in, and that we were to have no time granted us, whereas he assured us of a period till Easter Term to answer Achilli's affidavit.

'For three months I have been soliciting information from abroad—but I can't get people even to write to me ...

'All this shows it is God's hand—I have abundance of prayers—I shall have more. If people would but have believed me three months ago, it had been well—but they laughed at my fears—but all is well, victory or defeat. The Church is never more dangerous than when she seems helpless.'

The compromise was refused by the other side, and Newman announces the fact in a letter to Hope-Scott:

'Nov. 30, 1851.
'There is no settlement, but a fight, as Badeley and I, not to say you, expected. It is a great comfort to be out of suspense, and out of responsibility on the point. Another comfort in the last three days is, that money seems to be amply forthcoming. A number of persons have undertaken to guarantee the expenses and have opened an account. And a third cause of satisfaction and thankfulness is, that documents have come from Rome. They promise well, if they are received in Court. The lawyer employed, Mr. Harting, goes off tomorrow—there is abundance of evidence, but the difficulty is bringing it across the Continent.'

Further good news is told to Sister Imelda in January: {288}

'January 9, 1852.
'Your prayers and those of other good friends are telling. It is but a beginning, still it gives hope. We have prevailed on one woman to come—unless she changes her mind. How necessary then is prayer! Prayer alone can do anything—it is like the uplifting of Moses' hands in battle. I write this in gratitude to you—but withal, if I may say it, in encouragement.

'The news came to us on the last day of a Novena which we were holding here to St. Anthony for the discovery of sufficient witnesses. I do trust he and other Saints will continue to hear us—else, we are done for. The more we advance, the more, by one false step or omission, we may lose. As I told Sister Mary Agnes months ago, that if I failed, I should say "It's all those idle nuns," so, if I succeed, through God's mercy, I shall say, "It's all those good, zealous, persevering nuns."'

The suggestion of the Dominicans at Stone that they should pray before the image of Our Lady for his success in the law Courts received a very characteristic reply—alike in its simple faith and in its caution against over-confident hope for a visible interposition of Providence. The nuns did not wholly appreciate the caution, and criticised the son of St. Philip Neri for his scepticism, to which Newman had to plead guilty. He urged however the plea of justification:

'I smiled,' he writes to Sister Imelda on January 12, 'at the cleverness with which you are attempting to get up a miraculous Image in England. Now as to your proposal, I have this difficulty, that it is taxing our Blessed Lady unfairly—not her power, but her willingness. For observe, you are asking no public benefit of her. The Church will be quite enough vindicated if I gain a moral victory, not a legal—and this I have ever thought most probable. I have ever thought it probable that I should demolish the poor man, and yet be found "guilty" myself. I have thought so, first because it is fitting I should not demolish him without my own suffering; and moreover (remarkable it is and I could say more about it) just a year ago, in a sermon I preached at the Cathedral and afterwards published, I said by anticipation that I should be content with the bargain of getting off badly myself, if my cause prospered. Moreover, humanly speaking, this must be, for if I fail in proving against him any one of the {289} many things I have said, I am found guilty. On the other hand, since Achilli only did harm by being believed, if I succeed in showing his utter worthlessness, I have done what I aimed at—i.e. it is enough for all public objects, as distinct from my own, if I gain a moral victory by proving several things distinctly against him.

'Now what right have I, for the sake of my private ends, to put your Image on trial? It has done everything for you,—because you have asked what you ought to ask. Now you wish me to ask a very hard thing, and that (in a way) selfishly, and you make me say to our Lady, "Do it, under pain of your Image losing its repute."

'Now I do want light thrown upon this. I assuredly have a simple faith in the omnipotence of her intercession—and I know well (not to say my Lord expressly tells me) that we can not ask too much, so that we are but importunate and unwearied in asking. Still it is just possible, and rather more than possible, that it is His blessed will that I should suffer—and though I don't think so quite so much as I did, yet somehow at first sight I do not like to be unkind, if I may use such a word to your Image.

'I wish Reverend Mother to think over this difficulty—and I shall expect her answer to be a serious and honest one without thought of me.'

To the same correspondent he writes two days later:

'I will not get you into any more scrapes with Reverend Mother. I gladly avail myself of her offer,—and promise that if her Madonna gains my acquittal I will gladly come to Clifton, preach a sermon in her honour, and, if it is consistent with your rules, carry her in procession.'

To the Reverend Mother herself he writes:

'Thank you with all my heart for what you are so kindly intending to gain for me.

'Thank you also for the reproof you have administered to me. I know well I am an unbelieving old beast; and so perhaps in this instance. Recollect, however, dear Reverend Mother, that our House in Birmingham is erected under the Invocation of the Immaculate Mother of God, as beseems an Oratory of St. Philip—and is dedicated to her for ever, and that you will not please her by abusing him.'

The success of Miss Giberne in bringing witnesses was an immense relief to Newman. But it was immediately followed {290} by fresh anxiety. The enemy got wind of the arrival of the witnesses, and postponed the trial. The witnesses had to be kept indefinitely at Newman's expense, and money was not abundant. He writes to Sister Imelda:

'March 7/52.
'I wish I could give you good news. It is sad to think how many prayers, how much money, I am exacting—but the prayers do good in some way or other, while the money apparently makes to itself wings, and vanishes.

'When our opponents found that we had good witnesses, they, who had been in such breathless haste up to that moment, and had refused me a moment, so precious was Achilli's character, took just the opposite course. They put off the trial—we find they can do so for eight months—meanwhile our witnesses are costing 40l. a week and wish to go … Hitherto my opponents have had the face to say that I am delaying it—with the fact of the expense of my witnesses before them. Yet Achilli's solicitors who do all this are highly respectable men. Is it not wonderful?'

Five weeks later he hoped that the delay was at an end, and wrote on April 16 to Sister Imelda:

'The trial will come on the beginning of May; that is one comfort—for which we should be thankful. Now your Madonna must do her part—for still I am haunted with the idea that the Church will gain and I suffer. Still I have prayed for absolute success and triumph.'

Yet another delay came, and the trial was not until June. Meanwhile the Irish campaign—to be described later—had begun. The lectures on the 'Scope and Nature of University Education' were written, and the first was delivered in the Rotunda at Dublin on May 10, the second following a week later. Hard work, many trials and anxieties, and considerable incidental success accompanied this enterprise, which will be more fully described later on. I only refer to it here in order to recall the strain on Newman's mind at a time when he most needed rest, and leisure to concentrate his attention on one subject.

The Dublin discourses were concluded on June 7.

On June 21 the trial began. The court was crowded, and the trial lasted five days, until June 25. Lord Campbell {291} was the judge; Sir Alexander Cockburn was Newman's principal counsel, assisted by Mr. Serjeant Wilkins and Mr. Badeley; while for the plaintiff appeared the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General.

Called into the box, Achilli denied all the charges against him. He adhered to his statement that he was condemned by the Inquisition on grounds of doctrine. The following account of the ex-friar as he appeared in the witness-box is taken from a contemporary writer:

'He is a plain-featured, middle-sized man, about fifty years of age, and his face is strongly Italian. His forehead is low and receding, his nose prominent, the mouth and the muscles around it full of resolution and courage. He wears a black wig, the hair of which is perfectly straight, and being close shaved, this wig gives to his appearance a certain air of the conventicle. Yet he retains many traces of the Roman Catholic priest, especially in his bearing, enunciation, and features, which have a sort of stealthy grace about them. His eyes are deep-set and lustrous, and with his black hair, dark complexion, and sombre, demure aspect, leaves an impression on the mind of the observer by no means agreeable, and not readily to be forgotten. The questions put to him by his own counsel he answered with great clearness, and in a calm, unwavering, quiet manner, without any trace of strong excitement, or feelings deeply roused. Sometimes a slight, contemptuous smile accompanied his denials of opposing evidence, and once or twice he even seemed to treat points merrily. Yet at certain portions of his examination, without losing his self-possession, he became more animated. His dark, sunken eyes flashed fire as he listened and replied to the questions put. This was particularly the case when he was cross-examined by Sir Alexander Cockburn on the more material points of the libel, and especially when he was confronted by the Italian women who had sworn that he had debauched them. The effect produced by the meetings was quite dramatic, the poor women eyeing their alleged seducer with half-timid, yet steady glances, while he, his face overcome for the moment with a slight pallor, turned upon them looks that seemed to pierce through them.'

The case as it proceeded was resolved into a question of perjury. On the one hand was Dr. Achilli, who said that {292} his record was a clean one; on the other was a crowd of people who testified to his acts of gross immorality. Achilli had all to gain; the opposing witnesses had all to lose. Many of them were now respectably married; it was only reasonable, as Sir Alexander Cockburn pointed out, to believe their evidence, because the fact of their being married was enough to have prevented their coming forward had not their stories been true. Again, they were many, and their evidence was not shaken. Against their mass of testimony, against facts admittedly proved which established the plea that Achilli was not worthy credence, there was nothing but his bare word. It speaks ill for the jury system of this country to say that the verdict—on June 25—was for the plaintiff. The judge summed up with an obvious and flagrant bias, and thanked God that there was no Inquisition in this country—his remark being received with roars of applause. The jury found that of the twenty-three justificatory charges put forward by the defence, only one had been proved—viz. that Achilli had been deprived of his professorship and forbidden to preach. The remaining twenty-two 'were not proved to their satisfaction,' and Dr. Newman was accordingly found guilty of libel.

In a leading article the Times spoke of the three days' proceedings as 'indecorous in their nature, unsatisfactory in their result, and little calculated to increase the respect of the people for the administration of justice or the estimation by foreign nations of the English name and character.'

'We consider,' the article added, 'that a great blow has been given to the administration of justice in this country, and that Roman Catholics will henceforth have only too good reason for asserting that there is no justice for them in cases tending to arouse the Protestant feelings of judges and juries.' These remarks represent the opinion of the educated public.

Dr. Achilli was no longer in the public eye an innocent martyr whose testimony against Romanism was unimpeachable. Evidence which could not in a moment prevail with the jury against the wonderful anti-Catholic bigotry of the time gradually sank into the public mind and had its effect. Even {293} apart from his past life in Italy, there were the strongest proofs that Achilli had continued since his arrival in England to disgrace himself. One after another the servant girls at the houses in which he had lodged quite recently, gave evidence against him [Note 4]. The jury would not believe them. But the public did. Achilli's teeth were drawn; he ceased to be an effective champion of the Protestant religion; and he shortly disappeared from the public view.

Newman wrote to Sister Imelda on the day on which the verdict was given:

'June 25, 1852.
'You see how Almighty Wisdom has determined things. I trust however we have got a good deal by the trial, i.e. have proved our case to the satisfaction of the world—though I suppose when November comes and I am brought up for judgment I shall suffer, but this is in God's hands. Do not think I am cast down about it; your prayers and penances cannot be lost.'

To the Reverend Mother he wrote two days later:

'In gaining so many prayers, I gain an inestimable benefit. Whoever loses, I gain. I went on saying to the last moment, "I will not believe, till I see it, that our Lady and St. Philip will suffer it"—and now I am quite sure it is only for some greater good. It is quite impossible it should be otherwise. Already there is but one opinion, that Catholics have been unfairly dealt with. When I came down here, I feared there might be a mob about the chapel. Nothing of the kind—the ultra Protestant publisher, Ragg, has not even put up in his windows any notice about Achilli and me.

'Mary is taking the best way, depend upon it, for our victory. My only flaw is, lest desperation should carry on our enemies to still more flagrant acts. They talked of prosecuting our witnesses for perjury when I was in London! and I was advised to go off to France! I did send the poor Italians off to France directly. They can only account for my many witnesses, by calling it a conspiracy of priests, and that I have bribed them all; but every one sees through it.' {294}

'My only pain,' he writes on the same day to Sister Mary Agnes Philip Moore, 'is that of reading the too kind letters of my friends—and that I assure you is real pain.

'Last November when I had before me a boundless ocean of expense, responsibility, and trouble, and in February again, when the horizon was indefinitely removed from me, then I felt pain—but I have no pain at all now. When November comes, for what I know, I may have pain for a day or two, but I cannot tell. I am sure so many prayers ought to make me better, and I am sensible they do not—and this is pain—but it is not the trial and its consequences that pain me. For twenty years I have been writing in verse and prose about suffering for the Truth's sake, and I have no right to complain, if, after having almost courted the world's injustice, I suffer it.'

He keeps the kind sisters constantly in mind, and writes again giving reasons why they should not be disappointed at his conviction.

'July 4, 1852.
'My dear Sister Imelda,—I hope none of you are moping. Every day makes me more clear that the issue of my matter is what it should be. E.g. our great and awful difficulty is the expense, say 6,000l.? Sympathy is doing for me here, what success would not have done. Perhaps we shall have a penny subscription among Catholics on the Continent.

'I am not certain that I shall not be obliged even yet to confess that your Madonna has got me off. If I am not called up to judgment I shall consider that she has, and shall feel myself bound to present myself at Clifton.
'Ever yours,

His letters to other friends show unmistakably that his feeling was one of relief and in some degree of a victory achieved.

'I was prospered,' he writes to Mr. W. Froude, '(1) in getting witnesses, (2) in keeping them, (3) in their lucid exposition of my case on the trial, which, as the lawyers said, was without a flaw, (4) in the consequent conviction of the public mind. What want I more but a grateful heart?'

Again to the same correspondent:

'I am inheriting the lot of Catholics—to suffer and to triumph. Did I not refer you to my words said fifteen years {295} ago, repeated a year (to the day) before the beginning of this affair, that I had parted with the world—that I was prepared for its worst and should triumph through it.'

And to W. G. Ward he writes:

'Thank you for your kind letter. It confirmed what I hear from every quarter.

'Suspense is painful—and for the two last days of the trial I was in suspense. Since then, I have not had a shadow of uneasiness, as every one who has seen me will tell you.

'I doubt not we shall see that what has happened is under the circumstances the completest triumph.'

It was at this moment that the first Synod of Oscott was held, and Newman preached on July 13 his famous sermon, 'The Second Spring,' in which he celebrated the establishment of the new hierarchy. There can be little doubt that his own recent suffering gave edge to his words and feelings. A church newly organised amid trial and persecution had favourable omens. He may have doubted the worldly wisdom of making the hierarchy, but he saw in the troubles of the time the signs of God's blessing for it. He writes to Henry Wilberforce on July 18: 'We ended the Synod yesterday in great triumph, joy, and charity.'

The belief that he had triumphed did not prevent a great deal of anxiety as to meeting the enormous costs of his protracted litigation. 'And the worst of all is,' he adds in a letter on the subject to Mother Margaret Hallahan, 'I am not a bit the better for all this trouble—and seem to have no strength given me to bear it. So you see I really do need your prayers very much—and thank you for them.'

To Sister Mary Imelda Poole he writes on October 3:

'It is impossible to say how my matter will turn out. Every day brings a different view, and it is this suspense and change of prospect which is the trial. It is like having the pupil of the eye exposed to a shifting light, now strong, now dim, now darkness,—and then blaze again. So far however is clear that, as far as the affair has gone, we really have had {296} our prayers answered. I told you in March I was to borrow 3,000l.—and I recollect saying "Well, I trust by Christmas I shall raise it." Well, I have raised double by Michaelmas—and there is a moral certainty that, if I am not called up to judgment I shall soon have raised the whole. As far as things have gone all the money is raised. What is not raised is the 200l. consequent upon being called up to judgment. But this is future, and not realised. If it be God's will I should not be called up, I really have triumphed. I have no debt, no inconvenience, and as to the verdict, why, everyone believes me right, and the judge and jury wrong—and we did not give Masses and prayers that judge and jury should not make fools of themselves. I say then, as yet, no harm has been realized—it is all in future. So your prayers have not failed hitherto. Continue them as you do.'

Again, to the same correspondent he writes on the 22nd:

'Since I wrote, I have had occasion after a year's interval to consult the medical adviser who for twenty five years has served me. He has often been a prophet, and has cured me in illnesses when others have quite failed.

'He now tells me distinctly I shall have a premature old age, and an early death—because the only thing which can save me is a simple lying by. He says my brain and nerves cannot bear it. This makes me say that I can promise nothing—it is the preparation and expectation that tease me. He says I have nothing the matter with me at present, but that my vital powers are so low that mischief might take place at any time—and that nothing can keep me up but tonics. I feel the truth of what he says. The first book I wrote, my "Arians," I was almost fainting daily, when I was finishing it—and (except my Parochial Sermons) every book I have written, before and since I was a Catholic, has been a sort of operation, the distress has been so great. The Irish Discourses, now (thank God) all but finished, have been the most painful of all.'

On November 18 he went up to London for judgment, which was to be on the 22nd. He writes to Mr. Ornsby on the day that he has medical affidavits that imprisonment has 'a fair chance of killing' him. 'Perhaps,' he adds, 'Johnny Campbell may wish to be Jack the Giant-killer.' He stayed {297} in London with Lord Arundel and Surrey—the future Duke of Norfolk—at Canton House Terrace. Then Sir Alexander Cockburn unexpectedly suggested that he should apply for new trial; and the proceedings in Court on the occasion are graphically narrated in a letter to Sister Imelda:

Edgbaston: November 28/52.
'When I got up to London on Friday (the 19th) I found to my great disgust that the lawyers had had a consultation the evening before, and were for attempting a new trial; a second was to be held the next day (the 20th) at which I was to be present. They put the matter into my hands, and I suspect fancied I should be eager for it; but were thrown on their backs by finding I was simply against it. I did not observe this at the time, but, since they deferred to me, I thought I had it all my own way, and congratulated myself when the consultation was over, that the idea of a new trial was at an end. I got ready my speech, and packed up my portmanteau ready for prison, if so be—knowing I should be carried thither from court. Also my friends in King William Street packed up an altar and vestments and Father St. John, who was with me, got leave from the Cardinal for my saying Mass in prison.

'All Sunday I had friends calling on me—everything was arranged. Meanwhile all Sunday Badeley was importuning me for a new trial; but I made no account of this, as I thought the matter simply in my hands, (as it was technically, but I mean, morally).

'When we got into Court on Monday the 22nd, Sir A. Cockburn (my leading counsel) leant over the back of my bench, for I sat under him, and said, "Well, new trial or not?" I thought he asked for form's sake, and that he knew quite well there was to be none; so I answered briefly "Not." Then I heard him grumbling behind me, and began to suspect that he and the rest had got up their speeches and their tactics with a view to moving for a new trial. He then spoke to me a second time to the effect that he had looked at the evidence, and could make something of it. I repeated "No." Then Serjeant Wilkins, another of my counsel, attacked me. Money was no object, he said, he would pledge himself to go about begging from Protestants—he would take no fees himself. I said, "No." I found he had been up half the night getting up the evidence. {298}

'Presently the judges came in, and Cockburn leant over again. "You have now," he said, "a last chance, Yes or No?" I answered "No," and he went out of Court. I had sitting near me Serjeant Bellasis, who was the only lawyer (he was not one of my counsel) who had agreed with me in opposing a new trial. I said to him, "Well, it's all over, is it not?" He said, "Yes."

'Cockburn when he went out of Court spoke to Mr. Badeley, who, as you know, has been my most zealous and active counsel from the first. "We can make nothing of Dr. Newman," he said, "you must persuade him." He came accordingly to Serjeant Bellasis. Now Serjeant Bellasis had all along said, "I agree with you quite, in opposing the idea of a new trial—but, when it comes to the point, if they persist, you must yield." The Cardinal too, who, with the Bishop of Southwark, had confirmed my own view of the matter, had ended by saying, "Well if your lawyers persist you must obey them as you would physicians." At this moment then, Badeley came to Serjeant Bellasis and said, "Dr. Newman must give way, all his five counsel are for a new trial." On this Serjeant Bellasis, who was sitting next me, turned round to me, and said, "You cannot resist longer—you must give in." I said, "Is there no one else to ask? what a terrible thing to decide upon by myself." We looked round—there was no one. "Well, but," I said, "'Tis too late. You told me so just now." He answered "It is not too late." Then I said "I give in—let them move for a new trial."

'Accordingly when the notes of the trial had all been read, a tiresome matter of three hours and a half, Cockburn got up. Lord Campbell thought he was going to speak, in mitigation of damages, and affecting (if I may use the word) consideration for me, he said, "Sir Alexander, Dr. Newman's affidavit—don't omit his affidavit." "My lord," he answered, "I am giving reasons for granting us a Rule for a new trial." I did not look at the poor old man, but had I any resentment against him, alas at that moment, and in the rest of the proceedings, it would have been gratified to the very full. He changed colour, shook, and his voice trembled. A military friend who was at my elbow said his head quivered as though he had been shot in the ear. Serjeant Bellasis said to me, "Do you see how Campbell is agitated?" And, I repeat, for the rest of the time (two or three hours) he had to endure a lengthened attack upon him face to face, from Sir {299} Alexander Cockburn, who thrust at his conduct in the most determined pitiless way in the survey of the whole trial. Nor is it the only attack he will have to stand. The opposite counsel reply in January, and then we rejoin—and my other lawyers have one after another to rise, and to inflict the same castigation upon him.

'It is generally considered that the whole affair is at an end. I should say so, except from my knowledge of the special hatred my opponents bear me, which has been present to my mind from the first. Next the course of Providence all through has been so dark, that we never have been able to guess at what was coming. When I went up to town last week, no one even then could guess anything. The future was as dark up to the 22nd, as it had been throughout. No one could conjecture what the punishment would be. The lawyers all in the dark, asked Sir A. Cockburn at the consultation—he would not hazard any guess. I have affidavits from Sir B. Brodie, Mr. Babington, and Dr. Evans that a prison would have most serious effects upon my health. I swore in my own affidavit, that I believed from what I was told, that it would shorten my life—yet they could not bring themselves to say absolutely that I should not be sent to prison. This being the case, there may still be quite a new turn of things in January.

'However, if the Rule for a new trial is granted me, the great probability is, that the whole matter will end. Because in that case the four judges will have decided that the verdict was against the evidence, in other words that I ought not to have been so condemned. People say that Achilli cannot recommence proceedings with such a recorded judgment against him.

'Again, I believe he will be incidentally found guilty of perjury.

'Again he owes his lawyers 1100l., which he had meant me to pay, and they may be unwilling to go on without security for the money—and his friends may not like to recommence, when they shall have already committed themselves to so large a sum.

'If I were simply to beat him, he would have all my expenses.

'But, if he does begin a new trial, then I have two courses.

'If I cannot get money, or cannot get the witnesses, I should make affidavit that this is the case—and submit—when lawyers say no punishment could ensue after such exposure as will have taken place. {300}

'But if I can get the witnesses, the expense will be comparatively small. For I can bring them to a day, and I shall know just whose evidence is worth bringing.

'If on the other hand the judges in January do not allow me a fresh trial (every one thinks they will) then I shall be brought up for judgment as I was last Monday—but with this advantage that we shall have done what we could, and that my Counsel will have been able to attack Campbell and expose the verdict;—which they say, must lessen the sentence.
'Pray for me and believe me,
'Yours affectionately in Christ,

On December 16 Newman consented, at James Hope-Scott's invitation, to pass some weeks at Abbotsford while waiting for the final issue. He had a great feeling for Sir Walter Scott. 'When he was dying,' he writes to Hope-Scott, 'I was saying prayers (whatever they were worth) for him continually, thinking of Keble's words: "Think on the minstrel as ye kneel."'

On January 22, 1853, the application for a new trial, which had been argued for a fortnight, was concluded, the decision being reserved. Newman was still at Abbotsford, and in his diary he chronicles a visit that day, in company with his host and Lord Arundel (afterwards Duke of Norfolk) to Melrose Abbey. He returned to the Oratory on the 25th, and on the 26th Lord Campbell announced the refusal of a new trial. On the 28th Newman went to town, to join Ambrose St. John, who had preceded him, for a final consultation with the Attorney-General, driving with Bellasis, to meet Monsell, Allies, and Badeley.

On January 31 came the closing scene. W. G. Ward, who was at this time still intimate with Newman, drove him down to the Court. With them came Serjeant Bellasis and William Monsell, afterwards Lord Emly. Sir George Bowyer, Mr. Browne (afterwards Earl of Kenmare), Mr. (afterwards Lord) Fitzgerald, and Mr. H. Bowden followed with Ambrose St. John. The result proved what had been expected. The complete humiliation of Lord Campbell by a new trial had, it is true, been refused on technical grounds. But the Court did {301} not venture on imprisonment. The most that was attempted was a lecture from Mr. Justice Coleridge—to which etiquette of the Court did not allow Newman to reply—to the effect that he (Newman) was much changed for worse since he had become a papist and that the charges against Achilli were very probably exaggerated. Newman wrote to Sister Imelda the same evening and chronicled the issue:

'London: Jan. 31, 1853.
'I have been fined 100l., and imprisoned till the fine was paid—which of course meant no imprisonment at all. I have not heard opinions, but my friends present think it a triumph. I had a most horrible jobation from Coleridge, of which the theme was "deterioration of converts." I had been everything good when I was a Protestant—but I had fallen since I was a Catholic. They would not let me speak.

'Thank you for all I have gained by your prayers. Every kind thought of Reverend Mother and your whole community.'

'As to the judgment,' he writes to Mrs. Froude, 'it is quite true that Coleridge said about me all that was reported. He spoke very low, really (I think) from agitation—but I must ever think that he committed a great mistake and impertinence in what he said. He made me subserve his Puseyite theory, and held me up as a "spectacle" how men deteriorate when they become Catholics. His speech was full of mistakes and inconsistencies, if I chose to expose it. He simply misstated facts, as everyone would grant, directly it was pointed out. But I really think he thought he was performing a duty; so, what can one say? I have reason to know that his brother judges were surprised, if not annoyed, by what he said. In one respect the Times' Report was not correct. He gave up the Jury, and said the Judges would have granted a new trial, if by the Law they could have done so. Every one considers it a triumph.' [Note 5] {302}

But a fresh heavy sorrow came to mar the relief he felt at the termination of his long drawn-out anxiety. Father Joseph Gordon, as we have seen, had been especially active in endeavouring to procure evidence on the trial, and had gone to Italy for this object. On the very day of the application for a new trial, he was taken ill, never to recover—the first death in the Oratorian community.

On February 6 Newman visited Father Joseph at Bath and took leave of him. There was no hope of recovery, and a fortnight later came the sad news that he had passed away. The blow was a heavy one, and Newman seems to have felt it as filling the cup of his trials and troubles. All that remained of the elasticity of youth seemed now to have left him.

'I am just going to sing a solemn Mass for the soul of our dearest Father Joseph Gordon,' he writes to Spencer Northcote on February 14, 'the news of whose death came by telegraph at ten last night. You may think in what grief we all are ... God's will be done. It is quite taking away the Spring of our year, but St. Philip knows what he is about. When I was engaged in building this house, I kept saying "Now mind me, we shall have crosses to take up for so fine a place"—and we have had a succession so great, that we alone can understand them. We talked of the chance of bereavement—I think with dear Father Joseph—little thinking it would be he.'

To Henry Wilberforce he writes a few days later:

'Father Gordon's death is the greatest blow that the Congregation has ever had—the greatest I have had a long time. It comes in cumulum upon so many other trials. What a year and a half I have had! When will the strokes end? I recollect in 1826 when I was serving Rickards's Church at Ulcombe during the long vacation, after a most glorious Summer, there was a week of pouring rain, and then it was fine again and the sky as radiant for weeks as before. But the season was changed—the ground had been thoroughly chilled, and never recovered itself. Autumn had unequivocally set in, and the week of wet divided the two seasons as by a river. And so I think I have now passed into my autumn, though I trust Grace will more than make up for me what Nature takes away.' {303}

And now there came from the whole Catholic world a wonderfully universal expression of sympathy for the champion who had suffered in the good cause. The general feeling was that the Achilli trial had completed what the Corn Exchange lectures began in shaking to its foundations the anti-Catholic bigotry of the time. Educated Englishmen were more and more ashamed of being identified with Lord Campbell and his jury. A Mass of thanksgiving for the issue of the trial was sung at the Oratory on February 21, at which Newman himself preached. On April 3 he stayed with W. G. Ward at Old Hall, to receive an address from St. Edmund's College—the first of many similar congratulations. The whole 12,000l., the costs and expenses of the trial, which was a millstone round Newman's neck, was promptly paid by his co-religionists; and the letters which accompanied their gifts brought home to him how universal had been the support he had had throughout in the warm interest and constant prayers of thousands. That delicate nature which shrank under pain and was worn out with anxiety and suspense, opened out in affectionate response to a practical sympathy so far beyond his expectations.

The following letter to an American archbishop—Dr. Kenrick of Baltimore—is a type of many written in grateful acknowledgment:

'December 3, 1852.
'I think I recollect the saying of a heathen sage, to the effect that the most perfect polity was that in which an injury done to the humblest citizen, was felt as a blow dealt to the whole community; but how much nobler a conception do I see fulfilled today when an individual, whose claim on Catholics is not that of a citizen, but of a stranger, who has but come (as it were) to their hearth, and embraced their altars, and appealed to their hospitality, is raised by the hand, and lifted out of his distress, as if he had been all his life long of the number of the cives sanctorum et domestici Dei.

'But I have touched upon a higher theme, Hospes eram et collegistis me. It is not I who am the real object of the bounty of Catholics; nor is gratitude, such as mine, its true reward. Let me venture to say it; they have been serving Him Who accepts as done to Himself mercies bestowed upon even the weakest of His disciples; and they have been {304} securing a recompense from the just Judge who never suffers Himself to be outdone in the interchange of offices of love.'

He was preparing for press the lectures which he had delivered in Dublin just before the trial, and now, as a memorial for all time of Catholic generosity, he wrote in the first page the following dedication:

Hospes eram et collegistis me.


In grateful never-dying remembrance
of his many friends and benefactors,
Living and dead,
At home and abroad,
In Great Britain, Ireland, France,
In Belgium, Germany, Poland, Italy, and Malta,
In North America, and other countries,
Who, by their resolute prayers and penances,
And by their generous stubborn efforts
And by their munificent alms,
Have broken for him the stress
Of a great anxiety,
Offered to Our Lady and St. Philip on its rise,
Composed under its pressure,
Finished on the eve of its termination,
Are respectfully and affectionately inscribed

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1. The following extracts from a hymn and chorus with which Achilli had been received on his appearance in Exeter Hall on March 7, 1850, written and composed by the Rev. J. R. Leichfield, give an idea of the acclaim accorded to Achilli by Protestant enthusiasts:

Hail! Stranger—Friend from Rome!
From the Roman dungeon, dark and deep;
Hail! to the freeman's land and home,
Where the free will thy freedom keep!
Hail! Roman prisoner, hail!
No more a prisoner now!
Truth, Justice, Freedom, shall prevail,
And priests before them bow! …

'Englishmen boldly planted their feet
On Error's chosen land:
Where priests had rule, and the Pope his seat,
They urged their just demand.
Hail! Roman prisoner, hail! &c.

'He comes, he comes, escaped from his chains!
He blesses the kind and brave;
On English ground he stands, and disdains
His foes across the wave!
Hall! Roman prisoner, hail! &c.'

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2. The following is the passage in which Achilli's offences were detailed:

'Ah! Dr. Achilli, I might have spoken of him last week, had time admitted of it. The Protestant world flocks to hear him, because he has something to tell of the Catholic Church. He has something to tell, it is true; he has a scandal to reveal, he has an argument to exhibit. It is a simple one, and a powerful one, as far as it goes—and it is one. That one argument is himself; it is his presence which is the triumph of Protestants; it is the sight of him which is a Catholic's confusion. It is indeed our great confusion, that our Holy Mother could have had a priest like him. He feels the force of the argument, and he shows himself to the multitude that is gazing on him. "Mothers of families," he seems to say, "gentle maidens, innocent children, look at me, for I am worth looking at. You do not see such a sight every day. Can any church live over the imputation of such a production as I am? I have been a Catholic and an infidel; I have been a Roman priest and a hypocrite; I have been a profligate under a cowl. I am that Father Achilli, who, as early as 1826, was deprived of my faculty to lecture, for an offence which my superiors did their best to conceal; and who in 1827 had already earned the reputation of a scandalous friar. I am that Achilli, who in the diocese of Viterbo in February, 1831, robbed of her honour a young woman of eighteen; who in September, 1833, was found guilty of a second such crime, in the case of a person of twenty-eight; and who perpetrated a third in July, 1834, in the case of another aged twenty-four. I am he, who afterwards was found guilty of sins, similar or worse, in other towns of the neighbourhood. I am that son of St. Dominic who is known to have repeated the offence at Capua, in 1834 and 1835; and at Naples again, in 1840, in the case of a child of fifteen. I am he who chose the sacristy of the church for one of these crimes and Good Friday for another. Look on me, ye mothers of England, a confessor against Popery, for ye 'ne'er may look upon my like again.' I am that veritable priest, who, after all this, began to speak against, not only the Catholic faith, but the moral law, and perverted others by my teaching. I am the Cavaliere Achilli, who then went to Corfu, made the wife of a tailor faithless to her husband, and lived publicly and travelled about with the wife of a chorus-singer. I am that Professor in the Protestant College at Malta, who with two others was dismissed from my post for offences which the authorities cannot get themselves to describe. And now attend to me, such as I am, and you shall see what you shall see about the barbarity and profligacy of the Inquisitors of Rome."' [To Present Position of Catholics, chapter 5, note 6. ]
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3. That he did look for them is certain. See Life of Wiseman, ii. p. 37.
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4. The text of the evidence of these girls is given in Mr. Finlayson's volume, The Achilli Trial.
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5. To Mr. Capes he wrote on February 5:

'I could not help being amused at poor Coleridge's prose. I have no doubt it gave him pain, and I think he wished to impress me. I trust I behaved respectfully, but he must have seen that I was as perfectly unconcerned as if I had been in my own room. But so it was. Putting aside supernatural views and motives, (of which, alas! I have not overmuch), mere habit, as in the case of the skinned eels, would keep me from being annoyed. I have not been the butt of slander and scorn for 20 years for nothing.'
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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