Chapter 4. Maryvale (1846)

{119} OLD Oscott had a long history and traditions. It was on the site of a Catholic mission existing in the seventeenth century. A secluded site in a valley away from the public road was purposely chosen in those days of persecution. Its priest, Mr. Andrew Bromwich, was condemned to death during the Titus Oates scare, but contrived to elude the sentence. The house in which Newman and his friends now found themselves had been built by Bishop Hornyold in 1752 as a residence for the vicars Apostolic. When the French Revolution drove the Catholic Colleges on the Continent back to England in 1794, a school was established in this building. Its governing body were some of those laymen of Cisalpine opinions, who gave the Bishops so much trouble at that time. But in 1808 its fortunes had declined and it was taken over by the great foe of the Cisalpines, Dr. Milner, who had become Vicar Apostolic of the district. He dedicated it on August 15 to Our Lady, and himself resided there for a considerable part of each year. His whole influence, both in the school and among English Catholics at large, was (I need hardly say) in the direction of promoting loyalty to Rome and rekindling the zeal and piety of a community which had become worn out by the penal laws and was too much disposed to a policy of compromise with their Protestant neighbours. Both for Milner and for his successor as President of the college, Dr. Weedall, Newman had a great admiration. The former he is said to have called 'the English Athanasius.' Of Dr. Weedall he spoke in the memorable sermon at his funeral in 1863 [Note 1]. 'Through the whole man,' he said, 'shone the spirit of evangelical charity, which made his {120} gentleness and refinement seem what they really were, a growth from or a graft upon, that pure harmony of soul which is a supernatural gift.'

In 1838 Dr. Weedall had completed the new buildings—the present college of Oscott. And from that time onwards Old Oscott ceased to be more than an appendage to the college until Newman entered it. Now to this ancient home of piety in the Oscott valley, dedicated by Milner to St. Mary, the Oxford converts gave the name of 'Maryvale.'

The day after Newman's arrival, George Talbot—afterwards so well known as Monsignor Talbot and the intimate friend of Pius IX.—and Henry Formby came over from New Oscott to see him. On the following day he walked up with St. John in the afternoon to visit Bishop Wiseman. The succeeding days were spent in getting the household in order. 'I am beginning Bellarmine,' writes St. John to Dalgairns, 'with my head full of pea soup, roly-polies and ribs of beef, and puzzling my brain all the morning to make a stupid jack turn.' Soon, however, the regular life of Littlemore was resumed, though the rules given by Father Dominic gave place to fresh ones drawn up by Bishop Wiseman. The little community consisted of eight persons—Newman, St. John, Stanton, J. B. Morris, Formby, Walker, Christie, and Penny. Charles Woodmason joined them a few days later.

'Day begins at five,' St. John continues, 'Newman ringing the bell, which office the Bishop has given him together with seeing that all the rooms are in decent order by 10 o'clock. Mass at 7. Prime and Tierce at a quarter to eight. Breakfast quarter past eight. Sext and None quarter past twelve, a Latin Conference half past twelve to one; quarter past one dinner; silence ends with a visit to the Blessed Sacrament after dinner; and begins again at 6, with Vespers and Compline—then tea. Rosary or Litany half past eight, Matins quarter to nine; bed. Moreover Newman has formed a choir, consisting of Walker, Bowles, Stanton, Christie, C. Woodmason. The rest of us form the awkward squad. But we have not been able to get Benediction yet. The library at last is in order except a few shelves; the great room and the small adjoining one hold all, but some of the books are up awfully high. Newman grumbles {121} uncommonly, but what was to be done? The floor would not bear projecting bookcases like the Bodleian; and there was no alternative without expensive alterations. The large bookcases from Littlemore have been heightened and the rest are new; altogether the house looks very much improved inside. It is strikingly like the Sandford paper mills without. So much for our habitation. It only remains to say that nothing can be kinder than the Bishop is towards us, and I think we all rejoice that Providence has put us in the way of such a director.'

Both Dr. Wiseman and Spencer Northcote urged Newman at this time to take advantage of the general attention concentrated on the converts and to write a succinct account of his reasons for becoming a Catholic. The essay on 'Development' was being widely read. People were asking questions and raising objections to its argument on behalf of the Church. One inquirer had been communicating his own objections to Northcote, who passed them on to Newman.

Newman, who ever felt the impossibility of recording adequately the growth and advance of a living mind, declined in a letter to Northcote the proposal that he should write any such controversial document as was suggested.

'February, 1846.
'My dear Northcote,—It is unreasonable in anyone to object that the grounds a person gives for his conversion cannot be expressed in a formula, but require some little time and consideration to master; which seems to be your correspondent's complaint of my volume. If I could express them in a formula, they would not really be the more intelligible or comprehensible—indeed to show this as a general principle is the main object of the Essay. Catholicism is a deep matter—you cannot take it up in a teacup.

'Any dogmatic or sententious proposition would too surely be misunderstood. If I said, for instance, "I have become a Catholic, because I must be either a Catholic or an infidel," men would cry out "So he has flung himself into the Catholic Church to escape infidelity," whereas I should only mean that Catholicism and Christianity had in my mind become identical, so that to give up the one was to give up the other.

'I do not know how to do justice to my reasons for {122} becoming a Catholic in ever so many words—but if I attempted to do so in few, and that in print, I should wantonly expose myself and my cause to the hasty and prejudiced criticisms of opponents. This I will not do. People shall not say "We have now got his reasons, and know their worth." No, you have not got them, you cannot get them, except at the cost of some portion of the trouble I have been at myself. You cannot buy them for a crown piece—you cannot take them in your hand at your will, and toss them about. You must consent to think—and you must exercise such resignation to the Divine Hand which leads you, as to follow it any whither. I am not assuming that my reasons are sufficient or unanswerable, when I say this—but describing the way in which alone our intellect can be successfully exercised on the great subject in question, if the intellect is to be the instrument of conversion. Moral proofs are grown into, not learnt by heart.

'I wish however to say something in answer to your friend's question—let me refer then to p. 138 of my Essay, where I state my conviction that were St. Athanasius and St. Ambrose now to come to Oxford, they would go to Mass at St. Clement's.

'And in proof of this position, I should refer to Chs. IV and V, pp. 204-317, which your correspondent might read without troubling himself with the rest of the Essay. The argument of those chapters is this: that the general type of Christendom, and the relation of part with part, in early times and in the present is one and the same—that the Catholic Church and sects and heresies then, correspond to the Roman, Protestant, and other communions now—and in particular that the Angelican Church corresponds to the Semi-Arian body, or the Nestorian, or the Monophysite.

'With kind remembrances to your circle, I am
Very sincerely yours,

In the months that then ensued Newman put aside all controversial writing and set himself to learn the ways and traditions of his new Communion, and to help his little community at Maryvale to prepare for the ministry. He himself, after a brief hesitation, determined to take Orders. I have found no full explanation of the scruples on this subject to which he alludes, but that they did not last long is shown by the fact that he received minor orders in May. Hardly any subject is referred to in the letters of these months {123} except the practical prospects of the community for the future. A visit to Maryvale in July from his brother, Frank Newman, is regarded as a gratuitous intrusion interrupting the new life.

'My brother is coming to see me at Maryvale,' Newman writes to St. John from London on July 11; 'I saw him yesterday. Why should he come? I think he has some obscure idea about thumb-screws.'

On June 8 came news of Gregory XVI.'s death, and early in July the new Pope, Pius IX., sent Newman a special blessing.

Two alternative plans for the future seem for a time to have contended for the mastery. Father Dominic wished Newman and his friends to be 'preachers, missionaries, martyrs.' On the other hand, Wiseman's idea that they should use their special gifts in contending with modern infidelity gradually took shape in Newman's mind not as the prospect of mere literary work, which he ever regarded as unsatisfactory, but as a scheme for founding a school of divinity—even for teaching theology to the future English priests. His own laborious searches into theological history in connection with the 'Essay on Development' made him sensitive to a certain neglect of the historical side of theology—the study of the early sources of the existing dogmatic theology—in the Catholic schools of the time [Note 2]. The story of the living Church, and of the actual working of faith through the ages, was ever Newman's solvitur ambulando of the puzzles raised by anti-religious philosophy. This was one of the morals pointed by his famous Essay. He held that dogmatic theology, fully realised in its history and genesis, as the outcome of Christian faith and Christian thought in contact with successive phases of intellectual civilisation, might {124} be a power both for Christianity and for Catholicism which it had not been yet. He even conceived the possibility of Maryvale being the training ground of the divinity students, or 'divines' as they were called, for the whole of England. The cordiality of his reception at the various colleges, and the evident respect for Oxford learning on the part of the ablest of the hereditary Catholics, made such an idea appear not too ambitious, though of course the neophytes expected to have the aid of some one already grounded in the theology of the schools.

The 'Friars preachers' founded by St. Dominic and made illustrious in the schools by St. Thomas Aquinas were by their history marked out for such a work, and the suggestion was discussed that Newman and his friends should become Dominicans.

A full letter to Dalgairns dated July 6 opens with an account of Newman's trials in giving up the old Oxford swallow-tail coat and choker for a Roman collar and the long skirts of the Catholic clerical costume. He writes from the rooms of Mr. David Lewis, in London, whither he had been called by the widow of J. W. Bowden, the dear friend of his undergraduate days, who was on the point of becoming a Catholic:

'Mrs. Bowden has summoned me up here—and that I may not waste some hours while she goes down to her boy at Eton, I attempt to write to you a letter. My dislike of marching up the London streets is considerable, not indeed that I have any reluctance to wear a clerical dress, for I need not unless I had wished it, but I am so awkward and gawky that I feel ashamed of myself. The only make up is that the poor Catholics recognise it as I go along and touch their hats to me; but fancy me, who have never been in costume, wearing a straight cut collar to my coat, and having a long skirt to it. I know I look like a fool, from my own great intrinsic absurdity.'

He passes in the letter to the subject of future plans, and suggests definitely that Dr. Wiseman ought to transfer the divinity school from Oscott to Maryvale, and that he and his friends should be Dominicans. Then he states the objections to his scheme. Is not the Dominican Order 'a {125} great idea extinct'? Are not the Jesuits 'the fashion of the age'?

'Thus you see,' he continues, 'I see nothing, except that the notion of a theological school is a great idea—and natural, not only from our hitherto line of reading, but because the Rosminians ... are fast spreading themselves, as givers of retreats and missions, all over England. I have been thinking lately of an institution having the express object of propagating the faith (the Dominican object) and opposing heresy—whether by teaching, preaching, controversy, catechising &c. &c. But then comes the question whether this would not be very bad policy in this age. An indifferent age will admit Catholicism if it comes under the garb of utility, as making people good subjects, or as claiming protection from its being the religion of a large party—but, when you beat the pulpit cushion and rouse the "odium theologicum" you will have statesmen against you. Else, I sketched out the first outlines of a community under the patronage of St. Mary "quĉ sola interemisti &c." with the object of first recognising, second defending, the Mysteries of Faith. And now I have come to the end of my say, and am "incertior multo quam ante" as Demipho in the play.'

The comments of Bowles and St. John on the suggestion of joining the Dominicans which was communicated to them by Dalgairns were not favourable.

'For my part,' writes Bowles to Ambrose St. John, 'I would sooner be a Jesuit. I have no fancy for that no meat diet, and eight months' fasting you talk about. And how do you think you would stand all that hard head work, living on nothing but air? "Nous, avons changé tout cela," said Newman, and I think he is right.'

St. John in a letter to Dalgairns discourages the discussion from another point of view:

'I can't help thinking that all our schemes now are little more than castles in the air, for I am sure Newman will do just what he is told in Rome and nothing else. If he is given to understand he is to be a secular, a secular he will be; whether his line is to be Divinity or Missions will be decided for him.'

Another letter from Newman to Dalgairns shows that St. John is right. 'Our plans are altering or modifying,' he {126} writes, and the visit to Rome is the immediate prospect. For a moment the Collegio Nobile was thought of as a suitable habitat, but ultimately Propaganda was decided on.

'At present I am sanguine about my going to Rome,' he continues. 'My only fear is they are expecting too much of me. Cardinal Franzoni took particular interest in my having the crucifix. He sent back the first that was brought him, as not pleasing him. The new Pope has sent me his blessing, and I hear that the last thing he was speaking of before going into conclave was about Dr. Wiseman and me. Dr. Wiseman's credit has risen at Rome much in consequence of our conversions ... It would be a nice plan of John Bowden to come here with Lewis. He is hard beset, poor boy. Johnson (who is not himself for grief), Henry Bowden and Church &c. &c. all on him, telling him his father would not have changed &c., and then his love of Eton and Oxford all on one side—and his mother and sister on the other.'

Meanwhile Mrs. Bowden had, to his great joy, been 'received' into the Church—not however by Newman himself or one of the Oxford converts, but by a venerable link with the old Douai College, which was dissolved at the Revolution. The meeting on the occasion between the Oxford leader and the Douai priest is described by Newman himself:

'17 Grosvenor Place: July 8, 1846.
'My dear St. John,—Mrs. Bowden was received this morning. "Deo gratias." I have said not a word, till I could say all. The three younger children will be received in due course—meanwhile no one will know that they are not received, for they will go to Mass with her. I think I shall take up my abode here for several days (hitherto I have been at Lewis's) and shall not return at soonest till Monday next, though I have no wardrobe and no money.

'The Bishop, on whom I called about her on Saturday, was going out of town for a week on Monday. He had sent me to Mr. Wilds for confession, and I was so much pleased with him, that she made up her mind to go to him.

'Do you know who Mr. Wilds is? an old man of 80—a Douay priest, with his senses quite his own, and apparently as sharp as the President of Magdalen. He had been five hours in the Confessional when I went to him, and I was ashamed to give him more trouble. When I rose to go, I {127} said "Perhaps, Sir, you would like to know my name—my name is Newman." "No," he said "go, I don't want to know your name—goodbye." By degrees he comprehended who it was—and then his joy was quite great—he wanted to put me in his own arm-chair—he wanted me to dine with him—and he would have a gossip with me—which he had. When I told all this to Mrs. Bowden (the Bishop being away) she determined to see Mr. Wilds.

'On Monday, she went down to Eton to her son, without a knowledge of whose mind she did not like for many reasons to move—on Tuesday I introduced her to Mr. Wilds, and he appointed next day (today) for her admission. She has been received accordingly—and tomorrow is conditionally baptised and sacramentally absolved. She takes her first communion on Friday at eight ...

'Send on my letters here—thanks for yours—I had a walk in the streets yesterday with Talbot, who to his or my shame had no Roman collar on. It discomforted me a good deal, and made me a most dull companion. What a fool I am.'

Newman had been especially eager that Mrs. Bowden, and a few other close friends of whom he felt quite sure that they would ultimately follow him, should come without delay. The world was already reporting him to be dissatisfied with his change. For what the world said Newman cared very little. He did deeply care that those who had been for years closely associated with him should now share his hopes and plans and the blessings he found in the Catholic Church. He trusted that they might all be united before he left England for Rome, to begin what might form a new chapter in his life. Foremost among those for whose reception he longed was Henry Wilberforce. Another was George Dudley Ryder, to whose little son Lisle [Note 3] he had stood godfather. The two were associated in his mind, for they were near connections, having married sisters [Note 4]. And six weeks before Mrs. Bowden's reception the welcome news had come from Ryder's cousin, Mr. Lisle Phillipps, that he and Mrs. Ryder and their children, who were staying at Rome, had been received. This was his first Catholic godson. Newman wrote at once to give his friend joy: {128}

'St. Mary's Vale, Perry Bar, Birmingham: May 22, 1846.
My dear George Ryder,—What great joy your letter gave me, and I hear this morning from Mr. Phillipps more about you and yours. I cannot tell you better how I felt than by describing St. John who was with me when the news came both times. When he heard about you he coloured up from joy—when he heard this morning of your wife and the rest, he turned pale and went at once to the chapel. I am an old fellow, and have not keen feelings, but yet mutatis mutandis I felt as much as he. To think that I have a godson a Catholic—he is the first of them. I do trust others will follow.

'And now I have said nearly all I have to say, for your news swallows up everything else. How I long to see you! you are to be out for a year longer—but I will whisper you a secret—perhaps I shall be in Rome in July. If so, I shall stop there a year, but I shall be kept tight, I suspect—and shall not see much of friends. Yet it will be a great thing to see you at all.

'We are getting settled here—but the house is a large one, and is not fully furnished yet. The bookcases have been a great job.

'We are beginning to read divinity and make syllogisms. Only fancy my returning to school at my age.

'I will give my warmest congratulations to your wife, whether she recollects seeing me once, or not, some ten years ago. I think it must be ten years and more.

'Ever yours very affectionately,

Newman could not but hope that George Ryder's step would help to bring Henry Wilberforce, to whom he wrote of this news on May 29:

'It would be hypocrisy in me not to confess the joy I felt at hearing that I had a godson a Catholic—my first Catholic godson. O that they were all Catholics—may those I have seen, as well as those I have never seen, be such. Never will I cease to pray that they may one day be Catholics—may my prayers be a spell over them, though they know it not. I say, I cannot deny the joy it gave me to hear about Lisle Ryder, for I suppose he is one of the converts. But then I did not forget the pain which they must feel, the intense perplexity, who had the task of separating cousins who had been accustomed to play together and had formed more {129} or less one family. Poor George and his wife have this pain too, as well as you. O that all had his reward, his compensation.'

Henry Wilberforce tarried awhile, although Newman wrote him at this time some of the most insistent letters on the claims of the Catholic and Roman Church which are to be found in his correspondence. From these I make a few extracts:

'St. Mary's Vale, Perry Bar, Birmingham: June 25th, '46.
'It is very difficult for one like myself to put himself in the position of a person, believing indeed in one Catholic organised Church or Kingdom, yet believing also that it consists of various separate governments and polities, quite independent of one another. I do not date my conviction on this subject from October last: for years it has seemed to me a mere absurdity to say e.g. "England and the United States are one kingdom because they came of common ancestors"—and I have kept my conviction under, only from the notion that my sins might have brought upon me some extreme delusion, or some abuse of intellect, of which I was not conscious, might have judicially inflicted on me captivity to some sophism, which others could see through—moreover from deference to the authority of such names as Hammond's or Ken's, I said "Is it possible I should be out of the Church? it is so strange; yet it is so clear; well, perhaps the very clearness shows there is some fallacy in the proof of it. I will wait to see what comes of it." I waited then to see, whether, like some big bright bubble, it would burst, or would prove itself a divine direction by remaining. It has borne the trial; and now in consequence, when I have at length recognised and obeyed it, it acts as a long habitual conviction, not one of yesterday; and it is to me utterly marvellous how a person of your clear intellect can seduce himself into the notion that a portion of Christendom, which has lain disowned on all hands, by East as well as West, for three hundred years, and is a part of no existing communion whatever, but a whole in itself, is nevertheless a portion of some other existing visible body, nay of two other existing visible bodies, Greek and Latin. The Siamese twins are nothing to this portent; yet we commonly account even them monsters and not men; but here you have two separate organised frames or persons having a limb in common, and that limb a part of neither, yet two bodies and separate limbs all together one and but one body; {130} all which is a sort of bad dream, and recalls the specimens of extravagant Yankee humour which we see in newspapers. Excuse me, carissime, I do not write thus broadly to everyone; many would call me irreverent; but is it not so as I say? Is it not better to give up at once the notion of one Visible Church than thus to impose such a burden on one's understanding? Is it not a mockery to pretend to the doctrine? Is any Unitarian evasion of a sacred truth a greater?'

Newman gradually realised that mere argument would not as yet bring his friend to the Catholic Church. One of his letters reads as though he came to look for the causes of Henry Wilberforce's continued delay in general considerations rather than in theological reasons:

'Maryvale, Perry Bar: Aug. 1st, 1846.
'I don't like your letter just received at all. You read Allies's book—but not mine, till I put you upon it. I expect no good from your reading it.

'As to your talking of your dread of my influence, and the necessity of guarding against my influence, I have always thought it a piece of nauseous humbug—though I have said nothing—and in this letter you seem to confess it. The question is, have I a grain of influence, as I, to make you move? not at all. But it is very uncomfortable for you to have views put before you, which, though they do not at all tend to make you act, are, to your reason, a grave perplexity with your professed creed. I doubt whether you have a creed now—I don't know what you believe. I don't think you can say. Is this a right state? ... Is it a state to live and die in?

'I say you confess your dread of my influence is humbug, because you say "As long as Pusey, Keble, and all are unshaken I shall feel the difficulties of moving much greatest." What is the good then of pretending to examine? What is the good of giving me your reasons? What is the good of talking about my influence?—please, never talk of my influence again—we are agreed both, that it is nothing. Nor did it ever come into my head to be pained that it was nothing in yours any more than in many other cases.

'I never knew when I wrote the article what Keble thought of the conversions—else I would not have said what I did. But I think it cruelly unjust—think of Capes giving up some £10,000 and his brother £1,500 a year, Marshall leaving the {131} country with his wife for want—Glenny sweeping his house with a sick wife and no servant—think of Thompson, Northcote, the Pooles, &c. &c. I really don't know what is meant. All that can be said, i.e. all that an enemy can say, is that Faber and Oakeley have acted either under excitement, or to and fro, or might have acted better. Faber's giving up a good living goes for nothing. And he has been wretchedly slandered in Oxford.' [Note 5]

New ties and interests did not prevent Pusey's illness at this time from being a great grief and anxiety, and Newman went at once to Tenby and saw him for some hours.

Pusey recovered, and the friends continued to correspond at intervals. But experience had now made it clear to Newman that there was little but pain to be looked for from personal intercourse. They did not meet again for some twenty years.

The rest of August was spent in preparations for the journey to Rome. Ambrose St. John was to accompany Newman. It was ultimately decided that they were to go to the 'Collegio di Propaganda,' and they were not deterred by the almost laughably uncompromising account of the strictness of its rule given by Dr. Fergusson, an old Roman student, which Newman records in a letter to St. John:

'I had a long talk with Dr. Fergusson about Propaganda, and you will all laugh at his information. I don't mind your knowing it—but I should not like it to get beyond our own brotherhood. Above all, don't tell Faber.

'He gave me a minute description of the day there. {132} Every quarter of an hour has its work, and is measured out by rule. It is a Jesuit retreat continued through the year. You get up at half past five, having slept (by compulsion) seven and a half hours, at quarter to six you run into the passage and kneel down for the Angelus. Then you finish your dressing. At six you begin to meditate—the prefect going up and down and seeing you are at your work. Three minutes off the half hour a bell rings for the colloquium. At the half hour (half past six) mass—which every one attends in surplice. Seven breakfast, some bread and some milk and (I think) coffee. Then follow schools—at half past eleven dinner and so on. A compulsory walk for an hour and a half in the course of the day. Recreation an hour after dinner and supper—but all recreate together—no private confabs. In like manner no one must enter any other person's room. (Corollary. It is no good two friends going to Propaganda.) This Corollary is further confirmed—viz. the whole body of students is divided into eight classes or portions (cameratas?)—who are never allowed to speak to each other. If you and Christie and Penny went, they would of course put you into three separate cameratas.

'Further, your letters are all opened, and you put the letters you write into the Rector's hand. To continue—you must not have any pocket money. You must give up your purse to the Rector. If you want to buy anything, you must ask him for money. Everything necessary is found for you. "Then there is no good," I asked, "in taking money." "No," said Dr. F., "none at all."

'Next, you may not have clothes of your own—the Rector takes away coat, trousers, shirts, stockings, &c. &c. and gives you some of the Propaganda's. "Then it is no use," I asked, "taking a portmanteau." "No," said Dr. F., "it is no use." They give you two cassocks, an old and a new one. It is a great object to use up the old clothes. Mr. Eyre (who was present) even said, though I suppose it was fun, that they gave you old shoes. Why, one might catch the plague, for, depend on it, there are Egyptians and Turks there.

'Yes, they are from all nations—except English. Dr. F. said there was not a single Englishman all the time he was there.

'To complete it, he said that I should be kept there three years, and that I should have to read Perrone.

'Meanwhile Talbot assures me that my going there gives the greatest satisfaction in London, and you know we heard that at Rome they are much pleased also and {133} that "apartments" have been got ready at Propaganda for Dr. Wiseman and me.

'The only allowance I extracted from Dr. Fergusson was that you might have private papers in your writing desk ... Dr. F. said one thing was provided gratis—snuff ad libitum and I should be allowed to take a snuffbox.'

It need hardly be added that Newman did not in the event find himself treated like the Propaganda boys, but was offered the option of as much freedom as he pleased. On September 2 Newman went to visit Lord Shrewsbury at Alton Towers before his departure for Rome, and met there a large party of Catholics. Seven Bishops were in the house—Drs. Wiseman, Walshe, Gillies, Polding, Griffiths, Waring, and Briggs. Lord and Lady Camoys, Lord and Lady Dormer, Mr. Scott Murray, Sir E. Vavasour, and Sir E. Throckmorton represented the Catholic laity; and the Austrian Ambassador and Sardinan Minister, who were among Lord Shewsbury's guests, were invited to give Newman any useful hints or introductions. Faber and Oakeley were also of the party.

'A house full of company,' Newman writes to St. John, 'and I looking like a fool. Lord Shrewsbury most kind; would introduce me to the Austrian Ambassador, out of whom Dr. Wiseman and he (Lord S.) tried in vain to get some good for us as regards Milan.

'The Chevalier Dotti, to whom the Pope gave the message for me, is here. The message was more definite than I had before heard.'

St. John joined him in London on the 4th. On the 7th the two friends went to Brighton and thence to Dieppe.

Newman approached Catholic France and Catholic Italy in the spirit which I have already noted as marking the first years of his life in his new Communion. The halo of 'the blessed vision of peace,' of which he speaks at the end of the 'Essay on Development,' bathed in its light all manifestations of Catholic life, feeling, and devotion. Some of his letters are like those of a man in love—Professor Phillimore has used of these years the phrase, 'the honeymoon period'—for whom every look and action of the woman he loves is transfigured. While he was urging his old friends to become Catholics, with an eagerness which contrasted with his more {134} cautious habit in later years, he threw himself, in the first instance, into the current of thought and feeling which he found prevalent in Catholic lands. He did so as a matter of principle even apart from the feeling I have above referred to. 'Converts come, not to criticise, but to learn,' he wrote. The more critical attitude, which was natural to him, appears, it is true, at times; but it more fully reasserted itself only by degrees, as the testing process of fuller experience sifted the first impressions he formed. He held, moreover, that a discriminating judgment among varieties of taste and opinion in the Church was eventually called for in a thoughtful Catholic, which was not in place in a neophyte [Note 6]. At the time of which I am writing he seems to have feared lest to be critical of the devotions or beliefs which came before him might be to show a weak faith, and to confirm the prejudices of those who thought that the converts could never really enter fully into the religion they had adopted. 'God keep us,' he wrote to W. G. Ward, 'what I trust we are, averse from every opinion, not only which may not be held, but which only may be held in matters of doctrine; that, in spite of the cruel suspicions of those who think there is heresy at the bottom of us, we may submit ourselves, as our conscience tells us to do, to the mind of the Church as well as to her voice.'

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1. Published in the volume of Occasional Sermons. [Sermon 13]
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2. He expressed this feeling in a letter to Wiseman in the following year. Even in Rome he did not find what he wanted in this respect. Wiseman owned to a certain deficiency. 'I did not much anticipate,' he wrote, 'your finding the cast of theological learning to which your own habits of study have accustomed you ... Perhaps in Graziosi you would have found a Professor who if he had not gone much to the sources of dogmatic theology had well mastered the streams that flow from them ... This was the character of many professors whom I knew. But I fear there is a falling off even from this by what you write.'
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3. Afterwards Sir George Lisle Ryder, K.C.B.
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4. The Miss Sargents, sisters of Mrs. Manning and Mrs. Samuel Wilberforce.
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5. Other letters written to Henry Wilberforce at this time will be found in the Appendix, p. 618.

Of the severity of this letter Newman half repented, and he wrote to say so:

'Maryvale, Aug. 3rd, 1846.
'My dearest H.,—A fear has come over me lest I should have been severe in my last letter. I dare say I may have worded what I said unkindly and have hurt you; if so, I am very sorry.

'I write to ask you a question which I forgot. What is George Ryder's direction?

'You know of course how ill dear Pusey is—I only heard yesterday afternoon—I have offered to go to him if he wishes it.

'Ever yours affly.,
J. H. N.'
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6. Cf. Letter to Dr. Pusey, p. 19.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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