IV. Letters of Approbation and Encouragement from Clergy and Laity

{521} IT requires some words of explanation why I allow myself to sound my own praises so loudly, as I am doing by adding to my Volume the following Letters, written to me last year by large bodies of my Catholic brethren, Priests, and Laymen, in the course or on the conclusion of the publication of my Apologia. I have two reasons for doing so.

1. It seems hardly respectful to them, and hardly fair to myself, to practise self-denial in a matter, which after all belongs to others as well as to me. Bodies of men become authorities by the fact of being bodies, over and above the personal claims of the individuals who constitute them. To have received such unusual Testimonials in my favour, as I have to produce, and then to have suffered the honours conferred on me, and the generous feelings which dictated them, to be wasted, and to come to nought, would have been a rudeness of which I could not bear to be guilty. Far be it from me to show such ingratitude to those who were especially "friends in need." I am too proud of their approbation not to publish it to the world.

2. But I have a further reason. The belief obtains extensively in the country at large, that Catholics, and especially the Priesthood, disavow the mode and form, in which I am accustomed to teach the Catholic faith, as if they were not generally recognized, but something special and peculiar to myself; as if, whether for the purposes of controversy, or from the traditions of an earlier period of my life, I did not exhibit Catholicism pure and simple, {522} as the bulk of its professors manifest it. Such testimonials, then, as now follow, from as many as 558 priests, that is, not far from half of the clergy of England, secular and religious, from the Bishop and clergy of a diocese at the Antipodes, and from so great and authoritative a body as the German Congress assembled last year at Wurzburg, scatters to the winds a suspicion, which is not less painful, I am persuaded, to numbers of those Protestants who entertain it, than it is injurious to me who have to bear it.

1. The Diocese of Westminster

The following Address was signed by 110 of the Westminster clergy, including all the Canons, the Vicars-General, a great number of secular priests, and five Doctors in theology; Fathers of the Society of Jesus, Fathers of the Order of St. Dominic, of St. Francis, of the Oratory, of the Passion, of Charity, Oblates of St. Charles, and Marists.

"London, March 15, 1864.
Very Reverend and Dear Sir,
"We, the undersigned Priests of the Diocese of Westminster, tender to you our respectful thanks for the service you have done to religion, as well as to the interests of literary morality, by your Reply to the calumnies of [a popular writer of the day.]

"We cannot but regard it as a matter of congratulation that your assailant should have associated the cause of the Catholic Priesthood with the name of one so well fitted to represent its dignity, and to defend its honour, as yourself.

"We recognize in this latest effort of your literary power one further claim, besides the many you have already established, to the gratitude and veneration of Catholics, and trust that the reception which it has met with on all sides may be the omen of new successes which you are destined to achieve in the vindication of the teaching and principles of the Church.
"We are,
Very Reverend and Dear Sir,
Your faithful and affectionate Servants in Christ."

(The Subscriptions follow.)

"To the Very Rev.
John Henry Newman, D.D." {523}

2. The Academia of Catholic Religion

"London, April 19, 1864.
Very Rev. and Dear Sir,
"The Academia of Catholic Religion, at their meeting held today, under the Presidency of the Cardinal Archbishop, have instructed us to write to you in their behalf.

"As they have learned, with great satisfaction, that it is your intention to publish a defence of Catholic Veracity, which has been assailed in your person, they are precluded from asking you that that defence might be made by word of mouth, and in London, as they would otherwise have done.

"Composed, as the Academia is, mainly of Laymen, they feel that it is not out of their province to express their indignation that your opponent should have chosen, while praising the Catholic Laity, to do so at the expense of the Clergy, between whom and themselves, in this as in all other matters, there exists a perfect identity of principle and practice.

"It is because, in such a matter, your cause is the cause of all Catholics, that we congratulate ourselves on the rashness of the opponent that has thrown the defence of that cause into your hands.
"We remain,
Very Reverend and Dear Sir,
Your very faithful Servants,
JAMES LAIRD PATTERSON,
EDW. LUCAS, Secretaries."

"To the Very Rev. John Henry Newman, D.D.,
Provost of the Birmingham Oratory."

The above was moved at the meeting by Lord PETRE, and seconded by the Hon. CHARLES LANGDALE.

3. The Diocese of Birmingham

In this Diocese there were in 1864, according to the Directory of the year, 136 Priests.

"June 1, 1864.
Very Reverend and Dear Sir,
"In availing ourselves of your presence at the Diocesan Synod to offer you our hearty thanks for your recent vindication of the honour of the Catholic Priesthood, We, the Provost and Chapter of the Cathedral, and the Clergy, Secular and Regular, of the Diocese of Birmingham, cannot forego the assertion of a special right, as your neighbours and colleagues, to express our veneration and affection for one whose fidelity to the dictates of {524} conscience, in the use of the highest intellectual gifts, has won even from opponents unbounded admiration and respect.

"To most of us you are personally known. Of some, indeed, you were, in years long past, the trusted guide, to whom they owe more than can be expressed in words; and all are conscious that the ingenuous fulness of your answer to a false and unprovoked accusation, has intensified their interest in the labours and trials of your life. While, then, we resent the indignity to which you have been exposed, and lament the pain and annoyance which the manifestation of yourself must have cost you, we cannot but rejoice that, in the fulfilment of a duty, you have allowed neither the unworthiness of your assailant to shield him from rebuke, nor the sacredness of your inmost motives to deprive that rebuke of the only form which could at once complete his discomfiture, free your own name from the obloquy which prejudice had cast upon it, and afford invaluable aid to honest seekers after Truth.

"Great as is the work which you have already done, Very Reverend Sir, permit us to express a hope that a greater yet remains for you to accomplish. In an age and in a country in which the very foundations of religious faith are exposed to assault, we rejoice in numbering among our brethren one so well qualified by learning and experience to defend that priceless deposit of Truth, in obtaining which you have counted as gain the loss of all things most dear and precious. And we esteem ourselves happy in being able to offer you that support and encouragement which the assurance of our unfeigned admiration and regard may be able to give you under your present trials and future labours.

"That you may long have strength to labour for the Church of God and the glory of His Holy Name is, Very Reverend and Dear Sir, our heartfelt and united prayer."

(The Subscriptions follow.)

"To the Very Rev. John Henry Newman, D.D."

4. The Diocese of Beverley

The following Address, as is stated in the first paragraph, comes from more than 70 Priests:—

"Hull, May 9, 1864.
Very Rev. and Dear Dr. Newman,
"At a recent meeting of the clergy of the Diocese of Beverley, held in York, at which upwards of seventy priests were present, special attention was called to your correspondence with [a popular writer]; and such was the enthusiasm with which your name was received—such was the admiration expressed of the dignity with which you had asserted the claims of the Catholic Priesthood in England to be treated with becoming {525} courtesy and respect—and such was the strong and all-pervading sense of the invaluable service which you had thus rendered, not only to faith and morals, but to good manners so far as regarded religious controversy in this country, that I was requested, as Chairman, to become the voice of the meeting, and to express to you as strongly and as earnestly as I could, how heartily the whole of the clergy of this diocese desire to thank you for services to religion as well-timed as they are in themselves above and beyond all commendation, services which the Catholics of England will never cease to hold in most grateful remembrance. God, in His infinite wisdom and great mercy, has raised you up to stand prominently forth in the glorious work of re-establishing in this country the holy faith which in good old times shed such lustre upon it. We all lament that, in the order of nature, you have so few years before you in which to fight against false teaching that good fight in which you have been so victoriously engaged of late. But our prayers are that you may long be spared, and may possess to the last all your vigour, and all that zeal for the advancement of our holy faith, which imparts such a charm to the productions of your pen.

"I esteem it a great honour and a great privilege to have been deputed, as the representative of the clergy of the Diocese of Beverley, to tender you the fullest expression of our most grateful thanks, and the assurance of our prayers for your health and eternal happiness.
"I am,
Very Rev. and Dear Sir,
With sentiments of profound respect,
Yours most faithfully in Christ,
M. TRAPPES."

"The Very Rev. Dr. Newman."

5 and 6. The Dioceses of Liverpool and Salford

The Secular Clergy of Liverpool amounted in 1864 to 103, and of Salford to 76.

"Preston, July 27, 1864.
Very Rev. and Dear Sir,
"It may seem, perhaps, that the Clergy of Lancashire have been slow to address you; but it would be incorrect to suppose that they have been indifferent spectators of the conflict in which you have been recently engaged. This is the first opportunity that has presented itself, and they gladly avail themselves of their annual meeting in Preston to tender to you the united expression of their heartfelt sympathy and gratitude.

"The atrocious imputation, out of which the late controversy arose, was felt as a personal affront by them, one and all, conscious {526} as they were, that it was mainly owing to your position as a distinguished Catholic ecclesiastic, that the charge was connected with your name.

"While they regret the pain you must needs have suffered, they cannot help rejoicing that it has afforded you an opportunity of rendering a new and most important service to their holy religion. Writers, who are not overscrupulous about the truth themselves, have long used the charge of untruthfulness as an ever ready weapon against the Catholic Clergy. Partly from the frequent repetition of this charge, partly from a consciousness that, instead of undervaluing the truth, they have ever prized it above every earthly treasure, partly, too, from the difficulty of obtaining a hearing in their own defence, they have generally passed it by in silence. They thank you for coming forward as their champion: your own character required no vindication. It was their battle more than your own that you fought. They know and feel how much pain it has caused you to bring so prominently forward your own life and motives, but they now congratulate you on the completeness of your triumph, as admitted alike by friend and enemy.

"In addition to answering the original accusation, you have placed them under a new obligation, by giving to all, who read the English language, a work which, for literary ability and the lucid exposition of many difficult and abstruse points, forms an invaluable contribution to our literature.

"They fervently pray that God may give you health and length of days, and, if it please Him, some other cause in which to use for His glory the great powers bestowed upon you.
"Signed on behalf of the Meeting,
THOS. PROVOST COOKSON."

"The Very Rev. J. H. Newman."

7. The Diocese of Hexham

The Secular Priests on Mission in 1864 in this Diocese were 64.

"Durham, Sept. 22, 1864.
My Dear Dr. Newman,
"At the annual meeting of the Clergy of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, held a few days ago at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, I was commissioned by them to express to you their sincere sympathy, on account of the slanderous accusations, to which you have been so unjustly exposed. We are fully aware that these foul calumnies were intended to injure the character of the whole body of the Catholic Clergy, and that your distinguished name was singled out, in order that they might be more effectually propagated. It is well that these poisonous shafts were thus aimed, as no one {527} could more triumphantly repel them. The 'Apologia pro Vit‚ su‚' will, if possible, render still more illustrious the name of its gifted author, and be a lasting monument of the victory of truth, and the signal overthrow of an arrogant and reckless assailant.

"It may appear late for us now to ask to join in your triumph, but as the Annual Meeting of the Northern Clergy does not take place till this time, it is the first occasion offered us to present our united congratulations, and to declare to you, that by none of your brethren are you more esteemed and venerated, than by the Clergy of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle.

"Wishing that Almighty God may prolong your life many more years for the defence of our holy religion and the honour of your brethren,
I am, dear Dr. Newman,
Yours sincerely in Jesus Christ,
RALPH PROVOST PLATT, V.G.

"The Very Rev. J. H. Newman."

8. The Congress of WŁrzburg

"September 15, 1864.
Sir,
"The undersigned, President of the Catholic Congress of Germany assembled in WŁrzburg, has been Commissioned to express to you, Very Rev. and Dear Sir, its deep-felt gratitude for your late able defence of the Catholic Clergy, not only of England, but of the whole world, against the attacks of its enemies.

"The Catholics of Germany unite with the Catholics of England in testifying to you their profound admiration and sympathy, and pray that the Almighty may long preserve your valuable life.

"The above Resolution was voted by the Congress with acclamation.

"Accept, Very Rev. and Dear Sir, the expression of the high consideration with which I am
Your most obedient servant,
(Signed) ERNEST BARON MOIJ DE SONS."

"The Very Rev. J. H. Newman."

9. The Diocese of Hobart Town

"Hobart Town, Tasmania, November 22, 1864.
Very Rev. and Dear Sir,
"By the last month's post we at length received your admirable book, entitled, 'Apologia pro Vit‚ Su‚,' and the pamphlet, 'What then does Dr. Newman mean?' {528}

"By this month's mail, we wish to express our heartfelt gratification and delight for being possessed of a work so triumphant in maintaining truth, and so overwhelming in confounding arrogance and error, as the 'Apologia.'

"No doubt, your adversary, resting on the deep-seated prejudice of our fellow-countrymen in the United Kingdom, calculated upon establishing his own fame as a keen-sighted polemic, as a shrewd and truth-loving man, upon the fallen reputation of one, who, as he would demonstrate,—yes, that he would,—set little or no value on truth, and who, therefore, would deservedly sink into obscurity, henceforward rejected and despised!

"Aman of old erected a gibbet at the gate of the city, on which an unsuspecting and an unoffending man, one marked as a victim, was to be exposed to the gaze and derision of the people, in order that his own dignity and fame might be exalted; but a divine Providence ordained otherwise. The history of the judgment that fell upon Aman, has been recorded in Holy Writ, it is to be presumed, as a warning to vain and unscrupulous men, even in our days. There can be no doubt, a moral gibbet, full 'fifty cubits high,' had been prepared some time, on which you were to be exposed, for the pity at least, if not for the scorn and derision of so many, who had loved and venerated you through life!

"But the effort made in the forty-eight pages of the redoubtable pamphlet, 'What then does Dr. Newman Mean?'—the production of a bold, unscrupulous man, with a coarse mind, and regardless of inflicting pain on the feelings of another, has failed,—marvellously failed,—and he himself is now exhibited not only in our fatherland, but even at the Antipodes, in fact wherever the English language is spoken or read, as a shallow pretender, one quite incompetent to treat of matters of such undying interest as those he presumed to interfere with.

"We fervently pray the Almighty, that you may be spared to His Church for many years to come,—that to Him alone the glory of this noble work may be given,—and to you the reward in eternal bliss!

"And from this distant land we beg to convey to you, Very Rev. and Dear Sir, the sentiments of our affectionate respect, and deep veneration."

(The Subscriptions follow, of the Bishop, Vicar-General and eighteen Clergy.)

"The Very Rev. Dr. Newman,
&c. &c. &c."

 

THE END.

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