Chapter 11. The Catholic University of Ireland (1851-1854)

{305} WE have now to narrate in detail the inauguration of the scheme for founding a Catholic University in Ireland, to which reference was made in the last chapter. For Irish Catholics, who had had hitherto no University education, to found an efficient University was on the face of it an unpromising task. And the ablest and most cultivated members of the Irish clergy, men like Dr. Murray and Dr. Russell, as I have already said, regarded some modus vivendi with the Queen's Colleges as the only practicable course. But the Episcopate had declared against mixed education. And the strongest advocate of an uncompromising policy was the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Cullen, who was all-powerful in Rome. That policy had been formally adopted at the Synod of Thurles—though only by the narrow majority of one. It was approved by Rome, and must at all costs be carried out. James Robert Hope-Scott (the James Hope of Oxford days) had property in Ireland and was a friend of Dr. Cullen. He advised the Archbishop to take counsel with Newman.

What, we may ask, was the danger which so greatly alarmed the Irish Bishops and led the majority to adopt so uncompromising a policy? What was the meaning of their sudden and strenuous opposition to the 'mixed education' offered, largely from benevolence to Irish Catholics, by Peel in the Queen's Colleges? This question must be answered before we proceed with our narrative. I am not for the moment asking whether the Bishops were right or wrong in not accepting Peel's proposals; but what was the meaning of their acute alarm? There can be no doubt that it was something far deeper than the intrinsic nature of the {306} proposals. It was the extreme uneasiness which the signs of the times created as to the future prospects of the Christian Church. Secularist education was suspected as part of an anti-Christian campaign. The movement speciously called 'liberal' had been showing on the Continent ugly symptoms. Pius IX., as well as Lacordaire, had on some points tried to meet it half way and to give it an interpretation compatible with Christianity. They had been rudely awakened to its dangerous character.

Many Englishmen now think of the change from the old denominational education by the clergy to the new undenominational education by the specialists mainly as an advance in justice to all forms of religion and in the emancipation of educational methods from methods which were antiquated. They do not regard it as hostile to religion. But in point of fact (as we all know) the movement which effected this transformation was largely anti-theological, and even, in some of its manifestations, anti-religious. If it included a sense of the justice of equal treatment for all creeds, and a sense of the liberty necessary for science, it also included some of the anti-Christian spirit of Continental liberalism. The Churches then, in turn, had to be on the defensive. Two ideals of education were competing—the denominational or ecclesiastical, which threatened to be obscurantist; and the undenominational or scientific, which threatened to be irreligious. The proposed Queen's Colleges were inevitably associated in the minds of most persons with the latter.

And what was the concrete exhibition of the new movement which the Irish Bishops had before their eyes in the very years (1845-1850) during which the proposals as to the Queen's College were threshed out? They saw it in Oxford itself, as the rapid transition of its intellectual character from a religious and theological to a free-thinking tone. The Oxford of 1845 was conservative and ecclesiastical. The Heads of Houses were all clergymen. There were few laymen even among the Fellows. The tests were in force. The theological party which condemned the mild liberalism of Dr. Hampden was still in the ascendant. The Oxford of 1850, on the other hand, was liberal and secularist. In {307} 1845, after Newman's secession, with dramatic suddenness theology went out and science came in as the ruling principle of the academic mind. 'We were startled,' says Mark Pattison, 'when we came to reflect that the vast domain of physical science had been hitherto wholly excluded from our programme. The great discoveries of the last half-century in chemistry, physiology, &c., were not even known by report to any of us. Science was placed under a ban by the theologians who instinctively felt that it was fatal to their speculations.' This conception of science as fatal to Christian theology was the keynote of the sudden transformation which ensued. 'Whereas other reactions accomplished themselves by imperceptible degrees, in 1845 the darkness was dissipated and the light was let in in an instant.' A 'flood of reform' followed, 'which did not spend itself until it had produced two Government commissions, until we had ... remodelled all our institutions. In those years every Oxford man was a liberal.' [Note 1]

The suddenness and completeness of the triumph of the liberal movement in Oxford brought into relief the various elements of which it was composed. The secularising and anti-theological tendency, the agitation for the withdrawal of tests, the growth of specialism, were parts of a whole. The undenominational movement has been the practical expression of the liberal and scientific movement. And in the eyes of some leading men of science, and of many others, the transformation which has been effected in the nineteenth century from the old education by the parsons to the new education by the specialists has implied the recognition, to a greater or less extent, of the fact that the theological explanation of the world and of life has been defeated, and the scientific view has taken its place. 'I conceive,' wrote Huxley, 'that the leading characteristic of the nineteenth century has been the rapid growth of the scientific spirit, and consequent application of scientific methods of investigation to all problems with which the human mind is occupied, and the correlative rejection of traditional beliefs which have proved their incompetence to bear such investigation.' Denominationalism is, in this view, narrow and {308} retrograde, because it implies a check on the free development of the scientific method in the interests of traditions which are superstitions.

A part of the change in intellectual tone at Oxford, as elsewhere, was in that indefinable quantity, the 'atmosphere'—from the atmosphere of the Oxford of Newman to that of the Oxford of Jowett. But there were also some definite particulars in which the aggressions of science on the then existing theology affected the subjects with which professors and tutors had to deal in the educational programme. The following are a few well-known instances:

(1) Biologists and ethnologists, even before the early evolutionists attacked the dogma of creation, had assailed the Scriptural account in Genesis of the descent of all men from a common ancestor.

(2) So, too, geologists attacked what was generally received as the Bible's teaching concerning the antiquity of the world.

(3) The empirical philosophy in the hands of Mill and Bain was in tendency anti-theistic. It attacked, both in ethics and metaphysics, the intuitionist basis of a theistic philosophy. Dr. McIntosh of Queen's College, Belfast, one of J. S. Mill's chief opponents on this particular point, avowedly regarded his own lectures on philosophy as a religious work. This represented the opinion prevalent at all events up to 1870—that the 'experience' philosophy was in direct and necessary opposition to the philosophical basis of theism.

(4) The philosophy of history was, in those days, a prominent subject and offered an obvious opportunity for insinuating an agnostic or naturalistic view of the world. Mr. Wyse contemplated its being taught at the Queen's Colleges. Mr. T. W. Allies actually did (later on) lecture on it at the 'Catholic University of Ireland.' The events of the French Revolution and the dramatic career of Napoleon had given a great stimulus to this study. Frederick Schlegel and Hegel, De Tocqueville and Guizot, Chateaubriand and the German Romanticists, were all in different ways witnesses to this tendency. The subject was dealt with, too, in different forms and degrees from a Catholic point of view in the writings of Lamennais, Bonald, Möhler, and Newman {309} himself. It is clear that, while the critical study of history, in which the writer or professor is intent on the evidence for isolated facts, and is very sparing of generalisation, need not be contentious, the philosophy of history is almost inevitably so. One professor bases his whole account of the development of the Christian Church and of secular history on the naturalistic view which underlies the works of Gibbon and Hume; another treats the same subjects on such principles as those of Allies' Dublin lectures on the 'Formation of Christendom.' Either treatment is likely to have a deep effect on the religious faith of a thoughtful young man.

And so in fact it had. Such names as those of Matthew Arnold, Mark Pattison, Arthur Clough, and J. A. Froude remind us of a mental history which was typical of that of many others less known to fame. Aubrey de Vere writes to Sarah Coleridge in the forties that 'everyone is talking theology.' Everyone was defining his Weltanschauung. Such speculative conversations in the Oxford which was ruled by Newman's genius brought many to Tractarianism, many to Roman Catholicism, many to the views of Arnold and Whately. At a later time they landed very many in the various stages of freethought. The gradual spread of a secularist intellectual atmosphere did, as a matter of fact, help to destroy effectual belief in Christianity.

The new secularist education was then suspect in the eyes of the Irish Bishops by reason of its results in England, and their suspicions were increased by the fact that in such countries as France and Belgium the undenominational Universities were avowedly free-thinking. Their fears were shared by some of the ablest and most religious men in the Church of England, and long survived in such representatives of the old conservative Oxford as Dean Goulburn and Dean Burgon.

The outcry raised that the Queen's University was 'godless' was due to the fact that it was the first University established in the kingdom on a de jure non-religious basis. It was exaggerated, for, as Sir James Graham said, 'The Government contemplated the foundation of halls in which religious instruction would be imparted.' The Bishops, however, did not originate the cry. At first they {310} only sought to make the religious safeguards adequate. They suggested four amendments—the first demanding a fair proportion of Catholic professors, and guarantees of due influence for the Catholic Bishops in the appointment of professors; the second asking for dual chairs in history, logic, metaphysic, moral philosophy, geology, and anatomy; the third demanding the dismissal of any professor or office-bearer convicted of trying to undermine a student's faith; the fourth asking for a salaried dean or chaplain for each college.

These amendments were in line with Peel's original plan as understood by such authorities as Dr. Delany and Dr. O'Dwyer—so these two authorities testified before the Robertson Commission of 1901. But in the event Peel's scheme was not carried out. Neither the Bishops' nor Mr. Wyse's proposed amendments were accepted. And no other satisfactory means of ensuring due religious safeguards was devised. At the very least the promise of Lord Clarendon that 'the Catholic religion will be fully and appropriately represented' in the appointment of professors in the Colleges of Cork and Galway seemed indispensable to the de facto predominance of Catholic influences which local circumstances demanded. In the event these assurances were not carried out—partly owing to a change of Ministry. In Catholic Cork only three out of twenty professors belonged to the religion of the country.

In this condition it may fairly be urged that the Bishops had a very real grievance. Still, in view of the vital necessity of University education for Irish Catholics, it is not surprising that a strong minority wished, nevertheless, under every disadvantage to try and work the colleges. The extreme measure which killed the colleges—of visiting with canonical censures any priest who became officially connected with them—was passed at the Synod of Thurles by a majority of one only, and much of the best intelligence of the episcopal bench was opposed to carrying the opposition to the Queen's Colleges to a point which caused them to fail.

Dr. Newman has stated, however, that in 1853 he found the majority of Irish Bishops not at all alive to the importance of University education for Catholics. The policy which prevailed at the Synod of Thurles was that of what Newman {311} used to call 'the political and devotional party' as opposed to the champions of intellectual interests—the party of Dr. Cullen as opposed to that of Dr. Murray and Dr. Russell. Newman passed no judgment on their action; it was an accomplished fact. But unquestionably his general sympathies were from the first with Dr. Russell and Dr. Moriarty (who was the living representative of Dr. Murray's views among the Bishops) rather than with Dr. Cullen. He did not share Dr. Cullen's dread of the whole modern scientific and liberal movement. The purely scientific aspect of the 'liberal' movement had, in his opinion, to be respectfully considered and Christianised. Even the directly secularist anti-clerical and irreligious aspect of the movement, which really drew its inspiration from anti-religious assumptions, was best counteracted not by mere repression, but by University training, at once religious and scientific. The Queen's Colleges excluded theology. Dr. Cullen seemed to dread freedom for science. Newman planned a University in which theology and science alike should be free and flourishing.

Thus, while he accepted Dr. Cullen's invitation, it gradually became clear that Newman materially differed from the Archbishop as to the direction of the work before him. His views will be more precisely indicated when we come to summarise his lectures and writings as Rector. For the moment let the external events be narrated in order.

On April 15, 1851, Dr. Cullen wrote to request Dr. Newman to deliver some lectures in Dublin against mixed education. On July 8 he visited the Oratory and discussed the subject further—going also to London to confer with Mr. Monsell, Dr. Manning, and Mr. Hope-Scott. Dr. Cullen then asked Newman to be Rector of the proposed University. Newman hesitated and took counsel. He wished at first, as I have said, to limit himself to the office of Prefect of Studies. But in the end he accepted the office of Rector. And the Irish Bishops, who met on November 12, passed a formal resolution inviting Newman to be Rector. It was agreed, as Cullen informed Newman by letter, 'that the summum imperium should be in the Bishops, and that the [Rector] should have the entire acting discretion ... {312} No other appointment,' he adds, 'was made, as the selection of other persons is to be made with the concurrence, or on the recommendation, of the [Rector].'

Newman accepted the post. With a keen sense that what came to him was sent by God, he threw himself into the work at once with energy. He consented to give a course of lectures in Dublin the following year, and at once set about securing an efficient staff for the new University.

His own feelings were evidently, even before the succession of discouragements which followed, somewhat mixed. He saw at once that a scheme which was strongly opposed by the ablest ecclesiastic in Ireland, Archbishop Murray, of Dublin, and which aimed nevertheless at founding a University in Dr. Murray's own diocese, was a bold one. He tried unsuccessfully to see Dr. Murray when he went to Ireland in September to visit Dr. Cullen. Still the work was entrusted to him by the hierarchy as a whole, and was undertaken in obedience to the Holy Father's wish. It came to him unsought. His antecedents fitted him for it. The thought could not but arise—was the hand of Providence leading him on to a repetition in new surroundings of the great battle of the Oxford Movement?

He writes as follows to Mrs. William Froude just a fortnight after his visit to Dr. Cullen:

'I suppose in a few days I shall know what is decided on in Ireland about the University. It is a most daring attempt, but first it is a religious one, next it has the Pope's blessing on it. Curious it will be if Oxford is imported into Ireland, not in its members only, but in its principles, methods, ways, and arguments. The battle there will be what it was in Oxford twenty years ago. Curious too that there I shall be opposed to the Whigs, having Lord Clarendon instead of Lord Melbourne,—that Whately [Note 2] will be there in propria persona, and that while I found my tools breaking under me in Oxford, for Protestantism is not susceptible of so high a temper, I am renewing the struggle in Dublin with the Catholic Church to support me. It is very wonderful,—Keble, Pusey, Maurice, Sewell, &c., who have been able to do so little against Liberalism in Oxford will be renewing the fight, although not in their persons, in Ireland.' {313}

Newman, however, could not but see from the first that humanly speaking there seemed great doubts as to the practicability of the scheme. But he appears to have undertaken it as a religious act in which he dreaded to be 'of little faith.' Mistrustful of his own judgment, he threw himself on the guidance of the Ruler of Christendom, the successor of Peter; and he afterwards expressed in a lecture full of pathos—the first of the discourses of 1852—this reliance in such a matter on the Cathedra Sempiterna [Note 3].

'In the midst of our difficulties I have one ground of hope, just one stay, but, as I think, a sufficient one, which serves me in the stead of all other argument whatever, which hardens me against criticism, which supports me if I begin to despond, and to which I ever come round, when the question of the possible and the expedient is brought into discussion. It is the decision of the Holy See; St. Peter has spoken, it is he who has enjoined that which seems to us so unpromising. He has spoken and has a claim on us to trust him. He is no recluse, no solitary student, no dreamer about the past, no doter upon the dead and gone, no projector of the visionary. He for eighteen hundred years has lived in the world; he has seen all fortunes, he has encountered all adversaries, he has shaped himself for all emergencies. If ever there was a power on earth who had an eye for the times, who has confined himself to the practicable, and has been happy in his anticipations, whose words have been facts, and whose commands prophecies, such is he in the history of ages, who sits from generation to generation in the Chair of the Apostles, as the Vicar of Christ, and the Doctor of His Church.

'These are not words of rhetoric, gentlemen, but of history. All who take part with the Apostle are on the winning side. He has long since given warrant for the confidence which he claims. From the first he has looked through the wide world of which he has the burden; and, according to the need of the day and the inspirations of his Lord, he has set himself now to one thing, now to another; but to all in season, and to nothing in vain. He came first upon an age of refinement and luxury like our own, and, in spite of the persecutor, fertile in the resources of his cruelty, he soon gathered out of all classes of society the slave, the soldier, the high-born lady, and the sophist, materials enough to form a people to his Master's honour. The savage hordes came down in torrents from the north, and Peter went out to meet them, and by his very eye he sobered them, and backed them in their full career. They turned aside and flooded the whole earth, but only to be more surely civilised by him, and to be made ten times more his children even than the older populations which they had overwhelmed. Lawless kings arose, sagacious as the Roman, passionate as the Hun, yet in him they found their match and were shattered, and he lived on. The gates of the earth were opened to the east and west, and men poured out to take possession; but he went with them by his missionaries, to China, to Mexico, carried along by zeal and charity, as far as these children of men were led by enterprise, covetousness, or ambition. Has he failed in his successes up to this hour? Did he, in our fathers' day, fail in his struggle with Joseph of Germany and his confederates; with Napoleon, a greater name, and his dependent kings, that, though in another kind of fight, he should fail in ours? What grey hairs are on the head of Judah, whose youth is renewed like the eagle's, whose feet are like the feet of harts, and underneath the Everlasting Arms?' {314}

Let one further point be noted as to the prospect before Dr. Newman. At Rome in 1847, as we have seen, he had come to the conclusion that the time was not ripe for his urging those arguments which he felt to be so necessary in order to oppose effectively the rising tide of infidel thought. He had resigned himself to the thought that it was God's Will that certain special gifts of his should, therefore, remain unused. Now, however, the 'kindly light' pointed to a path in which they might be of great use. If the extremely delicate matter of touching technical theology was outside the sphere of the proposed University scheme, the great question how an educated Catholic should bear himself towards the advancing tide of scientific and critical research, which was raising questions both important and new, directly claimed his attention as Rector of a Catholic University. Here, then, did seem to be an unmistakable call of Providence to help in the work which for thirty years he had regarded as that to which he was especially called.

And in such a task he also had a recognised precedent in the work already done by Catholics on the Continent, including prominent laymen. If he succeeded in forming at the University a body of educated and thoughtful opinion among Catholic laity, some of them might take their share in this important movement [Note 4]. What was called 'Ultramontane' thought on the Continent did not at that time incur the reproach urged later on against some of its phases, of being wanting in depth and breadth. Eminent and learned critics, representing such different standpoints as Lord Acton and Cardinal Wiseman, have testified, on the contrary, to the great influence on European speculation of the earlier Ultramontane writers of the century [Note 5]. In France and Germany, notably, there had been for half a century a succession of great Catholic thinkers and scholars, many of them with a European reputation. The Romantic movement had great intellectual importance, and Catholics were among its ablest exponents. Newman himself had devoted his attention to the Church of France for quite fifteen years; he had been in close correspondence with a French Abbé, {315} M. Jager, over the lectures of 1837, and had written about the career of Lamennais, which he had followed closely. With Montalembert and Lacordaire he had enthusiastic sympathy. Mœhler's 'Symbolik' was on lines in some respects similar to his own Essay on 'The Development of Christian Doctrine.' But to this movement of the Catholic intellect, in which the laity took so large a share (for it was led at first by de Maistre and Chateaubriand, and represented later by Montalembert and Ozanam), England and Ireland offered no parallel. He felt that the Irish laity were regarded by some Irish ecclesiastics 'as little boys'—to use his own expression. He desired to equip them for more responsible work—to form a cultivated Catholic laity, 'gravely and solidly educated in Catholic knowledge' (he said) 'and alive to the arguments in its behalf, and aware both of its difficulties and of the way of treating them,' and he included in his purview Catholic England as well as Catholic Ireland. Thus we read in the first formal Report of the University that he had at the outset stated as one of the 'objects' of the University that it should provide 'philosophical defences of Catholicity and Revelation, and create a Catholic literature.' His hope was that the Catholic University of Ireland would become the intellectual centre for all the Catholics of the kingdom.

In spite of the anxieties and work entailed by the Achilli trial, he found time after November 1851 to think out the extremely difficult problems involved in his lectures on the 'Scope and Nature of University Education' and to write them in time for delivery in Dublin in May. In these months came, 'as a cloud not bigger than a man's hand,' the first symptom of the neglect and indifference from which he was to suffer so much at the hands of the authorities with whom he was working. I relate the incident in the words of his faithful friend and constant companion, Father William Neville:

'After his acceptance of the Rectorship in 1851,' writes Father Neville, 'he had found himself so strangely left alone with regard to his going to Ireland that in the following spring he fixed a date to himself when he would resign unless, meanwhile, a letter of some sort (this is the way he {316} happened to put it to himself) came to him from Ireland. The day had come without his having received any such letter; his letter of resignation was written, but in the course of the day a letter did come from Dr. Cullen, which, though not à propos to anything calling him to Ireland, nevertheless broke the stipulation he had made with himself. He regarded this circumstance as an indication of the will of Providence that he should go on with the work, and thereon, with a most remarkable cheerfulness and contentment, though mixed with a no less striking sadness, he put aside thoughts for himself which, as things were, he could have wished to realise, to be harnessed to the work in Dublin, (these were his words) as a horse to a cart. This was at the close of April, or in the early days of May 1852.'

Meanwhile he had not in the earlier months of the year relaxed his work at the lectures. They gave him the utmost difficulty in their composition. 'I have written almost reams of paper,' he writes to a friend on March 14, 'finished, set aside, then taken them up again and plucked them. In truth I have the utmost difficulty in writing for people I don't know, and I have commonly failed when I have addressed strangers.' He anticipates that the lectures may be 'from beginning to end a failure from my not knowing my audience.' [Note 6] However, in the event all passed off well and even brilliantly. He went to Dublin early in May. An event favourable to the University had occurred since his last visit, for Dr. Cullen had been translated to the See of Dublin [Note 7]. The lectures were given on five successive Mondays from {317} May 10 to June 7 in a room in the Rotunda. They gave in outline the views of the work of a Catholic University of which I have already spoken. His own impression of the success of the first one is given in the following letter to Ambrose St. John:

'Carissime,—You are all expecting news and I have to be my own trumpeter.

'The Lecture, I suppose, has been a hit, and now I am beginning to be anxious lest the others should not follow up the blow. The word "hit" was Dr. Cooper's word.

'The room was very good for my purpose, being very small. It was just the room I like, barring want of light. I cannot make myself heard when I speak to many, nor do the many care to hear me, paucorum hominum sum. The room holds (say) 400, and was nearly full. Mr. Duffy, whom I met in the train to Kingstown after it, said he had never seen so literary an assemblage; all the intellect, almost, of Dublin was there. There were thirteen Trinity fellows, etc., eight Jesuits, a great many clergy, and most intense attention.

'When I say that Dean Moylan was much pleased, I mean to express that I did not offend Dr. Murray's friends. Surgeon O'Reilly, who is the representative perhaps of a class of laity, though too good a Catholic perhaps for my purpose, and who, on Saturday, had been half arguing with me against the University, said when the Lecture was ended that the days of Mixed Education were numbered.

'Don't suppose that I am fool enough to think I have done any great thing yet; it is only good as far as it goes. I trust it could not be better so far as it goes, but it goes a very little way ...

'Dr. Moriarty, whom I made a censor of the Lecture before delivery, was the first who gave me encouragement, for he seemed much pleased with it, and spoke of its prudence, and said it went with the Queen's College party just as far as was possible.

'I was heard most distinctly, or rather my voice so filled the room, and I had so perfect confidence that it did, that people would not believe I could not be heard in a great church,—but I know myself better. It was just the room I have ever coveted and never have had.'

The sense of success was equally strong when the course was finished, as we see from the following words in a letter to Manning of June 8: {318}

'I have been prospered here in my lectures beyond my most sanguine expectations, or rather, beyond my most anxious efforts and pains, for I have had anxiety and work beyond belief in writing them,—expectations none. At least, my good Lord has never left me, nor failed me in my whole life, nor has He now. So my imagination was free from hope or fear, about the event. But my mind has been on my work; no one can tell how it has worn me down but myself.'

The success of the lectures evidently quickened Newman's pulse, and made him wish to throw himself with keen zest into the task before him. Nothing could be done until after the Achilli trial, which was but a fortnight distant; but from that moment the University was to be the work of his life. 'My one object,' he wrote to a friend, 'is that of hastening on the University matters.'

Newman returned to England in the middle of June for the actual trial. On June 27 he crossed again to Ireland with Ambrose St. John, and assisted at Dr. Cullen's installation as Archbishop at Dublin on the 29th, and at the great dinner after it. English and Irish Catholics were at this moment united by a common persecution. Indeed, the Catholic University itself was incidentally the immediate outcome of the vehement No-popery movement against 'the Papal aggression.' The Roman authorities seem to have been so amazed at the degree of anti-Catholic feeling shown in the famous Durham letter of England's Prime Minister, that the last chance of a modus vivendi with the Queen's Colleges was, from that time, extinct. It was useless, they held, for Catholics to negotiate on such a subject with such a Government. They must do their best with their own educational forces, and forthwith found their own University. A rescript from Rome to the Bishops to this effect had been the signal for burning their ships. Thus a feeling of indignant protest against wrong was thrown into the University scheme, which stimulated its most active supporters.

And now, after the series of trials which were to the eyes of his faith in reality victories, in which he had represented the persecuted Church and championed it by word and by suffering in its struggle with its declared enemies, {319} Newman had to endure something new in kind. He found himself embarked in a work which made no progress and wasted his time; which involved him in differences with his own co-religionists whom he respected and desired to serve; which for a long time seemed to be nothing but a succession of failures to effect what he had at the outset believed to be the task assigned to him by Providence. The English co-operators whom he tried to secure one after another failed him. Conscious of the absence of a University tradition among Irish Catholics, he was anxious from the first to surround himself with old Oxford friends, and to gain the support of Cardinal Wiseman as Chancellor of the University. He had early in the day—in October 1851—attempted to obtain Manning as his Vice-Rector. These wishes were not realised. Wiseman's Chancellorship was objected to by the Irish Bishops. Manning had but recently joined the Church and was about to leave England for Rome. He wrote at once the following letter, which presaged the more definite refusal which he ultimately gave to Newman's proposal:

'My dear Newman,—Your note has set me wishing to do anything you bid me; but I do not know what to say. Many doubts about myself and such a work occur at once.

'Above all, the desire and I may say resolution I have had not to incline to any one work more than another till I have been to Rome. This has made me avoid even speaking of the future. But your words are too weighty with me to be passed by; and I will both think of them, and ask others who can guide me better than I can myself. I need not say that old affections and many debts draw me strongly towards you. On 3rd November I trust to start for Rome. Do not forget me. I shall not fail to go and look down from the Pincian and think of you.
'Ever yours affectionately,

Newman invited W. G. Ward, Henry Wilberforce, Dr. Northcote, and Mr. Healy Thompson to take some share in his enterprise, but all of them were from one cause or another prevented from joining him.

But a difficulty yet more fundamental was found in Ireland itself. It lay in the hostility or indifference to the {320} scheme on the part of the bulk of Irishmen, including many members of the Episcopate. And the very man on whom he relied, and who had invoked his aid—Dr. Cullen—failed to give him the support he needed. The story of the next three or four years is a long drawn-out history of apparent failure. They were years in which Newman came to have a great interest in and appreciation of the gifts of many Irishmen. He formed intimate friendships with some—notably with Mr. Monsell, afterwards Lord Emly, and Mr. Aubrey de Vere. He conceived a great admiration for Dr. Moriarty, Bishop of Kerry. He used to speak of Dr. O'Reilly as the best theologian he had ever known. His friendship with Dr. Russell of Maynooth was further cemented. Some of the laymen associated with the Young Ireland movement aroused in him great interest, and he esteemed their talents and energy very highly. Dr. Sullivan of Cork notably he regarded as a man of real genius. He ever spoke with gratitude of the kindness to him of the Irish, including the large majority of the Episcopal Bench. It is idle to speculate as to what use he might have made of such gifts and talents in his colleagues had the circumstances of the country been different, had public opinion been ripe for the great enterprise, and had Dr. Moriarty or Dr. Russell, instead of Dr. Cullen, been Archbishop of Dublin. As it was, the two facts above referred to—the indifference in the country of those who were not positively hostile to the scheme, and the incompatibility between the views of its chief supporter, Dr. Cullen, and himself—made the enterprise one long, exhausting, and fruitless effort. For Dr. Cullen's character Newman had a sincere respect, and even admiration; but their educational ideals, as we shall see in the sequel, were poles apart, and their effective co-operation proved impossible.

Let the events be narrated in order. In telling the story, and in chronicling Newman's own feelings, I shall make liberal use of his Retrospective Notes on his Irish Campaign, written in 1872. In reading them it must be remembered that they are written after the failure of the scheme had invested the story with painful associations. His contemporary letters have not the same tone of constant {321} discouragement. The Notes witness to the wearing effect of the whole Irish Campaign, but can hardly be considered a precise record of his feelings at the time, which, as his letters show, fluctuated considerably. They have great, though sad, psychological interest, and therefore I give them at some length. They tell of the trials of a sensitive temperament, habituated to speculative rather than to active work, but now engaged in a practical enterprise, from the first unpromising and gradually realised to be impossible. The sense of duty made him persevere, but the constant note of complaint in the retrospect tells of a spirit permanently bruised by failure. The contemporary University Journal to which Newman occasionally refers I have not found among his papers.

Newman went on a reconnoitring visit to Ireland in company with his friend and fellow-Oratorian, Father Henry Bittleston, on July 30, 1852, and remained there for about a fortnight. But the unwonted exertion following on the strain of the Achilli trial proved too much for his health. After a short time spent in preaching at Limerick and elsewhere, he felt 'quite exhausted and knocked up in mind and in body,' and retired for a week's rest to Tervoe, the house of Mr. Monsell, and when he was fit to travel returned to Birmingham.

Health and strength being restored, Newman was bent upon getting on with the University as quickly as possible. 'Feeling,' he writes in the Notes, 'how much there was to do and how little time to do it in (for I ever limited my Dublin career in my thoughts and in my conversation to seven years) I grudged every hour of delay after the Achilli matter had ceased to occupy me.' The rule for a new trial in the Achilli case was, as we have seen, dismissed in January 1853, and Newman was then free to throw himself into his work.

He had already been anxious to have at once the formal invitation of the Irish Bishops to Ireland. Moreover, he felt it all important that the really critical steps in the task he had undertaken, which was in any case so difficult, should be entirely within his own control. He had therefore written to Dr. Cullen in July 1852 on both these subjects. While he was quite ready to acquiesce in the appointment of any {322} Professors the Archbishop might name, 'so that they were good ones, and creditable to the University,' it was otherwise (he wrote) as to those persons who were immediately about him, 'who were to help him and share his responsibilities.' 'I must have perfect confidence in them and power over them,' he wrote. This exception referred to the Vice-Rector, Deans, and Tutors. In regard to their appointment, he desired that no final step should be taken without his own co-operation. And he added a very emphatic request in reference to the Vice-Rector: 'If there is one office of which I ought to have the absolute appointment, it is this.' But he considered that no appointment ought to be made as yet. 'When I knew those out of whom I had to choose better, then I would appoint.' He wanted especially 'a man who would pull well' with him. He ended by insisting on the 'inexpedience of appointing a Vice-Rector at once which might be ruining everything.'

The attitude of Dr. Cullen in view of this very reasonable request must be allowed to show itself in a somewhat minute narration of the sequel. The wearying effect of the course of events on Newman cannot otherwise be appreciated. Week followed week after the dispatch of his letter, and no answer came from Dr. Cullen. Six weeks had elapsed, and no response as to the summons to Ireland came. Newman supposed the Archbishop to be absorbed in some other matter, when he heard from a friend that Dr. Cullen was making inquiries as to the University buildings. Newman therefore wrote a second long letter to Dr. Cullen, giving his views as to the wisest way of starting the University. But he adds in the Notes which he has left on the subject, 'when I had written it I had not the courage to send it.' He sent instead a shorter letter begging that nothing might be done which should commit the University until a sub-committee was formed to work with the Rector.

In the event Dr. Taylor was made secretary to the University, the post becoming vacant at that moment, and Dr. Leahy, also a stranger to Newman, was named Vice-Rector. Personally Newman liked both these two men when he knew them. But their appointment by the Archbishop, with the concurrence of Dr. McHale and the other Archbishops, {323} was a direct refusal of his most urgent request. His unwelcome conclusion as to the object of their nomination is expressed by him thus in the Retrospective Notes:

'First Dr. Taylor, then Dr. Leahy were appointed, and both of them, in the intention of the appointment, rather as the four Archbishops' representative and their security and safeguard against me, than as my own helper and backer up.' Yet Newman saw that Dr. Cullen had no idea that he had done anything which ought to cause reasonable offence. 'The truth is,' he wrote, 'that these Bishops are so accustomed to be absolute that they usurp the rights of others and rough-ride over their wishes and their plans quite innocently without meaning it, and are astonished, not at finding out the fact, but at its being impossible to these others.'

The issue, then, of these months from July 1852 onwards was a great disappointment to Newman, and boded ill for the future. And the immediate sequel only verified his fears. The committee for which he specially asked in order to set the University on its feet was never appointed; and repeated demands for his own installation as Rector by the Bishops were simply ignored. It would be tedious to relate these further contretemps in detail. But they deepened Newman's profound disappointment. To do a great work as a Catholic, as a knight-errant for Holy Church or the See of Peter, was his highest aspiration. He never promised himself a long life. He used, in these years, to speak of the possibility that he might be suddenly taken. 'The night cometh in which no man can work.' And he longed now to be doing something. To be thwarted and treated unjustly by the world—as in 1850 and 1852—was so much gain, however much of suffering it cost him. It was part of the victory of the Cross. But this idleness, this sense of being at the mercy of those who appeared to him to set no value on his work, this force of inertia brought to bear on him by those whom he was striving to help within the Church itself, was another matter [Note 8]. {324}

The causes of delay were never fully known to Newman. One of them undoubtedly was the opposition to the University on the part of Irishmen, including some of those who favoured the Queen's Colleges, and the wide-spread indifference to the scheme in almost all other quarters. Dr. Cullen had trusted to Newman's prestige as affording him great help in overcoming these difficulties. He had hoped (so a friend of his tells me) that before formal steps were taken by the hierarchy Newman would of his own accord 'stump the country,' and preach and lecture on the importance of the scheme. And now he found that Newman would only take action with the Archbishops' explicit sanction.

Newman's excessive sensitiveness and reserve here played into the hands of Dr. Cullen. A man of rougher fibre would probably have insisted on receiving his commission from the Bishops to begin work without further delay, or perhaps a policy of greater activity and initiative on his own part would have been a more successful course. 'Newman,' said the late Cardinal Maccabe, 'expected the mountain to go to Mahomet. Therefore he failed.' But he could not help being conscious that he had done a great favour to the Irish Bishops, and he could not bring himself to urge claims of his own which ought, he felt, to have been realised on all hands without any word from him.

'I doubt not the question recurred to me,' he writes in the Notes, '"Are they doing me a favour in sending for me from {325} England, or am I doing them a favour by coming?" Certainly it was very hard that I should be bound, for no end of my own, to leave my own dear nidulo in the Oratory, and plunge into strange quarters in order to wait at Episcopal doors, and to overcome prejudices against myself and the scheme of a University, which were nothing to me, whether they grew in strength or were dissipated. If the Bishops did not want me, they might lump me.'

Early in January 1853, however, Newman did write urgently to Dr. Cullen that he must have his formal commission from the Bishops without further delay—the Bishops were, he knew, to meet in the course of the month. Newman's general feeling may be gathered from his own Retrospective Notes at this point.

'The time of the meeting came and went, and no answer from Dr. Cullen. So I wrote again on February 3rd,—that is, after an interval of nearly three weeks. I said that I must urge the Committee of the University to do something for me. Had they made a step at the last meeting? I must know at once what I had to do, in order to think over it between this and Easter? Again, "I must have full power; I could not act at all if I were crippled."

'I was now in the sixteenth month of my appointment, and nothing was told me when I was to begin or what I was to do. I had written two letters to Dr. Cullen six months before, and two letters now, and could not get, I will not say information, but, a reply from him. I can understand he had great difficulties in moving; but I cannot understand his not plainly telling me so. He might have written frankly to me; "You won't be wanted for a year to come at least, for we must have a synodal meeting of the Bishops; I really don't know when you will be wanted, and I cannot tell quite what your powers will be; I don't think you should have the appointment of Vice-Rector, &c., &c." But I suppose it is what he had learned at Rome,—to act, not to speak,—to be peremptory in act, but to keep his counsel, not to commit himself on paper; to treat me, not as an equal, but as one of his subjects.

'Certainly he had great difficulties; I should have sympathised with them if he had told me of them; but, even now, I can only conjecture them. As time went on he seemed hurt that I was not of his party against Dr. McHale. I wished to be of no party; but I should, with the utmost difficulty, have kept myself from throwing myself into his, {326} more than my sense of propriety and my judgment dictated, if he had opened himself to me. Dr. McHale was really a great trouble to him. He himself was a stranger to Ireland, and the Bishops looked at him on his coming from Rome with the same jealousy and apprehension as the English Bishops had looked on Dr. Wiseman. My personal friends wanted me, (because they thought I must sooner or later) to come into collision with "the great Archbishop of the West," as a necessary step to a certain success, and, had Dr. Cullen made himself kind and dear to me, I suppose I should have taken this task off his shoulders.'

In March Newman wrote again to Dr. Cullen: 'I am grateful for the rest you have given me, and now I shall be grateful if you put an end to it as soon as possible.' But he received no reply.

Newman's inactivity gave in some quarters the impression that the University scheme was abandoned, and it was proposed that he should be appointed to the English See of Liverpool or Nottingham. A letter written, but never sent, to Dr. Cullen on this subject throws yet further light on his feeling at the time:

'To place me in an English See is simply to take me from Ireland ... I feel most deeply and habitually that the office of a Bishop is not suited for me. Some things one is fit for, others one is not fit for. To say I am not a thorough theologian, and that I know nothing of Canon Law, is obvious; I do not urge what is plain to anyone. But more than this, I have not the talent, the energy, the resource, the spirit, the power of ruling necessary for the high office of a Bishop. This is neither humility nor modesty, but plain common sense. If I am taken from the University I am taken from a position where I can do something to an office where I can do little or nothing. I am in a new element. I have never been in power in my life. My mode of influence is quite in another line. And I am sure I should get so oppressed with a sense of my responsibilities and my shortcomings that I should have my spirit broken. Every instrument is fitted for its own work;—a spade, a trowel, a sword, a razor, each has its own use. I trust it will not please them at Rome to throw me away when they might turn me to account.'

Not until October 1853 did the meeting of the University {327} Committee take place. Newman at last received a summons to Ireland, and 2,000l. was placed in his hands.

But the action of the Committee, even when it did put an end to the delay, did not satisfy Newman.

'I was disappointed, desponding, and sore,' he writes. 'The Committee, magno hiatu, had done very little. They had called me over to Ireland, but they had done nothing to set me off. What would the public know about a Resolution passed in a private room in Ormond Quay?—a Resolution which was really the act of two men, Mr. O'Reilly and Dr. Taylor. It gave me an excuse for coming if I wished to come, but I did not wish to come if the direct act of coming was to proceed from me. I did not wish to obtrude myself on Dublin. I expected to do a favour to others by coming, not to benefit myself.

'My feeling was this,—I had now been appointed Rector for two years, and nothing had been done. If, for the first of the two, the Achilli trial kept me from Ireland, yet many things might have been done in Ireland to smooth such difficulties as were sure to beset me when I did come. For two years Dr. Cullen had met my earnest applications for information or a settlement of particular points, or the expression of my views and wishes, by silence or abrupt acts. He had written to me, I think, once. He did not even correspond with me through a secretary. He made a stranger to me my secretary, and obliged me to pick up the crumbs of his words or doings by means of him. The éclat of the (National) Synod of Thurles in 1850 and of the Pope's Brief had passed away. My Lectures in Dublin in May, 1852, which Dr. Cullen had sanctioned by his presence were a flash in the pan. His presence at them had been, I think, the only public recognition of me, since I had been appointed Rector.

'If in the coming January I went over to Ireland as I proposed, I should seem to be acting on my own hook. I should be an Englishman taking upon himself to teach the Paddies what education was, what a University, and how it was their duty to have one with me for a Rector; I should seem to be carrying out, not a great Council's resolve, but a hobby of my own,—to be a propagandist, not an authoritative superior, a convert, without means, looking out for a situation and finding and feathering a nest from the pockets of the Irish, with an outlay for me and my surroundings to the tune of 5,000l. per annum. That I intended to make {328} a good thing of it was actually said; and Dr. Cullen himself in the autumn of 1854, when so many of the Birmingham Fathers were at Dalkey, remarked to me that such a place was a more desirable home than a back street in Birmingham.

'I felt then that I could not go over to Dublin at all, unless I was distinctly called there by the Irish Episcopate, or in some other formal and public way.

'Fancy my skulking about Ireland and acting upon its classes in various districts, I being a foreigner, unrecognised by the Bishops, with nothing to say for myself. It would be like an Anglican parson of Oxford going about taking confessions in the dioceses of Canterbury or Worcester.'

It was not until January 4, 1854, that Dr. Cullen at last wrote undertaking to arrange for such a public summons of Newman to Ireland as he desired. The month of January 1854, indeed, held out fair promise of putting an end to Newman's trying period of suspense. Newman had written to Cardinal Wiseman, who was in Rome, and told him of his difficulties. Wiseman had probably heard of them from other sources, and had already placed before Pius IX. the urgency of the Irish University question. The Holy Father took up the matter with vigour, and promised to strengthen the hands of the promoters of the University with a fresh Brief. Moreover, the difficulty which Newman had found in maintaining his independence had apparently brought home to Dr. Wiseman the necessity of giving the Rector ecclesiastical rank equal to that of the Irish Bishops, and at Wiseman's suggestion the Pope decided that the Oratorian was himself to be raised to the Episcopate. The following letters and documents collected by Newman, and his own comments appended, mark the further course of events.

The Cardinal's letter to Dr. Cullen, forwarded by him to Newman, was as follows:

'Private & Confidential.       Rome: 27th Dec. 1853.
'My dear Lord,—His Holiness ... has several times spoken to me with the greatest interest, and I may say anxiety, about the University. He desires much to see it commence, and is ready to come forward with the authority to overcome all obstacles. His Holiness thinks indeed that {329} Apostolical Letters should give its foundation, and has several times repeated that, if the materials for them were supplied, he will issue them.

'It appears to me that, if your Grace thinks well, a preliminary Brief might be issued, approving in general terms the foundation of such an institution in Dublin, confirming Dr. Newman as Rector, giving to such persons as you may name the power to elect Professors, authorizing the beginning with so many Faculties or classes to be increased, giving the power of conferring degrees, as is done in such and such Colleges and Universities, by way of a temporary rule, and reserving to a future constitution the final approval of rules, regulations, &c. "Vedo," the Pope said to me a few days ago, "che bisogna che il primo colpo venga del Papa." If your Grace thinks so too, the thing is done.'

'I sent an answer at once,' Newman writes in the Notes, 'proposing to Dr. Cullen that I should go at once to Rome myself. My Memorandum in the Journal of University matters, which I had shortly before this time begun to keep, runs thus:

'"January 15 (1854) answered, proposing I should go at once to Rome. My reasons are, (1) I fear the Cardinal will do too much, and that we shall have a University set up, before we know where we are; at all events, that something would be done different from what is wanted. (2) I shall be able to leave the matter in Manning's hands then," (who at that time was in Rome), "but I cannot put it into them without talks with him. (3) I cannot really do anything in Ireland till the Brief comes, and now Dr. Cullen presses me to go to Ireland at once, while it is coming." (which I did not relish). "If I don't go to Rome, it won't be done so quickly; meanwhile, I shall have a long kicking my heels and time-wasting in Ireland, when I am so wanted here," (i.e. in Birmingham). "(4) I shall come back from Rome with a prestige, as if I had a blunderbuss in my pocket."

'I continue:

'"January 19. Letter from Dr. Taylor saying that the Archbishop thought it better I should not go to Rome just now; that he expected a letter from Propaganda, and wished me to be with him when it came. He added: 'He thinks it most probable that the issuing of the Brief, whenever it do take place, will be accompanied by some mark of distinction to yourself as its Rector. To this you could not, for the sake of the University, offer any opposition. That being so, {330} it would appear more appropriate that you should not be on the spot' (at Rome) 'at the time; but should defer your visit until after the first step is taken there, and then go to perfect whatever you might consider still calling for improvement.'

'"Cardinal Wiseman writes from Rome on January 20th, 1854. 'From the first audience I had of the Holy Father, I did not hesitate to say that the University would never,—could never,—be started except by a Pontifical Brief, and that so great a work deserved and required this flowing from the Fountain of Jurisdiction. His Holiness said that, if materials were furnished him, he would gladly issue such a document. He spoke to me again and agreed in the same conclusion.

'"'At a third audience I begged to make a suggestion, long on my mind, and about which I consulted Archbishop Cullen at Amiens, and obtained his hearty concurrence. Indeed, I had mentioned it in England,—I think to H. Wilberforce. It was that His Holiness would graciously please to create you Bishop in partibus, which would at once give you a right to sit with the Bishops in all consultations, would raise you above all other officers, professors, &c., of the University, and would give dignity to this (the University) itself, and to its head. The Holy Father at once assented. I wrote to Dr. Cullen, and authorized his Grace to tell you as much as he thought proper ...

'"'This day I had another audience, in which His Holiness graciously told me that he has commissioned Mgr. Pacifici (who has been ill since October) yesterday to draw up a Brief, establishing the University, and naming Archbishop Cullen, Chancellor; and, smilingly drawing his hands down each side of his neck to his breast, he added: "e manderemo a Newman la crocetta, lo faremo vescovo di Porfirio, o qualche luogo." This was spoken in the kindest manner. Of course Porphyrium was only an exempli gratia, as it is filled up. But I thought it might be pleasing to you to have the Pope's own words ...

'"'Ever since the Achilli judgment I have felt that a mark of honour and favour, and an expression of sympathy from the Church was requisite, and this seemed to me the proper mode of bestowing it.

'"'I have only one thing to add,—that I request the consolation and honour of conferring on you the proposed dignity, when the proper time shall come ...

'"'I will offer no congratulations as yet. You will use quite your own discretion about this letter.
'"'Yours ever affectionately in Christ,
N. CARD. WISEMAN.'" {331}

'This letter,' continues Newman in the Notes, 'was a great satisfaction to me. I really did think that the Cardinal had hit the right nail on the head, and had effected what would be a real remedy against the difficulties which lay in my way. I wrote to Dr. Grant of Southwark, (who congratulated me on the Pope's intention,) that I never could have fancied the circumstances would exist such as to lead me to be glad to be made a Bishop, but that so it was. I did feel glad, for I did not see, without some accession of weight to my official position, how I could overcome the inertia and opposition which existed in Ireland on the project of a University.'

Newman's reply to Cardinal Wiseman, dated February 1, ran as follows:

'Your Eminence's letter arrived yesterday evening, the very anniversary of the day of my having to appear in Court, and of the sentence from Coleridge. And tomorrow, the Purification, is the sixth Anniversary of the establishment of our Congregation, and completes the fifth year of our settlement in Birmingham. As to the Holy Father's most gracious and condescending purpose about me, I should say much of my sense of the extreme tenderness towards me shown in it, did not a higher thought occupy me, for it is the act of the Vicar of Christ, and I accept it most humbly as the will and determination of Him whose I am, and who may do with me what He will. Perhaps I ought to remind your Eminence that, to do it, the Holy Father must be pleased to supersede one of St. Philip's traditions in our Rule, which runs thus:—"Dignitates ullas nemo possit accipere nisi Pontifex jubeat."

'As to yourself, I hope, without my saying it, you will understand the deep sense I have of the considerate and attentive kindness you have now, as ever, shown me. I shall only be too highly honoured by receiving consecration from your Eminence.'

'The Bishop of Southwark,' Newman continues in the Retrospective Notes, 'was not the only Bishop who paid me compliments on this occasion. Dr. Ullathorne, too, as might be expected, after having made a too eulogistic speech about me on a public occasion at Birmingham (on which occasion, to the surprise of all present, he called me 'Right Reverend'), on my writing to thank him, replied to me in the following terms:

'"February 8th, 1854. The announcement in your kind note does not take me by surprise. I had a hint of His {332} Holiness's intention a fortnight since, and it appeared to me that the Episcopacy was the suitable mode of expressing the estimation which both His Holiness and the Catholic Episcopacy entertain of you. And, whilst the dignity so conferred as to make the distinction peculiar will be universally applauded, so it will be useful to the University, and to your own position in reference to that arduous but important undertaking ... The report of your elevation has been rumoured through England for some time ... I hope that, when you receive your Briefs, some of the brethren will tell me; and, as I suppose that it is the last time I shall ever give you my blessing, I do it very heartily.
'"Your devoted brother in Christ, &c., &c."

'On February 12th, Father Stanton, of the London Oratory, wrote to me a letter beginning thus:

'"My dearest Father,—We have just heard the certain information of the reports about the Bishopric. We feel the great propriety of the thing on a thousand grounds, and, therefore, rejoice heartily at it. I have no doubt it will be greatly for the good of the University. I suppose the consecration will not be at present, as I imagine you have to send your acceptance, and choice of See; and then the Bulls have to be issued. We are all for Ptolemais, &c., &c."

'Various friends made me costly presents in anticipation of the requirements of a Bishop. The Duke of Norfolk sent me a massive gold chain. Mrs. Bowden, a cross and chain of Maltese filagree work. Mr. Hope-Scott, a morse for a cope, ornamented with his wife's jewels, and Mr. Monsell, a cross.

'So matters remained for some months. When I went to Ireland I made it known at Limerick and elsewhere that the Holy Father had designated me a Bishop.' [Note 9] {333}

All seemed, for the moment, to promise well. Newman was designated Rector in a Papal Brief; his bishopric, which seemed assured, would give him the necessary ecclesiastical status; and all the powers he desired were promised. He reached Dublin on February 7, 1854. But his arrival was the occasion for the beginning of anxieties of a fresh kind. After two years spent in the endeavour to gain permission to begin his official investigations in Ireland itself with a view to setting the University in actual operation, the result of these investigations was anything but reassuring [Note 10]. Mr. O'Hagan, afterwards Lord Chancellor, had already intimated that the educated laity were in favour of mixed education. And Newman knew that the laity had largely to be won over. But now he found that those of the clergy who were in his opinion best qualified to speak despaired of the success of a Catholic University.

'The day after my arrival,' he writes in the Notes, 'I called on Father Curtis, the Provincial (I think) of the Jesuits; or, at least, the Superior of the House in Gardiner Street. He was a man of great character and experience. I have the notice of my visit in my University Journal.

'"February 8th. Called on Father Curtis, who said, on the experience of thirty years, that (1) the class of youths did not exist in Ireland who would come to the University; that the middle class was too poor; that the gentleman class wished a degree for their sons, and sent them to Trinity College; and the upper class, who were few, sent their sons to English Universities, &c.; that many went abroad, i.e. to Belgium, until seventeen or eighteen. (2) That there were no youths to fill evening classes in Dublin, unless I looked to {334} the persons who frequented concerts, &c., &c.,—men, women and children. Part of this was said in answer to my own anticipation, that there would be a class of students answering to the day pupils of King's College, London. Also there would be the class who frequent the Mechanics' Institute, and who, being Catholics, would require some guidance in the midst of a Protestant population. Father Curtis ended by saying:

'"'My advice to you is this: to go to the Archbishop and say: Don't attempt the University—give up the idea.'"

'This was the greeting from the first ecclesiastic I called upon when, in consequence of the summons of the Committee in October, 1853, I found I was able to go over to Dublin.

'Then as to Maynooth, the President, Dr. Keneham, was distinctly cold towards the project of a University; while Dr. Russell, under date of July 2nd, wrote to me:

'"I explained to you when we last met how I myself have felt on the subject of the University, and how despondently I have looked on the prospects."

'What Dr. Ryan said, a few days after Father Curtis, the following extract from my journal will show:

'"February 24th-27th. The Bishop of Limerick very strong against the possibility of the University answering. However, he has consented to have his name put down on the Book, on condition ... that he should not be supposed to prophesy anything but failure."

'And two years and a half afterwards he sent me a message by Father Flanagan.

'"You will never do any good with the University till you put yourself in connection with the Head of the Empire."

'Dr. Murray I never saw, and he was now gone; but he still spoke in such men as these. We must take things as they are. When a certain country is to be operated on, the opinions and judgments which are then expressed may be true or false, but they are facts and must be treated as facts—for they are materials which have to be used as instruments or as subjects. Men like Dr. Murray and Dr. Russell were of the most cultivated class in Ireland, as Father Curtis was among the most experienced. Of course, as good Catholics such men would not be slow to do all that they could do for any object on which the Holy Father had set his heart; but they had an omen of failure, damping all their endeavours if any of them were called to take part in the University. {335}

'The same must be said as regards the lawyers who were the natural and actual allies of the class of ecclesiastics which I have been speaking of. Lucas had written me word in October, 1851, of the objection which Mr. Thomas O'Hagan (afterwards Lord Chancellor) made to the scheme of a University; and among them the opinions of the leading bishops who had acted with the lawyers in the days of O'Connell are prominent. "A feeling," he says, "on the side of Trinity College against a Catholic University is the historical feeling. For years under Dr. Doyle, mixed schools, that is, equal rights in education, were the cry. A bishop said the other day: 'Where is the line of demarcation to be drawn? How can separate education be carried on completely? When people are mixed and society is mixed, education must be mixed.'" These feelings I found to be in full possession of educated minds in 1854. At that time I had a conversation with Mr. Thomas O'Hagan, and on June 27th he wrote to me in answer. He says:

'"On Saturday and Sunday I spoke to several of our leading men," (on the circuit? he writes from Longford) "and I think I may say that the suggestions which I ventured to make in our hurried conversation did not unfairly represent the condition of feeling and opinion which is, to some extent, to be encountered in its regard. Many Irish Catholics apprehend that the simple inscription of their names on its books might be taken to imply the abandonment of their opinions, and a compromise of their consistency."

'In like manner Mr. Monsell writes me word, September 5th, that he sends me "a disheartening letter from Mr. Fitzgerald, (now Judge.) Mr. Butler of Limerick, October 14th, says that Serjeant, now Judge, O'Brien has been endeavouring to induce some members of the Bar, who have scruples on the matter, to go together in a body and give their adhesion."

'The feelings of the lawyers were shared by the country-gentlemen, and that on various grounds, some of which I give instance of.

'"I applied to Lords Kenmare, Castlerosse, and Fingall," writes Monsell on July 13th, "to give their names to the University, and was surprised to find that they objected to do so. I think their names of great importance."

'And I have a memorandum on March 1st, thus:

'"Mr. Errington called. He said that Mr. James O'Ferrall had a more desponding view than ever of the University, from things which came out in the Maynooth {336} commission." I suppose, clerical jobs. "He thought there was simply no demand for it. He told me last November," I continue, "that the Catholic party had been obliged to move, in order to oppose the Queen's Colleges. Perhaps many will content themselves with their failures, looking on the project of a University merely as something negative." If this use of me was what called me to Ireland, viz. to be flung at the heads of the advocates of the Queen's Colleges, and not to introduce a positive policy, this might be a great object, but a very different one from that which filled my own mind.'

Here then was the position gradually brought home to him. A Catholic University was wanted as a political and ecclesiastical weapon against mixed education. For this purpose his name was a valuable asset. In this sense all the Bishops favoured the University. But as a practical project, in the interests of education, hardly any one took it seriously.

And, on the other hand, Cullen's ecclesiastical ideals had helped to estrange the laity from the University. Newman in his Notes quotes one influential lay correspondent as forecasting its probable character as that of 'a close borough of clergymen and a clerical village.' Another held its object to be that of 'placing Catholic education entirely in the hands of the clergy, and the exclusion of the laity from all interference.' Moreover, it was speedily perceived by Newman that the masses of the people, whose contributions were the pecuniary support of the venture, 'took no interest in any of the proceedings, and made their offerings when and would make them while they were told to do so by their Bishops, but no longer.' Such views, and absence of views, were indeed paralysing.

'For twenty years,' he wrote to St. John from Dublin at this time, 'I have said my work was that of raising the dead! I have said so in my fourth (now fifth) University Sermon, quoting Aeschylus before the movement of 1833 began. Well, if that was a raising of the dead, is not this Irish University emphatically more so? for all men almost tell me with one voice that nowhere in all Ireland are the youths to be found who are to fill it.'

To Mrs. W. Froude he writes: 'I have nothing to tell you about Ireland. The Pope is taking my part,—i.e., he is {337} making me a Bishop, but the great difficulty between ourselves is that, what with emigration, campaigning, ruin of families, and the [mikropsuchia] (pusillanimity) induced by centuries of oppression, there seems no class to afford members for a University—and next, there is a deep general impression that this is the case, which is nearly as hopeless a circumstance as the case itself, supposing that case to be a fact.'

Newman did not pause in his efforts for the new institution; but what could the opinions he gathered leave him of buoyant hopefulness? They seemed, he calmly writes, 'to show that to plan its establishment was to attempt an impossibility.'

Nevertheless he set to work as best he could. He writes to St. John on February 17, 1854:

'The first week I was here was simply lost, the Archbishop being away. Since then I have engaged one Lecturer, and almost another; both distinguished persons here. I have laid the foundations of a quasi Oratory with priests to confess the youths, and set up a debating society, etc. and have thrown lawyers, architects, painters, paperers, and upholsterers into the University house, with a view of preparing for our autumn opening.'

The next step was to see the Bishops personally—as his friend Mr. Lucas [Note 11] had advised him. But bad weather and bad health made this enterprise but partially successful. Here is his note on the attempt.

'With the assistance of Bradshaw I drew out the scheme of a tour which would comprehend them all, though I did not communicate my intention further than to be a little in advance of my natural progress in the announcements I sent to them. I wished, besides making their acquaintance, to learn something of the state of the Colleges and Schools, and to beat up for Professors and Scholars. I have still a portion of my projected itinerary. I was to start on Friday, the 17th, from Dublin for Thurles, thence to Kilkenny, Carlow, Waterford, Cork, and Killarney. This was to take a week. From Killarney I was to start on Friday the 24th for Limerick, thence to Galway by coach, thence to Athenry, Tuam, and Loughrea. From Galway in succession to Athlone, Mullingar, Navan, Drogheda, which {338} I was to reach by the next Friday, March 3rd. Thence I was to proceed to Newry, Belfast, Balmena, Coleraine, and Londonderry.

'It was the worst winter that the country had had since 1814; and I had been laid up, as early as the foregoing November, with one of those bad colds which began with me at Littlemore, and did not lose hold of me till about the year 1864. A second winter came on in February, and a second severe cold; and when I started from Dublin it was raining hard. I directed my course to Kilkenny in consequence. It was on Saturday the 18th.

'It was extravagant to think of such a round of visits at that season, however seasonable the weather, but the weather was extraordinary. I was soon stopped short in my course. I got to Kilkenny in time for dinner at the Bishop's,—Dr. Walshe,—and went on at night to the College at Carlow. There I remained over Sunday, calling on the Bishop,—Dr. Hely. On Monday morning the 20th I left for Dr. Foran's at Waterford, the Bishop of the place. I remained there Monday and Tuesday, and in the evening of the 21st went off to Cork, to the Vincentians. On the 22nd I was called on by the Bishop, Dr. Delany, who lived, I think, in the neighbourhood. Thence I went to Thurles, and was the guest of the Archbishop,—Dr. Slattery—dining with Dr. Leahy at the College to meet a large party of priests. On the 24th I went to Limerick, to the Bishop's,—Dr. Ryan,—with whom I remained till Monday, the 27th.

'I had now seen six Bishops, and my progress was stopped. My cold had got worse and worse. I got very weak, and from Limerick my next step was a long coach journey to Galway. Nor was this all; I had neither food nor sleep; I could not sleep upon the feather-bedded curtained four-posters, and I could not eat the coarse and bleeding mutton which was the ordinary dinner, and I created remark, of course, do what I would, by going without it. With the prospect of a long coach journey and Dr. MacHale at the end of it, and the certainty of the same entertainment, coming all upon my indisposition, I felt it would be imprudent and useless to attempt more than I had done, and on the 27th I returned to Dublin.'

The sadness apparent in this retrospect was not incompatible with the very real appreciation at the time of the kindness of the Bishops and clergy, who received him (so he writes at the time to Hope-Scott) 'with open arms.' He also {339} appreciated the more humorous side of his Irish adventures. He used to describe with much appreciation his reception by Dr. Ryan, Bishop of Limerick. The Bishop, to begin with, made it clear that he thought the success of a Catholic University independent of the State out of the question. But he proceeded to do honour to his distinguished English guest. In company with his clergy, he entertained Newman at a large banquet, and amid the convivial scenes of the evening rose and announced to the assembled company that he appointed Dr. Newman Vicar-General of the diocese. The announcement was received with thunders of applause, and the assembly broke out in songs of '98.

Other adventures are related by him in the following letter to Father Austin Mills:

'Cork: February 22nd, 1854.
'My dear Austin,—Though you are not Secretary, yet as Fr. Edward is a new hand, perhaps you will inform him how best to bring the following before the Congregatio Deputata. I submit part of a sketch of a new work, which must be submitted to two Fathers; I propose to call it "The doleful disasters and curious catastrophes of a traveller in the wilds of the West." I have sketched five chapters as below:

'1. The first will contain a series of varied and brilliant illustrations of the old proverb "more know Tom Fool than Tom Fool knows."

'2. The second will relate how at Carlow a large party of priests was asked to meet the author at dinner, after which the said author, being fatigued with the day, went to sleep—and was awakened from a refreshing repose, by his next neighbour on the right shouting in his ear: "Gentlemen,—Dr. N. is about to explain to you the plan he proposes for establishing the new University,"—an announcement which the said Dr. N. does aver most solemnly took him utterly by surprise, and he can not think what he could have said in his sleep which could have been understood to mean something so altogether foreign to his intentions and habits. However, upon this announcement, the author was obliged to speak and answer questions, in which process he made mistakes and contradicted himself, to the clear consciousness and extreme disgust of the said author.

'3. Chapter third will detail the merry conceit of the Paddy who drove him from the Kilkenny Station, and who, instead of taking him to the Catholic Bishop's, took him to the Protestant Superintendent's palace, a certain O'Brien, {340} who now for 15 years past has been writing against him, the author, and calling him bad names,—and how the said carman deposited him at the door of the Protestant Palace, and drove away; and how he kept ringing and no one came; and how at last he ventured to attempt and open the hall door without leave, and found himself inside the house, and made a noise in vain—and how, when his patience was exhausted, he advanced further in and went up some steps and looked about him, and still found no one at all—all along thinking it the house of the true Bishop, and a very fine one too. And how at last he ventured to knock at a room door, and how at length out came a scullery-maid and assured him that the master was in London; whereupon, gradually, the true state of the case unfolded itself to his mind, and he began to think that had that Superintendent been at home, a servant would have answered the bell and he should have sent in his card or cartel with his own name upon it for the inspection of the said Superintendent.

'4. And the fourth chapter of the work will go on to relate how the Bishop of Ossory pleasantly suggested, when he heard of the above, that the carman's mistake was caused by a certain shepherd's plaid which the author had upon his shoulders, by reason of which he (the author) might be mistaken for a Protestant parson. And this remark will introduce the history of the said plaid, and how the author went to Father Stanislas Flanagan's friend, Mr. Geoghegan in Sackville Street, and asked for a clerical wrapper, on which the said plaid was shown him, and he objecting to it as not clerical, the shopman on the contrary assured him it was. Whereupon in his simplicity he bought the said plaid and took it with him on his travels and left behind him his good Propaganda cloak; and how now he does not know what to do, for he is wandering over the wide world in a fantastic dress like a Merry Andrew, yet with a Roman collar on.

'5. And the fifth chapter will narrate his misadventure at Waterford—how he went to the Ursuline convent there and the Acting Superior determined he should see all the young ladies of the school, to the number of seventy, all dressed in blue, with medals on,—some blue, some green, some red—and how he found he had to make them a speech and how he puzzled and fussed himself what on earth he should say impromptu to a parcel of school-girls; and how, in his distress, he did make what he considered his best speech; and how, when it was ended, the Mother school-mistress did {341} not know he had made it, or even begun it, and still asked for his speech. And how he would not, because he could not, make a second speech; and how, to make it up, he asked for a holiday for the girls; and how the Mother school-mistress flatly refused him, by reason (as he verily believes) because she would not recognise and accept his speech, and wanted another, and thought she had dressed up her girls for nothing; and how he nevertheless drank her raspberry vinegar, which much resembles a nun's anger, being a sweet acid, and how he thought to himself, it being his birthday, that he was full old to be forgiven if he could not at a moment act the spiritual jack pudding to a girls' school.

'This is as much as I have to send you. Would you kindly add your own criticisms and those of the two Fathers?
'Love to all.       Ever yours affectionately,
J. H. N.'

Newman returned to England on March 20, and opened the Brompton Oratory on the 22nd. Two brief visits to Ireland were made in April and May—the earlier being on the occasion of the consecration of Dr. Moriarty, afterwards his fast friend, as Bishop of Kerry. On June 3 he crossed the Channel again for his formal installation as Rector, which took place on the following day—Whitsunday.

'I have just got home after the ceremony,' he writes to St. John. 'Henry Wilberforce is sitting by me ... The Church was more crowded than ever known. The Archbishop ended with a very touching address to me. How I am to continue in Birmingham (entre nous) turns my head.'

The opening of the School of Philosophy and Letters was fixed for November 3 following.

After a holiday spent in England, Newman returned to Ireland on September 5. His English friends long remembered his sadness and his resignation. When he had previously thought of resigning if Dr. Cullen refused to grant certain concessions, he had written to Mr. Hope-Scott: 'I believe it will not come to this. I believe I shall get my way and plunge myself apertis if not siccis oculis into the deep with its monstra natantia.' And now the plunge was taken, and the eyes were tear-stained. He was for years to come {342} 'harnessed as a horse to a cart'—he often returned to this metaphor—to a scheme in the possibility of which he had already come to have little or no belief. The School of Philosophy and Letters was duly opened in November. Newman chose as the subject for his inaugural address 'Christianity and Letters.' The address is well known. It was a forcible plea for the study of the classics as an instrument of mental cultivation. And he urged that the liberal arts, as being part of the Roman civilisation out of which Christianity grew, were the normal and proper means of cultivating the Christian intellect.

How many of his auditors, it may be wondered, observed the note of pathos and despondency which almost unintentionally introduced itself into his peroration? The lecture was written, as the occasion demanded, to celebrate 'the great undertaking which we have so auspiciously commenced'; he did his very best to assume the attitude of hopefulness which the inauguration of a great enterprise imperatively demanded; but his tone could not in the event sustain the note of confident anticipation. Neither could he bring himself to adopt the position of active antagonism to the Queen's Colleges which Dr. Cullen desired. Moreover, the temporary character of his own connection with the new University was emphasised in this his first public address to its members.

'For myself,' he said, 'I have never had any misgiving about [the scheme], because I had never known anything of it before the time when the Holy See had definitely decided upon its prosecution. It is my happiness to have no cognizance of the anxieties and perplexities of venerable and holy prelates, or the discussions of experienced and prudent men, which preceded its definitive recognition on the part of the highest ecclesiastical authority. It is my happiness to have no experience of the time when good Catholics despaired of its success, distrusted its expediency, or even felt an obligation to oppose it. It has been my happiness that I have never been in controversy with persons in this country external to the Catholic Church, nor have been forced into any direct collision with institutions or measures which rest on a foundation hostile to Catholicism. No one can accuse me of any disrespect towards those whose principles or whose policy I {343} disapprove; nor am I conscious of any other aim than that of working in my own place, without going out of my way to offend others. If I have taken part in the undertaking which has now brought us together, it has been because I believed it was a great work, great in its conception, great in its promise, and great in the authority from which it proceeds. I felt it to be so great that I did not dare to incur the responsibility of refusing to take part in it.

'How far, indeed, and how long, I am to be connected with it, is another matter altogether. It is enough for one man to lay only one stone of so noble and grand an edifice; it is enough—more than enough—for me if I do so much as merely begin what others may more hopefully continue. One only among the sons of men has carried out a perfect work, and satisfied and exhausted the mission on which He came. One alone has with His last breath said "Consummatum est." But all who set about their duties in faith and hope and love, with a resolute heart and a devoted will, are able, weak though they be, to do what, though incomplete, is imperishable. Even their failures become successes, as being necessary steps in a course, and as terms (so to say) in a long series which will at length fulfil the object which they propose. And they will unite themselves in spirit, in their humble degree, with those real heroes of Holy Writ and ecclesiastical history, Moses, Elias, and David; Basil, Athanasius, and Chrysostom; Gregory the Seventh, St. Thomas of Canterbury, and many others, who did most when they fancied themselves least prosperous, and died without being permitted to see the fruit of their labours.'

Top | Contents | Biographies | Home


1. See Mark Pattison's Memoirs, p. 238.
Return to text

2. Whately was now Archbishop of Dublin.
Return to text

3. The Cathedra Sempiterna is in a footnote in the book, but is included here in the text because of its length and significance—NR.
Return to text

4. His own words on this subject are cited later on at p. 397.
Return to text

5. See Home and Foreign Review, i. 513.
Return to text

6. 'As to my Lectures,' he writes from Rednal to Dr. Newsham, of Ushaw, 'they have cost me no one knows how much thought and anxiety—and again and again I stopped, utterly unable to get on with my subject, and nothing but the intercession of the Blessed Virgin kept me up to my work. At length I have intermitted the course, merely because I could not proceed to my satisfaction. For three days I sat at my desk nearly from morning to night, and put aside as worthless at night what I had been doing all day. Then I gave it up, and came here—hoping that I should be strengthened to begin again. I am ashamed so to speak, as if I were achieving any great thing, but at my age I do not work out things as easily as I once did. I say all this, however, for a sufficient reason. I am sure you will remember me in this as in other matters; and gain for me the light of Divine Grace, that I may say what is profitable and true, and nothing else.'
Return to text

7. Dr. Murray had died in the autumn of 1851.
Return to text

8. 'I was idling my time,' he writes in the Notes, 'being unable to set myself to any other work from the expectation that I might be called off from it at any moment by an order sent to me to proceed at once to Dublin. Again, I intended to give no more than a limited term of years to the University, and, therefore, every year was precious. And again, I had a reason of a different kind. Unless I was myself at work, others would do things instead of me. Thus Mr. Bianconi bought the University House without my knowing anything about it; and officials were appointed without my knowledge; not only Dr. Taylor, but Mr. Flannery, whom Dr. Cullen made "the Dean" of the University, an office which did not come into my list of places, and whom, when I found I could not dispense with him, I contrived to accommodate to my own plan of offices, by giving the word "Dean" a different meaning. Dr. Cullen meant these men to advise and to control me, and to be at once his own informants [about] what was doing, and his own secretaries to correspond with me. As Dr. Taylor was intended to give me counsel, so afterwards he was accustomed to say "Ask Mr. Flannery"; "Have a meeting with Mr. Flannery and Dr. Leahy two or three times a week," and I found Mr. Flannery and Dr. Ford knew of the appointments which were in contemplation by Dr. Cullen, such as the appointment of a new Vice-Rector, and were able to communicate the tidings to others, before I had had from the Archbishop or anyone else any hint or warning on the subject. It was plain then that the longer I was kept from Ireland, the more I should find my action anticipated, and my work obstructed by the proceedings of others.'
Return to text

9. Newman adds in the notes the following illustrations of the fact that his nomination to a Bishopric was public property:—'Under date of May 1st, 1854, Dr. Manning wrote to me from London:

'"I got home last Thursday, and I cannot longer delay writing a few words to give you joy and to express my own, at the will of the Holy Father towards you ... It is the due and fitting end to your long life of work, and fulfils the words of the Chapter in the Office: "Justum deduxit, et honestavit illum in laboribus et complevit labores illius."

'On the 3rd of the same month I preached at the opening of the Church at Stone; and then Dr. Ullathorne treated me as a Bishop, refusing to give me the benediction before the sermon. Also, as late as June 8th, he addressed me a Letter which runs as follows:

'"My dear Lord,—I returned this day from the Continent, and found your kind note. I feel honoured by your proposal to inscribe my name on the books of the Irish University, and I, of course, accept the honour. One of the first questions I asked on reaching England was about your consecration; but I have not yet heard of the where and the when ... "

'And later still, on June 18th, Lord Shrewsbury wrote to me as follows about the University:

'"My dear Lord Bishop elect,—May I request your Lordship to be so good as to allow my name to be put down as one of its members ... I suppose your Lordship intends getting a charter to confer degrees; and if any influence I possess with government might be of use, I put myself entirely at your disposition ... &c., &c. To the Right Reverend Dr. Newman."'
Return to text

10. Doubtless it was largely this state of opinion in Ireland which had affected Dr. Cullen and made him slow to summon Newman.
Return to text

11. The Editor of the Tablet.
Return to text

Top | Contents | Biographies | Home

Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
Copyright © 2004 by The National Institute for Newman Studies. All rights reserved.