Chapter 17. The 'Rambler' and Rome (1859-1862)

{501} NEWMAN'S editorship of the Rambler was, as we have seen, abandoned with hardly a trial. The Bishop—so it seemed to Newman's friends—thought nothing of the value of his work in such a position, everything of the defects of the Review and of his own difficulties. No doubt Newman's editorship was to the Episcopate a source of difficulty, for it became far harder for authority to interfere with the Rambler after it had gained Newman's official support.

'Perhaps,' Newman writes in the notes appended to the collected correspondence, 'the Cardinal, &c., were seized with a panic lest they had got out of the frying-pan into the fire. But so it was that my own brief editorship secured Acton and Simpson a trial of three years more, i.e. up to 1862.'

Newman's resignation was a great shock to all who knew of it. It seemed to some of the converts—men not at all in sympathy with Simpson himself—a sign of the failure of the ecclesiastical authorities to realise the intellectual needs of the hour. 'It seems to me,' wrote Mr. Thompson, 'that we must wait for a convert Bishop for such a periodical as the times demand.' 'I cannot but admire and acquiesce in your spirit,' wrote Henry Wilberforce to Newman, 'but I feel deeply that our Bishops do not understand England and the English. Either the Catholic laity will kick, or, what I rather fear, they will more and more fall below Protestants in intellectual training and have no influence on the public mind.'

Thompson asked Newman if he might consult Ward on the situation, and tell him what had occurred. 'I feel sure,' he wrote, 'that he would have no sympathy with padlocks.' {502} Newman would not allow this. He wished the episode to be known to as few as possible. 'I have the utmost respect for Ward's opinion; but he is a prodigious blab,' he wrote.

Newman's feeling (as his own words show) was much the same as Wilberforce's and Thompson's as to the failure of the Bishops to grasp the situation. Though he was prompt in obedience, he felt a policy of repression on the part of the Episcopate to be disastrous. The peace which comes of stifling the normal development of thought in a community was a false peace. There remained one number of the Rambler to appear before his retirement from the position of editor. His thoughts were dwelling at this time on the short-sightedness and the unwisdom of ignoring the important functions often performed by the faithful laity in the history of the Church [Note 1]. It is possible that this feeling helped to determine the subject of the article which he contributed to the number—an article which had unforeseen results. It was entitled 'On consulting the Faithful in matters of Doctrine,' and was written in justification and explanation of some words he had used in the previous number in connection with a question already raised by Mr. Nasmyth Stokes as to its being desirable that the Bishops should consult the opinion of the laity in taking decisions of importance in which they were specially concerned [Note 2]. {503}

In the article he took up wider ground—that of the functions of the laity in the past in preserving even dogmatic truths in the Church. He pointed out in it that in the years succeeding the Council of Nicća the majority of the Bishops had been more or less tolerant of Arianism, while the faithful laity (together with their parish priests) had guarded the orthodox tradition. 'The episcopate ... ,' he wrote, 'did not, as a class or order of men, play a good part in the troubles consequent on the Council, and the laity did. The Catholic people in the length and breadth of Christendom were the obstinate champions of Catholic truth, and the Bishops were not.' And he used the phrase which was taken up by his critics 'there was a temporary suspense of the functions of the Ecclesia Docens.' The average English Catholic reader at that time was little accustomed to a thoroughly historical treatment of such episodes. Theologians at Ushaw and elsewhere accused Newman of declaring that the teaching Church had proved fallible after the Council of Nicća. And Dr. Brown, Bishop of Newport, formally delated the article to Rome as heretical. Newman's defence was quite unanswerable, and after it had been understood in Rome the matter was finally dropped—as we shall see later on. His reply was made public at a subsequent period [Note 3]. In the first place his facts were historically accurate, as he had no difficulty in showing. In the second place there could be no real failure of the Ecclesia Docens while the decree of Nicća against Arianism remained the official expression of its ruling on the side of orthodoxy. Nay, more; he had not maintained, as it was assumed, that even after the Council the Coetus episcoporum in its corporate capacity was heretical, but the Bishops as individuals failed to vindicate the orthodox doctrine. The fact that the bulk of the Bishops were for a time individually disloyal to the official {504} teaching of their own body was no more a denial of the infallibility of the Ecclesia Docens than the fact that a Pope might personally hold an unorthodox opinion would be a denial of the infallibility of his ex cathedrâ definitions—indeed, theologians of weight have made this very supposition as explaining the case of Honorius. But the essay had been impugned. The suspicions of Rome had been aroused in connection with an article by Newman himself, in the already suspected Rambler. Although Rome did not take official action in the matter, the Holy Father [Note 4] was reported to be pained; and the rumours of the hour proved to have had the effect of shaking the public confidence in Newman. His position in the Catholic body was not again for a long time to come what it had hitherto been in this respect.

During the succeeding year—from July 1859 to July 1860—Newman continued to contribute to the Rambler. He consented also to be among its informal patrons on condition that Döllinger and Father de Buck should agree to hold a similar position. He was still eager that the Review should recover its good name and do a work worthy of the talents of its conductors. But he witnessed in their proceedings the reaction and consequent impasse which so often results from extreme courses. Dr. Ullathorne's interference with Newman's editorship had renewed the irritation of the Rambler writers. Moderation and consideration were to be looked for still less than before, and very reluctantly Newman felt himself gradually compelled to withdraw from a position in which he could be held in any sense responsible for the contents of the Review. Mr. Simpson, who was still an assistant editor, had an incurable love of irritating his readers. Had the English Bishops appreciated the value of the work the Review was attempting, and dealt with it in a spirit of greater sympathy, possibly enough the moderation of tone for which Newman was so anxious might have been achieved. But the fact leaked out that even Newman's editorship, undertaken in a spirit of entire loyalty to constituted authority, had come to an end owing to episcopal intervention. This rumour gave edge to the feeling of the younger writers, that, in matters intellectual, {505} nothing would satisfy the Bishops but such a following of the beaten track as would help no mind that was alive to the urgent questions of the hour.

A fresh contributor now appeared on the scene in Mr. Wetherell, a clerk in the War Office and a convert, from whose talent Newman hoped much. He had not only talent, but something of the moderation of tone and style which Richard Simpson lacked. Mr. Wetherell eventually took a prominent part in the conduct of the Rambler. Newman urged Acton to get a regular staff, and suggested the names of Hope-Scott, Badeley, Ornsby, Renouf, and T. W. Allies. He continued to hope against hope that the Review might live down suspicion and do a useful work. But it must persuade, not irritate; it must have the approval of authority. There were (as his letters show) views which he shared with Acton and Simpson which nevertheless he dissuaded them from publishing. 'Avoid burning and contentious topics and conclusions,' he kept urging. The public mind had to be calmed before it could be broadened. Newman expressly told the editors that the only chance of regaining episcopal good will was that their Review should be non-theological. 'The great point is,' he wrote to Acton, 'to open men's minds, to educate them and make them logical. It does not matter what the subject-matter is ... If you make them think in politics, you will make them think in religion.' Any incidental theological matter must (he said) have the revision of a theologian. This might not prove wholly satisfactory from an intellectual standpoint if the censor should take up a narrow view; but, as a matter of discipline, it was essential.

To some extent the new editors acted on Newman's exhortation to caution. Baron d'Eckstein sent a theological article which seemed to violate the rules which Newman had laid down, and Mr. Wetherell and Mr. Simpson forwarded it in MS. for his judgment. Newman's reply brings out clearly the principles he was endeavouring to inculcate on the editors:

'Without departing from the respect I feel for the Baron d'Eckstein,' he writes, 'I was startled in the last degree with his paper, not as if I ventured to decide anything on the {506} subjects which it treats which the Church has not decided, but for the very reason that he does venture. I mean that he inculcates as facts what another may consider the wildest fancies ...

'Considering the strong and zealous prepossessions of the mass of our educated class in England, I must hold that to run both against them and against Authority too, and that without attempting to prove, and simply asserting, one's opinions, does seem to me quite unjustifiable. The author states his theories as if they were dogmas; and, whether received views on certain points are right or wrong, they have a greater claim to be stated dogmatically than what is new, unproved, and idiosyncratic.'

Simpson did not, however, show equal caution in respect of his own writing, and Newman, in revising the proof of an article from his own pen on St. John Chrysostom, found on the back of it an article by Simpson on the most burning and contentious theological subject—toleration—containing a criticism of Gregory XVI.'s condemnation of Lamennais in the Encyclical Mirari vos.

Newman had always been too profound a thinker to maintain as tenable by a Catholic any abstract theory of unlimited toleration. But he deeply felt the necessity in our modern civilisation of the spirit of tolerance being very widely extended in practice. Nevertheless, from the point of view of theological reasoning the whole question required an expert's hand, and the public criticism of a Papal Encyclical by a layman was a serious matter. It was a breach of the conditions Newman had laid down for the continuance of his own contributions. He wrote at once to Simpson on October 24: 'If the new article on Toleration appears in the Rambler without a bonâ fide revision, I must ask you to be so good as not to publish mine on St. Chrysostom.' Simpson at once sent the Toleration article to Newman, begging him to revise it. Newman prevented its publication and stated his reasons in a letter to Acton:

'His [Simpson's] argument runs into the famous questions which he made so much excitement with several years ago, in the article about the future state of non-Catholics—I forget the exact title. And then, instead of supporting a novel (in theology) opinion by theologians, {507} he brings in Schlegel, who is no more an authority on such a point than Beethoven, introducing him as laying down a thesis so evidently made for the convenience of present political action, and so wanting in simplicity, that I do not think a Protestant or Catholic philosopher could be found who would not ask for the proof of it rather than take it for granted as the basis of a system. The more desirous a person may be to recommend a principle which the times seem to require, the more careful he should be not so to advocate it as to prejudice people against it, and nothing more tends to prejudice the mind against truth than bad arguments. I say this in my defence, for, though done at the last minute, it is better I should do so than allow what I verily believe would have been an act simply irretrievable ... '

But the friendship between Newman and the Rambler was highly precarious. No sooner was cause of offence on one side apologised for than fresh cause was given on the other. It was now Newman's turn to offend, and seriously offend, Sir John Acton. A rumour was current that the Dublin Review was to be discontinued, and Newman urged Simpson and Acton to consider whether they should not change the name of the Rambler and allow it to take the vacant place of the Catholic Quarterly.

The report was promptly denied by Mr. Bagshawe, editor of the Dublin Review, in a letter to the Tablet and Weekly Register, in which he referred to Newman as though he were editor of the Rambler.

The following disclaimer from Newman himself appeared in the succeeding week:

'We are requested to state that the reference to Dr. Newman as editor of the Rambler, as contained in the recent letter of the respected editor of the Dublin Review, which has appeared in our columns, is founded on a misconception, as Dr. Newman has no part in conducting or superintending that able periodical.'

Newman had, as we have seen, kept his resignation a secret, and had expressly stipulated that W. G. Ward should not know of it. Hence the mistake of the Dublin, which was now largely under Ward's control. But in the incident he had a fresh reminder of the danger to himself of being {508} identified with the Rambler in the public mind. It was a mere accident which had made him aware of the 'Toleration' article; and its appearance might have done him harm which it would have been hard to undo. He forthwith declined the responsibility involved in revising Simpson's article, and advised its withdrawal. The immediate result of his statement in the papers that he had 'no share in conducting or superintending' the Rambler was a great fall in its sale. Sir John Acton was excessively indignant, and at first believed Newman's letter to be a forgery which he was prepared to contradict.

Simpson immediately withdrew his article; but his letter to Newman on the occasion is sore and despondent:

'If,' he wrote, 'I am not to meddle with education because it is the question which the Bishops decide upon, the same rule will apply to politics, for they are certainly proscribing opinions and actions, as well as to this question of Toleration.

'So I frankly confess that I do not know what I am to write about ... What is not theological? where is that indifferent common ground on which I may expatiate when you deny altogether in your note the indifference of any secular function at all?

'Or do you mean to advise me not to write at all for the future in any Catholic publication?'

Acton was abroad at the time when Newman's letter to the Tablet appeared. On his return to England in February he saw Newman at the Oratory and remonstrated with him for appearing to cast off his former colleagues. He talked of giving up the Review altogether. Mr. Wetherell had for a time vacated the assistant-editorship through ill-health. Simpson was an injudicious editor; and Acton's own time was very much occupied. However, Newman dissuaded him from any such decisive step. But the sore rankled, and Acton still wrote to him despondently and with a remnant of resentful feeling months after the occurrence.

'June 29th, 1860.
' ... The Rambler has really very little chance of going on successfully, in spite of the care taken to avoid offence. I cannot obtain proper assistance in carrying it on, and its position before the public has been destroyed by the circumstances to which I alluded. {509}

'The evil did not proceed from the fact of your retirement; and the reason evidently was that it was understood that you would continue to contribute. Accordingly both the September and the November numbers contained contributions from your pen, and the circulation continued to increase. The papers had published the fact of your retirement from the editorship long before the November number appeared. I remember that the Tablet, in attacking the politics of the September number, stated that you had nothing whatever to do with it, and that it was evident to everybody that it had not appeared under your auspices. Now the September number was the end of a volume, and the moment would have been favourable to withdraw subscriptions, yet they went on increasing. I then, in pursuance of your wishes, obtained the sanction of Döllinger's and de Buck's names, in conjunction with yours, and wrote to Gratry (as I do not know Maret, and had no opportunity of going to Paris) for the same purpose.

'At that juncture the letter appeared, announcing that you had no further connection whatever with the Rambler. My impression, I remember, at the time was that an unauthorized person had stated a direct untruth. The letter did not bear your signature, and I received no communication from you on the subject. I considered that I should be perfectly justified in contradicting the statement publicly in my own name, and deliberated for some time whether I should not do so. I did not do it simply because it seemed to me undignified. My agreement with you so far outweighed an anonymous assertion that I never doubted that I should be perfectly justified in giving that letter a direct negative.

'Everybody, except Mr. Bagshawe, had long known that you were not editor; so that this additional declaration signified in all men's eyes that you had found reason to renounce and abandon us altogether. The circulation accordingly fell off, as I have described. I had done all I had undertaken to do with you; Wetherell, in pursuance of your suggestion, had been prevailed upon to join me in the Editorship [Note 5] and he was actively employed in getting up that number. I had proceeded to obtain theological supervision, {510} but when your letter appeared in the papers, I considered it had become useless; and, when I saw you in the winter, I understood that it was all over. In our very short conversation I asked you in reply to what you said, whether you thought I had better go on or give up; and I went on because you advised it, but without any hope, especially after Wetherell's retirement. From that time I ceased trying to make arrangements to which you would no longer be a party. I ceased applying to you for assistance which you had external reasons for refusing; and I escaped the necessity of a censorship by admitting no theology except from persons who might themselves be our censors.

'This was a losing game. I do not even find my security in the gravity of our censors [Note 6]. The four you proposed were to have been, besides yourself, Döllinger, de Buck and Gratry; that is, the author of the Essay on Consulting the Laity; the author of the Letter on the Jansenism of St. Augustine; de Buck, who sent for the present number a letter which I rejected after Simpson had translated it, in which he assumes that there is no dogmatic difference between the Schismatics [Note 7] and the Church; and Gratry, who offered me a paper on the difference between the prevalent "Papisme" and "Catholicisme" of which he said that, if it appeared with his name, he should be obliged to leave the Oratory the same day.

'I beg of you, remembering the difficulties you encountered, to consider my position [Note 8], in the midst of a hostile and illiterate episcopate, an ignorant clergy, a prejudiced and divided laity, with the cliques at Brompton, York Place, Ushaw, always on the watch, obliged to sit in judgment as to the theology of the men you selected to be our patrons, deserted by the assistant you obtained for me with no auxiliary or adviser but Simpson. And this, after you had left us, with the opposition of the Dublin Review, of the Tablet in politics, and with the time-serving criticisms even of the Paper that has owed me the greatest services [the Weekly Register]; at a time, too, when the greatest and most difficult questions agitate the country and the Church.

'Under these circumstances, the appearance of your Paper on St. John Chrysostom and the kind note that came {511} with it encouraged me to hope that the rule you laid down last winter might be altogether reversed, and I ventured upon a renewed attempt to obtain your further aid. It seemed to me that nothing but the renewal of your regular connection with the Magazine could remove the impression that you have entirely given it up as unworthy of your support, and make up for the loss which ensued on the declaration of last November. On this part of the subject, however, I have no more to say, as the P.S. of your letter [Note 9] gives me all the satisfaction and hope I can expect.

'I should understand the meaning of your antithesis of the foreign Toryism and English anti-Toryism of the review better, if you would be so good as to let me have your critique of the politics of the July number.'


'The Oratory, Birmingham: July 1st, 1860.
'My dear Sir John,—I feel sure that if sacred duties had not called you from the country and occupied your mind and made it impossible for me to know your direction, or (if I had) to write to you, you would have had no difficulty in understanding what I felt imperatively bound to do last November.

'And now, if I were speaking to you, I think I could do what it would take much writing to do even imperfectly.

'I do not think you have now, or can have had in November, facts accurately before you. For instance, as to that on which your whole letter turns,—you say in it that in my Notice in the Tablet: "I announced that I had no further connection whatever with the Rambler." I will transcribe it and you will see I said no such thing. "We are requested to state that the reference to Dr. Newman as editor of the Rambler contained in the recent letter of the respected editor of the Dublin Review, which has appeared in our columns, is founded on a misconception, as Dr. Newman has no part in conducting or superintending that able periodical."

'I do not think you could have been as you say "perfectly justified in contradicting" this "statement publicly"; nor that "you had received no communication from me on" this "subject." There is nothing in it about "no connection whatever"; and I am quite unconscious that I ever was wanting in avowing to the proprietors of the Rambler that I would have as little to do with superintending as with editing it {512} after a Bishop interfered. In my Notice I stated that, which I had said (already) to the proprietors, but as yet to no one publicly. No one feels more than I do that it is not fair that, in your position, you should have the Rambler on your hands; no one too can be more grateful to you for it than I am, as an English Catholic. The great problem, is the editor; what the Rambler says about the University as wanting a Rector applies, mutatis mutandis, to itself. I could say more in conversation.
J. H. N.'

But in truth, like many eager advocates of a cause, Acton and Simpson had taken Newman's sympathy with their desire for thorough treatment of history and science, his grateful sense of their loyalty to himself and his wish that they should have fair play in urging their views, for a far more complete intellectual sympathy with them than really existed. And the true state of the case with reference to one important question was revealed in a somewhat startling manner a few months later on.

Mr. H. N. Oxenham wrote a letter in the Rambler for July 1860, under the signature of X. Y. Z., criticising the Seminary training of the clergy—the separation in boyhood of candidates for the priesthood from future laymen, the prevailing system of strict surveillance, the limitations imposed on the reading of the Seminarists with a view to preserving the ecclesiastical spirit. The letter was temperate in style, but it amounted to an attack on the whole Seminary system which the Council of Trent had established for the Catholic Church; which M. Olier had carried out at St. Sulpice with such brilliant success; which still fashioned the whole clergy not only in France, but in Italy and in Rome itself. Further, Mr. Oxenham invoked Newman's own advocacy (in the Dublin lectures) of general knowledge as the best preparation for professional knowledge, in support of his theory that the future priest should be early encouraged in a course of miscellaneous reading.

In point of fact, Newman was of opinion that some priests might with advantage have—as they had in Germany—a wider general education than the Seminaries afforded. Had it been proposed to draw out very fully the various considerations relevant to this question and submit them to the {513} judgment of ecclesiastical authority, he would, as we may judge from his letters, have seen no objection to such a course. But for a lay writer to raise for free discussion, before a lay tribunal, the system which had been enjoined by an Ecumenical Council was, in his eyes, a grave offence. Such proceedings were to court Roman censure on the Rambler. Moreover, the failure of X. Y. Z. to recognise the far greater importance of securing holiness for the clergy than merely social gifts or intellectual training was another grave offence. Indeed, as we have seen, the great importance he attached to intellectual freedom (in its place) and to general culture had never implied a tendency to intellectualism. It was rather that he felt these weapons to be in their place quite essential to preserving the influence of the Church, and keeping secure the faith of the ablest Christian thinkers. He saw others identifying the superiority of goodness over intellectual excellence in the individual, with a disparagement of the absolute necessity of first-rate intellectual work within the Church which should deal satisfactorily with the religious problems of the age. But such work was not for the rank and file of priests who were (he held) a militia, and must have the training, narrow from one point of view, which would ensure their being holy and efficient. They had more often to attend to the needs of the poor than of the educated. They were not likely to be sufficiently gifted to constitute the intellectual bulwarks of the Church. Their opportunities and requirements did not call even for the general culture suitable for laymen living in the world. Thus Newman's personal views coincided with what, on such a subject, he would anyhow have accepted as the ruling of authority.

Choosing by a mere accident the signature H. O.—Oxenham's own initials—and quite ignorant that Oxenham was the author of the letter he criticised, Newman wrote to the Rambler on the points I have just specified. He protested against the provisions of an Ecumenical Council in a matter purely ecclesiastical being discussed among the readers of a lay Review; he parried X. Y. Z.'s extracts from his own lectures by quoting other extracts, with special reference to ecclesiastical training—in which he maintained that it is professedly narrow, and that 'what is supernatural need not {514} be liberal nor need a hero be a gentleman,' and he reproduced portions of X. Y. Z.'s letter, with interpolated additions in square brackets to bring out clearly those implications of the letter which made it so unsuitable for publication.

It so happened that W. G. Ward and Dr. Herbert Vaughan—afterwards Cardinal Vaughan—had known Mr. Oxenham as a candidate for the priesthood at St. Edmund's College. They had regarded his personal views, which he freely expressed, as most seriously detrimental to the spirit of an ecclesiastical Seminary. W. G. Ward guessed the authorship of the X. Y. Z. letter, and therefore read into it a more fundamental attack on the whole priestly ideal than it conveyed to others. To his pen was ascribed a letter strongly attacking X. Y. Z. in the Tablet, published under the signature A. B. C., a letter the report of which had apparently been one of the reasons inducing Newman to write his own letter to the Rambler. When Mr. Oxenham read the reply to him in the Rambler, with his own initials at the end, he saw in it a personal attack on himself by one of his old opponents, Ward or Vaughan. That Newman could have written or could endorse the letter of H. O. seemed to him impossible. He consequently rejoined in a tone which caused the greatest amusement to Mr. Ward, who soon learnt that the letter was Newman's. Mr. Oxenham adopted the attitude of one who was chastising with superior intellectual culture the narrow-minded heresy-hunting fanaticism of H. O., and of setting him to rights in his unintelligent application of Dr. Newman's own views and words which H. O. had quoted. He began by characterising his method as that of 'insinuating that everyone is a heretic ... whose opinions have the misfortune to differ from his own.' He accused him of using 'that favourite but most offensive weapon of weak and unscrupulous controversialists, viz., garbled and interpolated quotations'; he characterised H. O.'s citation from Newman as 'most luminous in itself but most infelicitous in his use of it'; and he 'turns with positive relief from H. O.'s declamatory onslaught' and 'rambling indictment' to another subject. The ludicrous mistake was more fatal to the prosecution of the controversy than could have been {515} the most unanswerable arguments. W. G. Ward wrote to Newman and obtained his general view of the whole subject in a letter, and further asked and received his permission to read the letter publicly to the divinity students at St. Edmund's—the 'divines' as they were called. Newman felt the danger of being supposed to be in any way identified with an attack on the Seminary training, and was grateful to Ward for the publicity which he gave to his disclaimer, though he stipulated that Ward should state that such publicity was given at his own initiative. Newman's own views on the matter in debate are given in the following letter:


'November 8th, 1860.
'My dear Ward,—I thank you much for the kind anxiety for my good name which has suggested your letter. It is curious. I was on the point of writing to you to express the disgust I felt at the malevolent unfairness, as it seemed to me, of the critique on your book in the Guardian of last week. I do not mention the matter for your sake, but to relieve the just pain which it caused me.

'As to the subject of your letter I will say this:

'(1) that certainly I have a very considerable degree of zeal for the general views which I have drawn out in various works on the subject of Catholic Education.

'(2) that those views, thus drawn out, have reference to the education of the Catholic gentry.

'(3) that I was called to draw them out and publish them by the duties which took me to Ireland, and that without that call I should not have written one word upon them.

'(4) that, as far as I am aware, I have not written anywhere one word in discussion of the education proper of the clergy.

'(5) that, if I have spoken of the necessity of any ecclesiastics being versed in secular learning, I have spoken of them, not as simple ecclesiastics, but as tutors, Deans, and guides of young laymen at places of education.

'Further, I will say as to the very matter which occasions your letter:

'(1) that I did not know that people generally ascribed to me the letter of H. O. in the Rambler, though I had heard of two persons who did so.

'(2) that I agree with every word of that letter. {516}

'(3) that, when I read it in the Rambler, I had no sort of suspicion who X. Y. Z. was, whom it criticizes.

'(4) that I consider X. Y. Z. ignoring an Ecumenical Council and writing without any explanation in the teeth of its provisions, is unutterably strange.

'(5) that his thinking that laymen may suggest their opinions and that unasked, and that, too, on a point of clerical discipline, is most extravagantly novel.

'(6) that the uneducated among the laity being the many, and the refined and accomplished and large-minded being the few, the notion is preposterous that the clerus universus should be trained on the model of the few, and not so as to meet the capacities and characteristics of the many.

'(7) that the scheme would work as badly, of making parish priests men of letters, as of making medical men physical philosophers, since no one would trust their capabilities for their special duties, and with good reason [Note 10].

'(8) that it would be as momentous a change to destroy the Seminaries as to abolish the celibacy of the Clergy.

'(9) that, as the rich man or the man in authority has his serious difficulties in going to heaven, so also has the learned.

'(10) that the more a man is educated, whether in theology or secular science, the holier he needs to be if he would be saved [Note 11].

'(11) that devotion and self-rule are worth all the intellectual cultivation in the world.

'(12) that in the case of most men literature and science and the habits they create, so far from ensuring these highest of gifts, indispose the mind towards their acquisition.

'My views of Secular Education are parts of myself. If they are shown to be against the faith, I shall have to ask for grace to alter them. I have no kind of suspicion that they are. Anyhow, I do not think there is aught in those views inconsistent with what I have been saying above, about the education of the body of the clergy, and the relation of moral to intellectual gifts; and further, I have already implied it in great measure, that is, in substance and incidentally, in one part or other of the very works in which I have advocated them.       I am, &c.,
JOHN H. NEWMAN.' {517}

Newman's relations with the Rambler never recovered from the shock which the H. O. letter caused. The Rambler writers were themselves quite unprepared for his strong dissent from them. Ward himself wrote a long and vigorous attack on Oxenham in the Rambler of November, but Mr. Oxenham, after the contretemps already described, did not desire to take up his opponent's glove. He wrote briefly, declining further controversy, but declaring that Mr. Ward had travestied his views. Newman urged on Acton that the subject should be dropped. Acton replied:

'I never thought of writing on the subject at all, nor has X. Y. Z. any thought of replying. I have been very anxious that there should be no letter in direct reply to Mr. Ward. If one man fights in a chariot and the other in a ship it is very difficult for them to get at each other.'

Indeed, Mr. Ward's mind had probably, at this time, less in common with such essays as were appearing in the Rambler than at any other period of his career. He was not living, as he did at Oxford, or again in his last years, in touch with the intellectual world. He was at this time absorbed in revising his theological lectures, which in his hands had been also instruments for directly helping in the spiritual and ascetic training of the future priests at St. Edmund's. He could find hardly anything congenial or even tolerable in Sir John Acton's magazine. He appears to have expressed his sentiments to Acton himself without circumlocution. In a letter which reached Newman by the same post as Acton's own reply, he says: 'I told Sir J. Acton almost the only time I ever saw him how earnestly I desired the downfall of the Rambler.'

Newman received from Oxenham through Mr. Wetherell a formal apology for his discourteous reply to H. O. 'He conceived himself to have conclusive proof when he wrote his published letter,' explained Mr. Wetherell, 'that you were not H. O. and he is extremely vexed at having answered in the manner in which he did. He has come to his present conclusion on the subject (that you are the author) mainly I believe from some comments made in a letter of yours to Mr. Ward lately read to the divines at St. Edmund's.' The Oratorian Fathers had throughout {518} been anxious as to Newman's connection with the Rambler writers. And now Father Bittleston wrote under the signature B. B. in support of the H. O. letter. Acton (to whom Newman forwarded this communication for publication) replied that, but for Newman's recommendation, it was a letter he would not have thought of publishing, whereupon Newman withdrew it. But this further development deepened the cleft between Newman and the Rambler.

'This episode,' writes Newman in his notes on the correspondence, 'clenched what the introduction of the discussion about clerical education had wrought in my feelings about the Rambler. The number for September 1860 had seen my last contribution to it, Ancient Saints IV, and my letter in protest signed H. O.'

Newman's determination that he could not write for the Rambler carried with it deep sadness. It meant that at the moment he could see no field of usefulness for himself. Whether or no he might otherwise have reconsidered his decision, further events made it impossible. For a brief space indeed the Review appeared to be heeding his counsels a little more than heretofore. He wrote with sympathy of the March number and once again expressed his agreement with the principle to which Acton adhered, of absolute frankness in historical inquiry, and his conviction of its necessity. Acton was grateful. 'Your letter,' he replied, 'is a great encouragement to me, and would be a great consolation but for the desponding manner in which you speak of what you have done and are yet to do.' Then came the May number containing an attack by Simpson on St. Pius V. in the course of an article on Edmund Campion. This led Newman to protest once more, in his correspondence with Sir John Acton, against the manner of Simpson's writing, which made it impossible for the Rambler to recover its good name.

'I did not read R. Simpson's article on Campion,' he wrote to Acton on June 7, 'till a day or two ago,—and I am not surprised that Catholics should be excessively annoyed at it. If we will kick people's shins they will express dissatisfaction at our act. Now the article is very clever, very specious (be it true or not), but (1) it is a wanton digression from Campion,—it was not necessary for Campion's history. (2) It {519} is an underhand hit at Antonelli, &c., and an Englishman is irritated when a writer hints dislike or disapprobation and will not speak out. Better say like a man that the Pope is surrounded by a clique who mislead him than insinuate it from the history of a past age. (3) It was an abrupt, unmeasured attack upon a Saint. To attack St. Pius so unceremoniously is parallel to the ungentlemanlikeness in worldly society of rude language to a man of rank, station, or learning; it offends common taste and propriety while it inflicts great pain, real suffering, upon such persons as are devout to the Saint. I don't wonder at a saying which I hear reported of a Dominican, that he would like to have the burning of the author.'

The Rambler had, as we have seen, been suspect in Rome before Newman's editorship began. Then an article of his own in its pages had been charged before the Roman tribunals with denying the infallibility of the Teaching Church. Then, after his retirement, had come the attacks on St. Pius V. and on the Seminary training formally sanctioned by a Pope in council. One more offence against Rome now followed and was fatal to the Review's prospect of continuance. The question of the Temporal Power of the Papacy proved to be the rock on which it was finally shipwrecked. The Rambler, though fairly cautious in its first allusions to the subject, finally took a line which ran counter to a feeling so deep and strong among Catholics, not only in England, but all over the world, that it seemed decisive against any rehabilitation of the Review in public opinion. But further, the Roman authorities also took decisive action and the fate of the Review was then and there sealed.

It is hardly necessary to recall in detail the bitter feeling in Rome in these years during which, bit by bit, the States of the Church were being seized by Victor Emmanuel, and, except for the partial defence afforded by the French troops, the Pontiff was alone and friendless.

Since the Restoration of Pius IX. the Papal States had been kept in order by French troops in Rome, and Austrian in the Legations. Cavour is generally believed to have come to an understanding with Napoleon III. at the Congress of Paris in 1856 that this anomalous state of things should be allowed to be an excuse for Sardinian ambition to aim at {520} a United Italy under Piedmontese rule. The cession of Savoy and Nice to France was the price which Piedmont paid. The war between Italy and Austria was declared in 1859. A revolution at once broke out in the Legations, which were occupied by Austrian troops.

Under the plea of their disaffection and the 'will of the people,' which was supposed to be represented by the revolutionary Government which offered the Romagna to Piedmont, Cavour began his course of spoliation; and by the summer of 1860 the Papal territory was reduced to only the provinces of Frosinone and Velletri in addition to Rome itself.

The indignation and depression in Rome were profound. The most significant fact was that, while in 1848 nearly all the European Powers, in their dread of the revolution, helped to restore Pius IX. to his sovereignty, now, in his second peril, not a hand was raised. The sympathy of England, which had in 1848 been largely with the Holy See, was in 1860 strongly on the other side.

The feeling of indignant loyalty was intense throughout the Catholic world. The absolute union between Catholics and their Pontiff in defence of his rights was preached by many as the crusade of the hour. Newman largely shared in this feeling, and, when preaching his sermon a little later on 'The Pope and the Revolution,' he is remembered to have stamped his foot in impatient anger as he referred to the followers of Victor Emmanuel as 'sacrilegious robbers.' But even in such a crisis he kept his head, and preserved a balanced judgment. Although Victor Emmanuel and Cavour were robbers and indefensible, he considered the Temporal Power of the Papacy to be a very large and complex question. And he was indignant at attempts to utilise a deep and noble sentiment of loyalty in gaining currency for the extreme view of a few zealots—that its necessity was a dogma obligatory on Catholic belief. And he saw the upsetting effect of such a course on the most honest and sincere students of history.

To the group of letters concerning the Temporal Power Cardinal Newman has prefixed the following memorandum dated May 22, 1882: {521}

'I observe on the (following) letters thus:—

'No doubt I have expressed on various occasions an opinion favourable or not unfavourable to the suppression of the Pope's Temporal Power,—e.g. I wrote to Mr. Monteith to the effect that, as it had been created by a series of secular events, so we could not be surprised if, as it rose, so it was destined to fall. And I quoted to a young layman Lord Palmerston's words that, as Dr. Sumner made an excellent Archbishop, yet it did not follow that he would succeed as Prime Minister, so the Holy Father had far too much on his hands as Pastor of the Catholic Flock to acquit himself well as the Temporal Ruler of a territory over and above his special ecclesiastical training.

'But then I must add

'1. I had no thought of making him a subject to any secular power. I thought he might have Rome and a slice of territory to the sea, or at least an honorary sovereignty.

'2. What I especially was anxious about was that there should be no attempt to make the Temporal Power a doctrine de fide; and that for two reasons.
'(a) perhaps it was in God's Providence to cease to be.
'(b) it was not right to frighten, worry, irritate Catholics, by forcing on them as de fide what was not.

'3. I detested the underhand way of smuggling into addresses and the like, statements which the subscribers to them never intended. This had been done, among other instances, in the case of the Academia, and when I found the trick out I proposed to withdraw my name from the list of subscribers. In a similar instance a lay friend of mine of great influence either would not give his name to an address or withdrew it in consequence of finding out the trick.

'4. For my own feelings as to the Temporal Power itself, I would refer to ... my Sermon in 1866 on the Pope and the Revolution (Occasional Sermons).

'5. What I have said in that Sermon I hold now. I have no reason to suppose that in so holding I have not the sanction of the Pope's opinion, but, being now a Cardinal, whatever might be my personal opinion, I should submit to him and act with him, should the question of the Temporal Power come into discussion.       J. H. CARDINAL NEWMAN.'

Foremost among those who led the crusade for the Temporal Power in England was Provost Manning. At first he wrote on the subject with moderation, and Newman, in a {522} letter to Acton, defended what he said; but later on his views took what Newman held to be a very extreme colour. Even in Rome itself they met with a not unmixed approval. And the first draft of his lectures on the subject had to be remodelled to escape theological censure [Note 12].

However, the most unqualified defence of the Temporal Power was welcome to Cardinal Antonelli, who was a statesman and not a theologian. And the Pope himself expressed his pleasure at the lectures. W. G. Ward was, in earlier years, no believer in the Temporal Power. But his principle of following the Pope's own wishes on all points led him to maintain its necessity later on, and he and Manning united together against what they regarded as the undisciplined disloyalty of the Rambler on this subject. Newman felt their tone of dogmatism to be incompatible with the freedom of opinion which is lawful on points not defined by the Church. It is most instructive to reflect that Manning's own view on the question many years later was no more favourable to the Temporal Power than Newman's earlier view which Manning had censured as wanting in loyalty [Note 13].

The attitude of England was of the most critical importance to Rome; and the Liberal Government was understood to side with the Sardinians. The Rambler was avowedly Liberal in its politics, and Sir John Acton sat on the Liberal side in Parliament. Cardinal Antonelli brought pressure on the Rambler in June 1861, not only to champion the Temporal Power unreservedly, but to dissociate itself altogether from the Liberal party.

Sir John Acton forthwith wrote to inform Newman of the state of affairs:

'June 19th, 1861.
'Manning made an appointment to meet me yesterday and we had a very long conversation. He told me he had seen the Cardinal in consequence of a letter written to him by Cardinal Antonelli with the Pope's cognisance, connecting the support given to Government by Catholic Members with things that have appeared in the Rambler. {523}

'The upshot was that a censure was impending from Rome; that he was anxious I should disengage myself from the Rambler in time to escape it, and should give him a promise that, whatever the wish of the Holy Father might be, should also be mine.

'Manning's personal kindness was extreme. He gave me distinctly to understand that it was an official communication. The only diversion I can see is the chance of becoming a Quarterly, as I hear that Ward and his friends talk of starting a new Review, and that the Cardinal abandons the Dublin in its decline.'

Newman in a moment saw the gravity of the situation. He thought, as we shall see, that Cardinal Antonelli was exceeding his powers. On the other hand, a censure from Rome was a most serious threat, and he was not sorry to second Manning's suggestion that Acton had better wash his hands of the Rambler and turn to work more serious and less attended by anxiety. He did not wish him indeed to desert Simpson, but now the suspension of the Rambler, which he had opposed a year earlier, did seem almost inevitable.


'Rednal: June 20th, 1861.
'I am not the fit person, nor perhaps would you wish me, to give any opinion on Manning's proposal. If I were you, nothing would bully me into giving up the Government if I felt I ought to go with them. The case of Simpson is far more delicate. It is impossible you can leave him to bear the brunt of responsibilities which you share,—but what Manning aims at, I suppose, is the suppression of the Rambler. I confess I should not be sorry at your literary undertakings (if such is to be your course) taking a less ephemeral shape than the pages of a magazine. Gibbon, in the beginning of his autobiography, refers to Aldenham,—might it not become more classical (and somewhat dearer to a Catholic) than Lausanne? Gladstone, in the dedication of one of his early works to Lord Lyttelton, talks of his writing in the classical groves of Hagley; yet what is the history of Henry II. to the "Opus Magnum" which might be identified with Aldenham? My own feeling is that the Rambler is impossible.

'The patrons of a new Quarterly will find it a difficult task. There cannot be life without independence.' {524}

Acton, however, was thoroughly angry. He remembered that Newman had expressed his wish that the Rambler should continue when he had in the previous year spoken of bringing it to an end. He considered that he had fully acted up to his promise of moderation. He could not retire to Aldenham and write a magnum opus without bringing the Review to an end altogether.

In Newman's mind, on the other hand, the situation had been entirely changed by recent events. However little he liked Cardinal Antonelli's interference, it had clearly been intimated by Manning that all representatives of ecclesiastical authority were against the continuance of the Review, and that a censure was impending from Rome itself. This was decisive against prolonging its life, and he wrote in that sense to Acton:

'Of course you are the judge, but I am sincerely sorry that you feel it a duty to maintain the Rambler. It seems to me that a man who opposes legitimate authority is in a false position. Cardinal Antonelli does not seem to be a legitimate authority, but Propaganda and the Cardinal Archbishop are. If they do not allow the Rambler to speak against the Temporal Power they seem to me tyrannical,—but they have the right to disallow it, and a magazine with a censure upon it from authority continues at an enormous disadvantage. It does not seem to me courage to run counter to constituted superiors,—they have the responsibility and to them we must leave it.'

But while thus sadly counselling Acton to give up the Rambler, Newman was determined to clear himself from all suspicion of sympathy with the extreme line on the Temporal Power which the authorities appeared to be taking.

Wiseman, who had been speaking strongly in a Pastoral on the subject with a view to uniting loyal Catholic writers under himself and Manning, founded at this time the 'Academia of the Catholic Religion.' Manning was its presiding genius. Newman was naturally asked to join, and had consented. He was disposed, however, from the first to regard the Academia as a party project with which he could have little sympathy, and an exaggerated attitude in its proceedings on the Temporal Power would be decisive that his suspicions were correct. He wrote as follows to Manning: {525}

'Confidential.       June 21st, 1861.
'My dear Manning,—I find the Cardinal Archbishop (for Cardinal Antonelli is out of my field of sight) is taking strong measures on the question of the Temporal Power.

'You will not, I know, fancy that I am capable of writing anything in the shape of a threat, but I am obliged to write this, else you will say when the event took place, "you should have given me a hint beforehand; why did you not tell me?"

'I ought then to say what I am resolved on; but this is for you, not for the Cardinal.

'Should His Eminence put out any matter bearing on the same question in the same way in his Inaugural Address of the 29th, I certainly will not remain a member of the Academia.
Ever yours affectionately,


'June 22nd, 1861.
'I am only anxious that you should not act in haste nor without precise reasons. Against anything you do upon reasons and with deliberation, it is not for me to be importunate.

'But as yet I do not know what are Cardinal Antonelli's words or requisitions. Nor can I believe that they in any way touch you [Note 14].

'However, the list of the Academia is not yet known. Would you think it well to wait awhile till you see its character before you join it? Not to join it is easy enough. To withdraw afterwards has many circumstances of ill.'

In the then state of public feeling, to hesitate or even to discriminate on this subject was to be in some degree a marked man. It is difficult for those who are most familiar with Manning's own completely changed view on the Temporal Power in later years to realise the intolerant spirit in which this question was treated by him and others in the 'sixties. To argue, or even to express any qualifications in defending the Pope's civil sovereignty, to recognise drawbacks in the old machinery of government exclusively by ecclesiastics, was to be stamped as 'disloyal.' There are {526} many still among us who remember the tension of feeling at that time—how it would be whispered that A B was 'not sound' on the Temporal Power, and he would be looked upon askance in consequence by many excellent men. At this time of excitement the 'endemic gossip' of London, as Newman called it, would take no account of balanced views. A man was 'for' or 'against.' Thus, when Newman had pledged himself by letter against an extreme line on the subject, and when opponents of the Temporal Power claimed his unreserved sympathy, the direction of the wind of gossip was decided. Such rumours as were current, being baseless, would no doubt eventually die away. But while they lasted their consequences were very trying. And Newman, who in 1859 had had, in his irksome task of editing the Rambler, the great support of knowing that he was trusted by everyone, now became gradually conscious of a growing want of confidence in him. The Temporal Power question completed what the delation of his Rambler article had begun. He came to be, to use his own phrase, 'under a cloud,' a man suspected in many quarters as not thoroughly orthodox. At the end of September 1861, Simpson, who was still communicating with Newman as to the future of the Rambler, enclosed a letter from Mr. Burns, the publisher, objecting to Newman's connection with any Review as injurious to its prospects of success. 'The great objection to Newman,' Mr. Burns wrote, 'is his … for one reason or another, unpopularity.'

There can be no doubt that Newman felt this development acutely. Possibly enough he exaggerated its extent and its import. But the sense that a 'cloud' was over him which only deepened later on, began at this time. That he, with his passionate loyalty to the Holy See, with his high ideal of obedience to his Bishop, should be regarded as a half-sympathiser with Garibaldi, as one who entertained, in Manning's phrase, 'low views' on the Papal prerogative, and was 'critical of Catholic devotion,' and a supporter of the disloyal and disaffected, was a keen trial. And as such charges were not formally preferred he could not formally reply to them. They were made or withdrawn as occasion made it most convenient. And perhaps Manning's occasional {527} disavowal of all hostility to him angered him more than its avowal—so at least I interpret the Latin words which conclude a letter I shall shortly cite [Note 15].

Meanwhile his letter to Acton, counselling the termination of the Rambler in deference to the impending censure of ecclesiastical authority, led to an important correspondence on the position of a Catholic Review, and its duties both to ecclesiastical authority and to public opinion.


'July 2nd, 1861.
'I am so much startled by your letter that you must not consider this as an answer to it. There is something in your view of the importance belonging to the decrees of authority, for which I was not at all prepared, and which I must take time to consider. My own notion was that, having excluded theology from the Rambler, nothing remained over which the ecclesiastical power possessed jurisdiction. In political life we should not be deterred, I suppose, by the threat or fear of even excommunication, from doing what we should deem our duty, if no such consideration had presented itself ... '


'The Oratory, Birmingham: July 5th, 1861.
'My dear Sir John,—I don't like writing in a hurry when I ought to write with care,—but then I don't like to delay. So I must do my best.

'I did not mean to differ from you (nor do I) in any principle, but in a fact. The Rambler certainly does seem to me ever nibbling at theological questions. It seems to me in its discussions to come under the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical power; and, therefore, I think the ecclesiastical power ought to be deferred to.

'If it advocated homeopathy or the broad gauge,—and the Bishops of England said anything in discouragement of such conduct, I do not see how it could be bound to defer to the Bishops.

'If it said that the classics ought to be taught to laymen, and the Bishops said that Prudentius was far better poetry than Virgil, and, in order to the cultivation of poetical taste, insisted on the Rambler being silent in its praises of Virgil, I do not see that the Rambler need be silent. {528}

'But this is not the fact. The Bishops have a direct jurisdiction in the education of the clergy for the ministry,—they act under an Ecumenical Council. To discuss the question of the education of the clergy does seem to be entering on a question under their jurisdiction. This the Rambler has done. It has not itself given judgment, but it has discussed at length, through its correspondents, the question. I cannot tell you how this discussion has annoyed me, not only for the sake of the Rambler, but in itself.

'The Articles on Campion again,—no one surely can say that a Life of Campion was obliged to come out with the statement or insinuation that St. Pius preferred to maintain untenable claims to retaining England in the Church; no reader surely but was surprised that it came into the narration. Such matters should not be dealt a back-handed blow,—it was not a history of St. Pius or of his times,—even then, a Saint surely is not to be approached as a common man. If the Ecclesiastical Power makes Saints, it requires that they, as well as their images, should receive the 'debitum honorem et venerationem.' The historical character of St. Pius, as it seems to me, was treated very much as if, in showing a church, the sacristan were to take an axe and knock off a piece of the altar, and then, when called to account, were to say that the altar was about to be removed as it was in the way, and he was only, by his act, beginning the intended reforms.

'Rednal, July 6th.—Then again, in the article on Ward's philosophy, I think the reviewer spoke of the highest ecclesiastical courts of the Church having for two centuries impeded in Italy the advance of science or something of the kind. Now, however true this may be, was it necessary to say it thus? and was it not anyhow an attack upon the said courts? I don't see that those courts went beyond their powers in the bare fact of their impeding science. They thought science interfered with religion, and no one can say that they had not a prima facie case in their favour. And they had the community (I suppose) with them. But whether this be so or not, is not the point. What I would insist on is that it is not wonderful, if a writer in the Rambler attacks those courts, the representatives of those courts will attack him,—and, (without saying that the prima facie view of the matter in the eyes of the public will be in their favour, if he is writing ex professo on the subject and they come in his way) yet I think if a writer, reviewing Ward, has a sudden side blow at them, the good sense of the public will {529} side with them, if they in turn inflict some severe stroke upon their assailant.

'I am saying all this by way of explaining what I meant by saying that the Rambler now is in a false position if authority speaks against it. It has been sufficiently theological and ecclesiastical to impress the world with the idea that it comes under an ecclesiastical censor, and if it caught it for tilting against Inquisitors, Ecumenical Councils, and Saints, the world would be apt to say: "serve him right!" This is how it appears to me.

'And further, I must, though it will pain you, speak out. I despair of Simpson being other than he is. He will always be clever, amusing, brilliant, and suggestive. He will always be flicking his whip at Bishops, cutting them in tender places, throwing stones at Sacred Congregations, and, as he rides along the high road, discharging peashooters at Cardinals who happen by bad luck to look out of the window. I fear I must say I despair of any periodical in which he has a part. I grieve to say it, but I have not said it till the whole world says it. I have, I assure you, defended him to others, and it is not many weeks, I may almost say days, since I was accused of "solidarity with the Rambler." But what is the good of going on hoping against hope to the loss of union among ourselves, and the injuring of great interests? For me, I am bound to state my convictions when I have them; and I have them now.

'You will act with true sincerity of intention and with full deliberation, whatever conclusion you come to about the Rambler, but I don't think Protestants ought to say that an independent organ of opinion is silenced, but one that loved to assail, and to go out of his way to assail, what was authoritative and venerable.
'Ever yours most sincerely,


'July 8th, 1861.
'I only write a few lines to thank you for your kindness in the letter I have just received. The question is too serious for me to answer you at once, and I am very glad to have the objections which may be made to the Rambler being put before my eyes with so much authority, and at the same time with so much confidence and indulgence.

'At first sight it strikes me that you deny any difference of principle, but that you consider, as a matter of fact, that {530} we do place ourselves under ecclesiastical jurisdiction by our subjects or modes of discussion, and of this you give three instances.

'With reference to the first, the Seminary question, you speak so very strongly that I do not wish to say anything. I never liked the prolongation of the dispute, but it seemed to me that the dangerous opinions were on the side against X. Y. Z., and I thought it absolutely my duty not to allow them to remain uncontradicted.

'But you say that the treatment of Pius V. gave ecclesiastical authority the right to intervene. This really seems to me once more a question of principle. Has the Church a right to censure me because I say of a canonized saint that on some occasion he committed an error of judgment, or even a mortal sin? Their biographies are full of such things, at least, all the older lives. Sanctity surely does not mean perfection nor absolute wisdom; and in this case not the holiness but the wisdom of the Saint was impugned. If you put it as others do, on the fact of his being a Pope, I should recall the language Baronius and Raynaldus use of certain Popes. The proceedings of Pius involved the whole question of the conduct and martyrdom of Campion and the others who laboured and suffered in the same field. I cannot see how it was irrelevant; or why, if one speaks of it, one is bound to assume that the Pope was in the right because he was a Saint. Surely a question of policy, so old as this, is not one on which an opinion can justify interference, or even the imputation of nibbling at theological questions.

'The third point is the treatment of Science by the Church in certain times. Here you say that the fact might be as stated in the Article, and yet the statement of the fact would give Rome a right to condemn us. If that were so it would justify the very attacks against which we are most anxious to defend the Church. I do not believe you will really say that these things can be put in the same category as subjects for Rome to pronounce on with papers on Original Sin or Consulting the Laity.

'The public feeling will be perhaps with the censors against the censured, but that public feeling is the very object of our indirect attacks. It does not admit the authority of science, or the sanctity of truth for its own sake, or the freedom of the various sciences pursuing their own ends primarily, and bearing testimony or paying tribute to religion only very remotely, as philology does, or medicine. {531} And this error, I have always thought, is to be met, not by dispute, but ambulando, by walking in the face of it, an operation which must necessarily be always disagreeable till people get to understand and get used to it, when the victory is at once gained. And, therefore, it is in the nature of the Rambler that each number should [Note 16] some people, until all its readers are its partizans. And for these reasons, taking the historical examples which you give, I still do not see that a condemnation on such grounds as these would require to be deferred to. But I am speaking agonistically all this time, not positively, only your arguments have not yet impressed me as strongly as your authority.

'I do not forget what you write to me. Long ago you wrote that it was not so important that people should be brought round to particular opinions, as that they should be taught to think logically. I do not believe that I have altogether neglected this advice. I have never been very zealous for particular views, but care above almost everything for one or two principles or general opinions. I cannot bear that Protestants should say the Church cannot be reconciled with the truths or precepts of science, or that Catholics should fear the legitimate and natural progress of the scientific spirit. These two errors seem to me almost identical, and, if one is more dangerous than the other, I think it is the last; so that it comes more naturally to me to be zealous against the Catholic mistake than against the Protestant.

'But the weapon against both is the same, the encouragement of the true scientific spirit and disinterested love of truth. I have nowhere seen this principle seriously adopted on the Continent by any Catholic periodical, or by any group of Catholics; and I really think it a merit of the Rambler, not that it does this successfully, but that it sees it and attempts to practise it. Yet I cannot conceive how such a course can be pursued without a collision with Rome, or how it can avoid being beset with difficulties in such a society as ours. I am sure I can conscientiously say I have striven not to give offence or to insult what is venerable, but I believe I cannot always avoid the appearance of it.

'Do not these principles suffice to explain our position and attitude without the hypothesis of error and failure in {532} the pursuit of them? I always feel that I am deliberately and systematically further removed from the prevailing sentiments of good and serious Catholics than Simpson is with all his imprudence [Note 17]. To some extent also this divergence in principle makes it difficult for me to judge of his improprieties in points of detail and execution; Wetherell would be invaluable in this respect, but we have very bad accounts of him.

'You will think it very hard I have taken your time up with such long letters. I thought at first I should be very short. But you will forgive me on account of the great emergency. Your imputed solidarity with the Rambler is very distressing when I consider how much my mind has been troubled with the idea of your disagreement and disapprobation. Would it were otherwise. I wish I had in private the full enjoyment of that with which you are reproached, and that I had an opportunity at the same time of setting the public right on the matter. The story [Note 18] goes that you have sent to the Atlantis a paper on the classics at which I should make a very wry face in swallowing it; but the Atlantis never appears and the world has forgotten it.

'The Academia held its first meeting at the Cardinal's. A long paper of his was read, of which everybody says that it is quite in his old style and proves great vigour. Unfortunately it is in his old style, only a repetition, and without any power or depth. He seems to think that Catholic science has only a great victory to gain,—not great problems to solve.'


'July 16th, 1861.
'My dear Sir John,—It is very difficult to bring out one's full meaning even to one's own satisfaction. Nor was I passing a judgment, but merely putting before you considerations on one of two sides of an argument. Not that I had not a distinct opinion of my own; but a person need not have lived to my age to feel an intense distrust of his own opinion in matters of conduct. {533}

'What I meant to convey in my last was this:

'Putting aside the ground of principle, in which I think we agree, I wished to consider expedience; and I think the words which I used,—"public opinion," "a false position"—showed it.

'I put aside also the question of fact on which we did not agree.

'The Holy See and Roman Church do not commonly act, as it seems to me, without public opinion on their side. A man may be in a false position towards ecclesiastical authorities with public opinion for him, as in the case of Luther, I suppose, in Germany; but the inconveniences of his false position will be immensely increased to him if, in his antagonism, public opinion, as is likely, is against him.

'Now I can't help thinking that, if Cardinal Antonelli influenced our Cardinal or Propaganda to act against the Rambler, people would not weigh the rights and the wrongs either of the act or of the question which led to it. They would not be startled at the question of the Temporal Power ceasing to be an open question; they would not say "Ecclesiastical Authority is extravagating into history or philosophy; the Rambler has a right to discuss the history of the 16th century, to criticize the acts of the Sacred Congregations, to have an opinion on Popes' Briefs, and to represent to the Bishops that the want of due clerical education is a lay grievance." And why? because they would say, "the Rambler has practically put itself in the wrong by abrupt assertions or by insinuations and sly hits, on serious, momentous, sacred subjects"; because numbers of religious people are provoked and sore about it; that it has been a cause of offence, an element of unsettlement, and that it is but just and a satisfaction that, at last, so lively a critic has caught it.

'As to "its treatment of Pius V. giving ecclesiastical authority the right to interfere," are you sure I used the word "right"? If so, I have qualified it with the words "in public opinion." In one place I even inserted those words after writing, since they were the turning point; what I meant to say was, people will not enquire as to the strict matter of principle, but "the Rambler deserved it" will, in their judgment, cover everything.

'Again, "Has the Church a right to censure me because I say a canonized Saint committed an error or a mortal sin? Their biographies are full of such things." This is quite beside my point. I said that Propaganda or the Cardinal {534} would find the Catholic public on their side hic et nunc, if they showed their disapproval of a sudden unceremonious attack upon a Saint which was not imperatively required by the subject which was under discussion. We don't write books in order to attack Saints. If the necessity of criticism lies plump in our way and cannot be turned, then we do it, but not with glee. This is what public opinion, (and, as I think, public good sense) would say.

'And so, as to the case of the Sacred Congregations, I waived the question of deciding the line between what was secular and what ecclesiastical matter. At least to hit an ecclesiastic is, in public opinion, to hit ecclesiastical matter. Thus the Rambler began; it has had a hit at ecclesiastical authorities; and, if the blow is returned, the public will not think it surprising or a shame. I am explaining the argument I used.

'I did not speak against the continuance of the controversy about Seminaries, but the commencing it. This you do not notice.

'As to the question about the mode of managing or changing public opinion, it is too large a subject to go into.
'I am, &c.,

For a moment in August Newman seems to have hoped that things were improving—though his letter has in it the note of sadness of which I have already spoken:

'Rednal: August 21st, 1861.
'My dear Sir John,—I have been put on the sick list and told to wander about. This I did for a time with great satisfaction, for perfect detachment from all kinds of duties and occupations is an unspeakable relief. I am a good deal better and have returned here from a feeling that it was a shame being on the world when we had so pleasant a place for idleness. The truth is I have been in constant hot water of one sort or degree or another for full thirty years—and it has, at length, boiled me. I wish it may serve in part for a purgatory.

'I have no definite ailment, but anxiety, or whatever better name can be given to it, is sucking life out of me.

'From what you say I trust the storm is blowing over the Rambler. It pleases me to find that they are using you in the Academy. Manning, I am sure, is, of all men, most desirous to keep all Catholics together. For myself, I have {535} not got over that message from Cardinal Antonelli,—and shall be suspicious of the Academy in consequence,—for if the Pope's Foreign Secretary can interfere with one, I suppose he can with the other; but it is a good sign that Manning is free to exercise his own tolerant nature as regards yourself ...
'Ever yours most sincerely in Christ,
J. H. N.'

Any hope implied in this letter was only passing. In October Newman renewed in writing to Simpson his exhortation to suspend publication. 'Some months ago,' he wrote on October 2: ' ... I expressed my deliberate opinion about the Rambler. I thought it was in a false position which it never could get out of; and was sure to be stopped or to come to an end in one way or another. Accordingly I said that it would be best for the proprietors to stop it themselves—and at once, because, if not, others would do so for them either peremptorily or indirectly and gradually. I have had no reason up to this day to change this view of the matter.' Simpson at first refused to take this advice. He proposed to publish an Apologia with a full narrative of the history of the magazine, and its treatment by the authorities, but Newman could not acquiesce.

'If,' he wrote, 'such an exposition of its past history as you propose be necessary to its new position, this is a strong evidence how false that (new) position is,—the grave scandal which it would involve being some kind of measure of the unsuitableness of continuing the publication.

'You ask: "Will the falseness of our position be retrieved by this move?" My own judgment is that it will be mending evil with evil, and place you in a position still more seriously false, and opening the way to positions falser still.

'You speak of "freedom of the press," "declaration of independence," "independent opposition," "declaration of war," and "association of rights." These phrases sound to me like the electioneering cries of some Protestant candidate for the representation.'

Simpson and Acton, however, did not defer to Newman's judgment. On the contrary, an article appeared in November strongly criticising Manning's extreme advocacy of the {536} Temporal Power, and Manning believed that Newman had a share in its composition.

It was now certain that the Rambler would not be allowed to continue its existence as a Catholic Review, approved or even tolerated by the Episcopate. The alternative before its conductors was either to acquiesce in Newman's verdict and simply suspend publication, or to make some change in name and form which might possibly secure it a fresh start and fair trial. Acton and Simpson chose the latter course.

Top | Contents | Biographies | Home


1. See his words on this subject in his letter to Dr. Ullathorne, p. 407.
Return to text

2. The following is the defence (in the May number) of Mr. Stokes by Newman to which reference is made in the text:

'Acknowledging, then, most fully the prerogatives of the episcopate, we do unfeignedly believe, both from the reasonableness of the matter and especially from the prudence, gentleness, and considerateness which belong to them personally, that their Lordships really desire to know the opinion of the laity on subjects in which the laity are especially concerned. If even in the preparation of a dogmatic definition the Faithful are consulted, as lately in the instance of the Immaculate Conception, it is at least as natural to anticipate such an act of kind feeling and sympathy in great practical questions, out of the condescension which belongs to those who are forma facti gregis ex animo. If our words or tone were disrespectful, we deeply grieve and apologise for such a fault; but surely we are not disrespectful in thinking and in having thought, that the Bishops would like to know the sentiments of an influential portion of the laity before they took any step which perhaps they could not recall ... It is our fervent prayer that their Lordships may live in the hearts of their people; of the poor as well as of the rich, of the rich as well as of the poor; of the clergy as well as of the laity; of the laity as well as of the clergy; but whatever be our own anxious desire on the subject, we know that the desire of the Bishops themselves is far more intense, more generous, more heart-consuming, than can be the desire of any persons, however loyal to them, who are committed to their charge. Let them pardon, then, the incidental hastiness of manner or want of ceremony of the rude Jack tars of their vessel, as far as it occurred, in consideration of the zeal and energy with which they haul to the ropes and man the yards.'
Return to text

3. See Arians of the Fourth Century (4th ed.), p. 445. [Arians, Note 5]
Return to text

4. See Vol. II. p. 157.
Return to text

5. '(Yes, but Simpson made himself the acting editor. vid. "I," "I" in his letters of Oct. 22nd & 25th.) J. H. N.'

'(When Simpson proposed that Thompson should be sub-editor during my editorship, his language and way showed that it was to be but a cover for his being sub-editor.) J. H. N.'
Return to text

6. '(A board of censors cannot be said to "conduct" or "superintend." These were my words.) J. H. N.'
Return to text

7. ("Schismatics"? i.e. Greeks.) J. H. N.'
Return to text

8. '("his position"—Who gave it him? Who gave him the mission?) J. H. N.'
Return to text

9. '(i.e. my letter of June 20th.) J. H. N.'
Return to text

10. (not sent to Ward.) 'N.B. I do not deny above the advantage of learning as occupying the mind. J. H. N.'
Return to text

11. (not sent to Ward.) 'N.B. i.e. comparing one degree of science with another. I don't deny e.g. that the poorer he is the holier he needs to be. J. H. N.'
Return to text

12. See Life of Manning, ii. 153.
Return to text

13. Ibid. ii. 610.
Return to text

14. (Note on the margin of copy by J. H. N. 'How could I fancy they did? J. H. N.)'

This correspondence was private. But the line taken by Newman became generally known or suspected.
Return to text

15. See p. 579.
Return to text

16. '(N.B. "offend" i.e. they are obliged to "offend" people by sly hits, and insinuations, and mockery; for this was the charge.)' From the margin of the copy by J. H. N.
Return to text

17. 'Well, it is Simpson's "imprudence,"—i.e. flippancy, crudity, irreverence, which is the fault, and which makes him impossible. In my letter of (I think) July 5th, I said to him that I showed my real interest in the Rambler by allowing my name to be so connected with it in public opinion as it was, though I did not agree with it, and thus suffered unjustly. J. H. N.'
Return to text

18. 'Mendacium from first to last. J. H. N.'
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.