Chapter 9. The Papal Aggression (1850-1851)

{252} THE brilliant irony of the King William Street lectures delighted such intellectual critics as Mr. Hutton. The lectures also attracted the Broad Church members of the Establishment, who attended in considerable numbers. They rejoiced the heart of that born controversialist, Dr. Wiseman, who sat listening to them, vested in a cope, swaying to and fro, his ruddy face beaming with delight as the war-dance of the Anglican episcopate was described by the lecturer. Conversions to the Church immediately followed—notable among them being those of Sir George Bowyer and Mr. T. W. Allies. Rome conferred on Father Newman an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity.

The London Oratorians were rapidly becoming subjects of general remark, as they daily paced the streets in their habits [Note 1]. The English 'Papists' seemed to their countrymen to be holding their heads high. Dr. Wiseman and the sanguine converts talked freely about the 'conversion of England.' Punch advertised their happy unclouded confidence to the public week after week, by caricatures of the 'Romanists' and burlesques of their real and imaginary doings. The Oratorians were depicted in the cartoons arrayed in cassocks and albs and chasubles and copes, and so were the 'Puseyites,' who were regarded as their secret friends and as recruits for the Roman army. The attitude of the Catholics was not pleasing to the Anglican hierarchy. And displeasure was gradually penetrating into the slow mind of John Bull himself, who had at first viewed {253} the show from the stalls as a rather apathetic spectator, but who had, deep down in him, a hatred of Popery which was kept inactive mainly through its accompanying contempt. Those who could read the signs of the times began to grow conscious of a sullen anger rising and deepening among their countrymen—something akin to caste feeling or race feeling, which could be very dangerous and indiscriminate in its display if it were thoroughly awakened. Wiseman himself, full of schemes for the future, living now almost entirely among Catholics, and not, as of old, mixing much with general society, saw nothing of this. His Celtic imagination pictured the new Catholic hierarchy which was promised for this very year as adding immense éclat to the victories of Rome. The ancient Church was to assert triumphantly the now undeniable failure of the Established Church to represent the Catholic religion in England. The High Church movement was utterly defeated. The new hierarchy was to claim a Roman victory.

There was a momentary pause in his plans—a threat bitter disappointment. For a moment the old priests—such men as Mr. Wilds and Dr. Maguire—succeeded in alarming Rome. They had the traditions of the days of persecution, and dreaded the consequences of Wiseman's 'go ahead' policy and of his public advertisement of Catholic claims. Wiseman was unpopular with them, and they asked for his removal from London, which must mean from England. He was actually summoned to Rome in July 1850, and informed that he was to remain there for good, with the Cardinal's hat as a reward for past services—'in golden fetters,' as he expressed it. Less enterprising and more prudent spirits were to take charge of the new hierarchy, men who remembered the proverb, Chi va piano va sano. But other influences prevailed in Rome at the very last moment after Wiseman had actually started on his journey. Those Englishmen who were sanguine that Rome was on the eve of great victories in their own country represented urgently to the Vatican that the withdrawal of Wiseman meant the complete arrest of the campaign—for there was no one else to take the lead.

The English public in general was not otherwise than {254} pleased at the elevation of Wiseman to the Cardinalate, news of which had been given out before he left England for Italy in August. They viewed it as a purely Roman honour, to be accompanied by residence in Rome. It was honour done to a distinguished English scholar by a foreign Court. The papers treated it sympathetically. Wiseman was all the more off his guard. His imagination was already fired by the events of 1845. The Oxford leaders had surrendered to him and had enlisted under his banner among the long-despised English 'Papists.' What victories might not this portend for the future? To his impressionable nature the position of Cardinal, coupled with the leadership at such a moment of the English Catholics, was almost a dizzy eminence. Perhaps with his training and his temperament and antecedents no greater position could be imagined. The tone of triumph was undisguised when he wrote the famous Pastoral letter, 'from out the Flaminian gate' of Rome, on October 7, announcing the new hierarchy and the details of its constitution. This was for the world at large the climax of the policy of constant boasting, constant assertion of victory actual and prospective for the Catholics of England. The language of the Pastoral letter appeared to be the exultant announcement of a Roman triumph—even a Roman conquest. A casual glance at the document brought before the British householder such passages as these: 'till such time as the Holy See shall think fit otherwise to provide, we govern and shall continue to govern the counties of Middlesex, Hertford and Essex as ordinary thereof, and those of Surrey, Sussex, Hants, Berkshire and Hampshire with the islands annexed as administrators with ordinary powers'; and again: 'The great work is complete. Catholic England has been restored to its orbit in the ecclesiastical firmament ... truly this is a day of joy and exultation of spirit.' Such a sentence as this was Cardinal Wiseman's expression of his own simple undisguised satisfaction. It was intended for the ears of the Catholic congregations to which it was to be read aloud in church. But the Press got hold of the Pastoral, and it was also read in the drawing-rooms and clubs, the vicarages and Bishops' palaces, which John Bull in his various capacities frequented. It employed, as I have said, language suggesting {255} a great triumph! 'And over whom?' men asked. Over the people of England. Over the Established Church. Over the whole Protestant land which Rome once more claimed to 'govern.' True these were but words, not deeds, but they seemed insulting words when read by Englishmen, already since 1845 on the verge of exasperation. A storm broke—of which the details have often been told. Lord John Russell's famous letter to the Bishop of Durham was written on November 4—the eve of Guy Fawkes. Indignation meetings followed all over the country. Cardinal Wiseman and the Pope were burned everywhere in effigy. 'Down with Popery,' 'Down with tyranny,' was placarded in the streets of the country towns [Note 2].

Priests and their congregations were hooted. The Lord Chancellor, at the Mansion House dinner of November 9, quoted amid thunders of applause Shakespeare's lines:

'Under our feet we'll stamp thy Cardinal's hat
In spite of Pope or dignities of Church.'

If Wiseman had shown want of judgment in the Flaminian gate letter, he made amends by a remarkable display of courage, tact, and energy on his return on November 11. He was incessant in representations to the Government and on the platform—all marked by firmness, moderation, and argumentative and rhetorical ability. He made the very most of a logical position which was quite unanswerable—for no act of aggression had been committed. The rights of {256} the Established Church and Crown had been carefully respected and the title of no Church of England See was claimed for the Catholics. The sole cause of offence was that language suitable to the feelings and views of Catholics used in a Pastoral letter—a document ordinarily read inside the churches to an audience exclusively Catholic—had been published in the papers and read as though it had been meant for the eyes and ears of the average Protestant Englishman. It was as though a man overheard words used of himself, absolutely legitimate in themselves, yet very offensive if uttered in his presence. Wiseman's 'Appeal to the English People' appeared in extenso in five daily papers on November 20. It occupied six and a half columns of the Times in small type—and the Times then sold 40,000 copies a day. No copy of any paper in which it appeared was to be bought by four o'clock in the afternoon. The 'appeal' had an immediate effect in staying the storm, and the Press in many instances changed its tone forthwith. Newman was enthusiastic in his appreciation of Wiseman's power and resource. 'He is made for the world,' Newman wrote to Sir George Bowyer in January 1851, 'and he rises with the occasion. Highly as I put his gifts, I was not prepared for such a display of vigour, power, judgment, sustained energy as the last two months have brought. I heard a dear friend of his say before he got to England that the news of the opposition would kill him. How he has been out. It is the event of the time. In my own remembrance there has been nothing like it.'

The bitter feelings aroused by the agitation proved trying for recent converts, at whom old friends looked askance. Newman's own feelings at the outset of the disturbance were shown in a letter of sympathy written in November to the late Lord Denbigh—then Lord Feilding—who had had his share of trial in his new Communion:

'Be of good cheer, my dear Lord; the first months of a convert's life, though filled with joy of their own, have a pain and dreariness of their own too. We feel the latter when nature overcomes grace—the former when grace triumphs over nature. But no one made a sacrifice without effect. God does not forget what we do for Him—and whatever {257} trouble you may have now, it will be repaid to you a hundred fold. As to this hubbub, I was anxious just at first, when indeed you were here—but I do not see what can come of it, except indeed inconvenience to individuals, and black looks from friends and strangers. We must take it coolly, and leave the British Lion to find he cannot touch us. If he put some of us in prison, we should but gain by it, and I suspect his keepers are too sharp-sighted for that, whatever he is.'

In December he writes to another friend, Mrs. Wood:

'I don't agree with you at being troubled at the present row. It is always well to know things as they are. The row has not unsettled a single Catholic or Catholicizing Anglican—rather it has converted, and is converting, many. It has but brought out what all sober people knew,—though one is apt to forget it,—that the English people is not Catholicly-minded. Many foreigners, many old Catholics, have thought they were. I dislike our smoothing over the nation's aversion to our doctrines, just as I dislike smoothing over those doctrines themselves. The real misery is the trouble it has introduced into families, the private persecutions, the alienation of friends, and the bitterness of feeling which the commotion has caused, but all this will turn to good. In like manner, they may insult us in Parliament, but I don't see how any Act they pass can hurt us.'

Wiseman's immediate work in stemming the tide of aggressive bigotry was done in the first three months succeeding his return from Rome. It was then Newman's turn to begin. But while in denouncing the unfairness of the popular attack on his co-religionists, he was entirely with Wiseman, he had already seen enough of the Catholic organisation in England to form somewhat different opinions on other questions involved. And he was not in complete sympathy with the Cardinal's constructive programme. He had already deprecated in his letters to Faber the policy of unnecessary advertisement akin to boasting, and the proclaiming of supposed triumphs out of all proportion to facts and realities. This feeling henceforth steadily deepened in his mind. He seems from his letters to have regarded the institution of the new hierarchy as part of the movement associated with the name of Augustus Welby Pugin. He viewed it as a matter {258} rather of external dignity than of practical utility. He desired more work and less show. He had already, in deference to Wiseman's wishes, pointed out in his lectures at King William Street how vulnerable was the position of the Anglican Church regarded as the permanent home of those Tractarians who believed in her as part of the Church Catholic: and he did not think it wise to go further in criticising her. Indeed, it is possible that he had, in some of the King William Street lectures, under the influence of the younger Oratorians, adopted a somewhat more aggressive tone than his maturer judgment approved.

He did not wish to weaken the hold of the Church of England on the masses. The Established Church was in his eyes a great power in English society for good—for religion and against the growth of infidelity. The 'conversion of England' was, moreover, not a practical prospect. To weaken the Establishment was to damage a bulwark of religion, while Catholics had as yet no adequate force to supply in its place. It was true enough that the Bishops and clergymen up and down the country had used most violent and unjustifiable language against Catholicism. But Newman's more normal policy was to be above cheap retort, to consider solely the practical interests of religion. From his letters at this time we may gather that he would have been glad rather than sorry if the new hierarchy had been abandoned, and improved practical organisation among English Catholics had taken its place. He had some sympathy with the old priests—such men as his friend Mr. Wilds—who disliked the hierarchy and felt that it was being, as it were, run up hastily, without careful planning, cheaply, without adequate resources, and was likely to displace much that was well tried and successful in the existing organisation. It was too personal, Dr. Wiseman being the sole inspirer and executant of the scheme. The policy Newman favoured was, to let English Catholics grow stronger in reality—in organisation, education, and influence—lying low so far as public display was concerned. Let Catholics refrain from weakening the Church of England, he urged, while English society remained what it was at that time. He rather welcomed the possibility of active {259} persecution, which would bring the Catholics face to face with stern facts. 'The Bishop,' he wrote to Henry Wilberforce, 'seems desirous to be put in prison. I should not be sorry for it. It would be sure to do us good.'

This general view is outlined plainly in his correspondence with Mr. Capes, who consulted him at this time on some lectures he proposed to give in defence of Catholics againt the onslaught of the 'aggression' agitation. Newman was the more interested in the lectures as he was anxious for laymen to come forward on such occasions. One prelate objected to Mr. Capes' scheme. 'He has a horror of laymen,' Newman wrote, 'and I am sure they may be made in this day the strength of the Church.' Cardinal Wiseman, however, took Mr. Capes' side, and the lectures were delivered. Mr. Capes spoke at first of attacking the Church of England, and Newman expressed his dissent from his programme:

'In Vigil N. Dom. 1850.
'My dear Capes,—I don't look on the Church of England as important in contrast to Dissent, but as a bulwark against infidelity, which Dissent cannot be. Were the Church of England to fall Methodism might remain awhile. I can't tell, for I don't know it—but surely, on the whole, the various denominations exist under the shadow of the Establishment, out of which they spring, and, did it go, would go too: i.e. they would lose their organisation, and whatever faint intellectual basis they have at present. Infidelity would take possession of the bulk of the men, and the women, so they had something to worship, would not care whether it was an unknown tongue, or a book of Mormon, or a pudding sleeve gown. Infidel literature would be the fashion, and there would be a sort of fanatical contempt and hatred of all profession of belief in a definite revelation.

'Perhaps it is absurd so talking, for the Established Church could not fall without a revolution—and, while it exists in any shape, it so far forth witnesses to a dogmatic and ritual religion, i.e. a revelation—but, in proportion as it is liberalized, it lets in infidelity upon the country, for there is nothing else to stand against infidelity. I can as little triumph then in the decline and fall of the Establishment as take part in the emancipation of the Jews—I cannot, till the Catholic Church is strong enough to take its place. I don't see that this is inconsistent with my laughing at it, as {260} in my Lectures or Loss and Gain, for such ridicule only disparages it in the eyes of Puseyites who ought to leave it, not in those of Erastians and Establishmentarians, who constitute its strength. Is this a refinement? I mean, I don't think anything I have written would tend even to make men such as Lord John or Sir R. Peel give up the Church of England …
'Ever yours affectionately,
J. H. N.
'P.S.—Thanks for your news—Manning is with Hope at Abbotsford—What does this mean?'

On February 9 he again deprecates attacking the Establishment in any lectures on the subject of the hour:

'I still shrink from taking up your line of attacking the Church of England. I ask "could we supply the place of it and all sects?" See, we have not Priests enough for our own body—how much less for England! Besides, I think our game is not to return evil for evil, now that the parsons have attacked us so furiously.'

Mr. Capes gave full consideration to Newman's views. His lectures began and proved a success. They called forth another letter in which Newman developed his own appreciation of the situation:

'The Oratory, Birmingham: Feb. 18, 1851.
'My dear Capes,—I am glad to hear so good a beginning of your lectures. Depend on it you are in the right train, though not a member of the Hierarchy. Preaching, confession, publishing, no bill can touch, and these are our proper weapons. The Bill only touches Puginism and its offshoots. We are not ripe ourselves for a Hierarchy. Now they have one they can't fill up the Sees, positively can't. Don't repeat all this—but it really is a question whether one should not look on it as a means of getting us out of a scrape that this Bill is passed. We want Seminaries far more than Sees. We want education, view, combination, organisation. I don't see the lie of things down here, but I am really inclined to think our game is to turn black, silent, and sulky; to suspend the use of those titles which the Bishops cannot really lose—to appoint Vicars General, locum-tenentes, to the sees not filled up—and to make the excuse of this persecution for getting up a great organization, going round to the towns giving lectures, or making speeches, none but Catholics being admitted to speak, starting a paper, {261} a review, &c. The great difficulty of this plan would be the Cardinal's status, would it not?

'The other plan would be the bold one of all the Bishops of the three kingdoms meeting, and publicly declaring they would not obey the Law. Then they must be prepared to carry this out by submitting to fine, imprisonment, or even transportation, and must have a prospect of carrying the public opinion of Catholics with them ...

'Moreover, I think certain acts of retaliation should be practised, unless they looked mean—I mean, if we may not call our Bishops by their titles, our only mode of signifying and intimating our secret profession, is to speak of Dr. Sumner, Dr. Blomfield, never calling them Bishops (at the utmost, Dr. Sumner of the House of Lords), &c., &c.

'As to the Establishment, what I have written in my Lectures is addressed to the educated men. The more we can weaken its hold upon them, the better. But this does not directly weaken its authority on the masses—nor does it involve any practical measure of assault upon it. I thought you were proposing a crusade against the Establishment—now, I think, you must not do so, till you have something to give instead. As far as the people are concerned, our line is not to attack the Church of England, which is low game, but to remove prejudices against ourselves, as you are doing at present in your Lectures. Ever yours affectionately,
'P.S.—Are you constituted as a Committee to advise the Bishops? I wish you were. Do they ever ask advice? How many country gentlemen, on whose munificence the Sees were founded, have a claim! Do you think they were consulted on the subject of the Hierarchy?' …

Mr. Capes' Lectures were suspended for the moment owing to the lecturer's indisposition. Newman's mind was hard at work on the whole subject and caught fire. What was the best plan of action for Catholics through the country? Already he felt how unsatisfactory it was to leave all initiation in the hands of the hierarchy. Episcopal sanction indeed was essential: more than this was a fetter, and might take the life out of the movement. His mind went back to the 'Tracts for the Times' and the great work done by a handful of men, all young and keen, none in official position. In a letter of February 21 we see his thought aglow on the whole prospect: {262}

'The Oratory, Birmingham: Feby. 21, 1851.
'My dear Capes,—I am very sorry to hear of your indisposition—you must get well for the good of the Church. Those who have a view, have indefinite power over those who have none. You say too there are good materials among the younger men of all classes. I dare say it may be in the event advisable for our Bishops to do nothing—but for that reason, if for no other, the laity should stir. I like the article on "How shall we meet &c.?" though when I like a thing I always fear it is imprudent and violent.

'I do think you should get a set of fellows who will devote themselves to the cause of the Church. Let it be their recreation as geology or ecclesiology might be, while it is their work. Would the "committee for supplying members with information" furnish such? Men do with a special gusto what they do themselves—it is an outlet for private judgment. I do wish you could do it—it is a great object. Cannot you name some half dozen or more? It should be quite voluntary and informal at first—(only with the secret sanction of the Cardinal and Dr. Ullathorne). If I can do anything in getting them to approve of it command me.

'Ward, I suppose, would not work with other men or lead them? Is there no old Catholic of sufficient calibre to begin? I would throw over all but energetic men. This you could not do, if the Bishops' names were openly given to it, for they would offend respectable or noble nobodies if they did not include them, but if it was voluntary, the choice would be your own.

'Why should not half a dozen meet and consecrate their purpose by a religious act?—their object being to stir up their brethren on the duty of maintaining and impressing on the people of England the spiritual independence of the Church, as a kingdom not of this world? or take a larger object, not to the exclusion of this, viz. of bringing before the laity the position of the Church in England and the method of defending it (which last clause brings in your Lectures and all controversial matter whatever).

'If you could get two or three good speakers, you could have public meetings in the principal towns. I know this could not be done without a vast deal of spirit, but surely you might find some young men who would carry it out. We were about thirty in age, when we began the Tracts,—have you none of that age? only they must not speak treason. In particular localities, you might get great assistance for a {263} meeting—e.g. I suppose I could get H. Wilberforce to speak here, if there was a meeting. The Oratory ought to have nothing to do with politics—and I would not take any very ecclesiastical subject—but Father Gordon and I would, I dare say, do something, if a sort of Club were formed here—though we could not, with our engagements, dream of managing it. But indeed, I should like (as you say) the immediate object of resistance to the Bill to drop, but the occasion to be seized for instructing the young Catholic mind in all Catholic matters. Gradually it would form into shape—each club or association would take a Patron Saint.

'I am throwing things out as they occur to me—so you must take them only as stimulants to your imagination and judgment to think of something more practical. I am utterly in the dark as to the materials in various localities, but am going on the supposition that they are to be found everywhere.

'Supposing meetings were once a month, consisting of a paper read, &c. The Lecturer might be supplied from London or elsewhere, if he could not be found on the spot. The public might be admitted (Catholics gratis—Protestant by tickets—or Catholics by tickets, Protestants on payment) and the meeting advertised. The Lecture would be preceded by a few prayers. Boys preach in the Oratorium Parvum at Rome; so it would be quite free for laymen to lecture.

'How many good Lecturers and speakers could you collect up and down the country? Northcote, Thompson, yourself, Simpson, &c., &c. The thing would be to keep it from becoming ecclesiastical (in which case it would fall under the priests of the place, who, if dull, would ruin the whole), and yet under ecclesiastical authority. The Cardinal surely would take up the idea (if practical)—the first qualification for a member would be energy. If you got six men in London, six in Birmingham, six in Liverpool, &c., might you not do it? If you could not get six men of talent, they at least must be willing simply to put themselves under those who had talent, i.e. from London or elsewhere.' ...

'If you want a thing done, you should do it yourself,' says the proverb—and shortly after writing this letter Newman determined to make his own contribution to the enterprise he had suggested, though he was a priest, not a layman. He did so in a series of lectures entitled in his published works {264} 'Lectures on Catholicism in England,' the best written, in his opinion, of all his works [Note 3], and of which the consequences were momentous.

The determination to lecture was not, however, taken at once. April and May were well occupied by the needs of the influx of converts which the singular unfairness of the agitation helped to bring. Newman went to Leeds on April 2 in company with Father Nicholas Darnell, and his diary records that on that evening he 'began receiving converts.' On the following day many were admitted publicly, including William Paine Neville, Newman's devoted friend and afterwards his literary executor, who followed him a few days later to the Oratory, to remain there for upwards of half a century until his death in 1905. The suspicions which Manning's presence at Abbotsford had aroused were verified. On April 6 both he and James Hope were 'received' in London. On April 23, in company with Henry Wilberforce, Manning came to the Oratory for a brief visit. The exciting events of the hour brought thither other visitors in the following month—Lord Dunraven, Sir John Acton, Döllinger—who was staying in England as Acton's friend and dined with Newman on May 26—and many more. The Oratorium Parvum was started in the same month, as an experiment in the organising of lay Catholics in the neighbourhood. It was ostensibly for its members that Newman's lectures were planned. They were delivered in the Corn Exchange at Birmingham once a week, the first being on Monday, June 30. Newman delivered the lectures sitting at a raised desk, and over his chair hung a picture of St. Philip Neri. It is interesting to record that Henry Edward Manning was present at the first of the series.

The peals of laughter audible from outside to which Miss Giberne refers in her diary, showed something in the lectures unlike Newman's ordinary manner. In truth, as those who have read them are aware, they abounded in pungent satire, the more effective because it came not from a controversialist who delighted in strong words and startling statements, but from one who was notoriously reserved {265} in language and self-restrained. In constructive argument, more especially, Newman, alive as he was to all the anomalies and scandals visible in Church history, could very rarely bring himself to employ the positive and confident tone, the strong expressions, the one-sided statements, the would-be demonstrative proofs of many popular Catholic controversialists. His fastidiousness and his accurate sense of fact forbade it. The approach to a breach of this rule in the case of the King William Street lectures was probably one of the things which made their preparation distasteful to him. In the present case such objections to vehement language no longer held. He had satisfied himself that he was face to face not with serious convictions, but with a monstrous and preposterous phenomenon—the No-popery prejudice, which had for more than two centuries deformed and disgraced the national mind. He revelled in the strength of his case; and though never off his guard and never forgetting the reservations in his attack which truth required, he let himself go in occasional passages with complete unreserve and great effect.

The lectures are well known. But a few extracts may be given to remind the reader of their manner and their place in Newman's work. The less controversial part, but not the least able, is found in the earlier lectures which describe how the No-popery assumptions have come to be the very first principles in the mental equipment of the average Englishman.

The analysis is too long to be cited in these pages, but specimens of the resulting axioms which have become stamped ineffaceably on the popular mind are given in the following passage:

'Elizabeth's reign is "golden," Mary is "bloody," the Church of England is "pure and apostolical," the Reformers are "judicious," the Prayer Book is "incomparable," "beautiful," the Thirty-nine Articles are "moderate," "Pope" and "pagan" go together, and "the Pope, the Devil, and the Pretender." The anti-Catholic rancour is carried into your marts of commerce; London is burned down, and forthwith your greatest architect is instructed to set up a tall pillar to perpetuate the lie that the Papists were the incendiaries. Take your controversy with you when {266} you sit down to cards, and let the taunting name of Pope Joan be the title of your game. Run a horse the coming year, and among your Sorcerers, Lamplighters, Malibrans, and Priams, you will find Crucifix a striking, perhaps a lucky name for your beast; it is but the emblem of an extinct superstition. Dress up for some fancy ball, or morris-dance, and let the Grand Turk jump about on one side of you, and the Pope with cross, and beads, and triple crown, upon the other. Go to the stage of the Mountebank, and teach him, when he displays his sleight-of-hand, to give effect to his tricks by the most sacred words of the Catholic ritual. Into your very vocabulary let Protestantism enter; let priest, and mass, and mass-priest, and mass-house have an offensive savour on your palate; let monk be a word of reproach; let Jesuitism and Jesuitical, in their first intention, stand for what is dishonourable and vile. What chance has a Catholic against so multitudinous, so elementary a Tradition? Here is the Tradition of the Court, and of the Law, and of Society, and of Literature, strong in themselves, and acting on each other, and acting on a willing people, and the willing people acting on them, till the whole edifice stands self-supported, reminding one of some vast arch (as at times may be seen), from which the supports have crumbled away by age, but which endures still, and supports the huge mass of brickwork which lies above it, by the simple cohesion of parts which the same age has effected.'

True to the view he had expressed to Mr. Capes, Newman hardly ever in the whole course of the lectures attacked the Established Church. But the parsons had had so large a share in starting and fanning the agitation that he could not entirely let them off: and he did refer to the Church of England in one passage—among the most unrestrained and amusing pieces of burlesque in the series; but he rapidly passed again from the Establishment to the people. Here is the passage in question:

'The Anglican Church agrees to differ with its own children on a thousand points,' he writes; 'one is sacred—that her Majesty the Queen is "the Mother and Mistress of all Churches"; on one dogma it is infallible, on one it may securely insist without fear of being unseasonable or excessive—that "the Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm." Here is sunshine amid the darkness, sense amid confusion, an intelligible strain amid a Babel of sounds; whatever befalls, here is sure footing; it is, "No peace with {267} Rome," "Down with the Pope," and "The Church in danger." Never has the Establishment failed in the use of these important and effective watchwords; many are its shortcomings, but it is without reproach in the execution of this its special charge. Heresy, and scepticism, and infidelity, and fanaticism, may challenge it in vain; but fling upon the gale the faintest whisper of Catholicism, and it recognises by instinct the presence of its connatural foe. Forthwith, as during the last year, the atmosphere is tremulous with agitation, and discharges its vibrations far and wide. A movement is in birth which has no natural crisis or resolution. Spontaneously the bells of the steeples begin to sound. Not by an act of volition, but by a sort of mechanical impulse, bishop and dean, archdeacon and canon, rector and curate, one after another, each on his high tower, off they set, swinging and booming, tolling and chiming, with nervous intenseness, and thickening emotion, and deepening volume, the old ding-dong which has scared town and country this weary time; tolling and chiming away, jingling and clamouring and ringing the changes on their poor half-dozen notes, all about the "Popish aggression," "insolent and insidious," "insidious and insolent," "insolent and atrocious," "atrocious and insolent," "atrocious, insolent, and ungrateful," "ungrateful, insolent, and atrocious," "foul and offensive," "pestilent and horrid," "subtle and unholy," "audacious and revolting," "contemptible and shameless," "malignant," "frightful," "mad," "meretricious,"—bobs (I think the ringers call them), bobs, and bobs-royal, and triple-bob-majors, and grandsires,—to the extent of their compass and the full ring of their metal, in honour of Queen Bess, and to the confusion of the Holy Father and the Princes of the Church.

'So it is now; so it was twenty years ago; nay, so it has been in all years as they came, even the least controversial. If there was no call for a contest, at least there was the opportunity of a triumph. Who could want matter for a sermon, if ever his thoughts would not flow, whether for convenient digression, or effective peroration? Did a preacher wish for an illustration of heathen superstition or Jewish bigotry, or an instance of hypocrisy, ignorance, or spiritual pride? the Catholics were at hand. The deliverance from Egypt, the golden calf, the fall of Dagon, the sin of Solomon, the cruelties of Jezebel, the worship of Baal, the destruction of the brazen serpent, the finding of the law, the captivity in Babylon, Nebuchodonosor's image, Pharisees, {268} Sadducees, Herodians, and Zealots, mint, anise, and cummin, brazen pots and vessels, all in their respective places and ways, would give opportunity to a few grave words of allusion to the "monstrous errors" or the "childish absurdities" of the "Romish faith." Does any one wish an example of pride? there stands Wolsey; of barbarity? there is the Duke of Alva; of rebellion? there is Becket; of ambition? there is Hildebrand; of profligacy? there is Caesar Borgia; of superstition? there is Louis the Eleventh; of fanaticism? there are the Crusaders. Saints and sinners, monks and laymen, the devout and the worldly, provided they be but Catholics, are heaped together in one indiscriminate mass, to be drawn forth for inspection and exposure according to the need.

'The consequence is natural;—tell a person of ordinary intelligence, Churchman or Dissenter, that the vulgar allegations against us are but slanders,—simple lies, or exaggerations, or misrepresentations; or, as far as they are true, admitting of defence or justification, and not to the point; and he will laugh in your face at your simplicity, or lift up hands and eyes at your unparalleled effrontery. The utmost concession he will make is to allow the possibility of incidental and immaterial error in the accusations which are brought against us; but the substance of the traditional view he believes, as firmly as he does the Gospel, and if you reject it and protest against it, he will say it is just what is to be expected of a Catholic, to lie and to circumvent. To tell him, at his time of life, that Catholics do not rate sin at a fixed price, that they may not get absolution for a sin in prospect, that priests can live in purity, that nuns do not murder each other, that the laity do not make images their God, that Catholics would not burn Protestants if they could! Why, all this is as perfectly clear to him as the sun at noonday; he is ready to leave the matter to the first person he happens to meet; every one will tell us just the same; only let us try; he never knew there was any doubt at all about it; he is surprised, for he thought we granted it. When he was young, he has heard it said again and again; to his certain knowledge it had uniformly been said the last forty, fifty, sixty years, and no one ever denied it; it is so in all the books he ever looked into; what is the world coming to? What is true, if this is not? So, Catholics are to be whitewashed! What next?'

Faithful to his usual habit of refraining from all substantial exaggeration, the lecturer draws up after this sally. For there {269} is a weighty Protestantism—as he goes on to recognise— that of the minority, of the thinking minds, which attacks Catholics with serious and genuinely philosophical arguments. To these minds such extravagances as the above would be as absurd as to himself. He sees the objection in the eyes and minds of his abler listeners or readers, and at once takes from them this particular weapon of defence by admitting its justice, but denying its appositeness. He thus drives home his attack, the scope and object better defined, the escape cut off.

'I allow all this,' he continues: 'but now I am considering, not the Protestantism of the few, but of the many: those great men, and those philosophical arguments, whatever be their weight, have no influence with the many. Crowds do not assemble in Exeter Hall, mobs do not burn the Pope, from reverence for Lord Bacon, Locke, or Butler, or for anything those gifted men have recorded. I am treating of the unpopularity of Catholicism now and here, as it exists in the year 1851, and in London, or in Edinburgh, or in Birmingham, or in Bristol, or in Manchester, or in Glasgow; among the gentlemen and yeomen of Yorkshire, Devonshire, and Kent; in the Inns of Court, and in the schools and colleges of the land; and I say this Tradition does not flow from the mouth of the half-dozen wise, or philosophic, or learned men who can be summoned to its support, but is a tradition of nursery stories, school stories, public-house stories, club-house stories, drawing-room stories, platform stories, pulpit stories;—a tradition of newspapers, magazines reviews, pamphlets, romances, novels, poems, and light literature of all kind, literature of the day;—a tradition of selections from the English classics, bits of poetry, passages of history, sermons, chance essays, extracts from books of travel, anonymous anecdotes, lectures on prophecy, statements and arguments of polemical writers, made up into small octavos for class-books, and into pretty miniatures for presents;—a tradition floating in the air; which we found in being when we first came to years of reason; which has been borne in upon us by all we saw, heard, or read, in high life, in parliament, in law courts, in general society; which our fathers told us had ever been in their day; a tradition, therefore, truly universal and immemorial, and good as far as a tradition can be good, but, after all, not more than a tradition is worth: I mean, requiring some ultimate authority to make it trustworthy. Trace up, then, the tradition to its {270} first startings, its roots and its sources, if you are to form a judgment whether it is more than a tradition. It may be a good tradition, and yet after all good for nothing. What profit, though ninety-nine links of a chain be sound, if the topmost is broken? Now I do not hesitate to assert, that this Protestant Tradition, on which English faith hangs, is wanting just in the first link.'

This baseless tradition is the real root of the English prejudice. Charges are made with all pretence of circumstantial evidence, and yet with a degree of unfairness which brings out the fact that they are based in reality simply on invincible calumny. On this he insists, and traces with great psychological subtlety the process of baseless insinuation:

'No evidence against us is too little; no infliction too great. Statement without proof, though inadmissible in every other case, is all fair when we are concerned. A Protestant is at liberty to bring a charge against us, and challenge us to refute, not any proof he brings, for he brings none, but his simple assumption or assertion. And perhaps we accept his challenge, and then we find we have to deal with matters so vague or so minute, so general or so particular, that we are at our wit's end to know how to grapple with them. For instance, "Every twentieth man you meet is a Jesuit in disguise"; or, "Nunneries are, for the most part, prisons." How is it possible to meet such sweeping charges? The utmost we can do, in the nature of things, is to show that this particular man, or that, is not a Jesuit; or that this or that particular nunnery is not a prison; but who said he was?—who said it was? What our Protestant accuser asserted was, that every twentieth man was a Jesuit, and most nunneries were prisons. How is this refuted by clearing this or that person or nunnery of the charge? Thus, if the accuser is not to be called on to give proofs of what he says, we are simply helpless, and must sit down meekly under the imputation.

'At another time, however, a definite fact is stated, and we are referred to the authority on which it is put forward. What is the authority? Albertus Magnus, perhaps, or Gerson, or Baronius, with a silence about volume and page: their works consisting of five, ten, fifteen, twenty, or thirty folios, printed in double columns. How are we possibly to find the needle in this stack of hay? Or by a refinement of unfairness, perhaps a wrong volume or page is carelessly given; and when we cannot find there the statement which our {271} opponent has made, we are left in an unpleasant doubt whether our ill success is to be ascribed to our eyes or to his pen.

'Sometimes, again, the crime charged on us is brought out with such startling vividness and circumstantial finish as to seem to carry its own evidence with it, and to dispense, in the eyes of the public, with the reference which in fairness should attend it. The scene is laid in some fortress of the savage Apennine, or in secluded Languedoc, or in remote Poland, or the high tableland of Mexico; or it is a legend about some priest of a small village of Calabria, called Buonavalle, in the fourteenth century; or about a monk of the monastery of S. Spirito, in S. Filippo d'Argiro, in the time of Charlemagne. Or the story runs, that Don Felix Malatesta de Guadalupe, a Benedictine monk of Andalusia, and father confessor to the Prince of the Asturias, who died in 1821, left behind him his confessions in manuscript, which were carried off by the French, with other valuable documents, from his convent, which they pillaged in their retreat from the field of Salamanca; and that, in these confessions, he frankly avows that he had killed three of his monastic brothers of whom he was jealous, had poisoned half-a-dozen women, and sent off in boxes and hampers to Cadiz and Barcelona thirty-five infants; moreover, that he felt no misgivings about these abominable deeds, because, as he observes with great naďveté, he had every day, for many years, burnt a candle to the Blessed Virgin; had cursed periodically all heretics, especially the royal family of England; had burnt a student of Coimbra for asserting the earth went round the sun; had worn about him, day and night, a relic of St. Diego; and had provided that five hundred masses should be said for the repose of his soul within eight days after his decease.

'Tales such as these, the like of which it is very easy to point out in print, are suitably contrived to answer the purpose which brings them into being. A Catholic who, in default of testimony offered in their behalf, volunteers to refute them on their internal evidence, and sets about (so to say) cross-examining them, finds himself at once in an untold labyrinth of embarrassments. First he inquires, is there a village in Calabria of the name of Buonavalle? is there a convent of S. Spirito in the Sicilian town specified? did it exist in the time of Charlemagne? who were the successive confessors of the Prince of the Asturias during the first twenty years of this century? what has Andalusia to do with Salamanca? when was the last Auto da fe in Spain? did the {272} French pillage any convent whatever in the neighbourhood of Salamanca about the year 1812?—questions sufficient for a school examination. He goes to his maps, gazetteers, guide-books, travels, histories;—soon a perplexity arises about the dates: are his editions recent enough for his purpose? do their historical notices go far enough back? Well, after a great deal of trouble, after writing about to friends, consulting libraries, and comparing statements, let us suppose him to prove most conclusively the utter absurdity of the slanderous story, and to bring out a lucid, powerful, and unanswerable reply; who cares for it by that time? who cares for the story itself? it has done its work; time stops for no man; it has created or deepened the impression in the minds of its hearers that a monk commits murder or adultery as readily as he eats his dinner. Men forget the process by which they received it, but there it is, clear and indelible. Or supposing they recollect the particular slander ever so well, still they have no taste or stomach for entering into a long controversy about it; their mind is already made up; they have formed their views; the author they have trusted may, indeed, have been inaccurate in some of his details; it can be nothing more. Who can fairly impose on them the perplexity and whirl of going through a bout of controversy, where "one says," and "the other says," and "he says that he says that he does not say or ought not to say what he does say or ought to say"? It demands an effort and strain of attention which they have no sort of purpose of bestowing. The Catholic cannot get a fair hearing; his book remains awhile in the shop windows, and then is taken down again.'

Enough has been cited to show the general manner of the indictment, which, however, is more minute than brief extracts can represent. He sums up the whole as follows:

'Such, then, is Popular Protestantism, considered in its opposition to Catholics. Its truth is Establishment by law; its philosophy is Theory; its faith is Prejudice; its facts are Fictions; its reasonings Fallacies; and its security is Ignorance about those whom it is opposing. The Law says that white is black; Ignorance says, why not? Theory says it ought to be, Fallacy says it must be, Fiction says it is, and Prejudice says it shall be.'

What, then, can Catholics do in fighting with this Hydra of many-headed prejudice? The reply is that, as what is {273} preposterous in the current views of Catholicism is simply false, and kept alive by ignorance, English Catholics must force their countrymen to know them personally and thus to see its falsehood. This may not bring them nearer to the Church, but it will kill or wound mortally the preposterous monster with which the lectures are concerned.

'Oblige men to know you; persuade them, importune them, shame them into knowing you. Make it so clear what you are, that they cannot affect not to see you, nor refuse to justify you. Do not even let them off with silence, but give them no escape from confessing that you are not what they thought you were. They will look down, they will look aside, they will look in the air, they will shut their eyes, they will keep them shut. They will do all in their power not to see you; the nearer you come, they will close their eyelids all the tighter; they will be very angry and frightened, and give the alarm as if you were going to murder them. They will do anything but look at you ...

'Let each stand on his own ground; let each approve himself in his own neighbourhood; if each portion is defended, the whole is secured. Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves. Let the London press alone; do not appeal to it; do not expostulate with it, do not flatter it; care not for popular opinion, cultivate local. And then if troubled times come on, and the enemy rages, and his many voices go forth from one centre all through England, threatening and reviling us, and muttering, in his cowardly way, about brickbats, bludgeons, and lighted brands, why in that case the Birmingham people will say, "Catholics are, doubtless, an infamous set, and not to be trusted, for the Times says so, and Exeter Hall, and the Prime Minister, and the Bishops of the Establishment; and such good authorities cannot be wrong; but somehow an exception must certainly be made for the Catholics of Birmingham. They are not like the rest; they are indeed a shocking set at Manchester, Preston, Blackburn, and Liverpool; but, however you account for it, they are respectable men here. Priests in general are perfect monsters; but here they are certainly unblemished in their lives, and take great pains with their people. Bishops are tyrants, and, as Maria Monk says, cut-throats, always excepting the Bishop of Birmingham, who affects no state or pomp, is simple and unassuming, and always in his work." And in like manner, the Manchester people will say, "Oh, certainly, Popery is horrible, and must be kept down. Still, {274} let us give the devil his due, they are a remarkably excellent body of men here, and we will take care no one does them any harm. It is very different at Birmingham; there they have a Bishop, and that makes all the difference; he is a Wolsey all over; and the priests, too, in Birmingham are at least one in twelve infidels. We do not recollect who ascertained this, but it was some most respectable man, who was far too conscientious and too charitable to slander any one." And thus, my Brothers, the charges against Catholics will become a sort of Hunt-the-slipper, everywhere and nowhere, and will end in "sound and fury, signifying nothing."'

Let it be again noted—as this work is largely a psychological study—that once again in this last lecture Newman declines to sustain a note which might savour of exaggeration if it were prolonged. He looks hopefully to the future, and refuses to believe that any lasting and serious persecution is impending, and with a genuine touch of human nature disclaims for himself the heroic mould out of which martyrs are fashioned. Speaking of the talk of a possible repetition of the treatment Catholics experienced under William of Orange, he writes:

'It will not be so: yet late events have shown, that though I never have underrated the intense prejudice which prevails against us, I did overrate that Anglo-Saxon love of justice and fair dealing which I thought would be its match. Alas! that I should have to say so, but it is no matter to the Catholic, though much matter to the Englishman. It is no matter to us, because, as I have said, "Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world." I do not, cannot think a time of serious trial is at hand: I would not willingly use big words, or provoke what is so dreadful, or seem to accomplish it by suggesting it. And for myself, I confess I have no love of suffering at all; nor am I at a time of life when a man commonly loves to risk it. To be quiet and to be undisturbed, to be at peace with all, to live in the sight of my brethren, to meditate on the future, and to die—such is the prospect, which is rather suitable to such as me.'

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1. In the first enthusiasm attending the foundation of the Oratory, all the fathers at Birmingham as well as in London walked abroad in their cassocks, and on one occasion a no-popery zealot upset a sack of flour on Newman himself.
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2. The Press was full of pasquinades and indignant protests. The following expression of passionate Protestant zeal may be given as a type of many more:

'Harlot of Rome! and dost thou come
With bland demeanour now;
The bridal smile upon thy lips,
The flush upon thy brow?

'The cup of sorcery in thy hand,
Still in the same array
As when our fathers in their wrath,
Dashed it and thee away?

'No! by the memory of the saints,
Who died beneath thy hand,
Thou shalt not dare to claim as thine
One foot of English land.'

The author of these lines, published in the Christian Times, January 7, 1851, was Rev. Mr. Aytoun.
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3. So he says in a letter to Dean Church. These Lectures in the current edition of Newman's works are called The Present Position of Catholics.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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