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NEWMAN


797


NEWMAN


Two names are associated with a change so mo- mentous — Wiseman and Ward. The "Apologia" does full justice to Wiseman; it scarcely mentions Ward (see Oxford MovEiMENt). Those who were looking on might have predicted a collision between the Tractarians and Protestant England, which had forgotten the Caroline divines. This came about on occasion of "Tract 90" — in itself the least interesting of all Newman's publications. The tract was intended to keep stragglers from Rome by distinguishing the corruptions against which the Thirty-Nine Articles were directed, from the doctrines of Trent which they did not assail. A furious and universal agitation broke out in consequence (Feb., 1841). Newman was de- nounced as a traitor, a Guy Fawkes at Oxford; the University intervened with academic maladroitness and called the tract "an evasion". Dr. Bagot, Bishop of Oxford, mildly censured it, but required that the tracts should cease. For three year.s condemna- tions from the bench of bishops were scaltcrrd lircmd- cast. To a mind constituted like Newman's, inibued with Ignatian ideas of epLscopacy, and unwilling to i)er- ceive that they did not avail in the English Establish- ment, this was an ex cathedra judgment against him. He stopped the tracts, resigned his editorship of "The British Critic", by and by gave up St. Mary's, and re- tired at Littlemore into lay commimion. Nothing is clearer than that, if he had held on quietly, he would have won the day. "Tract 90" does not go so far as many Anglican attempts at reconciliation have gone since. The bishops did not dream of coercing him into submission. But he had lost faith in himself. Reading church history, he saw that the Via Media was no new thing. It had been the refuge of the Semiarians, without whom Arianism could never have flourished. It made the fortune of the Monophysites, thanks to whom the Church of Alexandria had sunk into heresy and fallen a prey to Mohammed's legions. The analogy which Newman had observed with dis- may was enforced from another side by Wiseman, writing on the Donatists in "The Dubhn Review". Wiseman quoted St. Augustine, "Securus judicat or- bis terrarum", which may be interpreted "Catholic consent is the judge of controversy". Not antiquity studied in books, not the bare succession of bishops, but the hving Church now broke upon him as alone peremptory and infallible. It ever had been so; it must be so still. Niciea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon thus bore witness to Rome. Add to this the grotesque affair of the Jerusalem bishopric, the fruit of an alli- ance with Lutheran Prussia, and the Anglican theory was disprovetl by facts.

From 1841 Newman was on his death-bed as re- garded the Anglican Church. He and some friends lived together at Littlemore in monastic seclusion, under a hard rule which did not improve his delicate health. In February, 1S43, he retracted in a local newspaper his severe language towards Rome; in Sep- tember he resigned his living. With immense labour he composed the "Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine", in which the apparent varia- tions of dogma, formerly objected by him against the Catholic Church, were explained on a theory of evolu- tion> curiously anticipating on certain points the great work of Darwin. It has many most original passages, but remains a fragment. On 9 Oct., 1845, during a period of excited action at Oxford, Newman was re- ceived into the Church by Father Dominic, an Italian Passionist, three days after Renan had broken with Saint-Sulpice and Catholicism. The event, although long in prospect, irritated and distressed his country- men, who did not forgive it until many years had gone by. Its importance was felt; its causes were not known. Hence an estrangement which only the ex- quisite candour of Newman's self-delineation in the "Apologia" could entirely heal.

His conversion divides a life of almost ninety years


into equal parts — the first more dramatic and its per- spective ascertained; the second as yet imperfectly told, but spent for a quarter of a century sub luce ma- ligna, under suspicion from one side or another, his plans thwarted, his motives misconstrued. Called by Wiseman to Oscott, near Birmingham, in 1846, he pro- ceeded in October to Rome, and was there ordained by Cardinal Fransoni. The pope approved of his scheme for establishing in England the (Oratory of St. Philip Neri; in 1847 he came back, and, besides setting up the London house, took mission work in Birmingham. Thence he moved out to Edgbaston, where the com- munity still resides. A large school was added in 1859. The spacious Renaissance church, consecrated in 1909, is a memorial of the forty years during which Newman maile his home in that place. After his "Sermons to Mixed Congregations", which exceed in vigour and irony all others published by him, the Oratorian rei^hise did not strive to gain a, foot ing in the capital of the Midlands. He always felt "paiicorum hominum sum"; his charm was not for the multitude. As a Catholic he began enthusiastically. His "Lec- tures on Anglican Difficulties" were heard in London by large audiences; "Loss and Gain", though not much of a story, abounds in happy strokes and per- sonal touches; "Callista" recalls his voyage in the Mediterranean by many delightful pages; the sermon at the Synod of Oscott entitled "The second Spring" has a rare and delicate beauty. It is said that Macau- lay knew it by heart. "When Newman made up his mind to join the Church of Rome", observes R. H. Hutton, "his genius bloomed out with a force and free- dom such as it never displayed in the Anglican com- munion." And again, "In irony, in humour, in elo- quence, in imaginative force, the writings of the later and, as we may call it, emancipated portion of his ca- reer far surpass the writings of his theological ap- prenticeship." But English Catholic literature also gained a persuasive voice and a classic dignity of which hitherto there had been no example.

His own secession, preceded by that of Ward (amid conflicts of the angriest kind at Ox-ford), and followed by many others, had alarmed Englishmen. In 1850 came the "Papal Aggression", by which the country was divided into Catholic sees, and a Roman cardinal announced from the Flamiuian Gate his commission to "govern" Westminster. The nation went mad with excitement. Newman delivered in the Corn Ex- change, Birmingham, his "Lectures on the Position of Catholics" (he was seldom felicitous in titles of books), and, to George Eliot's amazement, they revealed him as a master of humorous, almost too lixcly sketches, witty and scornful of the great Protestant tradition. An apostate Italian priest, Achilli, was haranguing against the Church. Prompted by Wiseman, the Oratorian gave particulars of this man's infamous ca- reer, and Acliilli brought a charge of libel. Newman, at enormous cxix'nse, collected evidence which fully justified the acinisations he had made. But a no- popery jury convicted him. He was fined £100; on appeal, the verdict was quashed; and "The Times" admitted that a miscarriage of justice had taken place when Newman was ilcdared guilty. Catholics all the worl<l over came to his relief. His Ihanlis are on rec- ord in the dedicatiun of his Dublin Lectures". But he always remembered that to Wiseman's ha.ste and carelessness he owed this trial.

There was much more troulile awaiting liini. The years from 1851 to 1870 brought disaster to a series of noble projects in which he aimeil at serving religion and culture. In Ireland the bislioi)s had been com- pelled, after rejecting the "Godless" colleges in 1847, to undertake a university of their own. Neit her men nor ideas were forthcoming; the State would not sanc- tion degrees conferred by a private body; neverthe- less, an attempt could be made; and Newman was ap- pointed rector, November, 1851. Three years passed