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CARDINAL NEWMAN AND THE
CARDINAL NEWMAN died in 1890. For twenty-two years the world has been waiting for his biography, and now it is given us in Mr. Wilfrid Ward's two fascinating volumes. The delay was attributed, some time ago, in a journal of name, to‘the dislike of the Roman authorities that the real history of the illustrious but unbappy convert should be known.' As a matter of fact, the Roman authorities,' whoever they may be, had nothing to do with the delay. The real and only cause of it was the infirmity of purpose shown by the pious ecclesiastic whom Cardinal Newman had appointed to be his literary executor. The late Father William Neville, of the Birmingham Oratory, acted, for some years, as a kind of private secretary to the great man who was the Superior of that Congregation : a private secretary and something more : an utterly devoted and selfsacrificing factotum. When death removed Cardinal Newman his occupation was gone, and thenceforth his chief work in life was to collect, arrange, and transcribe-be wrote an admirably clear hand-the correspondence and other memorials of his deceased master and friend. But he never could make up his mind what to do with them. At last, the inevitable hour came to him, in his turn : and then the documents which he regarded as almost too precious to see the light passed into the hands of wiser persons, who determined to entrust them to Mr. Wilfrid Ward. A better choice could not have been made. Of Mr. Ward's literary skill the world bas had abundant evidence. But for the work of biography, literary skill is not enough. Sympathy, warm but discriminating, is also necessary; and of this gift Mr. Ward has made full proof in the two volumes before me. His personal acquaintance with Newman began in 1885-five years before the Cardinal's death. During that interval he had the privilege of interviews, from time to time, with the illustrious octogenarian, to whom he was dear not only for his own sake, but also for the sake of his father, W. G. Ward -the “ideal Ward' of the Tractarian days. He gained much information to aid him in his task from some of the Oratorian Fathers. He gathered, from various quarters, documents to supplement those which Father Neville had amassed. The results of his six years' labours are these two volumes wherein he presents to us what my somewhat longer acquaintance with the Cardinal leads me to regard as an admirable study of a great soul, in all its strength and in all its weakness : a' study in which, to quote the familiar words of Horace, 'the life of the venerable man is exhibited to us as in a votive picture.'
We will now proceed to glance at these two volumes. They extend to 1286 pages, and a brief account of them may be welcome to some who in these most brisk and giddy paced times' may not be able to read them in extenso. Mr. Wilfrid Ward has divided his work into thirty-five chapters, the first being of the nature of a general introduction explanatory of his method, while each of the others deals with some important period or episode in Newman's life. Of the Newman specially interesting to Anglicans, the leader of the Oxford Movement, Mr. Ward does not tell us much. There was no reason why he should. The Apologia and Miss Mozley's admirable volumes hardly want to be supplemented; and, indeed, the Cardinal himself seems to have expressed a wish that they should not be. I must not, however, omit to note that Mr. Ward discusses and disposes of the allegation that Newman was of Jewish descent. Dr. Barry, in his interesting monograph, apparently accepted it, chiefly because of the conformation of Newman's nose-I do not remember that any other evidence was forthcoming. Mr. Ward maintains that the nose was Roman rather than Hebrew, and although I have no pretension to be an authority on noses, I agree with him. But while Mr. Ward does not dwell in detail on the Oxford Movement, he traces, in vigorous and lucid outline, the rise and progress of Newman's influence at Oxford, and the gradual growth of his estrangement from the school of thought which he himself had founded. He quotes W. G. Ward's Credo in Neumannum, which expressed the feelings of not a few, and the dictum of Dean Lake : 'The influence of this singular combination of genius and devotion has had no parallel before or since.' Newman was looked up to with absolute confidence as a leader, but as time went on he felt less and less secure : his mind was clouded with gathering doubt. We all know from the Apologia how powerfully an article by Dr. Wiseman affected him. He spoke of it as the first real hit from Rome which has happened to me.' 'He never recovered from the blow which had thus been dealt him, Mr. Ward truly observes. It made an end of the Via Media, in which he had fondly hoped that the path of safety might be found. Gradually, and almost in spite of himself, his feet were turned elsewhere : he was led by a
way that he knew not. He did not ask to see the distant scene : one step was enough for him. He followed the kindly light which led him on, amid the encircling gloom : and the distant scene, when he reached it, proved to be-the Church of Rome.
And now Newman, after toil and storm,' might have thought that he had reached a purer air,' that he had arrived at the blessed vision of peace' described by him in the concluding words of the Development, one of those passages,' Mr. Hutton judged, ‘by which he will be remembered as long as the English language endures.' But such anticipations were not to be fulfilled. It was not, he over and over again bore witness, that he ever regretted leaving the Church of England. 'No: never for a single moment,' he wrote in 1864: I have been in the fullest peace and enjoyment ever since I became a Catholic.” But, as he tells us in the Apologia, in this second division of his life he had more to try and distress him than in his Anglican days. His early time as a convert in England, before he went to Italy, and his time there, were full of new-born fervour and of an excitement? which could not last. In January 1848 he returned to England, and in pursuance of Pius the Ninth's Apostolic Letter established the Oratory at Mary Vale, near Birmingham. Then followed twenty years of unremitting labour and of great trials'without were fightings, within were fears.' He was ever burning to be of use to the Church, but one avenue after another seemed blocked. The Oratory was 'suspect' to some of the hereditary Catholics. A band of enthusiastic converts who had joined it, headed by Father Faber, differed considerably from Newman in temperament; nay, he thought them 'rash and imprudent in their enthusiasm.' Shortly, most of these migrated to London, and secured a building in King William Street, whence, after some years, they removed to South Kensington, then called Brompton. It was in the church in King William Street that Newman delivered his Lectures on Anglican Difficulties, of which Mr. Hutton, who heard them-and who largely disagreed with their argument and their conclusions-observed, 'It was the first book of his read among Protestants in which the measure of his literary power could be adequately taken.' At this time Mr. Capes, an Oxford convert, founded the Rambler, which was in the event to become a stumbling stone and rock of offence to Newman. He greatly sympathised with its aim
* Ward, vol. i. p. 654.
I use the word 'excitement' advisedly. His letters of all that time are full of it.
3 Mr. Wilfrid Ward tells us, in an amusing note, “The building was afterwards Toole's Theatre, and W. G. Ward remarked, after going to a very good play there, “Two things came into my mind. The first was, last time I came here I heard Faber preach ; the second was, how much more I am enjoying myself now than I did when I was last here.' Vol. i. p. 217.
the development of Catholic thought. He deprecated the licence of the criticism and the boldness of the speculations in which it indulged. Then in 1850 came the so-called Papal Aggression, followed by a storm of popular indignation, to which Lord Campbell contributed by declaring at a Mansion House Dinnerthe time when such a declaration at that festivity was possible now seems very far off —
Under our feet we'll stamp thy Cardinal's hat
In spite of Pope and dignities of Church. But Cardinal Wiseman's hat did not suffer that indignity, and the Cardinal himself, by a singularly powerful and impressive Appeal to the English People, wrought a great change in public feeling. Then came Newman's turn. He delivered in Birmingham those Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics, as they are now called, which he considered the best-written of all his works. They were addressed ad populum, but they did not attain much popularity. 'In spite of their energy, grace, and wit,' writes Dr. Barry, not a single newspaper quoted or alluded to them : yet they will be the sole record possessing literary worth of an episode which rivalled the outburst on occasion of Tract XC.'• Next followed the Achilli trial, which, although its issue was unfavourable to Newman, curiously enough did him good (to use a phrase habitual with him) in the eyes of his countrymen generally, or, at the least, of the better educated and more cultivated of them. An ex-Dominican monk, of the most depraved character, when his sacerdotal occupation was gone, had betaken himself to the trade of antiCatholic traducer. Newman, in one of his Lectures just spoken of, had described, in language of fierce indignation, the real man, who then, yielding to the pressure of his Protestant admirers, had laid against the lecturer a criminal information for libel. Lord Campbell, who presided at the trial, manifested throughout it, and especially in summing up the evidence, a strong animus against Newman. The verdict went against him. He was condemned to pay a fine of 1001., and was involved in legal expenses of some 12,0001. This sum was promptly subscribed by Catholics all over the world. It was, as Mr. Ward observes, 'a practical sympathy far beyond his expectations.' He was immensely touched, and so expressed himself in his letters to his helpers.
• Newman, p. 98.
• The Times did not hesitate to speak of the proceedings at this trial as ' indecorous in their nature and unsatisfactory in their result. “We consider,'
added, 'that a great blow has been given to the administration of justice in this country.'
Regarding the trial Newman wrote: 'I trust we have got a good deal by it, i.e. have proved our case to the satisfaction of the world.' No doubt that was so. And thus the Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics resulted, indirectly, in doing the work for which Newman had designed them, of sapping to its foundations the anti-Catholic bigotry of the times. It is notable that while he was in the midst of the worry and anxiety of this Achilli business, he preached at the opening of the first Synod of Oscott his famous sermon, 'The Second Spring.' Firm, sensitive, and thrilling, with an emotion which runs alongside its harmonies, the composition is a poem, to be judged by its correspondence with a scene in history which could not be acted over again.' Macaulay, who is said to have known it by heart, deemed it the high-water mark of Newman's genius.
Newman was now on the threshold of six memorable years of striving and failure. It was determined in Rome to set up a Catholic University in Dublin : why, I have never been able to make out. No one in Ireland appears to have wanted it: indeed, it would seem that there was positive hostility to the scheme on the part of most Irishmen, including many members of the Episcopate : and where hostility did not exist, there was, as a rule, complete indifference. Moreover, to quote Newman's own words : What with emigration, campaigning, ruin of families and the purpofuxía (pusillanimity) induced by centuries of oppression, there seemed no class to afford members for a University.' 'Nowhere in Ireland are the youths to be found who are to fill it.' Moreover, the Academical ideal of Dr. Cullen, then the moving spirit among the Irish Bishops, and a person of great influence at Rome, was very different from Newman's, who found himself continually thwarted, contradicted, and set aside. Newman's desire was to form a Catholic laity 'gravely and solidly educated in Catholic knowledge, and alive to the arguments on its behalf, and aware both of its difficulties and of the way of treating them.'' Dr. Cullen would meet the whole modern and scientific spirit with mere repression. His conception of a University, as an influential layman put it, was 'a close borough of clergymen and a clerical village. And here I am led to quote a remark of Newman's, in a letter to Mr. Ornsby-a remark which throws a flood of light upon many incidents in his career : ‘On both sides of the Channel the deep difficulty is the jealousy and fear which are entertained, in high quarters, of the laity. Nothing great or living can be done except when men are self-governed
• Newman, by William Barry, p. 100.
• Ibid. p. 367. VOL. LXXI-No. 421