« PrethodnaNastavi »
at which, he says, it was crossed by a new set of men, who imparted to it that leaning to Romanism which ever after perceptibly beset it. A new school of thought was rising, as is usual in such movements, and was sweeping the original party of the movement aside, and was taking its place' (p. 277). This is a curious instance of self-delusion. He was, as we maintain, throughout, the Romanising element in the whole movement. But for him it might have continued, as its other great chiefs still continue, the ornament and strength of the English Church. These younger men, to whom he attributes the change, were, in fact, the minds whom he had consciously or unconsciously fashioned and biassed. Some of them, as is ever the case, had outrun their leader. Some of them were now, in their sensitive spiritual organism, catching the varying outline of the great leader whom they almost worshipped, and beginning at once to give back his own altering image. Instead of seeing in their changing minds this reflection of himself, he dwelt upon it as an original element, and read in its presence an indication of its being the will of God that the stream should turn its flow towards the gulf to which he himself had unawares, it may be, directed its waters. Those who remember how at this time he was followed will know how easily such a result might follow his own incipient change. Those who can still remember how many often involuntarily caught his peculiar intonation-so distinctively singular, and therefore so attractive in himself and so repulsive in his copyists-will understand how the altering fashion of the leader's thoughts was appropriated with the same unconscious fidelity.
One other cause acted powerfully on him and on them to give this bias to the movement, and that was the bitterness and invectives of the Liberal party. Dr. Newman repeatedly reminds us that it was the Liberals who drove him from Oxford. The four tutors-the after course of one of whom, at least, was destined to display so remarkable a Nemesis-and the pack who followed them turned by their ceaseless baying the noble hart who led the rest towards this evil covert. He and they heard incessantly that they were Papists in disguise: men dishonoured by professing one thing and holding another; until they began to doubt their own fidelity, and in that doubt was death. Nor was this all. The Liberals ever (as is their wont), most illiberal to those who differ from them, began to use direct academic persecution; until, in self-distrust and very weariness, the great soul began to abandon the warfare it had waged inwardly against its own inclinations and the fascinations of its enemy, and to yield the
first defences to the foe. It will remain written, as Dr. Newman's deliberate judgment, that it was the Liberals who forced him. from Oxford. How far, if he had not taken that step, he might have again shaken off the errors which were growing on himhow far therefore in driving him from Oxford they drove him finally to Rome-man can never know.
In the new light thrown upon it from the pages of the Apologia,' we see with more distinctness than was ever shown before, how greatly this tendency to Rome, which at last led astray so many of the masters of the party, was infused into it by the single influence of Dr. Newman himself. We do not believe that, in spite of his startling speeches, the bias towards Rome was at all as strong even in H. Froude himself. Let his last letter witness for him :-'If,' he says, 'I was to assign my reasons for belonging to the Church of England in preference to any other religious community, it would be simply this, that she has retained an apostolical clergy, and enacts no sinful terms of communion; whereas, on the other hand, the Romanists, though retaining an apostolical clergy, do exact sinful terms of communion.'* This was the tone of the movement until it was changed in Dr. Newman. We believe that in tracing this out we shall be using these pages entirely as their author intended them to be used. They were meant to exhibit to his countrymen the whole secret of his moral and spiritual anatomy; they were intended to prove that he was altogether free from that foul and disgraceful taint of innate dishonesty, the unspoken suspicion of which in so many quarters had so long troubled him; the open utterance of which, from the lips of a popular and respectable writer, was so absolutely intolerable to him. From that imputation it is but bare justice to say he does thoroughly clear himself. The post-mortem examination of his life is complete; the hand which guided the dissecting-knife has trembled nowhere, nor shrunk from any incision. All lies perfectly open, and the foul taint is nowhere. And yet, looking back with the writer on the changes which this strange narrative records, from his subscribing, in 1828, towards the first start of the 'Record' newspaper to his receiving on the 9th of October, 1845, at Littlemore, the remarkable-looking man, evidently a foreigner, shabbily dressed in black,'† who received him into the Papal Communion, we see abundant reason, even without the action of that prevalent suspicion of secret dishonesty somewhere, which
· Collection of Papers,' &c., p. 16.
Historical Notes of the Tractarian Movement,' by Canon Oakley. Dublin Review, No. v. p. 190.
in English minds inevitably connects itself with the spread of Popery, for the widely-diffused impression of that being true which it is so pleasant to find unfounded.
From first to last these pages exhibit the habit of Dr. Newman's mind as eminently subjective. It might almost be described as the exact opposite of that of S. Athanasius: with a like allengrossing love for truth; with ecclesiastical habits often strangely similar; with cognate gifts of the imperishable inheritance of genius, the contradiction here is almost absolute. The abstract proposition, the rightly-balanced proposition, is everything to the Eastern, it is well-nigh nothing to the English Divine. When led by circumstances to embark in the close examination of Dogma, as in his History of the Arians,' his Nazarite locks of strength appear to have been shorn, and the giant, at whose might we have been marvelling, becomes as any other man. The dogmatic portion of this work is poor and tame; it is only when the writer escapes from dogma into the dramatic representation of the actors in the strife that his powers reappear. For abstract truth it is clear to us that he has no engrossing affection: his strength lay in his own apprehension of it, in his power of defending it when once it had been so apprehended and had become engrafted into him; and it is to this as made one with himself, and to his own inward life as fed and nourished by it, that he perpetually reverts.
All this is the more remarkable because he conceives himself to have been, even from early youth, peculiarly devoted to dogma in the abstract; he returns continually to this idea, confounding, as we venture to conceive, his estimate of the effect of truth when he received it, on himself, with truth as it exists in the abstract. And as this affected him in regard to dogma, so it reached to his relations to every part of the Church around him. It led him to gather up in a dangerous degree, into the person of his 'own Bishop,' the deference due to the whole order. 'I did not care much for the Bench of Bishops, nor should I have cared much for a Provincial Council. . . . All these matters seemed to me to be jure ecclesiastico; but what to me was jure divino was the voice of my Bishop in his own person. My own Bishop was my Pope.'-(p. 123.) His intense individuality had substituted the personal bond to the individual for the general bond to the collective holders of the office: and so when the strain became violent it snapped at once. This doubtless natural disposition seems to have been developed, and perhaps permanently fixed, as the law of his intellectual and spiritual being, by the peculiarities of his early religious training. Educated in what is called the Evangelical' school, early and consciously con
verted, and deriving his first religious tone, in great measure, from the vehement but misled Calvinism, of which Thomas Scott, of Aston Sandford, was one of the ablest and most robust specimens, he was early taught to appreciate, and even to judge of, all external truth mainly in its ascertainable bearings on his own religious experience. In many a man the effect of this teaching is to fix him for life in a hard, narrow, and exclusive school of religious thought and feeling, in which he lives and dies profoundly satisfied with himself and his co-religionists, and quite hopeless of salvation for any beyond the immediate pale in which his own Shibboleth is pronounced with the exactest nicety of articulation. But Dr. Newman's mind was framed upon a wholly different idea, and the results were proportionally dissimilar. With the introvertive tendency which we have ascribed to him, was joined a most subtle and speculative intellect, and an ambitious temper. The Apologia' is the history of the practical working out of those various conditions. His hold upon any truth external to and separate from himself, was so feeble when placed in comparison with his perception of what was passing within himself, that the external truth was always liable to corrections which would make its essential elements harmonize with what was occurring within his own intellectual or spiritual being. We think that we can distinctly trace in these pages a twofold consequence from all this: first, an inexhaustible mutability in his views on all subjects; and secondly, a continually recurring temptation to entire scepticism as to everything external to himself. Every page gives illustrations of the first of these. He votes for what was called Catholic Emancipation, and is drifting into the ranks of liberalism. But the external idea of liberty is very soon metamorphosed, in his view, from the figure of an angel of light into that of a spirit of darkness; first, by his academical feeling that a great University ought not to be bullied even by a great Duke, and then by the altered temper of his own feelings, as they are played upon by the alternate vibrations of the gibes of 'Hurrell Froude,' and the deep tones of Mr. Keble's minstrelsy.
The history of his religious alternations is in exact keeping with all this. At every separate stage of his course, he constructs for himself a tabernacle in which for a while he rests. This process he repeats with an incessant simplicity of renewed commencements, which is almost like the blind acting of instinct leading the insect, which is conscious of its coming change, to spin afresh and afresh its ever-broken cocoon. He is at one time an AngloCatholic, and sees Antichrist in Rome; he falls back upon the Via Media-that breaks down, and left him, he says (p. 211), 'very
nearly a pure Protestant;' and again he has a 'new theory made expressly for the occasion, and is pleased with his new view' (p. 269); he then rests in Samaria' before he finds his way over to Rome. For the time every one of these transient tabernacles seems to accomplish its purpose. He finds certain repose for his spirit. Whilst sheltered by it, all the great unutterable phenomena of the external world are viewed by him in relation to himself and to his home of present rest. The gourd has grown up in a night, and shelters him by its short-lived shadow from the tyrannous rays of the sunshine. But some sudden irresistible change in his own inward perceptions alters everything. The idea shoots across his mind that the English Church is in the position of the Monophysite heretics of the fifth century (p. 209). At once all his views of truth are changed. He moves on to a new position; pitches anew his tent; builds himself up a new theory; and finds the altitudes of the stars above him, and the very forms of the heavenly constellations, change with the change of his earthly habitation.
The second consequence which we discern in his pages seems to us inseparable from the first. He is haunted by an ever-recurring tendency to scepticism. The great lights of heaven have been so often altered in his comprehension of them, that he is tempted to doubt whether they have any real fixed existence separable from their impression on the eye which dwells on their lustre; and though as to the highest of all forms of Being external to himself, he vigorously casts off the suspicion, yet as to all truth below that highest truth, it is evident that he obtains but a doubtful mastery over the spirit of universal doubt. Here are a few passages of the character we have described :
'In my school-days I thought life might be a dream, or I an angel, and all this world a deception, my fellow-angels by a playful device concealing themselves from me, and deceiving me with the semblance of a material world.'-Apol. p. 56.
'When I was fourteen I read Paine's Tracts against the Old Testament, and found pleasure in thinking of the objections which were contained in them.'
Later on, in his youth, he says:—
'A work of Romaine's had some influence in confirming me in my mistrust of the reality of material phenomena, and making me rest in the thought of two, and two only, supreme and luminously self-evident beings-myself and my Creator.'-Apol., p. 59.
Nor does he abandon this theory in later life. He even finds in Butler's Analogy'
'An ultimate resolution of the theory to which I was inclined as a boy, namely, the unreality of material phenomena.'-Apol., p. 67.